Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's interview to Public TV
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to Petros Ghazaryan on September 11. The full transcript of the interview is presented below.
Petros Ghazaryan - Good evening dear viewers. We continue to follow the highlights. Today we will talk with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. Good evening Mr. Pashinyan, thank you for accepting our invitation.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Thank you.
Petros Ghazaryan - The Croatia-Armenia football match ended a little while ago. What are your impressions? Yes, we lost, unfortunately.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, I would like to say that I believe in our team, and regardless of the results of today's match, I think that this national football team has a backbone, it has a face, it has a will, we have a good coach, we have a good team, and we need to be by their side and be able to support and encourage them in all situations, so that even defeats do not discourage them and they know that the Republic of Armenia stands behind them.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, what is the situation at the border? What about the level of tension, is there an easing or not, is there a new potential for military conflict or not, what is going on?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The border situation is tense because Azerbaijan has a certain concentration of troops on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border and also has a certain concentration of troops around Nagorno Karabakh. The evaluations that I gave at the previous Cabinet meeting, in fact, have not changed by today.
Petros Ghazaryan - Look, in connection with this tension, you called Iran, Georgia, France, Germany, the USA, you talked to the leaders of many countries, but it would be logical if you first talked to Putin, Russia, because our strategic ally is Russia, we talked to all of them, except for Putin. Why?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In fact, the first call was to the President of Russia and the first calls were always to the President of Russia, because recently I spoke to the President of Russia regarding this situation and I did not speak to others. And let me also say that the purpose and meaning of these calls is to deliver information to those partners who are not informed or most likely are not informed of some nuances, and the President of the Russian Federation, for sure, is informed about this situation, because I want to draw your attention to that the situation of the closure, illegal blockade and humanitarian crisis established in Nagorno-Karabakh starts from December last year.
I have had more than a dozen phone conversations with the President of the Russian Federation since December of last year, and there is some information related to the new situation, which I think should be shared with our other partners, which we have shared with the President of the Russian Federation long ago. In this respect, unfortunately, the situation has not changed since our last conversation, which should raise a need for a new conversation with the President of Russia. If needed, of course, such phone conversations can take place.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, what is happening in Armenian-Russian relations? For the first time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons our Ambassador and files a note of protest, the process of ratifying the Rome Statute is accepted very negatively by the Russian leadership, your lady's visit to Kyiv and sending humanitarian aid deserved serious criticism from Russia, the Armenian-American exercises were also included in the protest note. Why are we provoking Russia, escalating relations with Russia, when the situation on the border is very complicated and we are close to war?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, let me first say that my wife's visit to Ukraine should not be politicized. I think it is being unnecessarily politicized. You are aware that my wife has been involved in the International Association of First Ladies and Gentlemen for a long time and participates in events within that association. You also know that in the near future such an event is planned in Armenia. And here I don't think there is a need to draw political conclusions.
As for the Armenia-US military exercises, I must also state that this is not the first time that similar Armenian-American military exercises take place in the Republic of Armenia.
On the other hand, we started the ratification of the Rome Statute in December 2022 and it just takes some time with our procedures. Unfortunately, this actually had bad coincidences in the context of Russia and the Hague Criminal Court, and I must record that this process is not at all related to Armenia-Russia relations, it is related to the tensions of the border situation. On the other hand, we understand, of course, that they form bad or disturbing contexts, but on the other hand, we cannot freeze our relations and also our obligations with other partners and try to develop them normally. Moreover, I must record that the Rome Statute was not signed during the period of our Government and was not ratified before because the Constitutional Court concluded that it contradicts the Constitution. But you know that since 2015 we have a newly edited Constitution and these contradictions have disappeared, and we are moving forward on that path because it is the document we have signed.
Petros Ghazaryan - Look, you are saying that these are coincidences, but on the other hand, you give an interview to La Repubblica, you say that we put 99.9% of our security in one basket, it's a strategic mistake, we should try to diversify, you say that Russia seems to be leaving the region, you say that they either can't or don't want to fulfill their obligations in connection with the Lachin Corridor. On the one hand, that background, on the other hand, your assessments. You don't need to be a great political scientist to understand that all this will create a very negative background in Russia, especially since they are, in fact, fighting to the death against the West, and any move can be taken inadequately. Any political truth we say can be taken inadequately. Is it worth the price that Russia can affect our border situation, can affect on the situation in Artsakh? What do we give and what do we get?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - What I note, I do not note as a happy fact. It is also obvious that due to the events known to you, there is a certain lack or deviation of attention from the South Caucasus, and on the other hand, we have certain border problems that we need to address or try to replenish the tools at our disposal. Look, you are trying to link the Rome Statute, the Armenian-American exercises and even my wife's visit to Ukraine with the border situation. The context in your question is whether these processes will lead to borderline escalation.
