“We need to mobilize our national potential around the pan-Armenian agenda, and each of us should make a contribution within our powers” - Nikol Pashinyan meets with representatives of Armenian community of Lebanon
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On the margins of his working visit to Lebanon, on October 20, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with representatives of the Armenian community at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Lebanon.
Nikol Pashinyan addressed the meeting with a speech: “It is a great honor for me to be here today and have the opportunity to communicate with you. First of all, I would like to thank you, since all this time we have been feeling your warmth and support. It was extremely important as it gave us a lot of strength so that we could remain strong at times when it seemed that shocks were inevitable. During this period, we were aware of and continue to perceive the situation in the same way: the changes that we started and the status that we have today is a great responsibility and honor for us before the people of Armenia and all Armenians.
I want to assure you that we are fully prepared to bear this responsibility, which was once again reaffirmed today: it is a privilege to see the support of our traditional parties, organizations and all our compatriots.
I want to say in a nutshell what we want to do, and what are the main changes that should occur or are happening in Armenia. Our most important task is to promote democracy, which is not a theoretical position for us: an individual understanding of democracy is very important. You can discuss a lot what caused the citizens of Armenia to make these changes; you can try to find economic, social and legal reasons. But I think that the biggest demand of the people and citizens of Armenia was that they should be respected and not despised in their own country. This is the most important thing that the citizens of Armenia, the people living in Armenia expect from the authorities and will demand from any authorities, because we, the Armenians, have a special sense of dignity.
Our most important mission is to make the people of Armenia feel respected so that they could believe in their own strength and regain self-confidence.
We just have to mobilize our national potential, clearly formulate the national agenda, and each of us should make a contribution within our powers in order to implement the pan-Armenian agenda. In this regard, I consider it important to establish democracy in Armenia. I used to say several times as an opposition politician, and now I want to repeat in my capacity of Prime Minister of Armenia: we enjoy the people’s trust, we represent Armenia as Armenia’s authorities, and if we manage to reinstate specific freedoms, protect human rights, create an independent judiciary, ensure economic and political success, even in this case I will not consider the mission of the revolution and our mission completed.
My political team and I will consider our mission complete only when we come to power through free, fair, democratic elections or leave power at the will of the people. This is a very important condition, because, after all, it is very important for the people of Armenia to clearly realize that it is not up to the government to decide what people should be wishing, but the people itself has to determine what kind of authorities would be formed in Armenia. In this regard, we must state that the restoration of the electoral institution in Armenia is our most important mission, and the Armenian citizens must be sure that they can decide on the framework of power and individuals. The rest is supposed to serve this purpose.
You know that for many years there used to be economic monopolies in Armenia. I have the honor to state today that we no longer have economic monopolies in Armenia. For many years, there was a clearly systematized corruption mechanism in Armenia, and I have the honor to state that there is no corruption in Armenia today. Of course, there are still officials who have been working with the logic of the old regime for 20 years or more, and are now looking for ways to restore these mechanisms, but we will not give them that opportunity, and this is fundamental for us.
For me, the most important principle is the following: the use of power as a mechanism for getting property, wealth or material resources should be ruled out. I am principled in this matter. In my opinion, there should not be such people in our authorities as may use the public position as a means of getting property. The desire to get property and profit is legitimate, in general, when a person is not engaged in State activity or politics, but politics must cease to be a means for preserving property, or starting a business.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that today this message is strictly observed by everyone in Armenia, and I cannot exclude that this tendency can still continue and there may even be new manifestations, but I can say with confidence that we will consistently fight against it, and this phenomenon should be ruled out in Armenia.
The next task is to promote transparency, which implies that the government should work transparently and report to the people. After all, our most important task is to strengthen our statehood for the sake of our national goals. It should be stated that statehood strengthening should be based on the empowerment of people, because sometimes we come across with the misconception that it is possible to have a strong statehood without strong people. We shall take consistent steps to empower our people. This does not mean that there are not and will not be difficulties on this road, but I am convinced that for us there are no insurmountable difficulties. By saying “we”, I mean our people, because during its millennia-long history our people went through genocides, a lot of troubles, and now we stand in the 21st century, we have statehood, and in the 27th year on independence, we managed do something unprecedented in mankind’s history.
We managed what 99% of our people and Armenians worldwide considered impossible: not that they did not want it, but because they thought it was impossible. Some were concerned that this way could lead to shocks and we would inevitably have losses, but we felt the support of all our compatriots and the popular non-violent velvet revolution occurred when 99% of Armenians, even 100% pledged their support for the process.
