Foreign visits

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to Saint Petersburg

06.12.2018 - 06.12.2018

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Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the inauguration of a new building of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in St. Petersburg, which is located downtown at the Bolshoi Avenue of Vasilievsky Island.

The new building is of historical significance and dates as far back as 1912. Covering an area of 320 square meters, the building has been provided free of charge to the Consulate for a period of 49 years. It has been renovated with funds available from the local Armenian community. Note that the old building was rented in 2000. Only 100 square meters wide, it was uncomfortable as a working area.

Felicitating those present, Nikol Pashinyan expressed confidence that this will help improve the services provided to the Armenian community. “We, the Armenians, have warm feelings for Russia, and events like this can strengthen our relations. I hope that new Armenian offices and centers will be inaugurated in the Russian Federation, and Russian investments will continue to grow in Armenia,” Nikol Pashinyan said. 

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On a working visit to Saint Petersburg, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called at Surb Katarine Armenian Church, lit candles, and then met with the local Armenian community representatives.

In his speech, the Acting Head of Government touched upon the changes and developments in Armenia, talked about migration, economy, justice and other reforms.

“I am glad to note that the number of arrivals has exceeded that of departures from Armenia after the non-violent velvet revolution. I think this is one of the most important achievements of the revolution. We must redouble the number of our population over the next 20 years, first of all, through economic development,” Nikol Pashinyan pointed out.

The Acting Prime Minister emphasized that the government’s task is to transform the political revolution into an economic revolution, and the ongoing processes are evidencing that it will be the case. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the Government relies on Diaspora’s investment programs, inter alia.

“If what is being planned now takes effect in 2019, our country’s economic image will be different. Thereby, we will take specific steps to become an industrial country. I hope you are enthusiastic about today’s Armenia,” the Acting Prime Minister said.

In response, many local Armenian community representatives said they were greatly inspired by the processes taking place in Homeland and are going to return to Armenia in a bid to implement various investment projects. In that context, they dwelt on Armenia’s problems related to EAEU exports. The Acting Prime Minister advised that logistical issues are high on his government’s agenda.

“This is one of the most important issues discussed within the Eurasian Economic Union. We are going to implement a pilot program that may facilitate the movement of goods: goods will not be subject to additional checks following the introduction of digital systems,” Nikol Pashinyan said as he spoke about the solution of logistical bottlenecks between Georgia and Russia, and went on to note that Armenia is keen to push ahead with this process.

Nikol Pashinyan next touched upon the wiretapping of his phone conversation with the National Security Service Director. “Wiretapping became possible due to roaming because the NSS Director was in Switzerland during those days. Yesterday the second part of the wiretapping was made public, but you may remember me touching upon it in my National Assembly statement of September 12. What I told then comprised more details than the publicized phone conversation.

In fact, the wiretapping proves that I was unaware of what was going on in the law-court before coming to Saint Petersburg. Generally speaking, the government has been involved in this process because our international partners, especially the special services called the NSS Director on that issue. Note that either the judiciary representative called the NSS for security concerns. Some of the phone talk is broken. I mean the portion where I wonder how come the NSS cannot provide for the judges’ safety.

You may remember that about ten years ago, Haykakan Zhamanak warned that some individuals had managed to procure wiretapping devices in Armenia. A serious challenge is the availability of social groups or families more influential than the State itself. You may rest assured that this phenomenon will be eradicated. Those behind wiretapping should be revealed: I have set a relevant task before the National Security Service,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

The representatives of the Armenian community expressed their concern over Nikol Pashinyan’s personal security. The Acting Prime Minister said that the State Guard Service performs its work properly.

“In general, I feel safe in both Armenia and Russia. I think this is not only a security issue, maybe also the attitude of people inspires me to feel a sense of security,” the Acting Prime Minister said.

Speaking about the problems in the justice sphere, Nikol Pashinyan stressed that reform of the judicial system is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the government because it has been shaped in a well-known environment and environment.

“The European Court of Human Rights has already started and will continue to publish rulings shameful for Armenia, which demonstrate the absence of an independent judicial system in Armenia. We must provide real guarantees for courts’ independence in Armenia. Today our investigative authorities are freer than ever in their activities if we mean the traditional means of influence exercised by the government. But I am not convinced that those behind wiretapping have lost their influence on the system. We have to make real changes after the elections.

There is an idea to establish a court compliant with international arbitration standards in Armenia; there is such a practice in the world. We should not be afraid of revolutionary decisions if we are to make of Armenia a more favorable destination for investments,” the Acting Prime Minister stressed. Nikol Pashinyan added that Armenian investors are showing particular interest for Armenia.

“We are interested in it: our government has no business interests, which gives us the opportunity to create equal conditions for investment. It is exceptional for a political power to be free of business interests at all. Should at some point such a phenomenon be seen in our government, I hereby promise to root it out immediately,” the Acting Premier said.

