Speech delivered by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan while introducing the Government Program to the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia
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Dear people, proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Honorable National Assembly Speaker,
Dear members of parliament,
I have the honor to introduce the Government Program. Our government has earned this status as a result of landmark developments that led to a non-violent, velvet revolution in Armenia. The new government has a historic mission, namely to rebuild the Republic of Armenia into a free, powerful and happy State.
The Republic of Armenia is known worldwide as a country of unprecedented revolution of love and solidarity. Our task is to build on that positive image and make of the post-revolutionary Armenia an unprecedented success story that has managed to enshrine the revolution’s ideas and values as everlasting rules of public life.
In this respect, we will address the following conceptual issues that are crucial for the Government’s activities:
- Formation of the government through free expression of people’s will;
- National unity and civic solidarity based on the rule of law and the equality of all and everyone before the law.
- Achieving external and internal security in the Republic of Armenia, as well as increased security level for Armenia and Artsakh;
- Public disavowal of corruption as a means for building a corruption-free society, separation of politics and business;
- Protection of human rights and creation of favorable conditions for our citizens’ creativity, dignity and happiness;
- Disintegration of monopolies, protection of economic competition, provision of real opportunities for economic activity;
- Inclusive growth in the economy, creation of jobs, eradication of poverty;
- Continued increase in the level of education and social security;
- Ruling out any instances of mass violence and establishment of a violence-free society;
- Environmental protection and reasonable use of natural resources.
We are convinced that these theses cover the content area that we need in order to raise Armenia to a new level of development. And on the contrary, we are convinced that the failures in Armenia’s development over the past 20 years occurred in the above-mentioned area, and we consider the above theses as a diagnostic conclusion and treatment prescription at the same time. And although we are also convinced that these problems are interrelated through the cause-and-effect relationships, let me insist that the main problem that has been blocking Armenia’s development, which has resulted in systemic problems in the country, is the consistent and continuous deformation of the people’s will during the elections.
We believe this to be the evil of evils in the history of the Third Republic, its preparation activities, and the chain reactions that emerged after its implementation have brought to public, political, economic, legal, educational, social and state degradation, and I will try to argue this thesis justifying our government’s program.
First, I want to put on record my conviction that the results of all parliamentary and presidential elections that have been held since Armenia’s independence were falsified, except for the 1991 presidential and 1999 parliamentary elections. And if the main instruments for falsifying the results of the parliamentary elections by 2017 were threats, administrative levers, physical violence, ballot stuffing, the main instruments for falsifying the results of the 2017 National Assembly elections were threats, administrative levers and widespread election bribery.
In any case, it is important to underscore that there is no election fraud that cannot be prosecuted or condemned by the Criminal Code. But it seems to be obvious that the political teams and groups that came to power through rigged elections could not conduct a proper investigation of those events; otherwise they would be held accountable for their own misconduct, they would be deprived of their most important, reliable, and perhaps the only political pillar.
Thus, the consistent and continuous falsifications and obscurations of election results, the political pressure and compulsion not to disclose these facts to the law enforcement and judiciary bodies, justified the principle of the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law, without which the establishment of the state can be ruled out.
Law enforcement agencies, who not only did not properly examine, but also conceal electoral offenses, have become anti-legal bodies. Courts and prosecutors who have closed their eyes to illicit inquiries and investigations, fraud and corruption have become the pillar and guarantor of this process of formation, and the political power that has become the main fruits of this huge machine of fraud has taken over the roof and the patronage of this vicious system role.
The aforementioned process led to the fact that Armenia has acted as a State outside the State. A class of electoral fraudulent beneficiaries, including their judicial system and the state government sponsoring them, has been formed, which was out of the law and the laws of Armenia needed only to control, prosecute, and kneel on political opponents and uncontrolled elements, because these laws they did not spread, they had lived by completely different, unwritten laws.
Under such conditions, even such values as public and national unity have been devastated and discredited because the call for unity of official propaganda has not aimed at unity, but rather to ignore, tolerate, and adapt to lawlessness, robbery, and even killings.
And this counter-political system, which occupied the State, has spent millions of dollars to silence, discredit, confront, physically and psychologically endanger people, and such actions have sparked greater spending in the future, as the increase in crime rates required a higher price for silence and consensus, to the extent that in the end the government was obliged to pay the price of silence and consent to the whole community, or at least its greatest, down to make corruption a key tool for the regulation of public relations.
In this situation, economic monopolies were established in Armenia, the only purpose of which was the accumulation of money and capital necessary for the reproduction of the power by these mechanisms.
And under these conditions, the government had to maintain and protect monopolies by all possible means to prevent the decentralization of money, that is, to lose control of money.
