Interview – Filippo Duzioni

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You wonder why you are in Armenia to develop the situation of the Armenian population. It all came from an invitation made by an Armenian citizen resident in Switzerland who proposed to evaluate the market of this nation which, at the time, did not even know where it was. So we have come to me and a family of a road company and we evaluated the situation. The first visits were aimed to explore the country and the development situations, which led to a clear lack of infrastructure and an architectural and constructive situation, not as much as the city,but for the outside area that was completely incongruous. After several trips between this and our country we decided to start this adventure which, as expected, did not prove easy, especially the first and a half years; we have created a company with a room that at that time was quite disastrous mainly the difference of concepts, the different way of working and anything else. At that point, after this intense period, we have taken the decision to root, to take an area and to equip it for our needs, both for road works and for construction works. In the first year, Suardi, taking on a team of Armenian workers, but with an Italian team, devoted himself to the arrangement of the buildings and the warehouses that would be used for the eventual development, building in this area specially used residential plesses for Italian citizens, also installing an asphalt plant. At the same time, we tried to enter the Armenian market with little difficulty, being both the latter and the very difficult country in a country where there are not many companies but where the possibilities are not very high. With tenacity and without denying, we were able to introduce ourselves in bidding and some private work, also placing our attention on everything that was out of our area of ​​interest; this is where the devastation and degradation emerge, both due to very low salaries and the lack of per capita income per person, making it impossible for general housing interventions. To overcome the lack of money, the state has been able to seek funding from investment banks such as the Asian bank, the world bank, and the European bank, thus successfully smoothing the infrastructure issue. How can you then start a country that is immobilized by poverty? Starting from the road system, through tendering for motorway construction, particularly the one that connects the north and south of the country, from Georgia to Iran, and which can be seen as a rebirth from its own ashes. As far as construction is concerned, however, the city moves very well, but unfortunately we realize that most of these constructions remain silent due to the financial capacity of the potential buyer. If this country could raise and raise its purchasing capacity, building could probably develop more. Private buildings outside are mainly made up of patchwork, dilapidated rooms created solely to allow people to live but do not actually follow any hygienic standards; and it is for this reason that young married couples are forced to live with their parents, having no other place to secure a serene living future. If in time the manufacturing industry could grow significantly, then that would be a step forward, but all this can only be done with good training for the labor force, capable and low cost. If you wanted to expose the heel of Achilles, then we should certainly talk about freight transport; lack of sea as a frontier penalizes the possibility of naval transportation, resulting in excessive costs for all types of goods handling. But it is in their favor to join the Customs Union, where you have four other countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Uzbekistan; in this all products exported to and from the above countries are exempt from customs duties and only VAT. For this reason, if the country focuses on a quality production of products similar to Italian products, I think it will have a great deal of resources, leading, through domino effect, to the development of everything circulating in these sectors, until it reaches building and industrial development. In addition, as Armenia is a country that used to refer to Russian industry in the past, there are many abandoned industrial areas that were occupied by the regime at the time of the regime, employing thousands of people, and today are the most complete and Absolute disruption, however not entirely unrecoverable. It is not unnecessary to ignore the incentive for women’s work, which seems to be every day more rooted, an input from the government that should not be taken lightly, and indeed should be seen as a step forward for the whole nation. As far as we are concerned, after settling this pole, the intention was to invite Italian companies to develop their product on the territory and to have access to customs union countries. Fear away, I decided to employ a small part of the resources to get us into the place and another part to train the staff who obviously lacked a European quality approach, where order, punctuality and goal remain hinge points. This idea has to be shared with companies intending to embrace our reality, now and in the future, both internally and internationally, such as Iran, open to marketing, where the market is qualitatively superior; all this with courage and enthusiasm, in the hope that in the short term they will have all the satisfaction of the case.

• Have you had bureaucratic problems?
In Armenia, there is a great deal of inter-personal relations, as well as among the rulers. That being said, I have to say that I have had no problem with the required procedures, I had all the support they needed, being a serious and safe project, with great prospects and tied to the development of a more rosy future. Once you have mentioned all the prerogatives at the work level, also understood as hiring to make many people work, there were no problems of sorts, indeed we were facilitated by this.

• What building materials are used?
Quality materials, similar to ours, can also be found relatively easily in these areas, but it is to be said that, if needed, we are working to import it. After seven or eight days of land trip you will receive the required materials, and this is the only way to use it if you are not in the area.

• Question on the theme of the suburbs and the old town, ideas and work on the suburbs, priorities for the historic centers.
The only city that worked on the historic center is Yerevan, as in all other cities there is no distinction between the historical center and the suburbs, such as in Gyumri where both areas are present but are very similar to each other. In Yerevan, the old town has been located, but within a mile and a half of it you notice many architectural identities still to be settled, not without proper work though. According to my humble opinion that a nation has no job, no industry or craftsmanship is normal, it will always struggle to remodel the abandoned areas; a peculiar example are small countries, which are doing little for lack of resources, work, and as a result of money. The only imported accommodations, such as viabilts, are all funded by development banks. There are still countries that have no water supply, and it is clear that in such situations the care of the home goes into the background. All this could be repaired over 15/20 years, but in the absence of industries, the engine of a nation, it will be difficult to export quality materials capable of reshaping an entire nation. This reality is not to be underestimated, as the advantages are remarkable in several respects, and this can only make good profits for everyone.