Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Working Visit to the French Republic
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Headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a government delegation has arrived in the French Republic on a working visit. The Prime Minister left the airport for Yerevan Park in Paris, where he laid a wreath at the monument to Komitas, paying tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Later on, the Premier had dinner with the representatives of the Armenian community in France, involving MPs, politicians, public figures, businessmen, artists, particularly Mayor of Lyon Georges Kepenekian, Deputy Mayor of the 9th district of Paris Alexy Govchian, ex-member of the French government Patrick Devedjian, co-chairs of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France Ara Toranyan and Murad Papazyan, businessmen Daniel Kourkchyan, Serge Churuk, Vardan Srmakesh , Armen Petrosyan, Alain Mikli, President of the Union of Filmmakers Alain Terzian, world-famous football player Yuri Jorkaeff and others.
In his speech, the Prime Minister noted that the presence of prominent French-Armenians symbolized the opportunities available today in the Republic of Armenia. “What happened in Armenia is quite easy to understand. The citizens of Armenia and the Armenian people regained their trust and self-confidence. This is the key change that has taken place. No matter who is government and who is opposition - people are the only source of power in the Republic of Armenia and there is no exaggeration in it.
Earlier today, I hosted and talked to representatives of the France-Armenia Friendship Group. I told them that a new governance system is being shaped in the Republic of Armenia, that of direct democracy. Since this statement may give rise to some misunderstanding, I wish to note that by saying this I mean the following: citizens should have greater participation in decision-making, specifically by means of referendums.
I think a new process has started in Armenia, which will spread all over the world. I want to believe that the Armenian people and Armenia have assumed a role which is of global significance, and I also believe that the Armenian nation has the necessary potential, historical background and skills to have a say in developing new systems in the world. Seeing those present, I want to believe that our State will take its share of leadership instead of skidding in the backdrop of modern politics. The Armenian nation has that very potential, and as the representative of the people which was the first to adopt Christianity as a State religion, I believe in the idea that we have far more serious and greater potential.
We must unite our forces just because the velvet revolution took place not only with the participation of Armenian citizens, but also with that of Diaspora Armenians.
What do I mean by participation? Namely, that your clear-cut position and positive stance were the most powerful factor that could change the political situation in Armenia. It is important for me reach out the spiritual, cultural and political content of what happened, which, as it turned out, should bring us together.
I do believe that the Armenian people have shouldered a new role, and that new role is first of all to create a free and happy homeland. I can guarantee that today all people are equal before the law in Armenia. Being or having more and less in the country is the cornerstone on which our new reality is to be built. I would like to thank you for your position and reception.
Many things remain to be said yet, but I want to assure you that I could read in your eyes everything you wanted to say, and I hope you have seen in my eyes what you wanted to hear.
We are the descendants of the same patriarch, we are the children of the same homeland, the bearers of the same dreams, we are the creators of the same victory and we must be together,” the Prime Minister concluded.
During the exchange of opinions that followed, the Premier answered numerous questions raised by French-Armenian public figures concerning the changes underway in Armenia: development of democracy, fight against corruption, betterment of the business environment, attracting investments, etc.
Then Prime Minister Pashinyan awarded Yuri Jorkaeff the Medal of Gratitude on Armenia’s Independence Day. Yuri Jorkaeff said he was honored to receive such an award and added that he would bear it with great honor and pride. “I am proud to be a representative of Armenia,” Jorkaeff said.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to France continues. On the second day of his visit, the head of the Armenian government met with members of the French Enterprise Movement (MEDEF). MEDEF brings together around 7200 French companies that are engaged in different spheres and helps them reach out to foreign markets.
Welcoming the Prime Minister of Armenia, Philippe Delore, the organization’s board chairman, expressed conviction that Nikol Pashinyan’s visit will be effective and will promote cooperation between Armenia and France. Philippe Delore noted that taking into consideration the existence of historically established friendly relations between the two countries, MEDEF is interested in the development and expansion of economic cooperation, deepening the ties between business circles of the two countries and is ready to work actively in that direction.
