Foreign visits

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States has kicked off

22.09.2019 - 26.09.2019

more 194 photos

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States has kicked off. The tour started in Los Angeles.

On September 22, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Social Democratic Hentchakian Party’s (SDHP) Central Board members, headed by Board Chairman Hambik Sarafian.

Greeting the SDHP leadership representatives, the Premier noted:

“Dear Mr Sarafian,
Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to meet you here today and discuss our current agenda. Of course, despite our efforts to make this meeting more practical, it is more emotional in nature. This is not, at least, a bad trend, as it creates a better context for discussing many issues on our country's agenda in a better atmosphere. I am happy to see you.”

SDHP Central Board Chairman Hambik Sarafian welcomed Prime Minister Pashinyan, noting that his party welcomes and supports the reforms underway in Armenia.

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister, the Social Democratic Hentchakian Party expresses its support to you, as well as to the Armenian government, in the process of democratic, economic and judicial reforms underway in the Homeland. We are ready to support you and we are confident that under your leadership we will be able to continue the progress in our Motherland,” he noted.

The ongoing transformations, the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora ties, Diaspora’s involvement in the reform process, the efforts to ensure economic progress and other issues were discussed during the meeting.

Referring to the economic development trends in Armenia, the Prime Minister noted that the growth rates are increasingly optimistic month after month, there is a good momentum, and the reaction of the international community is also contributing to this process.

“At this point, I attach great importance to creating an atmosphere conducive to communication with the Diaspora, which means that there should be no sense of alienation or separation in the Diaspora. The Diaspora must be fully involved in Armenia’s progress. To this end, during my visits abroad, I meet with representatives of Armenian communities in the Diaspora. I think the time has come to mobilize our national potential around Armenia,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

* * *

During his working visit to the United States, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with the leadership of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party’s (Ramkavar) Western Coast leadership, headed by RAP Secretary Dr. Raffi Balyan.

Greeting those present. the Premier said: “Dear colleagues, dear Mr. Balyan, I am pleased to meet with you today. Of course, today we will have several opportunities to meet and discuss. We highly appreciate your organization’s role in preserving the Armenian identity in general, outside the Republic of Armenia. We emphasize this during meetings with other partners as well. One of our government’s most important tasks is to maintain and develop the positive backdrop between the Government of Armenia and the Diaspora, but also to make it a lasting tradition for all governments in Armenia.

In the current situation, our task is to generate, re-double, triple our achievements and turn it into a nationwide result. That is why I feel it extremely important to strike the right atmosphere in the relations with the Diaspora, to create the right working mechanisms and, most importantly, to make the whole Diaspora feel like a full beneficiary of the Republic of Armenia. This is a task that we hope to solve with the participation of both you and our other Diaspora organizations and parties.”

Dr Raffi Balyan welcomed the Armenian Prime Minister. “Dear Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the leadership of the Ramkavar Azatakan Party of America, we would like to welcome you to Los Angeles and congratulate you on the 28th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. We are grateful for this opportunity.

Our party, which is a 100-year-old traditional Armenian party, operates in Western America, especially in the cities of Fresno and Los Angeles. We are pursuing our patriotic activity today, and we will always stand by the Motherland.”

Members of the party leadership said they backed the Prime Minister of Armenia and supported the nationwide reforms aimed at Armenia’s progress and prosperity.

Issues related to the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora relations, Armenia’s development, Diaspora’s full involvement in the ongoing processes were discussed during the meeting.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is paying a working visit to the United States, met with the leaders of Armenian community organizations in California, Los Angeles.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the leadership of largest Armenian community organizations, about 70 people altogether, as well as the Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Armenia to Fresno and Las Vegas, and spiritual fathers.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Pashinyan said:

“Dear Colleagues,
Dear Heads of Armenian Community Organizations in California,
Spiritual Fathers,

I am happy for our meeting today. This is a truly important event that has been planned since last year, and I can say that from the very first minute of leaving the airport I felt the atmosphere fostered by the Armenian community in Los Angeles, and I would like to thank you first of all for the atmosphere and for your readiness.

It turned out that I would have a long talk today, and therefore I would like to be more of a listener or a respondent, because later today I will give a detailed talk at the public rally. At this point, I wish to say that I am very happy to enjoy this opportunity. Of course, I have already met with many of you on various occasions, but not with such an extended staff.

I hope we will still have numerous opportunities to meet in a more practical atmosphere in order to discuss more specific and practical issues. Now I’d love to listen to you, and if you have any questions, I will be happy to answer all your questions.”

Welcoming Prime Minister Pashinyan to Los Angeles, the leaders of the Armenian community of California said they were excited about the opportunity to meet with Nikol Pashinyan and discuss issues related to the Motherland, and Armenia-Diaspora relations.

At the request of the leaders of the Armenian community of California, the Premier introduced his vision of the pan-Armenian agenda and the implementation of the Pan-Armenian idea. He spoke about Armenia’s economic indicators and today’s positive trends, inclusive of the economic activity and tourism growth indicators. Nikol Pashinyan dwelt on the settlement of the Artsakh issue, the ongoing judiciary and public administration reforms, and the fight against fake news. In conclusion, the Prime Minister answered the questions raised by meeting participants.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is in the United States of America on a working visit.

As part of the agenda set for Los Angeles, the Prime Minister of Armenia has already had meetings with the leaders of the West Coast Social Democratic Henchakian Party and the Ramkavar Azatakan Party, as well as the leaders of largest Armenian community in California.

Following the meeting with the leaders of the Armenian community organizations in California, Prime Minister Pashinyan held a press conference. The Prime Minister’s press conference was attended by California-based Armenian mass media representatives and journalists who have arrived from Armenia to cover the visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.

Nikol Pashinyan answered a number of questions asked by mass media representatives, which bore on Armenia-Diaspora relations and the development of an effective working format of communication, the formation of a pan-Armenian agenda and pan-Armenian discussions, the planned meetings and the documents to be signed during the Prime Minister’s visit, Diaspora’s full-fledged involvement in Armenia’s development, the situation around Amulsar Mine Project, the State Church cooperation format, the political developments underway in Armenia, the Velvet Revolution’s democratic achievements, etc.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in the United States on a working visit. The Premier’s working visit kicked off in the city of Los Angeles.

Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan visited the Los Angeles City Hall, where they met with representatives of California State and Los Angeles city authorities and Los Angeles City Hall members.

The Premier first met with Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis. Mrs. Kounalakis welcomed Pashinyan’s visit to the United States, highlighting the fact that the visit had kicked off in California. She expressed conviction that it would help develop the Armenia-California partnership.

The Lieutenant Governor of California complimented Pashinyan on the victory of the peaceful, velvet revolution, which reset Armenia toward the path of democratic development. She emphasized that the Velvet Revolution is a vivid evidence and example of democracy amid the emerging global challenges threatening democracy.

Thankful for the warm welcome and appreciation, the Armenian Prime Minister said he was happy to be in California, which is home to one of the largest Armenian Diaspora communities. “We want to strengthen our democracy economically, and the cooperation with our democratic partners, including the United States, will contribute to the fulfillment of our goals,” Prime Minister Pashinyan said.

The Prime Minister of Armenia noted that California is among those U.S. states having more innovative economy, which holds leading positions in the world in terms of technological achievements, while as a county having the high-tech industry as a priority, Armenia attaches great importance to the furtherance of cooperation with California.

Nikol Pashinyan made a point of his upcoming meeting with the Governor of California in New York, noting that the signing of an agreement following their meeting, as well as the documents to be signed during the U.S. visit would provide a solid basis for closer Armenian-American interaction.

The parties exchanged views on the Armenian Prime Minister’s scheduled journey to the Silicon Valley, the development of democracy, Armenia’s economic progress, and the prospects of cooperation in technologies, tourism, education, and other areas of mutual interest.

The Lieutenant Governor noted that during her recent visit to Armenia, she called at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, the American University of Armenia and was impressed with what she had seen there. Nikol Pashinyan said TUMO is an Armenian brand that will expand its network across the globe, adding that a similar center had recently been inaugurated in Paris to be followed by Moscow, Berlin and other cities.

The Premier expressed gratitude to Californian authorities for the efforts aimed at raising public awareness on the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

* * *

Later on, Prime Minister Pashinyan met with Supervisor of Los Angeles Country’s 5th District Kathryn Barger, Country’s Senate member Anthony Portantino and the Los Angeles city council members.

Kathryn Barger and Anthony Portantino welcomed the Armenian Prime Minister’s visit to California and Los Angeles, stating that it was a good opportunity to discuss cooperation prospects. They noted that the Armenian community of Los Angeles plays a significant role in the county’s public, political and cultural life, and that the city authorities are keen to strengthen the partnership ties with Armenia.

During the meeting with the Los Angeles city council members, Nikol Pashinyan said Armenia has embarked on the path of democracy and reform since the Velvet Revolution, and the U.S. support of reforms is crucial in this regard.

In conclusion, the Premier toured the Los Angeles city hall to get acquainted with the building’s architecture and history.

* * *

On a working visit to the United States, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan attended an official reception hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the Los Angeles City Hall.

The Prime Minister delivered a speech, in which he stated:
“Honorable Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis,
Honorable Mayor Garcetti and Council member Krekorian, our today’s hosts,
Honorable State Senators and Assembly members,
Honorable Supervisors Barger and Solis,
LA City Council members,
Your Eminencies and reverend clergy,
Elected and appointed officials,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Mayor of Los Angeles Mr. Garcetti for hosting this beautiful event and creating an opportunity for our communication. Mr. Garcetti, we highly appreciate your devotion and support to the Armenian community. Using this opportunity, I would also like to extend my profound appreciation to Council member Paul Krekorian, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis for their valuable support in organization of the public event.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Governor of California Gavin Newsom, who was not able to attend this meeting and whom I will meet later in New York, for his friendship and commitment to advance the Armenia - California partnership. A framework agreement on cooperation between Armenia and California will be signed at that meeting.

My sincere thanks to Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis for being with us today.

Armenia greatly values its relations with the United States, the Great State of California and the City of Los Angeles. This is one of the most unique places in the world where we have a great concentration of intellectual, cultural, religious and financial potentials of our compatriots. And this, in many ways, creates a powerful gravity within our 10 million strong diaspora worldwide.

I am happy today to see all the Armenian traditional parties and organizations present at this event. I am happy to see the thriving communities of all Armenian Christian denominations. I am happy to see here cultural, educational, financial and advocacy organizations. Los Angeles with its Armenian churches, monuments, schools, cultural and sport centers is a great example of fundamental integration of Armenians into the American society.

This is a very solid ground, a lasting asset in our relations with the United States of America, which is indeed mutually enriching and beneficial.

Today our strong bonds continue to be strengthened with cultural exchanges, joint business endeavors, enhancing our mutual trust, support and understanding.

Next year we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Sister Cities agreement between Yerevan and Los Angeles, which will be marked by a number of initiatives that will boost cooperation between the two cities. We appreciate former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s and current Mayor Eric Garcetti’s leadership and efforts in fostering this cooperation and looking forward to exploring new opportunities for enhanced partnership.