But I want to draw your attention to the fact that, for example, in September 2020, we were not ratifying the Rome Statute, we were not conducting military exercises with the United States, neither paid a visit to Ukraine, this is also for September 2022, but that didn't prevent a war situation on the border. And today we are trying to use the tools available to us, to add security factors that will help us. For example, in the Armenian press and also in the Russian press, the Rome Statute is sometimes linked with Armenia-Russia relations, but the Rome Statute has nothing to do with Armenia-Russia relations. Why are we ratifying? We are ratifying because we want, in particular, the events of September 2022, May 2021 to become the subject of investigation in the international criminal court.
And this is another factor that can have a significant effect on increasing our security level, in the conditions when, unfortunately, the CSTO has not fulfilled and is not fulfilling its obligations towards Armenia. We cannot turn a blind eye on this and simply do nothing. It is our obligation to take steps, to try to obtain additional security tools, including international ones.
Petros Ghazaryan - Those are our perceptions, but Russia's perceptions are very important in this case. Their perceptions are completely different. They give us a protest note.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - That is the reason why we are actively working to create the right perceptions about all this in Russia. And in relation to the same Rome Statute, we have proposed a very specific solution that should dispel all fears. And we continue to work towards that solution.
Petros Ghazaryan - Look, Russia, Lavrov announce, they say about the Lachin Corridor that you reached a certain agreement with Azerbaijan in Prague to recognize the territorial integrity, referring to the Almaty Declaration, after that in May we announced the recognition of borders in exact square kilometers, we added, that we recognize Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, and now Russia says that it brought about a certain change. And this is the reason why Azerbaijan did and is doing what it is doing in Lachin, therefore, you are responsible for it, not Russia.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Look, talking about the Almaty Declaration, I want to mention that the Almaty Declaration was signed in 1991 by all the republics of the former Soviet Union, except for the Baltic States, and that declaration was ratified by the Armenian parliament in February1992. In other words, trying to present the referrence to the Almaty Declaration as something new that worsened the situation of Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh is not very correct, because the Almaty Declaration has been and continues to be an inseparable part of the legislation of Armenia since 1991-92. In other words, we have referred to our legislation and considering it as something extraordinary is at least not the rightthing.
Moreover, I would also like to say that our actions, including the subsequent agreement on mutual recognition of territorial integrities on May 14 with exact territories, do not in any way contradict to the policy of the signing of the Almaty Declaration by Armenia in 1991, because if we go back to 1991 and read the statement of Levon Ter-Petrosyan after the signing of the Almaty Declaration, we will see that Ter-Petrosyan says that the Russian model of autonomies is what we want for Nagorno-Karabakh.
By the way, our opposition partners criticize us a lot, saying: why don't we refer to the reservations made by the Armenian parliament during the adoption of the Almaty Declaration? Those reservations are public, they are published in Arlis website, and those reservations do not change anything in what I said a little while ago. And therefore, it is very dangerous to demonize the Almaty Declaration, so to speak, because de jure, in some sense also de facto, the Republic of Armenia and other post-Soviet states gained independence also with the Almaty Declaration, because the countries of the Soviet Union gathered and decided that they get independence, they mutually recognize their independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.
I mean, the Almaty Declaration should not be mentioned in a negative context. On the other hand, we have said and continue to say that the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are important and key to the efforts to establish peace and stability in the region.
Petros Ghazaryan - But look, there is a nuance, the Russians say: we brought, you remember Khovayev's plan, by which the status of Artsakh was postponed, now they say that with that decision, we first deprived them of the opportunity to pursue that policy, and secondly, if we we recognize Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan, but they are doing in Lachin what they have to, it is their part. They say: you recognized it, you didn't let us defend it, you made some changes.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Very good, I’d like to first note that Prague's agreement was reached after the additional note, when, in fact, it was recorded that Russia's proposal is no longer relevant, because Azerbaijan rejected that proposal, and due to that rejection, Russia no longer has grounds to insist on that proposal. This is the first.
