Domestic visits

“Power belongs to you, anyone must comply with your decision” - PM Visits Aragatsotn Marz

20.03.2021 - 20.03.2021

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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited Nerkin Bazmaberd, Nor Edesia, Ujan, Byurakan, Karbi and Ohanavan communities in Aragatsotn Marz. The Premier met with the locals, spoke about the current situation, the details of the Artsakh war and the upcoming programs.

The meetings began with a minute of silence held in memory of those killed during the 44-Day War. In each community, Prime Minister Pashinyan announced the names of the children killed in those communities, visited the graves of heroes and their families.

Addressing the locals, the Prime Minister said: “You are obviously facing many problems that need to be addressed. Nevertheless, it is clear that today all of us should focus on other issues related to the situation in Armenia and around Armenia. I would like to share a few thoughts with you, so that we could make decisions about what to do next.

There is an important fact that we do not seem to have sufficiently realized. The Republic of Armenia has been in a post-war situation, in a post-war standoff for five months now. You know that the government came under attack and continues to be attacked in quite an aggressive way; you know what kind of statements and calls are being made.

I am well aware that our people have many questions, complaints and demands concerning this situation. But I wish to call your attention to the following fact. The situation we have in Armenia is unprecedented, because we managed to avoid civil strife amid the standoff that has lasted for five months following the ordeal of the war.

Yes, there are aggressive forces in Armenia; aggression is being stepped up day by day. But I want to state that we avoided civil clashes during this confrontation, which is a great achievement. I also wish to state that this is first of all the achievement of our people as you did not fuel civil clashes. This is a strong record against the fact that some people are calling for direct acts of terrorism and homicide. Even some judges have encouraged the calls for homicide. The law enforcement authorities arrest those responsible for hate speech, take them to custody, while the court says never mind, please go ahead with your so-called “mission.”

The next question may arise here: Why are there judges like that in Armenia? This is a fair question. I understand that we have to answer this question. And what is the reason that they still exist?

Dear people, we have a major disadvantage and a very big asset. You may remember that in 2018, when we carried out the revolution together, we undertook an obligation, namely we said that there would be no crackdowns or vendettas in the public administration system. We said that anyone would have a chance as we perceived this as a commitment made before you, and we actually honored that commitment. This may now turn out to have been a terrible political mistake, but in moral terms we could not have made a commitment and not comply with it.

This is being speculated by some circles, which ignore the mere fact that our revolution was based on Christian values, and there is no exaggeration in this statement. What does all this have to do with Christian values? It has to do with the fact that one of the greatest apostles of Christianity, Apostle Paul used to be one of the most brutal persecutors of Christians before his conversion to Christianity.

We have believed and still believe in human aptitude for evolution. But we understand that it may take some time, and there are natural limits. Now it seems to be obvious that many people have simply crossed that border in political, moral and legal terms, and this is the problem. Yes, in these conditions, contrary to what I said, there are people and forces in Armenia who want to see blood. They want blood to be shed in the streets of Yerevan, Aragatsotn, because those people are not satisfied with the blood shed on October 27, March 1; they are not satisfied with the blood of dozens of political assassinations, and they want to involve Armenia in a new bloodshed.

Why people, because they know very well that the Karabakh issue can be used as a means of payment in the struggle for power? In 1998, these people came to power over the Karabakh issue, saying that they unequivocally rejected the so-called phased option in resolving the conflict. But as a matter of fact, they had been negotiating a phased resolution for 20 years. The document negotiated in the process of settling the conflict, or otherwise the phased option of the settlement, which they rejected, was entitled “On the first stage of the settlement of the Karabakh issue and on the steps that should follow.”

They came to power by declining the phased option, but ended up negotiating a document entitled as mentioned above. But there is another nuance here: they used to reject that option for 20 years, but continued to negotiate it until 2018. They also did a trick, as if they had achieved great diplomatic success: they managed to write in one of the headings that it was a package solution.

And after all, what was the negotiation process about? To put it in great detail, we can see that throughout the past 20 years until 2018, in fact the negotiations sought to restore the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region inside Azerbaijan. I will substantiate what I am saying now, if necessary, but for obvious reasons, I cannot reveal much about the nuances of that process; I will speak out when the time comes.

We can make sure thereof if we add up these small details, because you know that at the very early stage of the conflict, Azerbaijan decided to abolish the concept of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. And, in fact, the negotiation process reached the point where the parties negotiated the restoration of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region as part of Azerbaijan.

We are being accused of two things, namely that we failed to prevent the war, and that we did not use the opportunity to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, the one rejected in April 2018 stated from the rostrum of the National Assembly that the negotiation process was at a deadlock because Azerbaijan continued to cherish unrealistic expectations, which were unacceptable for us. This follows up on what I said, namely that in fact, continuing from that point on meant the restoration of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He then added that from that point on we should not hope that Azerbaijan would not try to resolve the Karabakh issue through military means. There is a video, and anyone can check whatever I say.