During this visit we will take another step forward in making our friendship more practical and effective. Tomorrow we have a big California-Armenia Business Symposium followed by signing of two important agreements to further our trade and economic ties.

This is a good opportunity to express appreciation to the authorities of the State of California and the City of Los Angeles for their constant support for the projects that have showcased our country’s cultural and traditional highlights. It is a valuable contribution towards making Armenia more recognizable in this country and put it on American touristic maps. All those festivals, movie screenings, concerts and other performances set a tone for more active exchanges between Armenia and California, more intense people-to-people contacts.

I would also like to emphasize our gratitude to the authorities of the State of California and the city of Los Angeles for supporting the opening of the Armenian Genocide Monument in the very heart of this great city. It stands as the first memorial built on the state property land in Los Angeles devoted to the Armenian Genocide, and to the memory of the victims of all Genocides. It is also an expression of gratitude of our community to the United States, American people, the State of California and this lovely city.

We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the authorities of California. We look forward to enhancing our exchanges with the city of Los Angeles. We are keen to strengthen our friendship with the elected officials in California, many of whom are Armenia’s most devoted friends as members of the California Armenian Legislative Caucus, State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange, and, of course, the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.

We will move forward in our efforts to deepen Armenian-Californian cooperation and the City of Los Angeles will be the main focus for obvious reasons. I am sure that these relations will dynamically grow and advance, embracing new initiatives and joint endeavors.

Thank you all for being here today.”

Remarks were also delivered by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council member Paul Krekoryan, RA Ambassador to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan and RA Consul General in Los Angeles Armen Baiburdyan.

* * *

On the margins of his working visit to the United States, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan today were hosted at the Los Angeles City Hall. The official reception at the City Hall was followed by the private meeting of the Armenian Prime Minister and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti.

Welcoming the Armenian Prime Minister and his delegation, the LA Mayor appreciated Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to the United States and Los Angeles. “We are delighted to host you, Mr. Pashinyan, at the Los Angeles City Hall. The Armenian community of LA is very successful and is actively engaged in our city’s public-political life. Los Angeles and Yerevan are sister cities, we are cooperating effectively as we prioritize the cooperation with Armenia, in general,” the LA Mayor said.

The Prime Minister of Armenia thanked the LA Mayor for the warm welcome and the assistance provided for organizing a public meeting at the Grand Park. Nikol Pashinyan said half his visit program relates to cooperation with California and Los Angeles. “Following the radical political transformations we are now implementing major economic changes and recording progress in this area. Cooperation with our partners will play a key role in this process. As of today, we have good dynamics in the economy. We have stated good results in curbing systematic corruption and monopolies, ensuring technological progress and improving the business climate. The continued cooperation with our American partners, including the state of California and the city of Los Angeles, as well as the exchange of experience will contribute to the success of these processes. I also want to express gratitude to the Los Angeles city authorities for their warm attitude toward the Armenian people,” Prime Minister Pashinyan stated

The parties went on to discuss cooperation development prospects in tourism and information technologies. They highlighted the importance of establishing direct air communications. An agreement was reached to step up contacts in a bid to develop specific cooperation programs.

In conclusion, the Armenian Premier and the Los Angeles Mayor exchanged symbolic souvenirs.

After their private interview, the Armenian Prime Minister and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti left for the Grand Park downtown Los Angeles to attend the scheduled public meeting. The LA Mayor delivered opening remarks at the meeting.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States continues. The Premier attended a rally in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles and delivered a speech. The rally kicked off with the anthems of Armenia and the United States of America, with a message delivered by spiritual leaders of the Armenian community.

Addressing those present, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated:
“Dear people, proud Armenians of Los Angeles, California and the United States of America, I welcome you all. However, I would like to bypass the diplomatic nuances a bit and apply to all of you as my heart and soul suggest, as our forefathers and martyrs dictate:

Dear citizens of the Republic of Armenia, I welcome you all. Dear people, first of all let me extend a vote of thanks from this podium to the California State and Los Angeles city authorities for their willingness to respect, befriend and support this Armenian national event.

I would like to personally thank Governor Gavin Newsom, Deputy Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, LA County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis, and the Interim Task Force of Armenian Organizations.

Thank you, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekoryan. I consider that supporting this unforgettable event is a friendly gesture on the part of the United States of America to Democratic Armenia, which highlights America’s support for our state-building effort.

Armenia, Artsakh and all Armenians are grateful to Congress members and members of the House of Representatives of California for their generous and impartial efforts that have gone a long way toward developing the Armenian-American friendly relations.

We express our gratitude to the House of Representatives of California for recognizing the Armenian Genocide and proclaiming April 24 Genocide Remembrance Day. We express our gratitude to the Mayor and the City Council of Los Angeles for officially acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and Nagorno-Karabakh. Mayor Eric Garcetti has always supported the Armenian community and the Armenian people.

Dear people,

I want to start my talk by reading one of our greats, Paruyr Sevak’s poem “We are few, but they call us Armenians” (Prime Minister read out the poem).

This poem was very convenient to read here, do you remember the verses that read: Wherever we are, we have worked hard for everyone, built a bridge, tied a bridge. When we were inside the building, the mayor was telling me that the arches of this entrance were authored, built by an Armenian, and it was very convenient to read those lines here.

Dear people, I came here today to thank you and thank you to the whole Diaspora. I would like to thank you for standing firm in Republic Square in the days of the velvet revolution.

Yes, it doesn't matter who of you was physically present there, but we all felt at the Republic Square in those days your supporting breath, your powerful presence, your great energy.

Together, you and we have created the democratic and popular victory that has brought new glory to Armenia and the Armenian people by representing it in a country and people that is ready and has taken the flag of democracy that many think is falling. Today the whole world views Armenia as a hope for democracy, and you have built that hope, too.

And I would like to extend a second of thanks to the Diaspora, for today, marking the 28th anniversary of Armenia's independence, we must state clearly that independent Armenia could not have risen without the invaluable and daily support of the Diaspora. The Diaspora stands on the back of Armenia, the Diaspora has kept Armenia, the Diaspora has nourished Armenia.

And I want to make such an important record: After Armenia's independence many citizens were forced to emigrate from Armenia and Armenia, of course, was very sad about it, but today I think here is a very important confession: Many have left Armenia, emigrated to Russia, the US, Europe not willingly or willingly, but have emigrated to work here and support their relatives and compatriots remaining in Armenia so they can overcome difficulties. This must be confessed.

I would like to thank the Diaspora for the tremendous support they have shown in the Artsakh war. You know, sometimes the question is how and how the Diaspora has contributed to the Artsakh Liberation War.

Unfortunately or fortunately the situation is like that. Much of this support is such that it is unacceptable and need not be spoken aloud, but it must be clearly stated that the Artsakh Liberation War, the victory in Artsakh, would also be impossible without the enormous support of the Diaspora.

And I want to make this very clear as well, expressing confidence that the Diaspora, as it has been, continues to stand by free Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia.

In the first period of independence, indeed the humanitarian support that was provided was of enormous importance, but then came the next major phase of the Diaspora’s attitude, and Diaspora representatives in Armenia were slowly thinking about implementing development programs.

And I want to make clear the tremendous service provided by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Relief Fund, the Armenian Relief Society, the Armenian National Committee of America, Armenian Assembly and other organizations.

With the support of these organizations, hundreds of kilometers of roads have been built in Armenia and Artsakh, hundreds of schools have been renovated, hundreds of educational projects funded.

In this context, I would also like to express our appreciation to our traditional parties - the Social Democratic Hnchakyan Party, the Ramkavar Azatakan Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), whose activities have also been of immense support to Armenia.

I would also like to emphasize the support of the Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the support of the Armenian Evangelical Church and the Armenian Catholic Church.

The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people greatly appreciate your support, and I wish we all applaud all these organizations that have always been with Armenia and Artsakh.

I would like to specifically mention Kirk Kerkorian’s and the Lincy Foundation’s crucial support to the Republic of Armenia. The road network in Armenia was restored, with dozens of schools and cultural centers on the brink of collapse rehabilitated with the help of Lincy Foundation. And that support has really played an invaluable role in the history of the Third Republic. Kirk Kerkorian, Charles Aznavour, whose support is warming our people today and warming us all today.

In addition to the aforementioned organizations, the Republic of Armenia has been backed by thousands of individuals, who supported dozens, hundreds of villages, families, and individuals to overcome the challenges they faced.

I am saying this to record the evolution in Diaspora’s attitude and policy towards Armenia, to show that, over time the Diaspora justified and necessarily viewed Armenia rather than merely a humanitarian aid object as a pan-Armenian development project. And the most important expression of this logic was what I consider a turning point for Armenia and the Armenian people, namely the opening of the Tumo Center and several smart centers across the country, mainly funded by Diaspora investments.

I cite this example of the dynamic relationship to show that our gathering today is another manifestation of this new stage where Armenia is no longer seen as an object of humanitarian assistance because today in Armenia there is a republic that has been established and the proud citizens are the ones who now govern. Citizens should have greater opportunity every day not to survive on humanitarian aid but to build their own well-being through just, lawful, hard work, with talent.

Yesterday an unprecedented event - The Hero of Our Time award ceremony was held in Gyumri to demonstrate that today there is a chance for anyone in Armenia to earn his living through work. Our main point should be to ensure that we live in times of work, creative work, and we pin our hopes on the diligence and talent of the Armenian people, so that the people’s well-being improves continuously, which is not just a myth.

I just said that in the early 2000s, the Armenian road network was renovated thanks to Kirk Kerkorian’s donations. And at that time Armenia might not have been able to take care of the quality of roads and infrastructure. But I want to say that a year after the revolution, today, the Armenian government is able to implement as large-scale projects in the Republic of Armenia as the Lincy Foundation did.

Yes, in the coming years, we will rehabilitate thousands of kilometers of roads in Armenia, repair schools and build kindergartens. But this does not mean that the Diaspora has nothing to do about it. On the contrary, I want to say that the time has come for Diaspora investors to take another step and think about making economic and financial investments in the Republic of Armenia, to make money in Armenia and make the Motherland wealthier.

I hope that this is what today will mark the Diaspora that has helped Armenia reach this point, when we have the right to be considered one of the leaders of democracy in the world as a result of our non-violent, velvet, popular revolution. With the political revolution underway, the Diaspora will stand by the economic revolution in Armenia.

And I want to invite all businessmen from the Diaspora to Armenia, because in today’s Armenia you will no longer encounter the bans and barriers that existed before. Systemic corruption has been eradicated in the country. Monopoly and oligarchy are defeated in Armenia. The shadow economy is being curbed nationwide.

The international organizations are increasingly optimistic about Armenia and keep boosting economic outlook for our country. And I want, yes, to make it very clear that today’s pace of economic development in Armenia allows us to say that we have the opportunity to launch an economic leap together and at this crucial moment I hope that the Diaspora, especially Diaspora youth, young entrepreneurs, startups Our compatriots who will create will focus on Armenia and move to the Republic of Armenia with their ancestors and their homeland.