Second, when that proposal was made, before that proposal, Russia at least twice at the highest levels accepted that Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Third, the Prague agreement and no other agreement canceled the obligations imposed on the parties by the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020. In other words, after making those comments, they should address the question whether the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 is valid or not? It is obviously in force, and I want to draw your attention to the fact that the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 did not and could not cancel the 1991 Almaty Declaration in any way, because the Almaty Declaration is, in fact, the declaration of independence of Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, and other CIS countries, already in the sense of de jure mutual recognition.
The Lachin Corridor is an institution established by the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 and the rights and obligations of the parties are defined there. The tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 is valid, continues to be valid, and its validity has nothing to do with the 1991 Almaty Declaration, nor with the agreement of October 6, which refers to the 1991 Almaty Declaration. I want to say that at the time of the signing of the tripartite declaration on November 9, 2020 and after that, the Almaty declaration was and continues to be an integral part of the legislations of Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, politics is not only what is said, but also what is done silently. Isn't there a perception in Russia that we went to the West, tried to take the solution of the Karabakh issue from the hands of Russia and provide other solutions on a platform hostile to them? And all their attitude towards us comes from there.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Look, there is another problem. The West or Russia have never had a monopoly on dealing with the Nagorno Karabakh issue, Armenia has always discussed it on those platforms. Another issue is that, in particular, from February 2022, a crisis arose in the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairmanship for a simple reason, when the former partners of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairmanship said that they were not going to communicate with each other, not because of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh or Azerbaijan, but because of Ukraine.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, politics is not only what they say, but also what they do silently. Isn't there a perception in Russia that we went to the West, tried to take the solution of the Karabakh issue from the hands of Russia and find other solutions on the platform of their enemy? And all their attitude towards us comes from there.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Look, there is another point. The West or Russia have never had a monopoly on dealing with the Nagorno Karabakh issue, Armenia has always discussed it on those platforms. It’s another issue that, in particular, from February 2022, a crisis arose in the format of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairs for a simple reason, when the former partners of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairmanship said that they were not going to communicate with each other, not because of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh or Azerbaijan, but because of Ukraine.
In other words, we have practically done nothing new because, like the Nagorno Karabakh issue in the past, we discussed issues of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations both in Russia and in the West. Another thing is that at that time Russia and the West communicated with each other, now they don't. Now, naturally, in some sense they also think that we should communicate less with the other side, but this is a wrong approach from the point of view of Armenia's interests. We cannot enter that zone and say we are talking to this one, we are not talking to the other, because from our point of view, our perception, their relationship has changed, but our relationship with them has not changed. But since their relationship has changed, so has their perception of our relationship with others changed. This is where all the complexity lies.
Petros Ghazaryan - We announced that we recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, but...
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I am asking again, since my words are being quoted, accuracy is very important, because it may seem that nothing much changes with the change of words, comma, but in fact, in all cases, it is correct that references and quotations are made correctly. The following happened: Armenia and Azerbaijan, as the continuation of the agreement reached in Prague on October 6, 2022, recorded on May 14, 2023 in Brussels that they recognize each other's territorial integrity: Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s 86 600 square km territory, Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia’s territorial integrity - 29,800 square km territory. After that, I reaffirmed that agreement, after which I was asked if Nagorno Karabakh is also included in the 86,600 square kilometers, I said yes.
Petros Ghazaryan - After that, Azerbaijan did not make any statement that it mutually recognizes our territorial integrity. After that, hardened his position, rhetoric, closed Lachin Corridor. Wasn't that a wrong statement because after that we didn't see the results we should have? And secondly, if Azerbaijan does not become constructive even after that statement, isn't it time for us to record that the conflict is not resolved, which is what Azerbaijan is trying to prove to everyone, and take the line that conflicts cannot be resolved by force, and we did also this. What else should we do?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Whether the statement is wrong or the statement is not wrong, with that statement we tried to record our agreement on the situation and the architecture of solving the crisis, something that we agreed with Azerbaijan in Brussels. And we show that we are loyal to that agreement, Azerbaijan does not always show loyalty to the agreements.
