“The Velvet Revolution should inevitably lead to international recognition of Artsakh’s self-determination” - Prime Minister and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan attend Arayik Harutyunyan’s inauguration ceremony
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan attended Artsakh Republic President-elect Arayik Harutyunyan’s inauguration ceremony in Shushi. The inauguration ceremony was held at a special meeting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh.
The ceremony was also attended by outgoing President of the Republic of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan, Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, RA National Assembly Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, parliamentarians from Armenia and Artsakh, public and political figures.
Prime Minister Pashinyan and Mrs. Hakobyan attended a gala reception. The Prime Minister of Armenia delivered a speech, in which he stated:
“Dear President of the Artsakh Republic Bako Sahakyan,
Madame Anahit Sahakyan,
Dear President of the Artsakh Republic Arayik Harutyunyan,
Madame Christine Harutyunyan,
Honorable Chairmen of the National Assemblies of the Republic of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic,
Dear Statesmen, Government and National Assembly Members, Generals and Officers, Spiritual Fathers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we gathered in Shushi - a beautiful corner of the most striking symbol of the Artsakh liberation war - to hold the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected President of the Artsakh Republic Araik Harutyunyan. This is an obligatory ceremony established by the Constitution and the laws of Artsakh, however, the place and time of the ceremony give it special symbolism and special significance.
Several years ago, during a visit to Artsakh as an opposition deputy, I made the following statement: Artsakh is the best place to think about our past and future, and I think there is a very specific reason for this.
Artsakh is the only part of our country where perspectives are unlimited. Artsakh is the only part of our country where you can see the horizon without much technical effort, because here the mountains do not block us from the world, and from here you can see an endless horizon.
It is a common belief that our most important achievement in the Artsakh liberation war was to have saved Artsakh Armenians from physical extermination and build the modern Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. And it is true. However, in my opinion, the philosophical and conceptual achievements that we had as a result of the Artsakh war of liberation are equally important: I mean that we had closer access to the horizon and reached out the infinite. For me, the unlimited horizon is a symbol of broader and infinite thinking and new mentality, which is no longer limited to narrow gorges and mountain passes.
I am convinced that the best achievement of the Artsakh liberation war is the ability to perceive oneself in a new way, to think in a new way, to be guided by new thinking. In my opinion, the greatest achievement of the Artsakh war is the change in our national thinking.
The change of thinking always and everywhere is very slow, invisible, but usually, at some point, at some stage, it has a bright and historical expression, and the non-violent velvet people's revolution that took place in Armenia in 2018 was such an expression of the change of thinking that began in the collective consciousness of our people with the victory in the Artsakh liberation war. This is a very important nuance, to which I want to draw our attention. It was the change in thinking that led to the non-violent velvet people's revolution of 2018, and this change in thinking began with the victorious result of the Artsakh liberation war.
The slogan “We are the masters of our country” arose in the second decade of the second millennium, and it was guided by various groups and individuals who fought for change in Armenia. However, this slogan was realized without pronouncing it, in the first half of the 90s, the people of Artsakh, the people of Armenia, our fallen and living freedom fighters during the Artsakh war.
In turn, the Artsakh liberation war was the result of the revolution that began in Armenia and Artsakh in 1988 and was democratic in its content and essence - the Karabakh movement, which, in turn, led to such a drastic change in our national thinking that helped us triumph in the Artsakh liberation war.
I say all this in order to make a very important statement: all attempts to contrast the non-violent velvet people's revolution with the Artsakh Liberation War, its goals and essence, its dreams and values are futile, just as the revolution that began in 1988 brought victory to the liberation of Artsakh, so a non-violent velvet popular revolution must inevitably lead to international recognition, de facto recognition of Artsakh’s self-determination.
And consequently, my appeal and request: let us not use our national energy and strength in any way, on any platform, to deviate from this goal, to tire ourselves out, to wear ourselves out, to indulge in despair.
And in general, as we continue the theme of change in thinking, I want to draw the attention of all of us to one fact. Usually we perceive ourselves, our work and our mission in the perspective of several years, sometimes decades, sometimes worse - months and weeks. This is objectively understandable because everyday problems, concerns, agendas, as well as criticism and intrigue inevitably put us in this situation.