And accordingly, if we were to accept the unrealistic, unacceptable conditions set forth by Azerbaijan, what should we do, should we continue the process of returning Karabakh to Azerbaijan?

When the rejected one said that Karabakh would never be part of Azerbaijan, people wondered what he was saying; what he was talking about. He knew very well where he was leading the negotiation process, while others did not know since the relevant documents were classified, but he knew.

They have been accusing me of handing over land ever since May 2018, when my tenure as Prime Minister just turned a week. I had not seen the documents; the relevant papers had not even appeared on my desk, but they insisted that I had come to hand over land. They know very well where they had driven the negotiation process. And now they want to see bloodshed instead of elections.

What have we been talking about since December? We and I am personally saying that I am responsible, I am the number one responsible, but I will not allow them to judge me. The people has to be my my judge, because it is up to the people to judge me. And against this background, something amazing is happening. Levon Ter-Petrosyan makes a statement, he says: let us arrange for the Prime Minister to leave Armenia and find refuge in another country. Levon Ter-Petrosyan has twice shown a very good example of political escape during his glorious career. Do I look like a person who can run away?

Should my people decide that I should be shot, let them do so. Let no one think that I will run away from any decision made by the people. And that right is yours. I repeat, if our people decide that I should be shot, I will stand humbly under the firing wall. Let the fugitives think of escaping. I will never desecrate my people’s trust by running away.

But none of this really matters. It is important to talk about the future, about what we will do next. In answering this question, we just have to state the realities we are facing today. And the reality is as follows: we must live in this region. But what is the biggest problem of our living in this region? The point is that we are perceived as enemies, and we perceive others as enemies... The more we are perceived as enemies, the more we perceive others as enemies. And it is even difficult to trace back the point from which all this started.

And what do we have to state? First of all, this vicious circle must be managed somehow. Because it is the greatest challenge that we and others face. Consequently, as long as we are seen as enemies, we will continue to consider others enemies. We need to figure out what to do about this. This is not a simple question. If it were a simple question, we would have solved it long ago. It is a very difficult question, but we have to face it directly.

Next, we must state that the Karabakh issue has not been resolved. No matter the Azerbaijani leadership declares that the Karabakh issue has been resolved, the Karabakh issue has not been resolved as of yet. And I want to say that there will be many questions about why our guys died in the end? I would rather answer this question in a specific manner. Our guys did not fell for the President of Azerbaijan to declare that the Karabakh issue has already been resolved. Instead, we can say that the Karabakh issue has not been resolved yet, because Azerbaijan sought to settle the issue by physically exterminating the Armenians in Karabakh. We all know that, don’t we? Artsakh survived; there are Armenians in Artsakh, and I wish to state that this would have been impossible without the sacrifice made by our perished brothers, our soldiers and our army. Yes, we went through a brutal war, but I wish to reaffirm that we owe it to our guys what we have now. And I want us, yes, to proudly applaud our soldiers and our army.

And finally, the most important thing. As for the hostility, when I said that this is a very difficult issue, we should not hope that we will somehow resolve this issue quickly. But we must move forward, and this step is being discussed today. This is the unblocking of regional communications and roads. No matter what they say, the topic of unblocking communications is mutually beneficial. If someone says that unblocking communications is beneficial only for Azerbaijan, do not believe it. If someone says that the issue of communications is beneficial only for Armenia, do not believe it. Unblocking communications, especially in this situation, is beneficial for both Armenia and Azerbaijan. And, of course, there will be a good deal of speculation during such discussions.

But, in the end, the unblocking of communications is a solution to the age-old problem I was just talking about - not even a solution, but at least a step in this direction. Because it is profitable for Azerbaijan, because it will thereby get a communication link with Nakhichevan, and it is profitable for Armenia, because we must have a reliable railway and overland communication with the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This means that the economy of our country can change significantly.
There is a lot of talk about Azerbaijan boasting oil resources and what great advantage oil has given it. I would like to draw your attention to a fact experts are talking about, namely that copper is becoming as worthy as oil in the 21st century. Why was oil so important? Because cars and airplanes are powered by petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines. You may know that electric cars have started to prevail worldwide, while the cars running on internal combustion engines, and even airplanes, will eventually be ousted from the market. Copper is the most important component of electric engines, and Armenia has huge reserves of copper.

And if we manage to open the railways of the Republic of Armenia, then we will be able to export copper not in the form of ore, but to create copper smelters, provide a chain of processing. I just cited the simplest example. This makes it imperative for us to protect our people’s rights to the subsoil. No matter how much the subsoil, copper, ores are used today by specific companies, individuals; nevertheless, it is our people’s property, the property of the state. We must make sure that the people and the state get a decent, fair share out of all of this. So that it serves not the well-being of individuals, but the well-being of the people and the Republic of Armenia.

