Nikol Pashinyan attends Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting in St Petersburg
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in St. Petersburg on a working visit. The Head of Government met with a large group of Armenian business people from the north-western region of Russia.
“I want to invite all entrepreneurs to Armenia to carry out economic activities. All the obstacles that existed before were removed, they are no more. It is important to note the following: corruption was the most important of these obstacles and, in spite of the fact that on the whole, they say, there is no corruption in Armenia any more, but its residual effect is evident. I can assure you that an active struggle against corruption is underway and will be continued,” Nikol Pashinyan said, adding that the fight against corruption has to do with the activities of some companies, and for his government it is important that this fight could not be seen and commented on as a campaign against business.
“It is crucial for us to make it clear that business in general cannot the target of our struggle. We guarantee the safety of investments. By stating this, not only do we mean that no government agency can pulverize investments, but also imply that no one can seize part of your business, we exclude such phenomena,” the Prime Minister emphasized.
Nikol Pashinyan stressed that the Government has only one condition in the matter of investment: it expects that business activity will be legal. According to the Prime Minister, the State is interested in creating new jobs and increasing government revenues. “A week after I was elected Prime Minister, I officially stated at a meeting with the business circles that from now on business is freed from corruption-related liabilities. And in this regard, I rule out any attempt to interfere with the activities of business entities at the local level,” Nikol Pashinyan assured.
Touching upon the Diaspora’s new role, the Head of Government noted that since late 1980s the Diaspora has been sending in large amounts of money in the form of charity, which was valuable and vital to Armenia. The Premier expressed gratitude on behalf of the people and the State of Armenia, adding that it is necessary to make sure that the money so donated is invested in economic activity.
“We want to create the opportunity for you to come and conduct business in Armenia, make profit and benefit the people and the state. We want you to earn money in Armenia, our goal is to make opportunities to make money in Armenia as wide as possible, rather than being content with a narrow circle. The entrepreneurial field should be accessible to many, and we can provide it today. We hear opinions that the business took a break and waits for the upcoming elections. I want to emphasize that the changes that took place in Armenia are irreversible; only a government relying on the logic of revolutionary values can be functional in Armenia. There will be no counter-revolution in Armenia, and I consider myself to be the guarantor of this. Time is precious, and I do not want to lose it.” Nikol Pashinyan did not rule out that there might be some problems associated with the applicable laws.
He said that the Government is working on the Tax Code reform in a bid to make that field fair and well-streamlined. Touching upon his government’s economic priorities, the Prime Minister stressed that the development of high technologies is one of them.
“Our common priority is to turn Armenia into a country of high technology; our goal is to promote the high-tech industry. Today, for example, the production of solar panels has proved to be of great interest. We will do our best to build such plants.
The second priority, which is at the research stage, is the diamond industry, the processing of diamonds, which was once very developed in Armenia. Now we are studying what opportunities exist. The next priority is agriculture. For us, a new perception of this area is very important: the creation of greenhouse farms, intensive gardens, the production of anti-hail networks is of great importance. Of great importance is also the development of export-oriented industries.
The next direction is tourism and the development of related industries. In this case, the main attention should be paid to the environmental sector of Armenia: ensuring an environmentally friendly environment and food is very important in the context of Armenia becoming a tourist center,” the Prime Minister said.
Nikol Pashinyan added that the Armenian government does not offer anyone to transfer its capital to Armenia. “Try with a safe for you any threshold. Let us try investing money the way it could generate added value. We must change the logic of charity. The glorification of charity should be replaced by the glorification of labor,” the Prime Minister said.
Nikol Pashinyan expressed his confidence that the Armenian government has no reasons for failure. “There will be no failure: success will come after success. Today Armenia has strong positions in foreign policy, in the internal policy of the government there is absolute confidence of the people, which we necessarily realize. I guarantee that the Prime Minister of Armenia is not involved and will not be involved in any corruption deal, we will provide equal conditions for everyone, and your choice is to take advantage of this or not,” Pashinyan said.