At the August 5 rally in Stepanakert I spoke about the idea of Pan-Armenianism. I am sure that many of you, if not all, followed this event, and I do not want to repeat everything that I said there, instead I would like to add some new details. What does the idea of Pan-Armenianism mean? This means that all Armenians around the world – without being cut off from their daily lives, activities – must record and must display will to act for the benefit of Armenia and Artsakh.

I would like to emphasize that I am addressing this message to the entire Diaspora – in America, in Europe and in Asia. What does this mean in practice? It does not mean at all to act against the interests of country of their residence and in favor of Armenia. What I am saying must be manifested in efforts aimed at promoting friendly ties between these countries and Armenia and fostering a new perception of Armenia. Indeed, just like we have shaped the new image of Armenia together, we must continue the promotion of New Armenia.

Many of you have always acted that way throughout their lives and activities, but I hope that each of you, every Armenian in the world, the 10 million Armenians in the world, will become Armenia, let us just say, the promoter, because Armenia is all of us Armenia is the homeland of us all.

I have been told that this is already taking place, that hundreds, thousands of Armenians, Armenian young people in America, everywhere, who had even started not talking in Armenian, began after the revolution to be more interested in their country, their identity and history, and in an effort to draw youth’s attention to this new situation, we thought of a motto for action, namely dear compatriots, being Armenian is cool, and together we must make it even more exciting, because being Armenian is truly interesting, because the Armenian people not only have a great past and great present, but also a great future, and today we are shaping this future together.

I would like to talk about the idea of great repatriation. Today many Armenians already return to Armenia. Today we released statistics, which is being made from time to time. The positive balance of inbound arrivals in Armenia is 32 times up as compared to 2015.

But I want to speak about the great repatriation, stating that living in Armenia does not mean living just physically. Living in Armenia also means to live with Armenia, and I believe that most of you have always lived in Armenia and today as well live in Armenia because I see and know that you live with Armenia and this is the most important. But on the other hand, I want to state that living in Armenia should not be understood as being physically in Armenia for 12 months a year. In general, living in a country in the 21st century does not mean at all residing at the same place round the year.

In the modern world many successful people spend most of their time on trips. And I want to address a message to our compatriots: great repatriation means, for instance, to live physically in Armenia definitely for a month, two months a year. Real estate prices have drastically increased in Armenia and Yerevan, and having a house in Yerevan, Armenia, means to make a very good and reliable investment, and every Armenian who does not yet have a house in Armenia should have one. Repatriation means to have a business in Armenia, and the most important is to have a citizenship of Armenia. Every Armenian should have a citizenship of Armenia.

And I want to make a more detailed proposal to all those present. I am sorry that over the years it has been a tradition for many Armenians to celebrate the Holiday Season abroad. The Government of Armenia and the Yerevan Town Hall are thinking over a project to foster an exceptional atmosphere in Armenia and Yerevan on New Year’s Eve. Yerevan is usually pretty empty on New Year’s Eve, and we want to make sure that this year the streets and squares are full of people celebrating the Holiday Season in Yerevan. The restaurants in downtown Yerevan are usually closed on New Year’s Eve. We are developing a great program to invite you all to see the New Year in the Homeland.

Dear compatriots,

You may remember me saying during the pre-election campaign that our task is to defy the complex of a small nation because I do believe that we are not a small nation. And that is probably the most important thing I have to say today right here.

I would like us to state together that Armenia is no longer a small country, not because the territory of Armenia has undergone any changes in the past, but because I hope that by your response you will now confirm that Armenia is no longer represents not only the population of Armenia, but all Armenians, all 10 million Armenians. And this is our most important message, because Armenia is not a small country, because we are not a small nation.

The Armenian people are victorious. They are heroes, talented people who created a civilization and as Sevak says in his poem they are people who possess a will to give back. And yes, we had a very difficult history. Sometimes we even were on the brink of collapse, but we survived the Genocide, the migration, we survived wars, hunger, and geopolitical collapses. The key mission of today’s generation is to restore the greatness of our people and show it to the world, but first of all to ourselves.

This is the greatest mission of every Armenian living in the world. Let us make a deed of covenant that we will be devoted to that mission in a bid to restore the economic, political, scientific, and cultural greatness of Armenia for ourselves, our generations as a tribute paid to our ancestors. This is our most important mission.

While it may seem somewhat irrelevant after citing Paruyr Seven, but I want to present another piece of poetry of mine that I know you have read (Nikol Pashinyan read out a poem of his own).

Long live freedom! Long live the Republic of Armenia! Long live the Republic of Artsakh! Long live we and our children who now live and will live in a free and happy Armenia.

I love you all, I am proud of you, and I bow before you all. Thank you.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Deputy Governor Eleni Kounalakis, U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, State Senate Member Anthony Portantino, State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger delivered greeting remarks during the rally.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is in Los-Angeles on the first leg of his working visit to the United States, later today met with the ARF WR members, led by ARF Bureau member Viken Yacoubian and ARF WR member Avetik Izmirlian.

Greeting the ARF representatives, Nikol Pashinyan said:

“Esteemed Mr. Yacoubian,
Honorable Mr. Izmirlian,
Dear Colleagues,

I am glad for the opportunity to meet with you. I highly appreciate the activities of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in general, including your efforts to safeguard the Armenian identity.

From this perspective, I feel that we have reached a new stage, because the preservation of the Armenian identity is an extremely important mission, as a result of which we have survived until today.

Today we are talking about strategic issues, but I think there is a small nuance that needs to be mentioned. When we talk about the preservation of the Armenian identity, we should understand not only preservation, but development as well.

ARF has always played quite an active role in Armenia’s domestic politics. It is not always that I have agreed with Dashnaktsutyun and it is not always that we reached agreement, but in the context of our pan-Armenian goals it does not change anything, because those issues that we failed to agree upon are not so important, while there are many strategic issues over which we have reached agreement. Therefore, I am very glad for today’s meeting.

During this period, I have had some interactions and have always expressed readiness for continuing and giving a new dimension to our meetings.

I think that the ARF should reassess its recent activities in Armenia and it is my conviction that it would be good for your party’s future reputation and Dashnaktsutyun’s activities in Armenia.”

ARF Bureau member Viken Yacoubian welcomed the Armenian Prime Minister on behalf of meeting participants: “It is a great honor for us to host the Armenian Prime Minister and his delegation. It is really very important for us that you are here, particularly given the fact that during the revolution in Armenia our people demonstrated unity and raised its consolidated voice. The ARF has struggled for that voice for 128 years.

In this sense, we note and reaffirm that the movement, above all, has awakened the hope of claiming justice, economic stability, and commitment to our national vision - a fervent hope, crucial for our people’s survival. We appreciate it, and we appreciate your being a symbol of that reality. The movement was one of the best reflections for us to mobilize the nation, to reassert the call of unity, as well as to anchor our visions and the pan-Armenian platform.

Our hope and expectation is that the consolidation will continue in the future, and we hope that we will avoid drawing dividing lines, value the rule of law and place the Constitution above all.”

In the context of establishing a pan-Armenian agenda, Nikol Pashinyan and the ARF WR members highlighted the institutionalization of Armenia-Diaspora relations.

Avetik Izmirlian advised that a Pan-Armenian Council of Western America has been set up, with a number of organizations involved, and work is being done to broaden the scope of Diaspora Armenians’ involvement in the organization. According to him, it is a good platform for protecting the rights of the Armenians living and working in Western America, as well as nationwide issues for maximizing investment in ensuring and developing security in Armenia and Artsakh.

Prime Minister Pashinyan and the ARF WR members dwelt on the need to rethink the nature of Armenia-Diaspora relations, the formation of a pan-Armenian agenda, the preservation of the Armenian identity, women’s empowerment during and following the Revolution, the strengthening of democracy and the development of justice in Armenia, the economic breakthrough, the judiciary reform, as well as on issues related to the format of Diaspora’s full-fledged participation in the efforts aimed at Homeland’s development.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States, Los Angeles, continues.

On the second day of his visit, Nikol Pashinyan attended the Armenia-Los Angeles business forum. The forum is attended by about 250 participants, many members of the California business community, Los Angeles business community leaders and representatives of the Armenian community in the United States.

Greeting remarks were addressed to the Prime Minister of Armenia and his delegation by Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Maria S. Salinas, Los Angeles World Trade Center (WTCLA) President Stephen Cheung, Los Angeles Business Federation Founding Chief Executive Officer Tracy Hernandez and Los Angeles Central City Association Vice President Tina Oh.

Addressing the forum, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated:
“Distinguished members of the business community of California,
Representatives of the Armenian-American community,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here tonight, and it is my privilege to address the distinguished members of the Los Angeles business community, including the Armenian Community of the Great State of California.

We see tremendous opportunities for tapping into California’s huge trade and investment potential. It is quite obvious that Armenia is the country which best matches for doing business with California. Winemaking, Information Technologies, tourism, and agriculture are among the most developed sectors of Armenia’s economy. At the same time, these are the areas where California is keeping global leadership for many decades. As we can see there is a fertile ground for joint business initiatives. The existence of a vigorous Armenia community, which is bounding our countries, is yet another compelling argument proving that we should work together to strengthen trade and investment relations between Armenia and California.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Armenia is known for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant history, hospitality, and amazing landscapes. But this is not enough to make the image of our country complete.

Today, we are changing the way we manage our country and our economy. At the same time, we have to ensure that the Armenian economy is dynamic and responsive to the changes that are taking place around the world.

Last year, Armenian people opted for change. We chose freedom and democracy over autocracy and demonstrated that nothing is stronger than a will, belief and action of the people. However, political change is only the first step. We shall translate the will and aspirations of our people into economic and social development. And now “Economic Revolution” is underway in our country.

Economic revolution can be based only on fair and just institutions, equal environment, and impartial treatment to all. It means that the government says NO to corruption, NO to monopolies to encourage creativity and talents of our people and make Armenian economy competitive both in the region and in the world.
I believe our reforms are long-term and strategic. And therefore, economic revolution would have a long lasting effect on the country’s economic development and people’s lives.

Meanwhile, let me share some already recorded results with you: in 2018, we registered a 5.2% economic growth and maintained a moderate inflation rate. These are very positive results for a revolutionary year. We have had a 9% increase in export. Positive dynamics continues this year, with 6.5% growth in the first half of the year. Recently Moody’s has improved Armenia’s rating to “Ba3.”

These results are promising, however, there is much more that needs to be done.

In the rapidly changing world, the old quote is still topical: “We must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.” And if we wish to go anywhere we must run twice as fast as that. Thus, we need to be faster, more effective and efficient and targeting ambitious goals. This is the cornerstone of our transformation strategy.

We shall clearly understand our advantages, our strength that would move Armenia to a new horizon. We believe that the driving force for this change is a talented, creative and hardworking Armenian. This is the most valuable asset of our country. We know, different eras had different forms of capital, which fueled growth and development. In agrarian societies it was land, during the industrial revolution it was electricity, in the years of the financial boom it was financial capital, but nowadays it is the human being.

