YEREVAN —  French President Emmanuel Macron has sent a letter to Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, voicing  solidarity with the Armenian governments efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, France, like Armenia, is facing serious problems in the areas of health, economy and social security. The crisis must not force us to retreat. On the contrary, the epidemic should be used as a unique opportunity to work together to deal with the epidemic and its consequences,” Macron said in his letter.

Macron expressed readiness to lend Armenia up to 80 million euros ($90 million) in emergency funding designed to help it tackle the virus crisis and its severe economic fallout and stated that a third team of French medics will fly to Yerevan later this week to help their Armenian colleagues struggling to cope with the deadly pandemic.

‘In the coming days, France will again send a new team of volunteer doctors to Armenia, who will replace those who are already helping their Armenian counterparts in the fight against Covid-19,’ he said.

“This crisis is also a problem for the economies of our two countries. Thanks to the French Development Agency (AFD), which is already working in Armenia, France is ready to consider providing a loan of 80 million euros, which will partially satisfy the need for additional budget financing that your country is facing this year,” Macron stated in the letter.

The Armenian government announced in late April plans to borrow more than $500 million to cushion the impact of an unfolding recession resulting from the pandemic. The government subsequently amended its 2020 budget to take account of 150 billion drams ($310 million) in coronavirus-related relief measures financed by it and a shortfall in tax revenues which is projected to total 170 billion drams this year.

In May, the International Monetary Fund disbursed a $280 million emergency loan to the authorities in Yerevan. The authorities announced afterwards that they will receive a separate $30 million IMF loan later this year.

The Armenian economy expanded robustly from 2017 through the first quarter of this year. It is now on course to contract by at least 2 percent in 2020.

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