The Prime Minister also touched upon problems in the energy sector, which had to do with the effectiveness of credit programs, tariffs, and the activities of gas filling stations. During the meeting, the Prime Minister answered a number of questions of entrepreneurs that concerned the development of energy, agriculture, infrastructures and other spheres, created conditions, the possibility of creating an investment fund, etc.
The entrepreneurs stressed that they intended to implement various investment projects in Armenia, and added that the changes that occurred in their homeland had revived great hopes in the Diaspora. They wished Nikol Pashinyan’s government every success for the sake of our people’s prosperity.
* * *
Today, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the regular meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council (EIC) in Saint Petersburg. The narrow-format meeting of the heads of EAEU-member States was followed by a joint photo session, after which the prime ministers attended the plenary session of the Council.
After taking note of the status of previous meeting’s assignments, the Council proceeded to the agenda. The Prime Ministers discussed issues related to the furtherance of integration cooperation in economy, customs administration, energy, transport and other spheres. They specifically referred to the unified digital agenda, industrial cooperation, interaction in the field of customs administration, and the betterment of the applicable legal and regulatory framework. The meeting next considered the possibility of establishing an aviation investigation authority and a common gas market.
The Council decided to set up a high-level working group to deal with integration cooperation and import substitutions in industry. In conclusion, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council decided to hold the Council’s next meeting this fall in Belarus.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s remarks, delivered at the plenary session of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting
First of all, I would like to thank Head of RF Government Dmitry Medvedev for hospitality and high-level organization of today’s meeting, as well as to express my appreciation to Tigran Sargsyan for the Commission-drafted Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting agenda.
Addressing the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting, held in Sochi in May, 2018, I reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to its international obligations, including the ones assumed in the frame of the Eurasian Economic Union. I assured of our readiness and commitment to active cooperation with EAEU partners in a bid to ensure free movement of goods, services, labor and capital under the principles set out in the EAEU Treaty, as well as to modernize and uplift the national economies of member countries.
During the narrow panel session, we exchanged views on a wide range of issues. I am confident that the agreements reached today will allow us to take into account the peculiarities of our countries and thereby provide the conditions necessary for the activities of Eurasian Economic Union bodies.
Now, I will briefly touch upon some agenda items. The promotion of the digital agenda is a priority for both Armenia and other EAEU-member States. Our joint efforts in this area are aimed at ensuring the effective functioning of governance systems, a new level of public services which in the end will provide more favorable conditions for achieving the four degrees of freedom declared within the Union.
Decentralization and offering equal opportunities for all member States, monitoring of the use of resources, taking account of individual countries’ peculiarities and other principles will allow us to achieve the expected results. This will also help select the sequence of steps and measures based on economic realities and information security priorities.
In this context, it would be highly beneficial if we could share experiences in the field of digital transformation, paying special attention to the digitization of public administration, as well as to integration-targeted and cross-border processes.
For instance, the Digital Agenda concept has already been developed in Armenia, account taken of harmonization processes within the EAEU. This specifically concerns such topics as the monitoring of the movement of goods, the establishment of a common digital platform, and so on. In the framework of the digital agenda, we intend to achieve such key indicators as the twofold reduction of public spending in the tertiary sector by 2025, 80% availability of online services for citizens, 100% for businesses, 80% broadband internet accessibility for the population and more.
Also, I wish to advise that as part of the ongoing preparations for the Eurasian Week annual forum to be held in Yerevan on October 22-24 this year, an international contest of innovative projects referred to as Eurasian Digital Platforms is scheduled, with the number of participants currently reaching 300. Indeed, our focus is not only on the cooperation in the field of high technologies, but also on the traditional areas cooperation. First of all, I mean the paths leading to the shared markets.
We believe that the common gas market will give fresh impetus to economic cooperation between our countries, increase the level of integration and competitiveness of Member States, as well as the reliability, availability and quality of gas supply for domestic consumers. It will also promote healthy competition within the Union which, in turn, will help streamline the pricing process.