If you ask me why you should invest in Armenia, my answer will be investing in Armenia a small country with global networks and gifted people is quite promising. We aim at introducing technological education, developing soft skills, and helping students to identify their aptitude, through investing in primary, vocational and higher education.

Armenia provides an excellent opportunity for investors in areas such as information technologies, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and many other spheres.

Our government implements an open-door policy towards foreign investments, providing for the full property ownership. Foreign investors can have unrestricted access to any sector and geographic location within the country, with no restrictions for personnel recruitment, free and unlimited repatriation of profits, unlimited currency exchange on market rates, and guarantees against nationalization.

The five-year grandfather clause protecting foreign investors against investment-related legislation changes is also a part of our foreign investment framework.

With regard to international economic relations, Armenia has bilateral treaties on investment promotion and protection with 43 countries including the United States. Armenia is a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. We have treaties on avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with 46 countries. This means that the investors of contracting parties are granted a number of guarantees, in particular, national treatment, protection from expropriation, free transfer of means and full protection and security.

According to the World Bank, Armenia is ranked 41st among 190 countries at ease of doing business. By ease of starting a business Armenia is the 8th and by registering a property the 14th in the world. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Armenia is the 47th freest economy in the world.

We continue to carry out deep and comprehensive reforms to improve our business environment. The government is working on legislative reforms to establish the regime of the most-favored-nation to define the guarantees provided for foreign investors, as well as to introduce effective dispute settlement mechanisms. We are currently working on expanding the opportunities and clearly defining the legal framework for public-private partnerships.

“Armenia is a small, landlocked country”, this is a description that you may find in many books and articles. Well, I agree, we are a small country. But, we are a nation of a wide and global network which makes us great.

Armenia is located in a place that bridges cultures and economies. Some may claim that Armenia has a small market, but I am here to challenge that view. Armenia is a part of the Eurasian Economic Union market that has over 180 million consumers. Armenian producers benefit from GSP+ preferential treatment with the European Union, and GSP with the United States and some other countries.

Armenia is also deepening cooperation with the European Union through signing a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. This ambitious agreement provides a framework for Armenia and the European Union to work together for the benefit of the citizens of Armenia in the areas of strengthening democracy and human rights, creating more jobs and business opportunities, fairer rules, more safety and security, cleaner environment as well as better education and opportunities for research.

We continue our efforts in deepening cooperation with the United States through many instruments such as the US-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which provides strategic framework and principles for dialogue on trade and investment issues. In a relatively short time, we have managed to transform Armenia into a country with equal opportunities for all, providing incentives for businesses and startups, and making our country a better investment destination.

My call and my message today is to join our efforts to build new Armenia, unite our strength to make Armenia competitive and attractive to live. Let us make Armenia a country of our dream.

Thank you for your attention.”

Remarks were next delivered by RA Minister of High-Tech Industry Hakob Arshakyan, who touched upon the development of information technologies and Armenia’s high-tech industry, and RA Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan, who presented Armenia’s economic priorities, the current growth dynamics and investments. Bryan Churchill, a representative of the Foreign Private Investment Corporation, also touched upon the opportunities for developing Armenian-American investment cooperation.

During the business forum, two memorandums of understanding were signed between the Armenian Ministry of High-Tech Industry and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as between the RA Ministry of Economy and the Los Angeles World Trade Center. The memorandums provide that Armenia and Los Angeles will develop cooperation and exchange experiences in the technological sector and in the economy, in particular.

After attending the forum, Prime Minister Pashinyan gave an interview to FoxNews11.

The agenda of the Armenian Prime Minister’s stay in Los Angeles is over. Nikol Pashinyan left for San Jose, where the Prime Minister is scheduled to visit a number of high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley, meet and discuss issues of topical concern with local company executives and Armenian specialists, as well as sign a memorandum of understanding.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is on a working visit to the United States with his spouse Anna Hakobyan.

Within the framework of the agenda set in Los Angeles, the Armenian Prime Minister and his spouse attended a gala reception attended by about 700 community representatives.

In his speech after performing the anthems of the Republic of Armenia and the United States of America and wishing spiritual leaders of the Armenian community, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted:

“Your Eminencies and reverend clergy,
Distinguished elected and appointed officials of Armenian descent,
Members of the Government of the Republic of Armenia,
Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States and Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles,
Chief Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs,
Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno and Las Vegas,
Heads of California-based Armenian political parties and organizations, delegation members, representatives, journalists,
Dear Compatriots,

Thank you all for this glorious day, because today’s meeting, this atmosphere, this day that we are enjoying together is an unforgettable event for all of us, and I think that all those who are watching us from afar will enjoy it, too.

I would like to thank the Armenians of California, the Armenians of America, and our compatriots in the Diaspora who have preserved their Armenian identity and passed it on to their children, having inherited it from their fathers and grandfathers.

I want to say that I am always proud to see the Armenians of California, Armenians around the world stand united on April 24 and, with a powerful march, announce to the world that we have not given up our identity and we will never do so.

We are the bearers of our history today, and we are enriched by the great lessons we have learned: cruel and glorious lessons to change the historical destiny of our people and to bring our people out of the historical cycle that we have unfortunately survived from time to time. The cycle is approximately as follows: geopolitical circumstances give us a chance, an opportunity, which we eventually miss mainly due to geopolitical circumstances, and with that we also lose our homeland and people.

And the biggest lesson of that story is that, unfortunately, we often do not control our own destiny. And when hearing that we have today a historic chance for our state and our people, I understand it so that we have the opportunity to take control of our own destiny. Today, most importantly, we have the potential to do so, and that is the most important part of today’s message.

The key factor behind the change in Armenia is that every citizen can feel his or her own strength. The time has come for us to take the next step so that we as a people can feel and be able to apply the power of our collective strength. This is the factor that should really lead to a historic revolution in our destiny, and the logical continuation of the change in one’s self-esteem is when the individual, the citizen feels his power.

The time has come for the collective of individuals called the Armenian nation to feel its creative power, and to set a specific goal of using that creative force, and that goal is to build a powerful Republic of Armenia, a powerful Artsakh and a united homeland.

The time has come for us to feel our strength as a people, to stand side by side. Today’s event is about this. Today’s event implies that the Armenians are united more than ever, and the Armenian people are ready for victories more than ever.

I would like to emphasize once again: I believe that our greatest collective mission is to restore our greatness. We must restore our greatness in economics, we must restore our greatness in science, we must restore our greatness in art, we must restore our greatness in diplomacy, we must restore our greatness in sport and in all spheres, in general.

It was not accidental that I started today’s rally with Paruyr Sevak’s poem, because there are two very important things in it: respect for other nations that should not disturb us, instead it should help us respect ourselves and make others respect us.

That is why we need only one thing today, namely to formulate a single goal and work together for that goal. The name of that one goal is clear – it is the Republic of Armenia, and it is also the Republic of Artsakh.

Long live the Republic of Armenia, long live Artsakh, long live the Diaspora and long live the Armenian people.

Thank you.”

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan continues his working visit to the United States.

After completing his working visit to Los Angeles, the Prime Minister left for San Jose, Silicon Valley, to meet with representatives of high-tech companies and discuss cooperation prospects.

The Prime Minister’s visit to the Silicon Valley kicked off with a meeting with venture capitalists: Nikol Pashinyan had a luncheon with the founders of Draper University – Tim and Bill Drapers, during which they discussed cooperation development opportunities in the technology field.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Armenian Ministry of High-Tech Industry and Draper University. Under the MoU, the sides agreed to cooperate, implement joint programs to prepare and train qualified specialists in the technology sector.

Prime Minister Pashinyan next called at NVidia computer game company, headquartered in the Silicon Valley. Welcoming the Prime Minister and his spouse, Company CEO Jensen Huang briefed them on their company’s ongoing activities, projects, etc.

The Premier also had a brief meeting with the NVidia CEO to discuss cooperation prospects.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan continues his working visit to the United States.

The Head of Government first called at the Synopsys headquarters, where he was hosted by company Co-CEO Chi-Foon Chan. Synopsys has a branch in Armenia – Synopsys Armenia, which operates since 2004 with over 700 employees.

Chi-Foon Chan welcomed the Premier’s visit to the Company, noting that they highly valued the ongoing cooperation with Armenia. He introduced the Company’s activities, projects, stating that Synopsys has 120 offices in different countries of the world, with the total number of employees standing at nearly 13.000. He pointed out that Synopsys is constantly broadening its global networks and is set to expand its operations in Armenia.

In attendance of the meeting, Synopsys Armenia President Yervand Zoryan said Synopsys Armenia is among the steadily developing and effective branches of the Company in both curricula and personnel terms, and plans to increase the number of its employees by 100 annually.

Thankful for the opportunity to meet them, Nikol Pashinyan stated that Synopsys is a valuable partner for Armenia. “The Armenian government has declared the technology sector a priority and, therefore, we prioritize our cooperation with Synopsys. We are interested in attracting investments in the field of high technologies, creating jobs, training specialists, and stand ready to promote this process with the government’s toolkit,” the Premier said.

Prime Minister Pashinyan introduced his government’s programs and initiatives intended for the IT sector in a bid to create a favorable ecosystem for technological startups and investments. The sides reaffirmed their readiness to develop cooperation and exchanged views on future joint action. The Synopsys Co-CEO advised that this year Synopsys Armenia is celebrating the 15th anniversary of foundation and invited the Prime Minister to attend the event, due this November.

* * *

Thereafter, the Armenian Prime Minister met with the ethnic Armenian representatives of several high technological companies operating in Silicon Valley. The meeting was attended by executives from both academic and industrial sectors.

Nikol Pashinyan said the meeting was a good opportunity to jointly discuss cooperation opportunities. He stressed that the technological sector is among his government’s priorities with the goal to make Armenia an intellectual country. A number of concrete steps have been taken in this direction, including the Tax Code reform, covering IT companies, improvement of legislation on technology startups. In addition, the current dynamics of growth and economic indicators provide good prerequisites for the development of the IT industry.

Welcoming Prime Minister Pashinyan’s visit to Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley-based Armenian specialists assured of their interest to invest in Armenia’s technology sector. According to them, the information presented by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia was important and useful.

* * *

As part of his working visit to the United States, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Armenian specialists working in the high-tech sector in Silicon Valley. More than 100 computer scientists attended the meeting.

To begin with, RA Minister of High-Tech Industry Hakob Arshakyan gave details of the Armenian IT sector’s performance indicators and development prospects, followed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s remarks. The Premier stated in his speech:

“Dear compatriots,
Dear friends,

I am happy to see you here today. We are completing our two-day visit to the state of California, and today we are leaving for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Let me say that the visit to California was very impressive and very productive. Yesterday we had a big event - a rally - in Los Angeles. We had a number of meetings today in Silicon Valley, including this one.

What is it and what is our interest in Silicon Valley in particular? We have of course stated that the technology sector is a priority for our government, as well as tourism, industry, intensive or industrial agriculture. In general, this is linked to our vision of the future of Armenia because we believe that Armenia should be a country with a highly skilled workforce.

