PM Pashinyan comments on speculations related to Artsakh issue live on his Facebook page
Good evening, dear compatriots.
I know that gossip is perhaps not worth mentioning at all, but to be honest, gossip is not what matters most to me, but the opportunity to talk about a number of important issues with the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
Today I would like to address the recently intensified speculations over the Karabakh issue, which at first kept stating that the government and I, myself, were going to hand over Karabakh. Then, when the time showed the absurdity of those allegations, the thesis was circulated that since I was involved in a conspiracy against Karabakh, the latter was likely to be handed over as a result of a war. As you may remember, this happened during the 2018 parliamentary elections. I was in Syunik then and came up with some tough remarks on this type of allegations. I instructed the National Security Service to find out the expose the sources and reasons behind such speculations.
At that very time, there was also speculation about political persecutions and so on. After a while, it seemed that these two types of allegation had been exhausted. However, the point is that a third thesis is being put into circulation, which says that since the government or the prime minister do not want to make concessions and hand over territories, this means that the negotiations have reached a deadlock, and there is a threat of an imminent war. Money is being spent on such speculations; propaganda is being done, and so on.
What do I mean by this? First of all, I would like to say that everyone should understand in general that the situation we have in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations has always been fraught with specific threats, but I want to state that the threats have not multiplied over the past couple of years. On the contrary, if we scrutinize the situation, the level of border tensions, we will see that there has been a sharp and significant decline in tensions over the past one and a half years due to the well-known Dushanbe discussion.
We can witness at least less tension than there used to be 3, 4, or 5 years ago. Yet, there is still some escalation, and unfortunately, we still have victims on the border.
I say this to show that we do not say that we have resolved the Karabakh issue, and that we are in for a lasting settlement of the conflict. But, on the other hand, I can say, however strange it may seem, that there is a positive dynamics in the negotiation process, which I feel will continue and develop. And, in fact, I have said that we had some talk with the President of Azerbaijan in Ashgabat; we had a discussion that led to a specific atmosphere, a reciprocated desire to seek a solution.
Now it is very important to state our strategy regarding the Karabakh issue in general. I have stated on several occasions that any conspiracy should be ruled out on the Karabakh issue, because it is not my own concern; the Karabakh issue is not a group issue, it is a national concern.
The negotiations are based on the following logic: I have said that any solution to the conflict should be acceptable to the peoples of Armenia, Karabakh and Azerbaijan, and my chief task is to seek and find a solution acceptable to our people. A soon as a solution, or a proposal acceptable to the nation has been formulated during the talks, I will present it to our people for consideration, we will have a nationwide discussion, and decisions will have to be made in a nationwide format.
Many may wonder what the national format will be like. There are different options. The point is that we can hold or not a nationwide referendum. I mean that we are now talking about our strategy. That is to say, our task is to come to a solution at the table of negotiations which, in our opinion, should be acceptable to our people. Once we have such a formula, we will submit it to our people.
After presenting it to the people, there will be many formats for further deliberation, ranging from parliamentary debates to discussions held with the political forces, the military, intellectual elites, and so on.
There are many forms, but today I do not want to go into the details because, unfortunately, we do not have such a solution on the table.
I want to mention something very important: it has also been speculated that there are contradictions between the authorities of Artsakh and Armenia, and an attempt is being made to present such a situation in the issue of Artsakh.
Dear compatriots. I can confidently state that the perceptions of Armenia’s authorities and the authorities of Artsakh are identical regarding the settlement of the Artsakh issue. I would like to reiterate that the perceptions of the Artsakh authorities and the Armenian authorities regarding the settlement of the Artsakh issue are identical. And this is a very important record, as it just cannot be otherwise.
I have said before that we can have different approaches to different working matters. When we look at the discussions of our ministries and government decisions today, there are different perceptions of different issues. And that is normal. As a result of discussing these ideas, we must have a quality solution. But the perceptions of the Armenian authorities and the authorities of Artsakh over the settlement of the Artsakh issue are identical, and any speculation on this subject is just ridiculous.
We often hold discussions with the authorities of Artsakh on this topic, I often hold discussions with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan, and we have had such discussions in recent days, and this is a very important record.
Back to the topic of Dushanbe, I wish to state the following. Many may think it is not worth mentioning, but I have to address it, because I cannot leave anything unexplained.
As you nay know, Head of State Security Service Grigory Hayrapetov was fired a couple of days ago in compliance with his own application, but according to my decision,. A thesis used to be circulated regarding his resignation; please be very careful about this part of the story; it was said that Grigory Hayrapetov had been fired because he was in the same elevator with Aliyev and Pashinyan in Dushanbe, and therefore, he could have been aware of some conspiracy arrangement.
And this nonsense was put into circulation as the true reason behind his resignation. Let us examine this thesis directly. If there is a conspiracy, then fancy that I am a disgusted conspirator, so foolish that I first engage in a conspiracy with Aliyev in the presence of someone who has served as Robert Kocharyan’s and Serzh Sargsyan’s senior security guard officer for 10 years each. Do you understand this?
But even if that is the case, then I should not have fired him, but on the contrary, I should have kept him in my service because I could thereby not let him tell people the truth about my conspiracy. Now he free is to speak whenever he wants, where he wants, what he wants.
The authors of this campaign, you know who they are, are representatives of a circle you already know. I want to show that, according to information we have a lot money is being spent on this campaign. Do you see the level of anti-propaganda?