But, referring to your question, I must also note the following. even then, when we had not yet made that statement, Azerbaijan violated the contact line in Parukh, before that it had violated the contact line in Khtsaberd, HinTagher, many violations of the ceasefire regime before that. So which statement was wrong, before that the September 2020 war took place? Before the September war, did we make any wrong statements that we are accused of? Before that was the 2016 4 Day War, what was the wrong statement there? Before that was the war situation in August, 2015 and so on and so forth. The problem here is that despite all the negotiations, Azerbaijan has always demonstrated its approach to resolving issues by force, and we are trying to somehow manage those force scenarios that Azerbaijan constantly puts on the table with some political statements.
And we are not making an experiment, but presenting an architecture of peace and resolution, which is legitimate from the point of view of international law and the international community. This is very important. I must also somewhat admit that we have not always given importance to it, we want to give it importance now and put it in the foreground. We want to make and fit into such formulations that make the legitimacy of Armenia's positions invulnerable. Actually, we are not doing it for Azerbaijan, I want to be clear, we are doing it first of all for the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
Petros Ghazaryan - You had a phone conversation with Erdoğan today, the official message was extremely official, what did you talk about?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The official message was extremely official, the conversation was also extremely official. I can say that the conversation was meaningful and useful. There are a number of mutual nuances, it is also important that there is constant communication regarding these nuances, positions, assessments.
Petros Ghazaryan - A new president was elected in Karabakh. How do you feel about Arayik Harutyunyan's resignation? There are different assessments in the expert field: coup, etc. And why didn't you congratulate the new president?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I regret the resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan, because I think and I can say that in any case there was a very good working atmosphere and mutual understanding between us during the entire working period. I can express my regret regarding that resignation.
As for the newly elected leader of Nagorno Karabakh, Samvel Shahramanyan, I think the situation is such that there is not much to congratulate. A very heavy responsibility rests upon him. And today we should also be guided by the logic of combining and not contrasting our positions and approaches with the logic of the international community, also with a view to not politicizing the humanitarian crisis established in Nagorno-Karabakh, because the focus of our efforts should be overcoming the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, and we should not allow that with excessive politicization, the humanitarian essence of the issue is transformed into a political one. Our approaches are based on that logic.
Petros Ghazaryan - Are you in contact, is there communication between the government of Armenia and the new government of Karabakh?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Yes, of course. That contact exists, has been, and I think it is important also in terms of getting first hand information to get to know the situation.
Petros Ghazaryan - The geopolitical situation that we talked about, is all this somehow related to the elections of the council of elders in Armenia, Yerevan, or not?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - It is related to the extent that I think there are forces that overtly hope that in the context of the Yerevan Council of Elders elections, it will be possible to introduce instability or a crisis in Armenia, or introduce a crisis of power or management. And, unfortunately, this is also evident from the highlightings and goals of a number of forces participating in the elections.
Petros Ghazaryan - Look, those forces divide our political media field into three parts: the West, pro-Westerners, pro-Russians, and one person continues the line of the revolution, because you deviated from the right revolutionary path. Hayk Marutyan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Who says we have deviated?
Petros Ghazaryan – He.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - It is a strange claim and a strange statement for me, because I have never heard from Hayk Marutyan saying that we deviated from the path of revolution. Hayk Marutyan appeared on the stage after leaving the post of Mayor of Yerevan and, as far as I am informed, made such statements from the stage. But I want to emphasize the following. I think that it is the first time in his stage career that Hayk Marutyan does political humor and does not coordinate the content of that humor with the objects and characters of that humor. This fact itself proves that Armenia has not deviated from the path of revolutionary values, otherwise, like it was in the past, our colleagues would have to receive permission from the government, oligarchs, and others when making jokes from the stage.
Petros Ghazaryan - He says that you have deviated, that there is corruption. And he warned the officials in the cabinets for two years that it is not allowed. He didn't say it out loud, but he said it in the cabinets.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - This is completely untrue, because Hayk Marutyan never had such a conversation with me. If that conversation happened, it should have been with me, because it was with my support that he appeared, became a candidate for the mayor of the revolutionary team. He came to me and asked me for support to become a candidate for Yerevan Mayor, and he received that support from me, expressing his willingness to become a member of the "Civil Contract" party and assuring that he is coming to strengthen this team. But to this day, I have not heard any explanation from him and never had a conversation that we have deviated from the values of the revolution. That is completely untrue.