There is a lot of talk in Armenia about the formula of well-being. In the past, it was considered that to live well, one had to be an oligarch or be associated with an oligarch; at one point, there was corruption, etc.

Our main message is: Education is the formula of well-being. The formula for a successful life is an education that gives our citizens professional skills and, of course, educational reform is of paramount importance to us.

Recently, I presented to Stepanakert a draft strategy to be implemented by 2050. One of our strategic objectives is to make education a public and national practice, which means for us that the educational process in the Republic of Armenia should start at 3 years old, that in our country, all 3-year-olds should have access to nursery schools and that the educational process is never completed, that is to say even after graduating from university and have a successful career, the education process should not be completed.

Our next idea is the one I have already mentioned several times: every Armenian citizen, whether taxi driver or prime minister, should have at least a slightly higher level of knowledge than the day before.

In general, all of this is an educational process for me, because one of the most important goals of any official or business visit, as well as today's visit, is that we receive new information, acquire new knowledge and that this knowledge can be used in our future activities.

Of course, by saying that the technology sector is a priority for Armenia, it is very important that we do in practice to make it a reality and make Armenia attractive for this sector.
A very important change has been made to the Tax Code, which has certainly been the subject of much debate. I am pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2020, we will have a flat income tax of 23%. Each year, this tax will be reduced by 0.5% over the next four years. As a result, we will have a flat income tax of 20% in 4 or 5 years.

What does this have to do with the technology sector? We now have a three-stage income tax: wages up to 150,000 drams were taxed at 23%, salaries up to 2 million drams at 28% and wages over 2 million drams at 36% .

Of course, one of the largest taxpayers out of 23% is the information technology sector, since wages are 500,000 or more. This means we are reducing the income tax for this sector by 13% and 16% in the near future. We therefore hope that the environment will be more attractive for investors - IT jobs in Armenia.

Then you know that startup legislation has been changed in our country. According to the legislation, newly registered technology companies established in Armenia will be exempt from taxation until 2023 and will already pay a 10% income tax.

That is to say, in addition to the overall reduction in income tax, we also have a 13% discount, and we hope this will also make our country more attractive to startups.

In general, I can say the following: I think it is very important to note the current economic situation of our country. And I think the data shows that our economy is gaining momentum, as well as our forecast for economic growth this year, which continues to improve.

According to the latest data, The Central Bank has raised Armenia's economic growth forecast for 2019 from 6.9 to 7.2. In general, our goal is to achieve economic growth of at least 8 to 9% and move to double-digit economic growth, but of course, our messages from yesterday and today must be clear, especially for the Diaspora, and especially for the Armenians and I hope that will be the case.

Economically, there have been other changes. I would like to say that, for example, according to the previous IMF documents, if the tax-to-GDP ratio in Armenia increased every year, it would change by 0.3%, which the IMF experts considered to be a very positive development. But according to our calculations, it is only in 2019 that the tax-to-GDP ratio will increase by 1.3%, that is to say that we will exceed the IMF recommendation 3 to 4 times. This year, according to our calculations, the underground economy will be reduced by 3%.

In the first quarter, budget revenues increased by about 25%. These increases have allowed us to increase the salaries of military personnel, teachers, doctors, firefighters, foresters as of October 1 and pensions will increase by 10% from January 1, 2020.

Today, we are carrying out unprecedented road construction work in Armenia. Yesterday, I said at a rally that the Armenian road network was recently modernized thanks to Kirk Kerkorian's Lincy Foundation, and I am pleased to announce that we can, today, next year and in the years to come, do at least the same job through the state budget or, in general, as much as that of the Lincy Foundation.

Of course, all the other data were published: 65,000 new jobs were created in Armenia in the last year. Some of these jobs were created as a result of the decline of the underground economy and others are new jobs.

It is very important for us to encourage the citizens of the Republic of Armenia and to propose to them an economic formula according to which we can solve all our problems only by the work, by pressing on our talent, on the development of our talent , the discovery of this talent at an early stage and I am pleased that our figures show that Armenian citizens and Armenian society understand the political messages we send them.

This is very important because they believe that the real dialogue between the political authorities, the government and the citizens, as well as the dialogue that began between us at the time of the revolution, when we were on the revolutionary stage, and also by becoming a government, we continue this dialogue effectively.

I am confident that he will continue to give his results, the results that exist today. In the last five months, I presented the results in two papers entitled "100 facts about New Armenia". Therefore, as of today, I can say that we have 200 facts about the New Armenia, and whoever wants to see concretely, measurably and visibly what has changed in the aftermath of the revolution in Armenia can read and see these two documents. The goal of our government is to bring the Republic of Armenia about 100 changes every month, every quarter and every year, changes that we will all be proud of. Thank you.”

During the next question-and-answer session, Prime Minister Pashinyan answered a number of questions related to Armenia’s progress, the IT development vectors, the reforms in education and science, the Amoulsar mine project, etc.

At the end of the meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Armenian Ministry of High-Tech Industry and the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Prime Minister Pashinyan said it was the fourth document to be signed during his visit to the United States, which reflects the productive agenda of his visit.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the state of California is over. The Armenian Prime Minister leaves San Jose for New York and goes to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where he will deliver a speech.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States continues. The Premier is in New York to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

A framework cooperation agreement was signed between the Republic of Armenia and the State of California in New York in the presence of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The agreement was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom. Armenia and California shall develop comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest under the Agreement.

After signing the Agreement, Prime Minister Pashinyan and the Governor of California held a private meeting. The interlocutors agreed that the signing of the Framework Agreement will help deepen cooperation and bilateral relations between Armenia and California.

The Prime Minister noted that California is one of the most Armenian-populated centers in America. He stressed that our country wants to further strengthen ties with California, the most innovative U.S. state. Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the Velvet Revolution and the democratic processes underway in Armenia, which laid the foundation for radical reforms and comprehensive changes.

Armenia is currently heading along the path of economic revolution. The economy is growing dynamically, with specific measures taken by the government to fight corruption, curb monopolies and create a favorable business environment.

The Governor of California welcomed the Premier’s visit to the United States, noting that the Armenians of California are making a valuable contribution to his state by strengthening the Armenian-American interaction. He assured of California’s reciprocated interest in developing cooperation with Armenia and implementing joint programs.

The parties discussed issues related to the deepening of Armenian-Californian economic cooperation, intensification of contacts between the business circles and the development of multifaceted links. An agreement has been reached to intensify discussions on practical action.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan invited the Governor of California to visit Armenia. Gavin Newsom thanked for the invitation and promised to consider visiting our country at his convenience.

On the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, the Armenian Prime Minister attended the reception given on behalf of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and the opening of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is attending the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly as part of his working visit to New York.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriákos Mitsotákis at UN headquarters.

Greeting the Greek Prime Minister, Prime Minister Pashinyan said Armenia prioritizes the partnership with Greece both in the bilateral format and within the European Union. According to Nikol Pashinyan, the friendly relations between the two countries and the high-level political dialogue constitute a solid basis for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic and other fields.

Noting that he was happy to meet with the Armenian counterpart, the Greek Prime Minister stated that the Armenian and Greek nations are bound by deeply-rooted historical ties and the ongoing high-level political dialogue should be used to boost cooperation in other areas as well.

Nikol Pashinyan and Kyriákos Mitsotákis discussed issues relating to the development of bilateral cooperation, the possibilities of intensifying economic ties. They took the opportunity to exchange views on the economic situation and the expected dynamics.

The interlocutors stressed that there is considerable economic potential and efforts should be made to tap it in full. They emphasized that Yerevan-Athens direct air communication promotes trade, economic exchanges and tourism.

In the context of establishing closer contacts between the respective business communities, the importance of joint business forums was highlighted on both sides. The parties also discussed cooperation between the defense ministries of both countries.

The interlocutors discussed issues concerning the ratification of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the EU (CEPA). Prime Minister Pashinyan said 17 EU member states have already ratified the agreement. He asked the Greek Prime Minister to possibly get the CEPA ratified as soon as possible and support the entry into force of the Agreement.

The Prime Ministers of Armenia and Greece also exchanged views on the launch of the visa liberalization process.

The Armenian Prime Minister appreciated Greece’s balanced position in the process of peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Greek Premier expressed gratitude for Armenia’s support of the efforts exerted by Greece and Cyprus to solve the Cyprus problem.

Later today, Prime Minister Pashinyan attended the opening of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development as part of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

At the UN headquarters, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held brief meetings with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

* * *

As part of his working visit to the United States, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at UN Headquarters.

Nikol Pashinyan noted that the Czech Republic is a reliable partner for Armenia, and our country is interested in strengthening cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral formats. The Armenian Prime Minister thanked the Czech Parliament for ratifying the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the European Union (CEPA), noting that it goes in tune with Armenia’s reform agenda and its ratification would contribute to the effective implementation of his government’s reform program.

Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic, too, is keen to to deepen relations with Armenia in mutually beneficial formats and is willing to consider other joint measures in this direction.

During the meeting, the interlocutors discussed prospects for cooperation in the economic, high-tech, digitization and other fields. The Armenian and Czech Premiers exchanged views on eventual cooperation within the European Union, the visa regime liberalization, as well as regional and international developments and challenges.

The Armenian Prime Minister appreciated the balanced position of the Czech Republic in the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

* * *

On the sidelines of his working visit to the United States, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with former Canada Prime Minister Jean Chretien at UN headquarters in New York. Note that Mr. Chretien represents the Canadian delegation at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

Welcoming Nikol Pashinyan, Jean Chretien said he was happy to see the Armenian Prime Minister who has an exciting and extraordinary political career, and is now leading Armenia on its way to democracy. Jean Chretien noted that Armenia and Canada have forged effective bilateral relations, and Canada is keen to develop them ahead.

In turn, Nikol Pashinyan said he was pleased to meet with the Canadian delegation in attendance of the UN General Assembly’s 74th session and discuss issues of bilateral cooperation. The Prime Minister referred to the ongoing radical reforms in Armenia, which are aimed at strengthening democracy in our country. The support of international partners through joint programs and initiatives would be highly appreciated in this process.

The parties took the opportunity to discuss the prospects of economic cooperation in infrastructure, innovation and the pension market.

Agreement was reached at the level of Armenian and Canadian UN representatives to continue discussions on specific programs.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is in the United States of America on a working visit. At the end of the first day of his visit to New York, Nikol Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan met with about 500 representatives of the local Armenian community at St. Vardan Church.

At the entrance to the church, the Prime Minister of Armenia and his wife were greeted by U.S. Eastern Diocese Primate, Bishop Daniil Findikyan, Archbishop Vigen Haykazyan and Archimandrite Mesrop Parsamyan. The representatives of the Armenian community of New York greeted Nikol Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan with warm applause and great enthusiasm.