It was a truly nationwide revolution for both Armenia and all Armenians. I want to congratulate you on the non-violent velvet popular revolution, accomplished by all of us, because I hope that the revolution makes each of you feel like a winner, and I congratulate you on your victory.
Then Nikol Pashinyan answered a number of questions from representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon, concerning the development of Armenia, Armenia-Diaspora relations, sectoral reforms, priorities of economic development of Armenia, repatriation, cooperation between the State and the Church, etc.
Presenting his vision of Armenia-Diaspora relations, Nikol Pashinyan noted: “It is important for us to tackle all the problems that entangled the relations between Armenia and Diaspora. Undoubtedly, all Armenians should participate in the state-building process in the homeland, but we need to consolidate at a higher institutional level. Diaspora and Armenia today are united as a result of the positive atmosphere formed after the revolution, which needs to be crystallized and materialized.”
The Acting Prime Minister next touched upon the activities of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. He urged those present to trust the Fund’s activities and help enhance its transparency and cost-efficiency.
“Transparency in spending is very important. Trust is very important, and I hope that the Armenia-Diaspora relations will be based primarily on mutual confidence,” he stressed. Referring to the prospects for developing democracy in Armenia, the Acting Prime Minister noted, “There is no alternative to democracy, and I rule out any vote rigging during our tenure. The press in Armenia has never been so free as today, economic and political activities, the possibility of expression in Armenia have never been so free as now. Today, the government of Armenia enjoys the people’s support, and this is unprecedented in the history of the Third Republic, and if there is any dominance, this is the dominance of the people. ” Nikol Pashinyan expressed confidence that Armenia will continue to move forward along the path of democracy confidently and consistently.
Nikol Pashinyan next presented his vision of Armenia’s economic development, noting that the economy is currently anchored in mining industry, agriculture and gambling: this structure should be changed, and the government has set a goal to transform Armenia from an agrarian country into a technological one.
“We look forward to investment in information and high technology. In general, Armenia has to be am industrial country: there is great untapped potential in diamond industry, jewelry, light industry, tourism, and technology-extensive agriculture, and all this fits into our concept of an ecological, green Armenia,” the Acting Prime Minister stressed, highlighting the participation of Diaspora-based specialists in the development and restructuring of the economy. He also gave details on improving the investment climate and reforming tax regulations.
Questions were asked about the national agenda, including on the settlement of the Artsakh conflict. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the national agenda should be discussed in a single format, involving different layers of the Armenian people.
Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Acting Prime Minister said: “During my contacts with international community representatives, I am often asked whether Armenia is ready for a compromise. I usually give the following answer: “Is Azerbaijan ready for a compromise?” I do not know who and where decided that Armenia should be the first to answer this question. Armenia is not going to be the first to answer this question. At least, the answer must be synchronous. Is Azerbaijan ready for a compromise? This is the question.
I said repeatedly that we would be adequate in any situation; both Armenia and the Armenian government should never lose the sense of adequacy. As for the framework for the settlement of the conflict, I can hardly present a solution without clarifying the status of Artsakh. This is a fact that we emphasize in our statements: Artsakh’s security and status are the cornerstone for resolving the conflict.”
The Acting Prime Minister noted that in our reality there is a strange perception, which is sometimes expressed in the press and the statements of some politicians. “Someone may think that there can be a government in Armenia to deal with the problem of Artsakh in secret. It has been discussed constantly over the past twenty years. How can any authority - even the worst government with bad intentions - secretly solve the Karabakh issue? I propose to abandon this discourse altogether. Once I said, and I keep saying this during negotiations, that if there is any option for resolving the conflict, and I myself am convinced that this is a good option, then I will introduce it to our people in Armenia and the Diaspora, and the people will decide whether they want it or not. I suggest giving up the presumption of conspiracy in the context of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict just because this issue cannot be solved in secret.
I am talking about Armenia and the Diaspora, but the most important and decisive factor is the position of Artsakh’s government and the people of Artsakh. Should Armenia and the Diaspora happen to approve an option, while the people of Artsakh might be reluctant, then we will state that it is a bad option. The people of Artsakh should have a decisive say in this matter. This does not imply at all that we reject the idea of negotiations, but we say that this is a national problem, and we must solve it together. I rule out that any authority - even the one with the strongest popular support - could solve this problem in a roundabout way. Otherwise they will lose the public’s trust in a minute. This is obvious, and we must make it clear once and for all,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded.