Remarks delivered by PM Nikol Pashinyan at Grand Park Rally in Los Angeles
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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.
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.
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.