In turn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Armenia Jonathan Lacote noted that Armenia is rich in human capital and attracted the attention of French organizations to that fact. According to him, in case of going to Armenia with investment programs, that potential will contribute to successful activities.
In his speech, the Prime Minister touched upon the developments in Armenia and the priorities of the government’s economic activity.
“Armenia went through a non-violent, velvet revolution which changed both politics and values in the country. I wish to emphasize that the revolution will miss the target after all, if we fail to bring about an economic revolution in Armenia. In this regard, we are actually facing the most important stage of our revolution as we need to achieve an economic breakthrough for the Republic of Armenia,” Nikol Pashinyan said, adding that there should be clear rules for economic activity.
“We have stated these rules many times, but I can assume that not all business people believe us due to long-standing economic tradition. After being elected Prime Minister, I hosted the business circles and made the following statement: business entities are henceforth free from any corruption obligation. We only have two conditions and two interests in our relations with those engaged in economic activity. Any activity should be carried out in full compliance with the law and we will help everyone create as many jobs as possible and, of course, pay taxes. We took note of those indications coming from the business community, which stated that the applicable Tax Code was too complicated, and we have now initiated a Tax Code reform,” the Prime Minister noted, adding that the government is facing another problem related to the former policies.
“We are well aware that many companies had to abide by the logic where corruption, sponsorship and monopoly prevailed. One of my first steps as Prime Minister was to visit Carrefour supermarket, as it was the only one operating within the bounds of the law. As a result, the big supermarket network proved on the verge of collapse, but now I can assume that the process has stopped, and the network is on the way of enlargement since now all supermarkets are functioning according to the law,” the Premier emphasized, adding that the Executive has to address a number of issues with foreign companies.
According to Nikol Pashinyan, however, the goal of the Executive is not to destroy anything, but to involve Armenia in the conditions of cooperation with these companies and make the cooperation more effective.
“When there are problems in some sphere, one should understand the mistakes made by the government or companies. In most cases, the interests of the Republic of Armenia and its people were not taken into account in the transactions between companies and the government. And I do not see the fault of these companies at all, because they have acted in their own interest, while the interests of the State and people should be protected by those officials negotiating on behalf of Armenia. Although, while studying a number of contracts, we understand that officials have acted in their personal, clan and, let me say, mafia interests. To clarify these situations, we need to understand the problems, find the right answers: otherwise we will have a caption without content. We want to be honest with our relationships with business entities. We understand that every company should defend its interests, but we want to emphasize that the chair of Armenia’s defender is no longer void. If everything continues this way, the prospects of these companies will be vague. There are pits that we have to get out together,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
Referring to his government’s economic vision, Nikol Pashinyan said that the Executive’s goal is to turn Armenia from agrarian country into a high-tech country. “And this is not just an ambition, because those who know Armenia know that there is great human resource for the economy of such a structure and its prerequisites have been created. This circumstance is highlighted in the recently published Global Innovation Report. Armenia is currently ranked low in terms of innovations and holds a very high place in terms of innovation capacity. The IT sector is dynamically developing in Armenia: different companies are interested in launching high-tech products in our country. We invite all investors to partake in the flight for which the Republic of Armenia is preparing,” the Prime Minister said, assuring that the Armenian government is set to solve all the problems in an open, frank, honest dialogue since the success of any economic activity in Armenia is the success of the Armenian people.
“I want to assure that all investors will have dialogue-based relations with the Government of Armenia within the bounds of honesty and legitimacy. Those who engage in economic activity will not have competitors in the government, since business and politics should be separated, and those who are engaged in politics should not engage in business. The Armenian government is able to enforce this condition within a short period of time because it has the full confidence of the Armenian people. We will not swap the people’s trust with any amount or any material value because there is not so much money and gold in the world equivalent to the value that has been created as a result of our revolution. This situation is a great opportunity for all of us, and I am convinced that it will not be depreciated: it will not be lost. And therefore, I am inviting all of you for a broad dialogue on a great future,” Pashinyan said.