In a situation where we start to take the picture in the context of previous and next elections, and the period between elections is very fast, especially when elections are frequent and diverse in a democratic society. And because of this circumstance, we often forget the exceptional historical mission that lies on our shoulders, the exceptional honour that we have been fortunate to have. By the way, this is true not only for public officials, but also for all citizens, for a nation vested with the exceptional mission of forming a government in modern society.
And in this symbolic place and for a symbolic occasion, I want to state that we are not only current political, economic, public figures, although solving issues of exceptional importance, but also the proud and victorious descendants of Hayk Nahapet, the descendants of the people with a millennia-old history, the Kingdom of Van, The Kingdom of Yervanduni, the Kingdom of Artashesyan, the Kingdom of Arshakuni, the Kingdom of Bagratuni, the Kingdom of Cilicia, the First Republic of Armenia, and we should first and foremost consider our activities in the chain of previous and subsequent millennia.
Our mission is to get rid of the burden of failure of the previous millennia, to revive the formulas of success of the previous millennia, to make these formulas a national way of thinking and national identity, and thus to ensure the creative competitiveness of future generations on planet Earth.
So, let us emphasize that we are de jure the followers of the work of our glorious kings and great thinkers of the past, statesmen, teachers, architects, builders, scientists, writers and artists, military leaders, diplomats, industrialists and businessmen, and we should strive to become exactly so de facto. Or, at a minimum, we must create real opportunities for our descendants to become like that. And I would like for us to see just such a symbol at the heart of our ceremony today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Back to the direct and main content of today's ceremony, first of all, I would like to thank Third President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan for the services he rendered to our people and statehood, and especially for the joint work done over the past years.
Recently, during our narrow discussions I said and now I want to repeat it publicly: after the Armenian non-violent velvet revolution of 2018, nobody faced a more difficult situation than President Bako Sahakyan. He faced a difficult task in political, moral and human terms, and a situation was full of dilemmas, traps and ambiguities.
Over the past year, our relations were affected by the imprint and influence of those dilemmas, ambiguities, pitfalls, but I can honestly say that we have overcome all these obstacles without exception, and now I can say that I have made a reliable friend in the person of Third President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan, and I am glad and grateful for that.
And finally, I congratulate the newly elected Fourth President Arayik Harutyunyan on assuming the office of President of Artsakh. I am confident that cooperation between Artsakh and Armenia will be even more effective during Mr. Harutyunyan’s tenure.
The Government of Armenia has been closely following the electoral processes in Artsakh. Before the elections some predicted that a revolution would take place in Artsakh, while others predicted that a counterrevolution would take place.
From the very beginning, my position was that Artsakh should not be the arena of either revolution or counter-revolution. Artsakh could not be the arena of counter-revolution, because a portion of our people should in no way be opposed to another part of our people.
Artsakh did not need to become the arena of revolutions, because, as I already said, the people of Artsakh were a full participant in the revolution of 2018, and among the participants in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Artsakh there were forces and candidates who undoubtedly and unequivocally welcomed the non-violent velvet popular revolution, expressed their unequivocal support and loyalty to the people's government of Armenia. In both parliamentary and presidential elections these very forces won a convincing victory, and a political figure like Arayik Harutyunyan was elected president of Artsakh.
This choice means that while there was no revolution in Artsakh itself, Artsakh is fully and unambiguously part of the revolution, and by the results of the elections the people of Artsakh expressed their unambiguous will to implement reforms and adopt the political course of reforms. In this respect, the newly elected authorities of Artsakh, the authorities of Armenia and Artsakh have a common collective responsibility before the Armenian people: namely to implement reforms in Armenia and Artsakh.
People should see the changes, people should feel these changes in the political, economic, social sphere, in the fight against corruption, in the field of human rights, judiciary, freedom of speech, justice and trust in the electoral system, and I am sure that these changes will come true.
This is not just a political statement, it is a clearly formulated understanding, if not to say, an agreement between the leaders of Artsakh and Armenia. And I want to clearly emphasize, Mr. Harutyunyan, that I believe in your political will and determination to follow the path of reforms and creative changes.