Addressing those in attendance, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated as follows:

“Dear Compatriots,

I am honored and very pleased to meet you. Last year, when we visited the church, and this visit was not planned as part of the official program, because we thought that there might be a time problem. Nevertheless, we did so, and I was very sorry that we had not planned a meeting with the Armenians of New York. This year, we thought that we would not leave New York without meeting you. So I am very happy.

The day before yesterday we had a pretty good and impressive rally in Los Angeles, and I gave a speech at that rally in which I spoke about several important aspects of our nationwide life. I would not repeat what I said yesterday in Los Angeles. In general, I would like to share my impressions for this year and 5 months after the revolution.

The most important impression is the following: the path of change as a whole is rather difficult, and when the revolution occurred, the most important challenge after the revolution that we faced was to make people realize that everything that happened was reality, because no matter how strange it may sound, not everyone realizes that this is reality.

For example, I do not understand after all these events, after political changes, how one can be an official in the Republic of Armenia and think that you can again take a bribe and allow any illegality. This is the most amazing question for me, to which I cannot find the answer.

You know that very often - every month, sometimes every week, some official is arrested for receiving a bribe, including at the time of receiving a bribe, and I cannot understand the logic of those people. I keep asking to myself whether these people watch TV, or read the news, are they from the Republic of Armenia or not?

This is probably the biggest challenge, because after the revolution, when the festival ends and you move on to your daily work, sometimes you can hear people saying: “Well, that is all nice, but when will we share the money, the spheres, import quotas,” and you understand that in fact this is common within a small group of people. This is probably the biggest challenge.

I want to repeat once again that everything that happened and is happening is reality, and whoever does not understand this - no matter where he is - should know that there can be no compromise. It seems to people that the change consists in that another person will be sitting up there instead of Serzh Sargsyan. Some used to ask themselves: “Is this what we made a revolution for?” Those in breach of traffic rules that had to pay fines were offended and said: “Is this what we made a revolution for?” A thief commits a theft, he is detained, he says: “Is this what we made a revolution for?” A corrupt person takes a bribe, and then says: “Is this what we made a revolution for?” Another cannot get his acquaintance to work, and then he says: “Is this what we made a revolution for?” That is, there was such a perception of the revolution that, for example, if someone tried for many years to get a position fatter or to arrange his relatives for such a position, it didn’t work out, and they think that a revolution took place and what they wanted and could not do, Now they can and earn this money, will go unpunished.

Perhaps this is the biggest challenge that exists, but I want to reiterate that, as I said, I cannot imagine a compromise in terms of such phenomena, because if I myself suddenly start to think about a compromise in terms of such phenomena, it will mean that these changes, the revolution are simply meaningless.

Therefore, our mission is not to achieve any status and enjoy this status, but our task is to achieve profound, substantive, institutional changes in the country, as well as to change the quality of our country, the quality of life in our country, the quality of the work of institutions in our country. This is a path on which there will be no compromise.

I believe that I received a very strong mandate from the people of the Republic of Armenia to eradicate corruption, illegality, patronage, monopolies in Armenia, and this should be done to the end.

I want to assure you that now I am more decisive on this issue than a year ago, because I understand that this determination is the only way to solve all the problems facing our country, and the result should be the following: Armenia must be truly democratic, a truly sovereign, truly social, truly legal state. This is our task. Thank you for supporting us, supporting me in this task. Now, I will be happy to answer your questions.

Thank you.”

After the Prime Minister’s remarks, the representatives of the Armenian community of New York asked him a few questions. Nikol Pashinyan answered questions related to the fight against corruption in Armenia, the quality of public administration, economic priorities, overcoming unemployment, creating new jobs, stimulating people’s economic activity, reforming education, technological priorities, strengthening ties between Diaspora youth and the Motherland, holding to the Armenian identity, implementing innovative medical technologies, etc.

Attached is the footage of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s meeting with Armenian community representatives in New York.

An exhibition dedicated to the Velvet Revolution is on at St. Vardan Church in New York.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to the United States continues. Nikol Pashinyan is in New York to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In the meantime, he holds bilateral meetings with counterparts from different countries.

The visit’s second day began with a meeting with a group of experts from Carnegie Foundation. Nikol Pashinyan had a working lunch with a group of experts in international relations, at which issues relating to political processes were discussed.

The Armenian Prime Minister and the experts in attendance exchanged views on the status of democracy in the world, international and regional developments and geopolitical issues. The experts presented their findings and analyses in different directions.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who is in New York on a working visit met with Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) Co-Chairs Van Krikorian, Anthony Barsamian and the Assembly’s Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

The Prime Minister highlighted and appreciated the Organization’s activities aimed at strengthening the Armenia-Diaspora ties and promoting issues high on the pan-Armenian agenda.

Issues related to Armenian-American relations and opportunities for their development were discussed during the meeting. Reference was made to AAA’s future activities and programs.

* * *

As part of his working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Following a protocol handshake, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia signed the UN Book of Honorary Guests, after which a private meeting was held between Nikol Pashinyan and Antonio Guterres.

The UN Secretary General welcomed the Prime Minister of Armenia to the UN Headquarters and his participation in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. Antonio Guterres said the UN is closely following the processes taking place in Armenia, welcomes the democratic developments and is prepared to continue assisting Armenia and its people on their way to progress and prosperity.

The Prime Minister of Armenia said he was glad to meet with the UN Secretary General and thanked for the support provided by the UN Armenia Office during the parliamentary elections late last year. Nikol Pashinyan emphasized that the support contributed to the holding of the most democratic elections in Armenia in the past two decades that the international community and observers assessed as free and fair.

The Premier noted that the new government of Armenia is committed to implementing large-scale reforms aimed at protecting human rights, ensuring the rule of law, reforming the judiciary, combating corruption, ensuring equal opportunities. He expressed Armenia’s appreciation of the assistance provided by its international partners, including the United Nations, in the speedy and successful implementation of reforms.

The UN Secretary General welcomed the reforms initiated by the Armenian authorities and emphasized that the UN fully supports Armenia’s reform agenda. Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed satisfaction with the activities of the UN Office in Armenia, noting that the government is engaged in effective cooperating with the Office.

Taking the opportunity, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the UN Secretary General exchanged views on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, global challenges, international and regional developments.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan attended a reception in New York, hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump in honor of the heads of delegations attending the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

* * *

During his working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan visited Columbia University in New York and met with university faculty and student circles.

At the university entrance, the Prime Minister was welcomed by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, who presented the University’s activities and educational programs.

Prime Minister Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan got photographed with 25 Armenian students studying at Columbia University.

The Premier had a meeting with the faculty and students of the University in the Great Hall of Columbia University within the framework of the World Leaders Forum.

Welcoming the Prime Minister of Armenia, University President Lee Bollinger in his speech presented summary information about Armenia. The President of Columbia University then gave the floor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.

Addressing the audience, Nikol Pashinyan stated:
“President Bollinger,
Dear Students,
Members of Academia,

Thank you very much for your very warm introduction. I am truly delighted and inspired to be here today and to experience the extraordinary environment of this top university that stimulates learning, academic excellence, and independent thinking.

Columbia University carries a special meaning for the Armenians, who have had a presence on this campus for over a century. I would like to extend special thanks to President Bollinger for the invitation to visit the university and for the opportunity to make my humble contribution to the extensive and proud history of the very strong bonds that Armenians and Columbia University share, which include many distinguished faculty members and students that have come through the campus.

The Armenian Center has an important role to play in supporting Columbia’s mission as a global university, through dialogue and collaboration, and I am happy that Armenia stands as a partner in this process.

Education and universities play a crucial role in training the youth for leadership, for driving social change and transforming our world towards a better tomorrow. Education is indispensable in preserving and promoting fundamental values of freedom, tolerance, and mutual respect.

In a world where messages of exclusion and inequalities seem to be on the rise, upholding these values and making them work is as relevant as ever. To reverse the global decline in the democratic values and the rise of the authoritarian trends, the world needs positive examples of inclusiveness and progress, and here is where I think Armenia has an important story to share.

In spring last year, Armenia came into the spotlight of international media as massive street protests transformed into a peaceful revolution culminating in a non-violent transfer of power and a profound transformation of Armenia’s political landscape. The Velvet Revolution set our country on a path of democracy, through a process that was described by the UN Secretary-General as a fantastic example of a peaceful transfer of power.

It was a strictly home-grown process stemming exclusively from the demands and aspirations of the Armenian people. It had nothing to do with geopolitics or “democracy promotion” of external actors. The Armenian velvet revolution demonstrated that democracy and human rights continue to be universal values despite wide-spread ideas of cultural relativism and decline of democracies.

The revolution in Armenia was driven by a strong demand for fundamental changes. People in Armenia wanted to have an efficient and competent government able to fight against corruption; to put an end to the electoral manipulations, frauds, and clientelism in politics; to eliminate inequality and economic polarization existing in our society for many years; to establish level playing field, and to provide equal opportunities for everyone.

Since its very first day in office, the new Armenian government - formed as a result of the first uncontested parliamentary elections in the past twenty-five years - has embarked on the implementation of an ambitious reform agenda.

Comprehensive reforms – these are the most correct words describing the spirit of today's Armenia. Reforms are implemented in many areas influencing almost all fundamental aspects of our life. A democratic society with a strong middle class based on the rule of law and accountable government is the ultimate goal of our reforms. To reach this goal we need to develop inclusive political and economic institutions.

We have achieved progress in many areas. Today, Armenia is a truly democratic country with established freedom of press and assembly. The chapter of electoral fraud and systemic corruption is closed in our country forever.

Yet the lack of independent judiciary is still a big issue in Armenia. Unfortunately, among the different branches of power, the judiciary enjoys the lowest level of confidence in our society. It is not accidental, therefore, that while making our steps towards establishing a really independent and efficient judicial system and restoring the integrity of our courts we are encountering the stiff resistance from those who were exercising unrestricted control over judiciary before revolution. They understand that as a result of the successful judiciary reforms they will lose their last stronghold and the hopes for the restoration of their political influence in Armenia. Those hopes are nothing but illusions which we have incrementally dismantled in each stage of revolution. With the judiciary reform we will consolidate the revolution and bring real change for our citizens and trust to the judiciary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I previously said, there was no geopolitical background in the Armenian Revolution. Armenia didn’t produce any U-turns in the foreign policy. That is not to say that democracy did not strengthen Armenia’s position in the international affairs and did not enrich our foreign policy with important values, principles and interests.

I am confident that the reform agenda shaped by the revolution opens up new prospects and opportunities for cooperation with our partners. In particular, it creates a solid ground for the development and enhancement of bilateral relations with the United States. We have a lot of achievements in this field, including the recently established US-Armenia strategic dialogue. However, we believe that today there exist necessary prerequisites to go further in expanding the bilateral agenda.

The US-Armenian relations have deep historic roots. Our people remember with appreciation the tremendous political and material support received from the US Government and the US philanthropic community during and after the First World War.

It was in response to the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire that the United States government founded the Near East Relief organization, which officially became the first American philanthropic effort created exclusively to provide humanitarian assistance to the Armenian nation. Massive fundraising campaigns rescued 132,000 Armenian orphans and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

In 1991 the US stood by Armenians and their newly established independent state once again. Today the US-Armenian friendship is anchored in the shared values and in the ultimate respect for human rights, democracy and dignity of the people.

