Statement by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at UN General Assembly 74th Session
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During his working visit to New York, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered remarks at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters.
Below is the full text of the Armenian Prime Minister’s statement:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on his election as the President of the UN General Assembly. I wish to assure you, Mr. President, of Armenia’s full support for your leadership during the 74th session of the General Assembly.
I also wish to express profound gratitude to Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the President of the 73-rd Session, for her effective leadership and important legacy.
This is my second opportunity of representing my country in this august body as Prime Minister of Armenia. Momentous changes have been taking place in our country since my previous appearance at the United Nations General Assembly. Parliamentary elections were held in Armenia last December. For the first time in about twenty-five years, these elections and their results were fully accepted by our public and not contested by any political party. They received the best possible assessment of the international observers, who hailed them as free, fair, and transparent. This was a major achievement of the Armenian non-violent velvet people’s revolution of 2018.
Armenia’s peaceful revolution received praise and recognition by the international community. The international media acknowledged Armenia’s role in the global democratic surge as hope for global democracy. In recognition of our democratic achievements, The Economist magazine proclaimed Armenia as the country of the year in 2018.
Our determination to advance democracy and reforms is solid, uncompromising and unwavering. It is based on the strong mandate of our people, to whom we are accountable in delivering reforms, securing justice, improving economic and social conditions and developing our nation.
Our democratic transformation and zero tolerance policy against corruption are not without resistance from former corrupted elites. Their vast financial resources are directed at escaping justice. Our government has not pursued a single case of redistribution of property. At the same time, our resolve to press with reforms and justice is unwavering.
Our mass media is totally free from government control or interference. However, some of them are not free from meddling and control from the same old circles of the former government, fabricating fake news and spreading mistrust in the public about the the origins and purposes of the velvet revolution. Despite any challenge, our resolve to promote and protect freedom of the media is unrelenting.
We have witnessed plenty of suspicion about the nature and purposes of our revolution. Some believed that this revolution was instigated by their global competitors in our region. The others were asking, since they are not behind this revolution, who else could have done it?
From this high podium, I would like to firmly state once again that the velvet revolution in Armenia was carried out by its proud citizens in manifestation of their will to reject corruption, abuse and monopolization of power, consistent falsification of elections and political frauds. There is absolutely no need to approach the free expression of will of the Armenian people, who are the ultimate sovereign of the country, from the angle of the competition of global powers. The political transformations in Armenian were about the fulfillment of a dream to have a free, democratic and happy country, a dream which was born in the late 1980s, at the end of Cold War, and led our people to independence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Armenia’s non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution is a proof of the potential of democratic change in the contemporary world. But the revolution was just the beginning of our mission, and probably even the easiest part of it. Currently, we are in new, more important and difficult stage of our mission. We should prove that democratic transformation in Armenia is sustainable.
We are proud to have already delivered some concrete results. Our economy is growing steadily and quite rapidly. The growth is based on a very important ideological transformation, which has occurred in our country. The individual effort of every citizen does matter: this principle is the most important driving force of our economic revolution. And the most important mission of our government is to inspire and convince our citizens to trust their talent and ability to make real changes.
Individual efforts have been the main formula of success of our political revolution. Before the revolution, there was only a small group of people who believed that individual efforts could bring about political changes in our country. But today this is a commanding idea for the overwhelming majority of Armenian citizens. Therefore, our overall goal is to accomplish the economic revolution exactly in the way that the political revolution was achieved earlier.
Reforming and strengthening institutions are the most powerful instrument we possess in addressing the challenges that democratic Armenia is facing today. Immediately after coming to power we initiated a package of drastic measures to establish democratic institutions that have never existed in our country before. Among the measures are, for example, the efforts aimed at establishing an independent judiciary, anti-corruption bodies, and level-playing field for all economic and political players. Empowerment of women is yet another area where we have made bold steps to register visible results.
The most important part of our institutional reforms is education. We believe that only through promoting education we can make our democracy irreversible and can achieve sustainable economic growth. Our vision is to make life-long education a nationwide activity for all layers of our society from children to adults.
The Armenian Government is determined to continue institutional reforms, but we also count on the support of the international community to stand with the young Armenian democracy to address its challenges. We need to have access to international best practices to save time and resources. We need to avoid the mistakes previously made by other democracies to make our democratic reforms more fruitful and efficient.
Taking this opportunity, I want to express my gratitude to all our international partners who are fully committed to assisting our reform agenda. In particular, we are grateful to the United Nations and its programs and agencies, as well as to regional partners, including the European Union and the Council of Europe. In fact, I mentioned the United Nations, our global organization embracing the whole of the international community, and I hope all members of the international community would like the Armenian democracy to succeed.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Unfortunately, the world has not become a safer place for all of us throughout this year. It is difficult to find any region in the world which is not destabilized or impacted by tensions in its neighborhood.
Two out of the four international borders of Armenia, including the one with Turkey, have been closed for almost three decades. By refusing to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, overtly assisting Azerbaijan against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey remains a serious security threat to Armenia and the Armenian people who had experienced the deep tragedy of the genocide and continue to face the fierce denial of truth and justice.
The various degree of tension existing in the relations among our neighbors and strategic partners put us in a very challenging condition. Russia is our key strategic partner and ally, Georgia and Iran are our strategic neighbors, we have a strategically significant agenda and partnership with the United States, the European Union and its member states.