I think that your years as Prime Minister of Artsakh should not lead us in the past, but should help us not to repeat our mistakes of the past, should help us learn from the mistakes of the past, because our mistakes are our biggest teacher, if, of course, we have the desire to learn, our mistakes are the biggest incentive to move forward, to overcome obstacles, if, of course, we have the desire to move forward.
Speaking of changes, we all usually understand the physical signs of a change in reality: rebuilt roads, repaired schools and kindergartens, rehabilitated water pipes and parks. All this is very important. But roads may deteriorate, buildings and schools may be worn out, water pipes and parks may become unusable over time, thereby pointing to the superficial, formal nature of changes.
The same applies to the so-called old and new officials, because everything is relative: a new official can quickly acquire “old” features, and an old official can perceive the situation in a new way, perceive his mission in a new way, learn from his past mistakes.
And therefore, much more important and significant is the change that occurs in each of us, in our thinking and psychology, in our behavior and actions. Therefore, I believe that the time has come for a breakthrough change in our public life, in our individual behavior - from the president to ordinary citizens, from the prime minister to the private soldier. I mean a change that will allow us to look without a twinge of conscience into the eyes of our fallen heroes, children, mothers, wives and sisters.
Long live Freedom!
Long live the Republic of Artsakh!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live us and our children who now live and will live in a free and happy Armenia, free and happy Artsakh!”
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with newly elected President of the Republic of Artsakh Arayik Haroutunyan in Stepanakert.
“Mr. Prime Minister, first of all, I would like to thank you for attending the inauguration ceremony and for the kind remarks and thoughts you expressed. They were sincere words of a leader, I consider all this in the realm of concern and advice, and I want to state today that I am ready to share the burden and deal with the problems facing the Armenian people and Armenia. Thank you for your participation,” Arayik Haroutunyan said.
“Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, let me congratulate you once again on your election as President of the Artsakh Republic. Truly impressive events took place yesterday, impressive in terms of content. While walking here, I said that the atmosphere was very good in Artsakh, and I think that our task is to uphold and foster this wonderful atmosphere. We need to build effective ties of interaction, considering that all necessary prerequisites are in place for effective cooperation between Armenian and Artsakh authorities,” Prime Minister Pashinyan noted.
“I definitely agree with you, Mr. Prime Minister. Our nation should be considered as one and a whole - no people of Armenia, no people of Artsakh - there is an Armenian nation, and proceeding from this very principle, we must develop this atmosphere of consolidation. Owing to such preconditions available in Artsakh not only in moral and psychological terms, but also in terms of economic development, we can succeed in implementing social and repatriation programs through joint efforts. Thank you again, Mr. Prime Minister,” the newly sworn in President of Artsakh said.
The meeting was continued in the presence of Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Artsakh Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Masis Mayilyan.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President of Artsakh Arayik Haroutunyan today met with senior representatives of Armenia’s and Artsakh’s banking systems in Stepanakert.
Arayik Haroutunyan welcomed the meeting participants and thanked the Armenian Prime Minister for organizing a meeting in this format. “We should not only continue, but to step up cooperation as we are going to ensure higher development rates in the future. Whereas the two governments’ financial resources will not be enough to do so, we will need to implement more ambitious programs,” the President of Artsakh said.
“Thank you Mr. President. I would like to state that Artsakh’s banking system has recorded tangible progress over the past decade, which was instrumental in fostering the country’s economic achievements. The economic ambitions we have set will be impossible to implement if they are not realized by the banking system. In some sense, this content should be formed jointly. We did so during the state of emergency when government, banking system representatives and lawmakers would come together to discuss agriculture development, social issues and so on. This can be really effective; it should not be viewed as a separate meeting, but a talk that needs to be continued,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded.
The meeting discussed ways of boosting cooperation between financial and banking systems, bolstering Armenian banks’ activities in Artsakh, promoting the funding of prospective business projects, etc.
The banking system representatives expressed readiness to follow the initiatives of Armenia’s and Artsakh’s governments and get involved in those programs aimed at ensuring greater resources with low interest rates for the market.