I also believe that the vibrant and active Armenian-American community is a significant factor contributing to our partnership. We take a great deal of pride in Armenian-Americans, who having attained impressive heights in business, science, art, literature, entertainment and other fields, also preserve strong interest and support to the ancestral homeland.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past decades, Armenia and the United States have been working together in many areas, including global security, fight against international terrorism, non-proliferation, nuclear security, and peacekeeping operations.

Today, Armenia with its 131-strong peacekeeping troops is the second-largest non-NATO-member-nation contributing to the operation in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Armenia is one of the contributors to the NATO-led operation in Kosovo. Previously we also participated in the US-led coalition’s operation in Iraq.

We also attach great importance to the constructive role played by the United States as one of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and appreciate its efforts towards a lasting and durable peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Dear friends,

Unfortunately, the South Caucasus remains to be a volatile region marked by a number of security risks. Unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict poses a security challenge to our nation and serves as serious impediment for regional development.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is among the most difficult and protracted ones in the world. It starts with Soviet Union when an Armenian region with more than 90 percent of Armenian population was assigned by an arbitrary decision of the Communist party to Azerbaijan.

It lived with the Soviet Union for 70 years manifested by systematic and violent discrimination against the Armenian population who formulated their bid for self-determination and human rights in 1988, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It survived the Soviet Union and turned into a large scale war in the beginning of the 1990s, which threatened the very existence of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh who were subjected to mass atrocities.

Since 1994 when a ceasefire agreement was signed between Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process became an indispensable part of regional politics.

There can be many hypotheses as to why it was not possible to resolve the conflict for more than two decades, the lack of functional democracy has been among them. It seemed that there was a vicious cycle wherein the people of the region were often denied human rights in the name of conflict-induced national security.

Likewise, conflict transformation seemed to be unachievable because of the low level of human rights protection and democracy. In Armenia, we broke this vicious cycle.

On many occasions, I have been asked to what extent democratic transition of Armenia may bring new opportunities for conflict resolution.

Of course, Armenia does not represent the entire region and thus we cannot refer to the overall change in the region. Thus, let me highlight only the current reality from strictly Armenian perspective.

The current Armenian authorities do not derive their legitimacy and identity from the conflict perceptions and do not use conflict to cling on power, to limit human rights or justify their violations.

Our moral commitments to human rights, democracy and nonviolence, which we undertook during Velvet Revolution before the entire Armenian people cannot be neglected for the people who live in the conflict area. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are entitled to enjoy their human rights and determine their future as much as their compatriots in the Republic of Armenia or any other people in the world.

Armenia has supported democratic aspirations of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh who most recently elected their local authorities in free and fair elections.

Peace cannot come as conspiracy between clans or exclusive elites. We need leaderships which are both accountable to their people and can gather strong support for peace in their respective societies. Peace should be about people and for people and can come only through the people.

With this in mind, we try to advance NK peace process with the following important steps.

First, with my Azerbaijani colleague we were able to agree on necessity of observing and strengthening ceasefire.

Second, we agreed that we need to prepare populations for peace.

Third, I unilaterally declared that we should find a peaceful settlement acceptable for peoples of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia. I made clear that the will of the people on all sides matters.

Why is it important to ascertain this seemingly obvious idea? Without acknowledging and humanizing other side and their needs it would be difficult to explain the rationale behind any compromise.

Indeed, my declaration was unilateral but in order for it to be acceptable for the Armenian people, it requires exactly the same declaration and approach from Azerbaijan.

So far the leadership of Azerbaijan refrained from committing itself to finding a solution acceptable for all. Instead, we continue hearing explicit or implicit war threats.

Azerbaijan also refuses any dialogue with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and their representatives and tries to impede any interaction of the people living in the conflict area with the world. Under these circumstances, it should not come as a surprise to Azerbaijan that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh strongly rely on Armenia as the only guarantor of their survival and development.

Let us be clear, there will be no more genocidal threat to Armenians, specifically in Nagorno-Karabakh.

I hope that Azerbaijan will approach the expression of will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the upcoming state elections not as a threat but opportunity to engage with newly elected authorities.

It is our view that the international community should continue to support the peace efforts of the Co-Chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group, namely France, Russia and the US, especially by sending clear message on inadmissibility of the use of force.

It is important that within the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship the US, Russia and France closely cooperate with each other. This is good news both for our region and for the world as it indicates that great powers are able not merely to compete but also to cooperate with each other at least in one particular region of the world.

Unfortunately, not all regional players have been showing the same degree of responsibility. Turkey continues to be a source of instability and tension in our region. I can be critical on many issues of domestic and foreign policy, but I should acknowledge that the previous Governments of Armenia made very strong efforts to establish relations with Turkey both in the beginning of the 1990s and in 2008-2009.

They agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions despite the difficult and tragic past. However, these efforts remained unappreciated, rejected and even manipulated by Turkey, who signed but refused to ratify the Zurich Protocols.

Today, 104 years after the Armenia Genocide, Turkey continues its hostile policy towards the Armenians by closing its land borders, politically and militarily supporting Azerbaijan against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and most appallingly, by justifying the Armenian Genocide.

We are a people of the region and we have been living here from ancestral times, we survived the Genocide and finally we are building a democratic, peaceful and viable nation. This is reality that Turkey should accept by ceasing to be the eternal security threat to Armenia and the Armenian people.

The equal rights and self-determination of peoples are one of the principles of international law put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. When it comes to this principle, somehow there is a tendency to rightly emphasis self-determination and wrongly to forget about the equal rights of peoples. Peoples who live in one region side by side are destined to recognize each other as legitimate equals. This means rejection of any idea of domination, subjugation or destruction of other people.

New forms of dialogue, respect, reconciliation, and equality among people are needed in our region. Culture of dialogue, tolerance and compromise should prevail over all differences and against all odds in the South Caucasus.

Thank you for your attention.”

The Prime Minister’s speech was followed by a question and answer session with Columbia University students. Nikol Pashinyan answered a number of questions related to democratic processes taking place in Armenia, the status and prospects of democracy in the world, in general, the role of the Armenian Diaspora, the ongoing judiciary reform, the anticorruption efforts, the potential for conservation in the mining and environmental sectors, the possibility of military service for women, and other topics.

* * *

On a working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan called at The New York Times magazine’s headquarters and met with members of the editorial board.

The meeting focused on issues related to the situation in the region, the Armenian government’s foreign policy priorities, and the systemic reform underway in the country. During the meeting reference was made to the economic priorities of the Government of the Republic of Armenia.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who is in New York on a working visit met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Greeting the NATO Secretary General, the Prime Minister noted that Armenia appreciates the partnership with NATO, especially in the framework of peacekeeping missions and is interested in its deepening. In turn, Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Armenian Prime Minister, stressing that Armenia is an important partner for NATO, and the bilateral Individual Partnership Program is a good basis for continued strengthening of interaction.

The parties exchanged views on issues related to the Armenia-NATO experience. Reference was made to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process. Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that Armenia sees the resolution of the conflict exclusively in the framework of a peaceful process, and has repeatedly stated it following the Revolution.

The NATO Secretary General stressed the importance of the Armenian Premier’s commitment to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, noting that NATO supports the efforts for a peaceful settlement in the context of regional peace, stability and security.

The interlocutors took the opportunity to exchange views on the current situation of and challenges to international and regional security.

* * *

During his working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the “UN Sustainable Development Goals: The 2020-2030 Vision” summit and delivered a speech. Below is the full text of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to take part in today’s discussion on the trends and challenges impacting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs set out an ambitious framework for development cooperation, with a view to transform societies and achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

We live in a world where inequalities continue to grow and tendencies of exclusion continue to rise. Therefore, we need to look into the ways in which we can work together to mitigate the current trends and challenges, through positive examples of inclusive processes.

Currently Armenia is in the midst of implementing an ambitious reform agenda, aimed at empowering our people, each and every one to use their talent and energy and make our society more resilient and prosperous.

We strongly believe that no progress could be achieved in a society if the judicial system is not trusted. If the judiciary is not fair, no sustainable development can be achieved, no economic growth can be registered, no investments will flow. And we are now in the process of elaboration on the ways and modalities of reforming our judiciary.

Our peaceful velvet revolution, which took place in Armenia last year, totally transformed the role of women in the society. Today we are absolutely convinced that they can bring changes to our country; hence we are promoting meaningful participation of women in all aspects of our life. The share of women in business is rising. The proportion of women in high managerial positions is similar to the average figure recorded in the European Union. We have more women in the IT and high-tech sector than the global average. Today we have a large participation of women in our Parliament, in top positions of our Government.

The revolutionary changes, as it is generally believed, have a negative effect on business. Nevertheless, last year our economy did not show any signs of weakness. On the contrary, our GDP registered a 5.2% growth in 2018. Our financial system has been absolutely stable. Even our national currency remained stable despite the devaluation of almost all regional currencies during the last year. In the first half of 2019 the volume of the foreign investments to Armenia has grown up to 26%. And last but not least, we have increased the income part of our budget by 25.1% due to the drastic measures taken by our Government in the fight against shadow economy.

We are now reforming our tax system to make business operations in Armenia even smoother.

We are taking steps to become an industrial country and transform our economy from mining to high tech. Tourism is yet another important accelerator of our economic advancement. In particular, we focus on cultural, ecological, and medical tourism.

In our policies of economic advancement, we focus on human capital. We place high priority on empowerment and capacity building of our youth, providing digital technology training. One of the important achievements in this field is the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, where thousands of Armenian teens have the opportunity to learn new technologies. The Center started out in Yerevan, and has already expanded to a number of other countries.

The integration of economic and environmental policies is an important issue for Armenia. Unfortunately, we are already facing the negative impact of the climate change having registered a 1.3-degree Celsius average temperature increase, which makes us the 4th most vulnerable country in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia. To address this problem, we have been working to develop an innovative climate finance mechanism which is part of Armenia’s national pledge for the Climate Action Summit of the Secretary-General.

We put high priority on the cooperation with the United Nations development system for the advancement of Smart Development. This process is currently complemented by the launch of an ambitious Transformation Strategy of Armenia 2050, consisted of sixteen mega goals.

We still have a lot to achieve. We have to overcome a tangible degree of poverty in our country. We still have to transform our economy to technologically advanced and environmentally friendly industry.

The Sustainable Development Goals are designed to promote the values of human dignity, equality and democracy. And our aim is to revive and strengthen those human-centered-values.

Thank you for your attention.”

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of his working visit to New York.

Greeting his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Pashinyan said the two countries and nations boast deeply-rooted ties which contain great potential for developing bilateral relations. The head of the Armenian government assured of our country’s willingness to build strong bonds of partnership with India, noting that Armenia is prepared to make consistent efforts to tap the existing opportunities.