As regards the establishment of an air accident investigation authority, I would like to note that according to experts’ indications, harmonization in this field may be completed as soon as by this yearend. In this regard, it is crucial for us to rule out the overlap of functions with the International Aviation Committee.
In conclusion, I would like to express my hope that the agreements reached today will help enhance EAEU’s effectiveness and provide for our countries’ sustainable development.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with RF Premier Dmitry Medvedev on the margins of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council sitting in St Petersburg.
“Dear Nikolay Vovayevich, I am glad for the opportunity to see you once again following our recent World Cup-dated meeting. During today’s five-hour-long discussion, we were able to successfully discuss not only EAEU-related problems, but also issues high on the bilateral agenda, because there is always something to discuss,” Dmitry Medvedev said.
Nikol Pashinyan stated in turn: “Dear Dmitry Anatolevich, it is nice to have such an opportunity. I believe that such frequent meetings are useful in the context of Armenia’s current situation and our relations, in general, since they give an opportunity to discuss every single nuance in bilateral relations and those issues that exist, that may exist, and even those questions which are still non-existent, but for some reason they are being talked about a lot.
Issues like that are actually inexistent, and I have repeatedly said that the strategy and the overall idea of our relations are clear, there is not much room for discussion here. I think that these meetings are very useful in our relations in order to discuss ways of raising our relations to a new qualitative level. I think that both Moscow and Yerevan are sincerely interested in this, and I am glad that over the past two and a half months we had various opportunities to take up these issues.
It is obvious that our relations are developing efficiently, and I actually have no doubt that this spirit will not only continue, but will also become more effective.”
The parties discussed a number of issues related to Armenian-Russian strategic relations, including the development of economic cooperation, touched on joint programs and future plans carried out in different spheres of the economy.
Nikol Pashinyan and Dmitry Medvedev stressed the need for boosting trade turnover, and discussed issues of expanding cooperation in various fields. In this context, they highlighted the efficiency of the ongoing cooperation within the EAEU framework.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Kamsky Garden in St. Petersburg, where he laid flowers at the monument to Komitas and the khachkar dedicated to the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide. The Prime Minister was met by numerous representatives of the Armenian Diaspora, who wished Nikol Pashinyan every success for the good of Armenia.
Then the Prime Minister visited the Hermitage, where he was met by museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky. Nikol Pashinyan also met with a group of cultural figures in the Hermitage, after which he toured the museum. Nikol Pashinyan said the meeting with art figures was a great honor for him and stressed that the Armenian government is keen to consistently develop relationships between Armenia and Russia and raise them to a new level.
“Our relations have always been at a high level, and I think that they are based on the rich cultural ties existing between Armenian and Russian cultural figures. I mean not only professional, but also human bonds: professional ties strengthen human ties, and vice versa. We deem it necessary to further deepen cultural ties and attach great importance to the fact that the Hermitage stores many exhibits with Armenian footprints,” the Premier said, adding that St. Petersburg is dear to many renowned Armenians as they used to live, get education and work there.
Then Nikol Pashinyan answered the questions of cultural figures, which concerned Armenian-Russian relations, cultural cooperation, the development of film production in Armenia, the implementation of student projects, the preservation of architectural buildings, the changes taking place in our country, as well as the Armenian-Turkish relations.
Regarding the latter, Nikol Pashinyan stressed that Turkey associates the Armenian-Turkish relations with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and deemed it strange that the Turkish side keeps conditioning them with the relations with a third country.
“Turkey unilaterally closed the Armenian-Turkish border; it can be considered unclosed from the Armenian side. The international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is crucial for us, and Armenia has always been in the forefront of the fight against genocides,” Nikol Pashinyan said, adding that the issue of genocide is for our country a matter of global struggle against genocides rather than a problem of Armenian-Turkish relations. “We stand ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any preconditions," the Prime Minister said.
In conclusion, the Prime Minister of Armenia entered the Book of Honorary Guests. Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to Russia is over.