We observe with concern sets of disagreements among our friends, strategic partners and allies. These realities put significant challenges to us, because we face a persistent risk of not being correctly understood by some of our friends, or even worse - by all of them.
We are doing our best to remain a reliable partner and a good friend for all of them without damaging our relations with any of them, without promoting relations with one partner at the expense of the other. We will continue to invest every effort in making our region’s geopolitical environment safer.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is of crucial importance for the stability and security of our region. Since my very first days in office, I have been taking steps in this very context. With this end in view, I publicly stated that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be acceptable for the people of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
It is noteworthy that I was the first Armenian leader to voice such position about the settlement of the conflict. I was heavily criticized in my country for such a formula of solution which places the three parties of the conflict on an equal footing. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that this is the only way to the peaceful and lasting settlement of the conflict, because it offers a possibility of compromise, mutual respect, and balance.
I introduced this formula not only publicly, but also within the negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. In order to move forward, I expected similar statement from Azerbaijan. However, the highest authorities of Azerbaijan remain on their position, which aims at a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable only for the people of Azerbaijan.
What does it mean in reality? It means that the Azerbaijani authorities do not have any intention to solve this conflict. Instead, they want to defeat the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. They don’t want to seek any compromise. What they aim at is a revenge for the unsuccessful attempted aggressions against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s and in 2016. This is why they are inflaming anti-Armenian sentiments among their people; this is why they are spending enormous resources on armament; this is why the anti-Armenian hate speech has become official policy in Azerbaijan.
In fact, the Azerbaijani authorities want to bring back the Soviet time status of Nagorno-Karabakh. But it is a futile effort, because the people of the Soviet era Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region declared their independence and exercised self-determination as did Azerbaijan seceding from the Soviet Union. This position of Azerbaijan is tantamount of climbing restoration of Soviet Union.
Azerbaijani government presents the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We totally disagree with such an interpretation of the conflict. It is NOT a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This dispute is NOT about territorial claims. It is about people, about real men and women and their right to live in their homeland in the way that their ancestors lived over many centuries.
Unfortunately, Azerbaijani authorities do not want to talk to these people and negotiate with them, because they want to have the territories but NOT the people. To be more precise: territories, without the people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is very important to explain the reason why I am referring to this part of the story. Do you think I want to contribute to the tension in our region? Of course not. On the contrary, I want to make it clear that the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh is a very complicated and very painful issue for the peoples of the region, that it is impossible to settle it without hard and consistent work, without a compromise, mutual respect, and balance.
Therefore, I want to invite my Azerbaijani counterpart, president Ilham Aliev, to accept the formula that will create conditions for a breakthrough in the peace process. Any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be acceptable for the people of Armenia, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Azerbaijan. We need to work together to translate this formula into reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A few days ago, we celebrated Armenia’s Independence Day. Twenty-eight years ago, Armenia as a sovereign nation became a full member of the international community regaining its place and role in the global arena.
We are benefactors of international cooperation and contributors to its security, development and human rights agenda. We place significant importance to effective multilateralism. We work with all our partners, both at international and regional levels, to advance global security, fight against international terrorism, non-proliferation, nuclear security, and peacekeeping operations.
Armenia participates in the international peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Mali, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and carries out a humanitarian mission in Syria, delivering medical assistance and humanitarian de-mining to the benefit of the civilian populations affected by crisis.
The benefits of effective multilateralism reflect strongly in our global efforts to advance cooperation in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. In Armenia, the process of the nationalization of the SDGs complements the launch of an ambitious transformational national strategy for 2050, which involves 16 mega goals contextualizing the SDGs.
The priorities of advancing education, innovation and smart development, inclusive and participatory political and economic environment underline the inter-linkages between the development and human rights. Further advancing the role of women and youth is of critical importance for Armenia. We will continue to focus on all these issues both domestically and in our international agenda.
Enhanced integration of economic and environmental policies is of high importance. Having registered a 1.3-degree Celsius average temperature increase, Armenia is already facing the negative impact of the climate change. To address this global challenge, we have been working to develop an innovative climate finance mechanism which is part of Armenia’s national pledge for the Climate Action Summit of the Secretary-General.
Promoting sustainable development and human rights should be an inclusive process. It should be made accessible to everyone, regardless of political status or geographical location. No one should be left behind, including the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, who should have access to the same tools of sustainable development available for others. Nagorno-Karabakh should be able to benefit from international financial and technical assistance to strengthen human rights, eradicate poverty, improve education, respond to climate change, and build an inclusive society.
Armenia, as a democratic country and a reliable member of the international community, will continue to make its contribution to the international cooperation to maintain global peace and security, to promote sustainable development, and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We are committed to a constructive dialogue with all international partners to address common challenges and provide progress and prosperity for our nations.
We are against dividing lines and the policy of confrontation. We are against closed borders, which are considered redundant and unacceptable in the 21st century, but which still exist in our region.
As a nation to have experienced the horrors of genocide in the past, we stand for promoting mutual under¬standing and peace in our volatile region.
The policy of escalation and arms race, based on illusive hopes for military superiority, has no future in the South Caucasus.
The peoples of our region deserve to live in peace and prosperity, freely exercise their human rights and freedoms in order to build a brighter future for themselves and their children.
Thank you for your attention.”