Petros Ghazaryan - You say that they are, so to speak, trying to provoke instability, a crisis, a crisis of power, a crisis of governance in Armenia under the influence of outside forces. There is a counter-criticism that the government links whoever it considers an opponent to outside forces, label them, including Hayk Marutyan. Why?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I do not attach any label to anyone.
Petros Ghazaryan - You said that they are trying to do this, this, this.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I think it is obvious who is working on what agenda. I also think that there is no need to label anybody because I strongly believe that our people intuitively, if not with knowledge, if not with information, but intuitively understand the logic of the game that is going on, because what I am saying is in no way a label because the links are very transparent and visible and are not even hidden.
As for Hayk Marutyan and his connection with the revolution, I want to emphasize that, in fact, we carried out harmonious political processes during a period when there was a revolution in 2018, and in practice, the ruling team had no problems, and I had no problems, and in practice, throughout that period, Hayk Marutyan did everything to be close, to be closer, sometimes closer than the narrowest political team, and he even wrote an application to become a member of the party to record that closeness. Moreover, it is very important to record that I had full confidence in his approach, his desire to be close, contrary to many of our teammates who said that he is coming as a tourist and if the situation changes, he will abandon us.
And I must say that I now have a very hard time looking into the eyes of many of my colleagues who once gave me that warning. And it turned out that that friendship, that political friendship that Hayk Marutyan did everything to make it happen, it was, so to speak, a friendship of good times, while the logic is that real friendship, real solidarity is what is needed to overcome bad times and difficulties. It turned out that facing the first difficulty, Hayk Marutyan wrote an application to leave the "Civil Contract" party with the same ease he had written to join it. This is not so much a political as a human situation for me. There is indeed a deep sense of regret and pain over this situation. I have to say it straight.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, the press is very involved in the election campaign, they write that the "Civil Contract" party brings people with money and uses administrative resources. I'm sure you've come across those posts too. What can you say?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, let me tell you that the "Civil Contract" cannot have such a practice, because it contradicts the essence and values of the "Civil Contract".
Petros Ghazaryan - But there is a footage where a person says: they gave me 4 thousand, they said 3 thousand, they brought me.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - There are laws for this in Armenia, the Criminal Code, other codes, and each case must be objectively examined. I, as the chairman of the party board, can say that not only can we not have such practices, but any such case, which will be proved as such, will have an assessment and response prescribed by law. Of course, if it suddenly does not turn out that we are talking about legal activities, because, for example, if there are cases where we are talking about getting some support on a contractual basis with advertising companies, that is a completely different situation. But what was usually understood in Armenia and is understood by saying distributing money, etc., in that sense, it cannot be the practice of our party, because by doing so, we ourselves would be contradicting our political nature and origin.
Petros Ghazaryan - The next criticism. You organized a fundraiser and the large sums that were raised were far more impressive than the sums you raised when you were in opposition. Here, people said: look, they came to power, people come and pay, look what money they give to the government. Isn't it a return to old traditions?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - There will be a return to old traditions when someone says that, for example, any businessman or opposition politician has problems when donating for political activities. It was a characteristic of the traditions of the old times when no businessman could donate to the opposition political forces. If that donation was revealed, it would become a big problem, not to mention the end of the activity for the businessman.
Petros Ghazaryan - And how did your party organize the reception of donations when it was in opposition?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Sympathizers, supporters donated to our party, mostly secretly. Also, during the revolution, we did transparent fund-raising, and we appealed to people on the Internet and other platforms, and they helped us, mainly our compatriots who are not in Armenia, and so on. We have made some investments from our personal funds.
I mean your question about old manners. I put the question this way: the problem is not whether someone donates to the ruling political force or not, whether they donate to the opposition or whether someone has a problem because of donating to the opposition. Today, people, including businessmen, freely participate in political processes both as candidates and as supporters of candidates.
And the problem is not, I say again, whether they donate to the ruling political force or not. By the way, if the old traditions had returned, why would the ruling political force need to raise money? If we're fundraising, that means we need money, right? If the old traditions had returned, why should the ruling political force need money to do another fund-raising?
Have you ever heard during the period of old traditions that the ruling political force ever does a fundraiser, has something like that happened or not? Of course not. Now, have you heard from anyone that the opposition political force has had or is having a problem with fundraising or any business person donating to anyone? Not to mention, in the context of old customs, if old customs have returned or we are in old customs, how is it that the revenues of the state budget of Armenia have increased by 1 billion 200 dollars since 2018? Where do they come from?