Nikol Pashinyan next referred to the issue of CSTO Secretary General. “This post is at best a mere occasion to talk about existing problems with the mutual obligations of member states. We want to get clear answers. No one can blame us for not fulfilling our commitments in any point. Armenia has always proved to be a loyal partner. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about all our CSTO partners. Therefore, we say let us clarify our relationships, whether we are allies or not, if we are allies, we have to fulfill all of our commitments, but we do not understand those actions, which contradict these obligations. We need to know who we can count on. I am convinced that the CSTO may counter Azerbaijan’s temptation to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by force. Now the question is whether the CSTO is going to apply the relevant tools or not. This is a matter of strategic importance for us. The question of the Secretary-General is a secondary, tertiary issue. Let there be a representative of Belarus forever, but our mutual obligations need to be honored,” Nikol Pashinyan said, adding that there are serious questions about the vision of the CSTO countries regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, or how it stems from the nature of the strategic partnership. The Acting Prime Minister added that we should understand our environment as a people.

“Once we have clarified our relationship in the context of these issues, I can guarantee that there will be no wrinkles in our relations. We do not need a formal status; we have mutual obligations that should be fulfilled,” Nikol Pashinyan emphasized.

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Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is in the Russian Federation on a working visit, today attended a Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in Saint Petersburg.

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Zheenbekov were in attendance. EAEC Chairman Tigran Sargsyan was also present at the meeting.

The narrow-format meeting was followed by an enlarged session of the Supreme Economic Eurasian Council. The Council members summed up the results of the Eurasian Economic Union’s activity during Russia’s year-long presidency, highlighting the key areas of economic integration, such as trade, energy, and the digital agenda. In particular, they touched upon the elimination of barriers and restrictions, creation of a common market for goods and services, provision of conditions for free movement of capital and labor, harmonization of financial and monetary policies, formation of a common financial market in the future, as well as the implementation of the Union’s digital agenda and the efforts toward shaping a single market of oil products.

The heads of EAEU-member states reviewed organizational issues of topical interest. A decision was made to hand over to Armenia the EAEU chairmanship in 2019.

Addressing the meeting, Nikol Pashinyan stated:

“Dear Supreme Eurasian Economic Council members,
Dear Participants,

Let me greet all participants and thank the Russian side for perfect organization of our meeting, as well as for the warm welcome and hospitality we were shown here in St. Petersburg.

Dear Colleagues,

Membership in the Eurasian Economic Union is one of the priorities of our government. Trade and economic cooperation with EAEU countries is one of the most important positive factors that affect the country’s economic growth and foreign trade potential.

The trade turnover between Armenia and Eurasian Economic Union proved 15 percent up in the first 10 months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017. During the same period, our exports toward EAEU markets increased by more than 22%, while Armenia’s total exports stood at 11.7%. The share of EAEU countries in the overall export structure of Armenia is increasing, too.

The above points not only to the favorable conditions available for our products on the common marketplace, but also to the effectiveness of those free trade tools applied within the Union.

Armenia is eager to see the furtherance of integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union. We are ready to do our best to further develop the integration-targeted institutions and find new ways and mechanisms for cooperation.

In this context, I would like to note that Armenia welcomes the Declaration on Furtherance Integration Processes and supports all the provisions of this document, which defines the philosophy of our cooperation and the main directions of its development.

We are convinced that integration will ultimately help build up a comfortable business environment and fully realize our human potential. If we can achieve tangible results, many businesses and individuals will be interested in deepening the process of integration. Integration will become irreversible if our citizens can see its tangible results.

Dear Colleagues,

The Government of Armenia is set to develop the technological sectors of the economy. Information technology is the fastest growing industry and our country’s competitive advantage. In this regard, the Eurasian Economic Union’s digital agenda is of particular interest to us. It is fully consistent with our priorities and we are interested in its full implementation.

Armenia is keen to diversify its foreign economic relations. We fully support the main directions of EAEU’s international activities in 2019 and the efforts aimed at expanding the geographical coverage of free trade arrangements.

We prioritize the cooperation with the European Union and the countries that are our immediate trade partners. Armenia is prepared to become an effective platform for developing trade and economic relations with Iran. We are also ready to play an active role in the talks on free trade agreement with Egypt.

We are eager to see relevant arrangements signed with Iran and China as soon as possible. The Armenian government is completing the domestic procedure for ratifying those documents that will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval after the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Dear Colleagues,

Deep transformations are taking place in Armenia, which actually affect all aspects of public life. As you may know, snap parliamentary elections will be held in our country in three days.

I can state with confidence that all prerequisites are in place today for holding the most open, free and fair elections in Armenia’s last quarter-century record. All conditions have been created for the free expression of our people’s will.

The new parliament will enable the people to form a government focused on achieving results in priority areas, particularly in the fight against corruption, strengthening the rule of law and providing equal conditions for all economic and political actors.

In conclusion, I would like to touch upon Armenia’s representation at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council. Being guided by the principles of our partnership and constructive approach to the Union’s activities, we do not insist on immediately discussing the issue and making an appropriate decision. However, this is a sensitive issue for us and we would like to leave it on the common agenda of discussion in order to find a mutually acceptable solution for all of us.

Finally, I want to assure that Armenia is ready to assume the chairmanship of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. We would be happy to host one of the meetings of the Council. We will do our utmost to live up to that important and responsible task.

I hope that in a year we will have a more cohesive union that will serve the best interests of our economies, states and peoples.

Thank you.”

* * *

Later today, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended an informal meeting of CIS Heads of State in St. Petersburg.

The leaders of CIS-member countries first attended a joint photo session, and then discussed the prospects for cooperation within the CIS during a working lunch.

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