Nikol Pashinyan: “Meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty, which are the pillars of public administration philosophy in Singapore, have been adopted by New Armenia’s leadership as core principles”
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On behalf of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, an official dinner was given in honor of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan, during which the two heads of government reciprocated toasts.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Singapore stated, in part:
“Your Excellency Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, and Madam Anna Hakoyan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you and your delegation to Singapore. I am delighted at your first official visit to Singapore. Our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992, but our relations go much further back in history. About two hundred years ago a group Armenian immigrants moved to Singapore. Their number was small: no more than a hundred people by that time, but the impact was significant. Signs of the Armenian presence can still be found all over Singapore.
As a former journalist, Prime Minister Pashinyan would undoubtedly be pleased to know that Singapore’s main newspaper, the Straits Times, was founded in 1845 by an Armenian called Khachik Moses. Several buildings are named after the Sarkis brothers who founded the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Even our national flower was created by Agnes Joachim, a horticulturalist of Armenian descent. And the sculpture of the Joachim Orchid that the Prime Minister unveiled yesterday on Singapore’s Armenian Street comes as a symbol of cross-connections between our nations.
We are proud of the Armenians who continue to contribute to the development of our country. For example in June last year, a second Armenian church was inaugurated on Singapore’s Armenian Street. The Armenian community hopes to keep their identity alive so that others, too, could learn the history of Armenia and the Armenian community.
We are negotiating on free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union. We want to establish and catalyze more business and economic relations between the two countries. We appreciate Armenia’s strong support for the FTA and we hope to be able to conclude it as soon as possible.
During this visit, Mr. Prime Minister will meet with Singapore’s business circles, and I hope to see our businesses working together, taking advantage of the agreement on avoidance of double taxation that we signed recently.
We are strengthening ties in other areas, too, including tourism, culture, and education. We will use diverse platforms to deepen our relationships. We welcome the reciprocated visits and exchanges, since we, too, have much to learn from Armenia.
Prime Minister Pashinyan, once again, I welcome you to Singapore. Thank you.”
RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in his speech:
“Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to be in this beautiful country, which with its small territory, but enormous abilities has become a focus of general admiration. Singapore stands out with its unique model of economic development, welfare and social progress, as well as for its cultural characteristics. We, the Armenians entertain special feelings for Singapore.
The Armenians boast deeply-rooted historical ties with Singapore. It is no coincidence that the oldest Christian church in Singapore is the 184 years old Armenian church. And today, of course, we are proud that the small but vibrant Armenian community has left a worthy mark in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, which the whole world admires. We are pleased that the material and spiritual Armenian heritage of Singapore is cared for and preserved with due thoughtfulness.
We are truly proud of the past, but we do not want to be limited to it. We want our two countries to trade with each other and develop human relations, as they did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Our delegation arrived in Singapore to open a new chapter in our relations. Singapore is one of the most economically developed countries in the world and we want to stimulate mutual trade and investments between our countries. I do believe that there are all the necessary prerequisites for this.
Over the past one year, the Armenian government has taken steps to radically transform the economic climate in the country. The rule of law has been strengthened: equal conditions have been created for all economic entities, including foreign investors. Corruption has been minimized. It is no longer considered a factor in business efficiency. We no longer suffer from the symptoms inherent in many post-Soviet countries. New Armenia is opening up new opportunities for investment and economic activity.
The above is complemented by the fact that a free trade arrangement is going to be signed between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union, of which Armenia is a member. It can be an extra incentive for the development of economic cooperation between our countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A superficial glance at our two countries is enough to notice the similarities between them. Both countries find themselves in a complex or unfavorable geopolitical environment. Both countries are short of natural resources and are developing their development strategies on the effective use of human capital. Education, knowledge and innovation, diligence and perseverance, patience and optimism are considered to be the pledge and driving force for the development of our countries.
Nevertheless, unlike Singapore, which began its development five decades ago and has already defied the initial tide of challenges to reach unprecedented heights, Armenia is still on the threshold of its rapid growth.
Yes, today we are providing necessary conditions for display of diligence, creative thinking and enterprise. We see our future in a knowledge-based economy, innovation and the development of high technology. Armenia has no alternative to this. Our external environment prompts us to go this way.
The economic miracle of Singapore was truly unprecedented. Your unique experience in this regard is of great interest to us, and we would be grateful for your advice. Here, I cannot help mentioning that the Armenians have kept fond recollections of the visit paid to our country by Singapore’s development and progress architect Lee Kuan Yew in 2009. He, whose fame has long gone beyond the national border, is considered in Armenia as a symbol of honest and effective governance. Meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty, which are the pillars of public administration philosophy in Singapore, have been adopted by New Armenia’s leadership as core principles.
Concluding my speech, I would like to raise a toast for the friendship of the peoples of Singapore and Armenia, for your beautiful city and talented people, as well as for our continued cooperation.”