Those old traditions are first of all expressed in the state budget revenues, right? The income of the state budget is the most accurate indicator whether there are old customs or not. So many roads are being built, could there be 500 kilometers of road built a year during the old customs? It was not built and could not be built because there were not enough funds in the budget, so many schools, so many kindergartens, so many water lines, pensions are increasing, salaries are doubling. We have raised pensions 3 times in the last year, if we also take into account the pensioner refund system in case of non-cash trade. And where does that money come from? From where? I say again: if the old customs are there, the ruling party will not collect money because it will have money, why should it collect money if it has money?
Secondly, today in Armenia, an 18-year-old soldier becomes a contract soldier and receives a salary of 500,000 AMD. And where does that money come from, who gives that money? Today, there are teachers in Armenia who receive 400,000 to 500,000 AMD. And where does that money come from, etc., and so on? Roads that have not been repaired in the last 40 years are being repaired today. Today we are building schools in villages that have never had a school in their history.
Petros Ghazaryan - Let's go back to the election campaign. The metro station was not built, there are garbage collection problems.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Which metro was not built, sorry?
Petros Ghazaryan – The one that was promised.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I want us to understand exactly how the process went.
Petros Ghazaryan - I will finish, the gazelle buses have changed, but the system is not fully functioning. How do you assess the five-year outcome?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Let's start with the metro first. I want us to understand how such a large-scale work is carried out. Any object, especially one of that scale, goes through procedures. The first procedure is to have a design. And you know that the design has been ordered, if my memory serves me correctly, it should be ready by the end of the year, after which the construction tender will be announced. When we announced that we will build a metro station, it is not possible to do it at once, sorry, to take the pickaxe and the excavator and start building. It's a process. To build any building, you must first have a design. Now the design has been ordered, funds have been allocated from the state budget, after the design is ready, a tender will be announced and construction will begin.
Next, how do I assess? First of all, if you remember, in 2017 I was a candidate for Yerevan Mayor. When in 2018 we had the extraordinary elections of the Yerevan City Council of Elders, that pre-election program was put in the basis of the pre-election program of the "My Step" bloc, with some temporary modifications, because it was from those times that we started talking about "gazelles of despair", "elevators of death". Basically, we successfully solved the issue of "gazelles of despair", and I want to record that these problems were solved, including on the basis of the Government's decisions. From 2018 until now, the Government has made about 35 decisions related to the city of Yerevan, including related to elevators, including buses, including gazelles, including roads and parks. And we have additionally spent approximately 100 billion AMD in the city of Yerevan.
Petros Ghazaryan – Your opponents say that during the years of Avinyan's, so to speak, mayorship, you gave billions, but in the first two years, you did not give this monet for projects.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - There can be no such a thing, because I say that it was also my pre-election program. We brought that agenda forward, I as a candidate and my political teammates, at that time we were acting as "Yelk" alliance, we brought it forward, how could we not allocate money for the implementation of our agenda? I want to record that there was no such case that the Yerevan Municipality needed money and we did not allocate money.
Petros Ghazaryan – This is true for any mayor during these 5 years?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Of course, during any mayor's tenure. But let me say something else, for example, until recently, Yerevan's budget implementation was 60 percent. In other words, Yerevan objectively did not spend its money and needed no additional money. In the last 1.5 years, when the implementation was increased and concrete plans were put on the table, a decision was made to fund those plans. Because it was also not beneficiary for us, we had a problem with the rate at which, for example, the elevators were replaced. We wanted to complete the elevator replacement process by 2025. But it was also not possible due to low performances, and on the contrary, when a certain dissonance arose between the Yerevan Municipality and the Government after those events in 2020, for those reasons we could not further promote the implementation of the programs. Did I explain it right?
Petros Ghazaryan - It is clear that if 60 percent...
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In other words, 60 percent of the planned budget spending is done, 40 percent was not done for some reason. In these conditions, there is no sense to talk about additional money. On the contrary, I have always said that it is necessary to accelerate, to do it in larger volumes and so on. When the implementation reached 90 percent and above, that's when concrete plans were also put on the table. The government made a decision to finance these programs. This is very important.
Petros Ghazaryan - Why don't you actively support Avinyan?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I actively support Avinyan.
Petros Ghazaryan - We have seen when you are actively involved in the election campaign...
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, first of all, obviously and unfortunately, the security environment and agenda take a lot of time. Secondly, I am speaking now as the chairman of the board of the "Civil Contract" party, of course, and I want to record that the moment we decided that Tigran Avinyan is our candidate for the mayor of Yerevan, we thereby recorded that we support him in every possible way. I myself voted for Tigran Avinyan to be a candidate for mayor, because I have also seen his work as deputy prime minister and I am sure that he can really bring to a logical end the programs that the "Civil Contract" party is offering to the residents of Yerevan.
Many such things are said today, they say that the Prime Minister did not call and does not call for us to vote for Tigran Avinyan. First of all, I would like to say that I thank you for this opportunity, I want to call now, dear residents of Yerevan, to vote for the "Civil Contract" party, for Tigran Avinyan, who has the number 2. Moreover, in the near future, we are also planning to march in the capital and participate in it with the entire political team, which will take place on September 15, from Erebuni Museum Square to Yerevan City Hall, where we will have a final rally. I am also planning to make an extensive speech at that rally.
Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned that there was a candidate who came in your, so to speak, strong moment and left immediately in your weak moment, but we did not see Avinyan in your list during the last parliamentary elections either.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In the last parliamentary elections, yes, you did not see Tigran Avinyan in our list. You draw a parallel with Hayk Marutyan, do I understand correctly?
Petros Ghazaryan - Look, he left during a difficult time, and Avinyan did not enter your list during a difficult time.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Before the parliamentary elections, we had a long, hours-long discussion in the board of the "Civil Contract" party, Tigran Avinyan, the other members of the board looked each other in the eye and gave explanations to each other. Now if you return to the topic, I don't know if I said or no, until today Hayk Marutyan hasn’t looked me in the eyes and tell me how it happened that I deviated from the values of the revolution, how it happened that I suddenly became black as he says. With Tigran Avinyan, and in our political team it is generally accepted that we discuss very complex topics, looking each other in the eye.
During the parliamentary elections, Tigran Avinyan supported the "Civil Contract" party with all his abilities. Let me say more: You know that during the pre-election period I could not perform the duties of the Prime Minister, during that period Tigran Avinyan performed the duties of the Prime Minister and kept our back firm, of course, together with the Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan. And I didn't get hit from behind by Tigran Avinyan and I don't expect to get one, unlike Hayk Marutyan.
You know, this conversation is not about politics for me, this conversation is actually, first of all, about simple human relations, how it can be that in the period of no problems, I say again, to try to be close at all costs, to achieve it, and I never suspected the sincerity of that.
Petros Ghazaryan - Don't you think that tomorrow you will be accused of doing propaganda and counter-propaganda?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I don't have the right to that? I think that as the chairman of the board of the "Civil Contract" party, which is participating in the elections and at this time, it is eleven o'clock...
Petros Ghazaryan - You are not at work.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I do not perform the duties of the Prime Minister. This is also the reason why we have organized this interview at this time, because we have received strict warnings from our state bodies, including the Central Electoral Commission, not to suddenly take any action that contradicts the legislation, and before coming here I was assured, I think you too, you must be assured, because it is also important for Public Television that we do not do activities that are against the law.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to call on our citizens to vote for the "Civil Contractt" party, vote for Tigran Avinyan, vote for stability in Armenia, internal political stability, development, and call on them to participate in the march of the capital from the square near the Erebuni Museum on September 15, because we think and perceive the capital as the most important attribute of statehood and therefore the most important pillar of independence and sovereignty. I think that these elections, due to the circumstances you mentioned, have the context of protecting independence and sovereignty. I want to believe that our citizens will vote for those values.
Here, by the way, there is the resemblance of that revolution. In those times, during the revolution, when there was a holiday in Armenia, we were together. Unfortunately, today are difficult times both in Armenia and around Armenia, and I want to believe that we, hundreds of thousands of citizens, of course, the responsibility of the revolution and the burden of the revolution were first of all borne by the people of Yerevan, and we, like in those good times, were with each other, we will be with each other even in difficult times, because this alliance of ours, this cooperation of ours is not only a cooperation in good times, but it must prove its viability in difficult times. I believe in it.
Petros Ghazaryan - Thank you.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Thank you.
Petros Ghazaryan - Now let me say that our guest was the chairman of the "Civil Contract" party...
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You can say that your guest was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, the chairman of the board of the "Civil Contract" party, and I am acting in that combined role today.