The Head of Government answered a number of questions from MEDEF members regarding the regional economic situation, infrastructure, the opportunities and prospects in energy, road construction, food industry, pharmaceuticals, waste recycling and other spheres.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who is paying a working visit to France, today met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. After the welcoming ceremony, handshake and protocol photo session, the leaders of the two countries held negotiations in the frame of a working lunch.
Welcoming Armenia’s Prime Minister to the Elysee Palace, Emmanuel Macron noted the importance of Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to France and expressed conviction that it would promote and reinvigorate the deeply-rooted friendly relations between the two countries. The French President said his country ready to continue making efforts to develop multifaceted cooperation with friendly Armenia. Noting that he was going to arrive in Armenia on a State visit in less than a month, Emmanuel Macron expressed confidence that the Francophone Summit would be held at the highest level in Yerevan.
Thankful for the warm welcome, Nikol Pashinyan said their second meeting comes to prove that the privileged Armenian-French relations are in safe hands and will continue to expand and deepen in the best interest of both countries. The head of the Armenian government underscored that the past years since the establishment of diplomatic relations have been marked by dynamically deepening Armenian-French relations and expressed confidence that they would continue to develop in all areas of mutual interest: political intercourse, inter-parliamentary cooperation, decentralized contacts, economic exchanges, culture, education, research, healthcare and other spheres, including the legal-contractual field.
“I am convinced that our meeting will impart a new quality to our privileged relations based on centuries-old historical friendship,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
The Premier stressed the importance of the Francophone Summit due this fall in Armenia, adding that it is among the most important events held in Yerevan since independence. The Head of Government reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to ensure the Summit’s success and expressed confidence that it will help enhance the reputation and influence of La Francophonie.
Nikol Pashinyan attached importance to the economic forum to be held in Yerevan on October 10 on the margins of the 17th Summit of La Francophonie, which is supposed to promote contacts and interaction between business circles.
With reference to the Karabakh issue, the parties stressed the need for achieving a peaceful settlement in the OSCE Minsk Group format. In this context, Nikol Pashinyan hailed the efforts made by the Co-Chairs, including France, with a view to securing peace and stability in the region. The Prime Minister underscored that Armenia remains committed to continued negotiations in a bid to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Emmanuel Macron and Nikol Pashinyan agreed to discuss the Armenian-French cooperation agenda in more detail during the French President’s forthcoming State visit to Armenia.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who is paying a working visit to France, today met with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. To begin with, the parties stated with satisfaction that the two countries have boasted privileged relations of close partnership since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the Mayor of Paris emphasized the importance of developing and strengthening cooperation between the twin capital cities. Nikol Pashinyan expressed conviction that the Armenian-French cooperation will be continued which will surely give its fruits.
“Armenia’s new leadership intends to not only preserve the current level of Armenian-French relations, but also to give new breath and dynamics to the agenda of bilateral cooperation.” the Prime Minister said, prioritizing the ever-growing cooperation between the Yerevan and Paris municipalities, in which great is Mrs. Hidalgo’s personal contribution. The head of the Armenian government said he is aware that the municipal administrations keep in close touch everyday and share best practices with each other.
According to the prime minister, the experience of Paris - one of the best managed cities in the world - is valuable in all spheres. Nikol Pashinyan expressed the hope that a constructive dialogue will be established with Yerevan’s new mayor and tangible results of cooperation will be recorded.
Noting that this year we are celebrating Yerevan’s 2800th anniversary, the Premier reaffirmed his invitation for Anne Hidalgo to visit Armenia whether on Yerevan’s 2800th anniversary or on another convenient occasion.
Anne Hidalgo, too, highlighted the development and deepening of Armenian-French relationships and praised the Armenian community in Paris, emphasizing that several members of the community have achieved great success in various fields of activity and have made a significant contribution to the development of the city, as well as in public and political life.
The Mayor of Paris expressed her admiration of the Armenian TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and advised that they were going to set up a similar center in Paris to become another bridge of friendship. Anne Hidalgo gave details of the ongoing support programs implemented by the Paris Mayor’s Office and expressed readiness to exchange experience with the Municipality of Yerevan.
“Yerevan holds a special place in the Parisians’ hearts, and we are eager to further strengthen the ties with the Armenian capital,” Anne Hidalgo said.
After the meeting, a reception was held in the municipality of Paris in honor of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, attended by Armenian community representatives. RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo delivered speeches.
The Mayor of Paris stated, in part: “Honorable Mr. Prime Minister, Dear Nikol Pashinyan, I wish you welcome and see that there are many familiar faces from the French-Armenian community here. I am happy to host you and I want to thank you for responding to the invitation. I am sincerely glad that the friendship between Paris and Armenia is so deep. We have a shared past record and a common future to build.
The present consists of those young people that stood up for you, stood up for democracy and for their future, and the peaceful march that brought you from Gyumri to Yerevan and was a peaceful wind blowing in your country.
Today, there is a generation that shares your enormous responsibility. Youth is uniting us today; within just a few days a TUMO center will be inaugurated in Paris: the idea was inspired by your country. This will allow thousands of Parisians to train in digital technologies in an atmosphere of kindness, respect and trust.
We worked hard and have chosen a beautiful cultural establishment in Paris, and I want to greet the Director, as well as Mary Lou and Bekor Papazyans for accepting the challenge. We face the challenge of building our present and future days together; we must multiply the joint programs and implement them together. I know that we want to build more democratic, just and modern societies.
Mr. Prime Minister, I understand that you know very well the cost of the struggle. Let us reach our goals together.”
Prime Minister Pashinyan stated, in turn: “Dear Mrs. Mayor, dear compatriots, dear guests, it is a great honor for me to be here today with the Mayor of Paris in this historic building. Since Mrs. Hidalgo repeatedly evoked the recent events in Armenia, I would reserve the right to make some parallels and place today’s meeting in the context of what happened.
The Armenian revolution actually started from the Square of France which features one of Rodin’s masterpieces that France has donated to Armenia. We rallied around Rodin’s sculpture, and I used to warn people several times a day that the statue was a masterpiece of art, and our greatest problem was not only to change power in the country, but also to make sure that the masterpiece is not damaged. Every time I spoke at the Square of France standing by Rodin’s masterpiece, I evoked stories related to different revolutions in the past. I constantly had in my mind France, one of the largest centers of revolutions. I realized the progress brought to mankind through different revolutions, but at the same time I remembered the misery that revolutions have brought to peoples.
As I recalled the history of the French Revolution and other revolutions, a very clear problem came to be formulated before us, namely to make a revolution that will lead to progress, will lead to new opportunities, and will rule out a new tide of suffering. And we managed to clearly formulate our task: our revolution must be that of love and solidarity, not suffering, not that of gains and losses. And we succeeded in carrying out a revolution of love and solidarity, a revolution carried out for the sake of citizens’ happiness, freedom and without any suffering.
I feel that the idea of our revolution and the fact that TUMO centers will be inaugurated in Paris, Moscow, Lebanon, Tirana, Berlin shows the key content of the New Armenia. We are a country that wants and can become an important and useful participant of human progress and civilization, make human life freer, happier, more tolerant and more civilized. And we are walking this way more confidently day after day, and in fact, we are walking.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is in France on a working visit, today met in Paris with Gordon Wylie, President of Lydian International’s Board of Directors, and Julian Davidson, member of the Board of Directors.
The meeting focused on the situation around the Amulsar mine project and the ways of addressing it. In this context, Prime Minister Pashinyan highlighted and prioritized the safety of water resources in Lake Sevan basin and Amulsar region. At the same time, the Prime Minister noted that any solution should be based on specific facts.
The Premier stressed the importance of continued dialogue between Lydian International and those communities affected by the Amulsar issue.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with representatives of the Armenian community and answered their questions at the Gabriel Hall in Paris.
“To be frank, as I looked at you, I was thinking about what words I would use to start with: say, dear compatriots, dear French-Armenians, but I decided to address you as follows: Dear people, Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, because I think that this is justified by the political change that has taken place in the Republic of Armenia. This is the most serious change that has taken place in the life of the Armenian people. Ever since Armenia’s independence, a debate has been on about Armenia-Diaspora relations: who are the ones living in Armenia and those living outside Armenia?
This debate has been on for many years now: different views have been voiced, and after all these long regressions we have reached a point where the prime minister can address his compatriots everywhere in the world as dear people, proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, because citizenship is not a passport, not even a residence, not even a registration address or location. Citizenship is consciousness and feeling, and the non-violent velvet revolution in Armenia united all Armenians around the union and civil consciousness, we realized that we are all citizens of Armenia, whether we live in Armenia or not, whether we are born in Armenia or not No, no matter whether we will ever return to Armenia or not because Armenia is the common identity of all of us - Armenia is our birthplace and all of us are the homeland, the homeland of all of us, the dream of all of us, all of us and our victory. This is a victory that we have built together that we should cherish and enjoy together,”Pashinyan said, noting that he could see that the audience really enjoyed the victory.
The great meaning of this is the following: “We used to be a desperate people that did not believe in their future; now we trust in our future, and we will definitely triumph. There is a time to dream and fulfill your dreams. I think that just a few months ago, we were still dreaming, while now we have to materialize our long-cherished dreams.
We have ushered in the time for our nation to realize its dreams, so the time has come for our nation to materialize what we have dreamed of for millennia. The millennium of fulfilling our dreams comes to replace the millennia of dreaming, we are no longer a nation that stands on the leg, straighten the back and walk toward dreams. In the case of the Republic of Artsakh, which is the homeland of all Armenians, the homeland of the Armenians living in the Republic of Artsakh, with citizenship and identity, has come to the dream of returning and has come to realize that dream. Long live the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, we and our children will live and live in a free and happy Armenia.”
Then the attendees asked the Prime Minister about the results of the talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. In response, Nikol Pashinyan noted, “The most important record of today’s meeting is the following: we can say that the Republic of Armenia should assume a more serious and great international role in the near future. After the revolution, Armenia’s international reputation has grown, and we can have a more active role in international relations.”
The Head of Government advised that in addition to bilateral relations, different issues of international importance had been discussed with the President of France. Nikol Pashinyan added that the remaining issues will be discussed with his French counterpart when President Macron arrives in Armenia on a State visit. “I am confident that our contacts and relations with President Macron will be increasingly intense,” the Prime Minister said.
Touching upon preparations for the summit of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Nikol Pashinyan expressed confidence that Armenia will be able to organize it so that the organization will become stronger as a result of the summit, and the role of our country in the Francophone territory will be further emphasized.
The French Armenians also asked Nicol Pashinyan about the possibilities of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and asked whether a meeting with the President of Azerbaijan is expected. The Prime Minister advised that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have already brokered a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, but there is no agreement on a meeting at the level of Heads of State.
“President Macron wanted to see our understanding of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, and also whether the issue could now be discussed more seriously. We exchanged views, and I told him that to my mind, the Azerbaijani leader is not that sincere when talking about the settlement of the conflict, as it is possible when there is a climate of regulation in the region.
Talking about a settlement is not realistic against the background of threats. If the mediators really want to push ahead with the settlement - and we are committed to a peaceful settlement - they should first of all call the President of Azerbaijan to order: he is mistaken if he thinks that threats can force us make concessions.
Today’s Armenia is a new Armenia that will appeal to Armenians worldwide the way I addressed you today, and around which all Armenians shall be united. In this case Azerbaijan’s aggressive stance will be counterbalanced by the courageous Armenian people,” Nikol Pashinian underscored.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister touched upon the strengthening of Armenia’s relations with the Diaspora and foreign countries, the internal political processes underway in Armenia, the ongoing reforms, the fight against corruption and the repatriation opportunities.
In connection with the latter, Nikol Pashinyan said: “This topic should always be debated in every Armenian family outside the homeland. No matter how many of them will come back if they come back very well; if their children or grandchildren do so, it is good, but what matters most is to realize that every Armenian should seek to return to Armenia sooner or later. The idea of repatriation must be part of our identity and our children’s upbringing, and the rest will come in due course. Repatriation must be a dream for us.”