The Indian Premier said he was pleased with his first meeting with the Armenian counterpart, which provided a good opportunity to discuss issues related to Armenian-Indian relations. Modi stressed that the strong ties of friendship between Armenia and India go far back in history, and India is keen to develop bilateral partnership.

Pashinyan and Modi discussed the prospects of economic, political, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between Armenia and India. They specifically focused on the possibility of cooperating in the film industry. In the context of expanding commercial ties, the interlocutors stressed the importance of promoting direct contacts between the respective business circles and organizing mutual visits. The two heads of government agreed to support the exchange of business groups in a bid to forge close economic partnerships.

Taking the opportunity, the Prime Ministers exchanged views on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Kashmir province issue.

* * *

During his working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered remarks at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters.

Below is the full text of the Armenian Prime Minister’s statement:

“Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to congratulate H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on his election as the President of the UN General Assembly. I wish to assure you, Mr. President, of Armenia’s full support for your leadership during the 74th session of the General Assembly.

I also wish to express profound gratitude to Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the President of the 73-rd Session, for her effective leadership and important legacy.

This is my second opportunity of representing my country in this august body as Prime Minister of Armenia. Momentous changes have been taking place in our country since my previous appearance at the United Nations General Assembly. Parliamentary elections were held in Armenia last December. For the first time in about twenty-five years, these elections and their results were fully accepted by our public and not contested by any political party. They received the best possible assessment of the international observers, who hailed them as free, fair, and transparent. This was a major achievement of the Armenian non-violent velvet people’s revolution of 2018.

Armenia’s peaceful revolution received praise and recognition by the international community. The international media acknowledged Armenia’s role in the global democratic surge as hope for global democracy. In recognition of our democratic achievements, The Economist magazine proclaimed Armenia as the country of the year in 2018.

Our determination to advance democracy and reforms is solid, uncompromising and unwavering. It is based on the strong mandate of our people, to whom we are accountable in delivering reforms, securing justice, improving economic and social conditions and developing our nation.

Our democratic transformation and zero tolerance policy against corruption are not without resistance from former corrupted elites. Their vast financial resources are directed at escaping justice. Our government has not pursued a single case of redistribution of property. At the same time, our resolve to press with reforms and justice is unwavering.

Our mass media is totally free from government control or interference. However, some of them are not free from meddling and control from the same old circles of the former government, fabricating fake news and spreading mistrust in the public about the the origins and purposes of the velvet revolution. Despite any challenge, our resolve to promote and protect freedom of the media is unrelenting.

We have witnessed plenty of suspicion about the nature and purposes of our revolution. Some believed that this revolution was instigated by their global competitors in our region. The others were asking, since they are not behind this revolution, who else could have done it?

From this high podium, I would like to firmly state once again that the velvet revolution in Armenia was carried out by its proud citizens in manifestation of their will to reject corruption, abuse and monopolization of power, consistent falsification of elections and political frauds. There is absolutely no need to approach the free expression of will of the Armenian people, who are the ultimate sovereign of the country, from the angle of the competition of global powers. The political transformations in Armenian were about the fulfillment of a dream to have a free, democratic and happy country, a dream which was born in the late 1980s, at the end of Cold War, and led our people to independence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Armenia’s non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution is a proof of the potential of democratic change in the contemporary world. But the revolution was just the beginning of our mission, and probably even the easiest part of it. Currently, we are in new, more important and difficult stage of our mission. We should prove that democratic transformation in Armenia is sustainable.

We are proud to have already delivered some concrete results. Our economy is growing steadily and quite rapidly. The growth is based on a very important ideological transformation, which has occurred in our country. The individual effort of every citizen does matter: this principle is the most important driving force of our economic revolution. And the most important mission of our government is to inspire and convince our citizens to trust their talent and ability to make real changes.

Individual efforts have been the main formula of success of our political revolution. Before the revolution, there was only a small group of people who believed that individual efforts could bring about political changes in our country. But today this is a commanding idea for the overwhelming majority of Armenian citizens. Therefore, our overall goal is to accomplish the economic revolution exactly in the way that the political revolution was achieved earlier.

Reforming and strengthening institutions are the most powerful instrument we possess in addressing the challenges that democratic Armenia is facing today. Immediately after coming to power we initiated a package of drastic measures to establish democratic institutions that have never existed in our country before. Among the measures are, for example, the efforts aimed at establishing an independent judiciary, anti-corruption bodies, and level-playing field for all economic and political players. Empowerment of women is yet another area where we have made bold steps to register visible results.

The most important part of our institutional reforms is education. We believe that only through promoting education we can make our democracy irreversible and can achieve sustainable economic growth. Our vision is to make life-long education a nationwide activity for all layers of our society from children to adults.

The Armenian Government is determined to continue institutional reforms, but we also count on the support of the international community to stand with the young Armenian democracy to address its challenges. We need to have access to international best practices to save time and resources. We need to avoid the mistakes previously made by other democracies to make our democratic reforms more fruitful and efficient.

Taking this opportunity, I want to express my gratitude to all our international partners who are fully committed to assisting our reform agenda. In particular, we are grateful to the United Nations and its programs and agencies, as well as to regional partners, including the European Union and the Council of Europe. In fact, I mentioned the United Nations, our global organization embracing the whole of the international community, and I hope all members of the international community would like the Armenian democracy to succeed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Unfortunately, the world has not become a safer place for all of us throughout this year. It is difficult to find any region in the world which is not destabilized or impacted by tensions in its neighborhood.

Two out of the four international borders of Armenia, including the one with Turkey, have been closed for almost three decades. By refusing to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, overtly assisting Azerbaijan against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey remains a serious security threat to Armenia and the Armenian people who had experienced the deep tragedy of the genocide and continue to face the fierce denial of truth and justice.

Mr. President,

The various degree of tension existing in the relations among our neighbors and strategic partners put us in a very challenging condition. Russia is our key strategic partner and ally, Georgia and Iran are our strategic neighbors, we have a strategically significant agenda and partnership with the United States, the European Union and its member states.

We observe with concern sets of disagreements among our friends, strategic partners and allies. These realities put significant challenges to us, because we face a persistent risk of not being correctly understood by some of our friends, or even worse - by all of them.

We are doing our best to remain a reliable partner and a good friend for all of them without damaging our relations with any of them, without promoting relations with one partner at the expense of the other. We will continue to invest every effort in making our region’s geopolitical environment safer.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is of crucial importance for the stability and security of our region. Since my very first days in office, I have been taking steps in this very context. With this end in view, I publicly stated that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be acceptable for the people of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

It is noteworthy that I was the first Armenian leader to voice such position about the settlement of the conflict. I was heavily criticized in my country for such a formula of solution which places the three parties of the conflict on an equal footing. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that this is the only way to the peaceful and lasting settlement of the conflict, because it offers a possibility of compromise, mutual respect, and balance.

I introduced this formula not only publicly, but also within the negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. In order to move forward, I expected similar statement from Azerbaijan. However, the highest authorities of Azerbaijan remain on their position, which aims at a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable only for the people of Azerbaijan.

What does it mean in reality? It means that the Azerbaijani authorities do not have any intention to solve this conflict. Instead, they want to defeat the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. They don’t want to seek any compromise. What they aim at is a revenge for the unsuccessful attempted aggressions against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s and in 2016. This is why they are inflaming anti-Armenian sentiments among their people; this is why they are spending enormous resources on armament; this is why the anti-Armenian hate speech has become official policy in Azerbaijan.

In fact, the Azerbaijani authorities want to bring back the Soviet time status of Nagorno-Karabakh. But it is a futile effort, because the people of the Soviet era Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region declared their independence and exercised self-determination as did Azerbaijan seceding from the Soviet Union. This position of Azerbaijan is tantamount of climbing restoration of Soviet Union.

Azerbaijani government presents the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We totally disagree with such an interpretation of the conflict. It is NOT a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This dispute is NOT about territorial claims. It is about people, about real men and women and their right to live in their homeland in the way that their ancestors lived over many centuries.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijani authorities do not want to talk to these people and negotiate with them, because they want to have the territories but NOT the people. To be more precise: territories, without the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is very important to explain the reason why I am referring to this part of the story. Do you think I want to contribute to the tension in our region? Of course not. On the contrary, I want to make it clear that the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh is a very complicated and very painful issue for the peoples of the region, that it is impossible to settle it without hard and consistent work, without a compromise, mutual respect, and balance.

Therefore, I want to invite my Azerbaijani counterpart, president Ilham Aliev, to accept the formula that will create conditions for a breakthrough in the peace process. Any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be acceptable for the people of Armenia, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Azerbaijan. We need to work together to translate this formula into reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A few days ago, we celebrated Armenia’s Independence Day. Twenty-eight years ago, Armenia as a sovereign nation became a full member of the international community regaining its place and role in the global arena.

We are benefactors of international cooperation and contributors to its security, development and human rights agenda. We place significant importance to effective multilateralism. We work with all our partners, both at international and regional levels, to advance global security, fight against international terrorism, non-proliferation, nuclear security, and peacekeeping operations.

Armenia participates in the international peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Mali, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and carries out a humanitarian mission in Syria, delivering medical assistance and humanitarian de-mining to the benefit of the civilian populations affected by crisis.

The benefits of effective multilateralism reflect strongly in our global efforts to advance cooperation in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. In Armenia, the process of the nationalization of the SDGs complements the launch of an ambitious transformational national strategy for 2050, which involves 16 mega goals contextualizing the SDGs.

The priorities of advancing education, innovation and smart development, inclusive and participatory political and economic environment underline the inter-linkages between the development and human rights. Further advancing the role of women and youth is of critical importance for Armenia. We will continue to focus on all these issues both domestically and in our international agenda.

Enhanced integration of economic and environmental policies is of high importance. Having registered a 1.3-degree Celsius average temperature increase, Armenia is already facing the negative impact of the climate change. To address this global challenge, we have been working to develop an innovative climate finance mechanism which is part of Armenia’s national pledge for the Climate Action Summit of the Secretary-General.

Promoting sustainable development and human rights should be an inclusive process. It should be made accessible to everyone, regardless of political status or geographical location. No one should be left behind, including the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, who should have access to the same tools of sustainable development available for others. Nagorno-Karabakh should be able to benefit from international financial and technical assistance to strengthen human rights, eradicate poverty, improve education, respond to climate change, and build an inclusive society.

Armenia, as a democratic country and a reliable member of the international community, will continue to make its contribution to the international cooperation to maintain global peace and security, to promote sustainable development, and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We are committed to a constructive dialogue with all international partners to address common challenges and provide progress and prosperity for our nations.

We are against dividing lines and the policy of confrontation. We are against closed borders, which are considered redundant and unacceptable in the 21st century, but which still exist in our region.

As a nation to have experienced the horrors of genocide in the past, we stand for promoting mutual understanding and peace in our volatile region.

The policy of escalation and arms race, based on illusive hopes for military superiority, has no future in the South Caucasus.

The peoples of our region deserve to live in peace and prosperity, freely exercise their human rights and freedoms in order to build a brighter future for themselves and their children.

Thank you for your attention.”

← Back to list