Yes, we have to work hard, but, again, let us go back to Christian values. There is a well-known saying in the New Testament: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Caesar in this case is our state, and we must work and give God the things that are God’s. This means that we must support our God-given children, our families, and create goods for them. In parallel, we must allocate a share of our earnings for our common home, that is, the state. Paying taxes should not be deemed as responsibility; we should do it with pleasure, realizing that it is for our common good.

Today people are chanting: Nikol the traitor, Nikol the traitor. Can anyone explain what our betrayal is? That we did not loot, that we did not buy houses or real estate in Europe or America, that we did not save millions in our Swiss bank accounts, that we did not build palaces for ourselves? Well, for 20 years in connection with that looting that the people were talking about, they were winking, saying, we maintain the army, guard the front lines, then in 2016 it turned out that we were at war with weaponry dating back to the 80s.

Today we are told that we failed to do some important things over the past couple of years. Even elementary issues, such as the ones related to soldiers’ underwear and army catering were not resolved by 2018. Yes, they are right; we are to blame for the fact that in two years we did not solve those issues they had failed to address for the past 20 years. Yes, we are to blame, and let the people punish us for this sin as they see fit.

We have announced snap parliamentary elections. And what does that mean? It means we are giving you back the power we got from you. They want us to give them back the power they got from you. We will never do that, because by doing so we would be betraying you. Because they want to restore the situation when people were forced to go to the polls. We will not let that happen. We will defend to the last the people’s power in Armenia.

Let not advise us to escape from the country those who flew twice in the most responsible moment. We are not going to run away. We will hold to the last. Holding to the last means that people should be allowed to make a fair decision. Should the people decide that I need to be shot, I will humbly obey their will. If the people decide that we must continue to be the Government of Armenia, we will continue in office.

By the way, I also want to say that today, when I came here for a meeting in this format, I thought that we should talk with the people about our mistakes. And I wondered: okay, let us look back, why did we make those mistakes? A mistake is a mistake, and the people should be the judge, but, all the same, there must be an explanation why we made those mistakes. Taking a retrospective glance, I recorded an interesting thing: we have been constantly facing the old system’s revolt ever since the revolution of 2018.

Let us remember: first there was a riot by the parliamentary majority as early as on October 2. 2018. Then there was a riot by the Constitutional Court, followed by a standoff with the judiciary, then a riot by the Director of the National Security Service, etc. The riots continue to this day. In fact, there is not a single member of the so-called pseudo-elite who would not revolt against us.

However, this raises the question: the problem is in the government and the prime minister, if everyone is so rebellious. I will explain why the problem is in us. What is the problem? They have been telling us ever since 2018: “Well, we see, you are a government now, but let us “do something,” let us go further. Well, suppose we “do something,” but then what shall we say to the people?

I will tell you something else. Are you not surprised that I am still standing before you as Prime Minister after all this. What is the reason? The reason is you, only you. And the fact that I have not yet abandoned the office of Prime Minister for various reasons, objective and subjective, again the reason is you, because I cannot break my pledge, namely that power belongs to you, and you are the ones to decide who is to hold it. I am not exaggerating: you must decide. And not only I must submit to your decision, everyone must submit to your decision.

We actually went through all those riots. We went along. If it were not for you, we would not have even been alive. I understand that after this I will have no excuses. But the people must have a say in the form of parliamentary elections. I warned them during all this time; I told them if we fail to tackle the problem, the people will do it. Let us not get this far.

Dear people, there was actually more to say, but I do not want to drag out my speech. Thank you for the visual contact, and I want to say: I love you all, I am proud of you all, I adore you all.

Once again, I apologize for the disappointments you have endured because of us. I know that we have failed to live up to all your expectations, and I am ready to humbly bear whatever punishment you decide. But I am willing to bear another punishment, if you decide that we must continue our mission, we will bear that punishment as well.

I have to say one more thing. I recently talked with some members of the political board of the Civil Contract Party, and I came to the following conclusion: in 2018 we had a feeling that power was a pleasure. We have been in power for three years now. What have our families seen and endured during this time: suffering and stress? The government was hell for us. They insist that we have bought islands, and so on. I do not know where they came from and wrote: Anna Hakobyan bought a house in Canada. But here is what I say: there are 10 million Armenians in the world, aren’t there? Think about how many of those 10 million Armenians would be people with the name Anna Hakobyan? Clarify whether that is true or not. Anna Hakobyan is one of the most popular women’s names and a very common surname. If they say there is a house in Canada under Nikol Pashinyan’s name, we would say it is him, there cannot be another one. That is, what do they want to achieve with this kind of manipulation?

They want to say that we have betrayed you. We have made mistakes, we have done a lot of things wrong, we have made a lot of mistakes, but treason and betrayal is what we cannot be blamed for. Let them accuse us of anything, but they cannot accuse us of treason. And the people know this; otherwise we would not have been standing here today. Thank you for supporting us. I bow to you, I love you all and I am proud of you all!”

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