And the next thesis in this context is that Pashinyan is weakening the army, and the senior army staff. So, dear compatriots, if you read the transcript of my latest press conference, entitled 100 Facts About New Armenia -2, you can see that paragraphs 31-41 refer to what the government has done for the army during this time.
Of course, I did not make any calculations, I did a rough estimate. If you could tell me any period of 6 months, one year, or a 1.5 year when the Armenian government has done more to develop the Armed Forces, I would be very surprised. For example, what has our government done during this time to increase the efficiency of the Armed Forces?
Defense spending increased by 26% to 313.2 billion drams in 2019 against 247.8 billion drams as spent in the previous year.
The Government of Armenia has allocated additional 2.1 billion drams to improve the troops’ combat readiness, including providing drinking water for combat positions. In June-August, 2019, the number of solar-powered combat positions increased about 5 percent. The number of weapons and military equipment, including firearms, has increased by 5-10 percent.
Our troops’ positions have been improved in 5 segments of the contact line. The number of modern video surveillance devices (daytime, thermal and integrated cameras) has increased by about 10 percent. By the end of the year, 30-35 percent of combat positions will be provided with potable water.
The 2020 State budget funding for military industry will increase by 114 percent.
Paragraph 34 presents one of the most important programs, which deals with the new catering system for soldiers. I believe, and I am glad that the military shares the view that the new food system is an important factor in enhancing the efficiency of our army.
Three important factors - the soldier sees a new attitude towards him, realizes that the State, the government appreciates his service in a completely new way and in a new quality. A well-fed soldier is supposed to be more vigilant with a high sense of self-esteem and combat readiness.
One of the most important decisions we made was raising the salaries of our beloved military. I will not hide that it is a pride for us, and I am proud of that decision since there had not been such a tangible pay rise in the Armed Forces for a long time before.
Thanks to the government’s new attitude towards the army, we had 15 percent more conscripts than predicted during the 2019 summer call-up campaign. I do not think it has often been the case that a more conscientious citizen is drafted into the army, and I hope that this figure will improve in the future.
The third thesis is that our government discredits the generals. This is said in the context that you all know, namely that there are criminal proceedings instituted against some army generals.
Yes, there are such cases, and it is no secret, but we must remember that everyone is equal before the law in the Republic of Armenia.
Do we want a society, a situation where the status of a general or a minister should let us do whatever we want? I do not want to break anyone’s presumption of innocence, but in this context I would like to state that in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, and on my own initiative, de facto and de jure, a number of servicemen have been conferred upon the military rank of General.
For example, Commander of Communication Troops Temur Shahnazaryan was awarded the rank of Major-General on my own initiative, and in accordance with a presidential decree. Head of Air Defense Forces Armen Vardanyan has been awarded the rank of Major-General. Head of Missile and Artillery Troops Armen Harutyunyan received the rank of Major-General. Grigory Khachaturov, commander of the Third Army Corps, received the rank of Major-General on my own initiative. We saw attempts of political analysis about the fact that Grigory Khachaturov is the son of Yuri Khachaturov. There is no political question, the work of the corps commander has just been appreciated, and I have made the decision to confer that title. Not to mention that First Deputy Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan was awarded the rank of Lieutenant-General. Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Artak Davtyan has been awarded the rank of Lieutenant-General.
After all, Vagharshak Harutyunyan’s military rank of Army General, which he was deprived of nearly 20 years ago under the well-known circumstances, was reinstated by my own initiative and decision.
I want to say that we have a common understanding with the authorities of Artsakh in this matter, and I am very happy. A process of forming a staff of army generals is underway in Artsakh, and I would like to state that one of Defense Army’s most prominent figures, Jalal Harutyunyan, was appointed to the post of First Deputy Commander of the Defense Army - Chief of General Staff, and was awarded the rank of Major-General. Defense Army Commander Karen Abrahamyan has been awarded the rank of Lieutenant-General, and I want to say that I welcome this decision and the relevant approach adopted by the Artsakh authorities.
All in all, it seems like I wanted to say this, dear compatriots, and I also want to state that there will probably be a chance to talk about this in the near future. It is probably worth a talk, because some are still trying to question the policy of the Government of the Republic of Armenia towards the Republic of Artsakh. I think it is worth talking about what concrete material support the Government of Armenia has provided to the Republic of Artsakh over the past year and a half.
Let me just remind you that our government allocated 3 billion drams to the Government of Artsakh with a view to tackling the needs of those military pensioners featuring on the housing list. 3 billion drams allocated in extra support. But I think we will discuss this topic in greater detail in the near future, so that our society could see the discrepancy between cheap propaganda and the reality.
These questions, to be honest, do not bother me much; they are more of an occasion for this conversation with people, with the public at large, because we have said before that this is a very important conversation, especially as I wish to keep in close touch with you.
But, you have to agree that there always has to be an occasion for it, because we actually cover a lot of things in a working order - visits, meetings, talks - and we need something extraordinary to go into a detailed conversation about specific topics.
And in this respect, we will use for our common purposes, our national interests, the interests of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, the resource of propaganda that some corrupt people are using to create distrust between the people and the government elected by the people; we will use it to strengthen our unity, build our confidence, and of course we will only grow stronger as a result.
There is a lot of information nowadays; there is a lot of information on my desk. And the most exciting thing is that the well-known forces are upset about the fact they have spent enormous amounts of money over the past one and a half years, but were unable to sow distrust between the government and the people.
The popular trust can not be undermined in this way. This, of course, makes them very nervous, and makes us, the proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, even stronger!