This in turn seriously hampered real economic growth in Armenia, although the government that had falsified the elections never set itself the task of achieving inclusive economic growth, which has a greater impact on people, makes it difficult for people to control the process and not only minimizes the impact of election bribes, but also increases its potential because a more prosperous person is less inclined to vote bribe, and if he tends to have more expectation. And in such a situation, they could fall short of money. And the lower the social and educational levels of the public and the individual, the more obedient he is to the corrupt system.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are guided by the conviction that the crucial destructive phenomena in Armenia are directly related to the obsession of remaining in power at all costs, with the obsolescence of Armenia's long-term management teams. And our government considers its greatest mission to drive away this destructive thinking from Armenia.
There are all the necessary conditions for this because the proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia finally managed to smash the chains of electoral bribe, compulsion, fear and dependence, and now it has come to record this fact as a public agreement and a culture.
This is, first of all, a matter of content but not a structural one, and the Government's task is to make such content and meaning in public-political life at this stage. In practice, our most important task is to hold snap parliamentary elections in Armenia and the main goal of these elections should be the mechanism of free, fair and transparent elections to be returned to the people and to make this act unbearable.
A natural question may arise: why not hold snap elections right now? To be honest, holding the elections right now is the most beneficial option for our political team because the inspiration of our organized and guided velvet revolution is at its peak, and there is no doubt that if election is held today, our political team will win with absolute majority.
But if we follow this logic, it will mean that the government has changed in the country, and the content has not changed and the new government, like many others, is driven by the sole obsession of remaining in power, and elections are held under conditions where the people is deprived of the opportunity to change the government through elections due to the shortage of time conditioned by the post-revolution euphoric atmosphere.
We think that the elections should be held in Armenia within a year and it will not only give an opportunity to substantially improve the electoral system, but also to other political forces, for whom the change of power was a surprise and unexpected, to get out of the panic and see some electoral preparations.
In addition, this schedule will allow the citizens to make informed choices, “informed decision” in English, based on the achievements of the current government and the ruling team.
The next question that may arise is: why hold extraordinary parliamentary elections at all? The answer is simple: the fraudulent administration and the executive power formed by electoral bribes must go away, the legislative power formed by fraud and bribery should also leave.
And the government is going to make serious changes to the Electoral Code, and these changes will comply with the wishes of the citizens of Armenia in order to guarantee the legitimacy and transparency of elections.
The government intends to set up a working group to deal with this issue, in which all parliamentary factions, civil society representatives, and representatives of extra-parliamentary forces will be invited to be invited. However, we will use that time not only to improve the electoral system.
I would like to emphasize that the most important aspect of our activity will be not only the everyday, comprehensible, steps taken from the laws of the Republic of Armenia, international treaties, the necessity of solving the everyday problems, which is understandable and logical, but also the actions whose main purpose is the old content of Armenia content substitution.
A significant part of these changes does not require any legislative or organizational changes, any loan or grant, but just a political will. What are we going to do and how?
There will be no privileges in Armenia. The law will work equally with all, including the representatives of the country's supreme power and members of their families.
And in order to prevent this from happening as a threat to others, I would have to make sure that this principle was the first thing to do with my family members, my neighbors, relatives and friends.
And I am proud to announce that my son, who is 18 years old, is going to go to the next military service and apply for voluntary service in Artsakh.
It is clear that under these conditions we will be subject to a special investigation into the fact that we have served in the army of the sons of high-ranking officials, including ministers, sons of MPs, and should care for those who have no just and legitimate reasons for dismissal, They really serve in the army, as well as young people and teenagers who have made a non-violent, velvety, popular revolution in Armenia.
I urge acting and former officials and their sons from this high tribune. if they have found ways to avoid the army, to respond to new approaches to new times, to appear in the military commissariat and to be drafted into the army.
Again, again, once again, I urge about a dozen of our compatriots who are abroad and who have been wanted for evading military service. dear friends, return to Armenia, go to the military service and take responsibility for your homeland security.
This is a new Armenia, no escapes from here, including the reason for avoiding the army. Here they come back to the present and the future with responsibility and love. I'm waiting for each of you to prove that you are the children of the victorious people.
And again, I would like to remind that the youth, who will return to the homeland for completing their military service, shall not be detained; no prosecution will be carried out against them, and those with high professional skills will be able to carry out the service in the appropriate units of the Armed Forces.
Continuing the topic, I would also like to say that we will ensure that the parents of the soldiers performing military service shall not have to keep their children in the army, buying underwear, shoes, food, and hygienic supplies. We will care for the State to provide servicemen with everything they need.
We will not allow any of our soldiers and officers to compel the electorate and threaten to deprive him of his job, or force a military substitute to vote in the parliamentary elections for the sake of this or that force because the soldier's civil will, by breaking the spirit, breaks the military will and the spirit.
We will not allow the intolerant unhealthy atmosphere in our army to follow suicides in the army and suicide attempts, as well as non-statutory relations. There is a case behind every case that has not been properly duly carried out and must be found and brought to justice.
I understand that many army officers may counter me with the questions: Do you know under what conditions, what salary are they working on? Yes we know, dear officers, and we also realize what kind of problems may be faced in honest soldiers’ families. And consistently finding solutions to these problems will be our priority. But these problems will not be resolved if we all from ordinary police officer to the Prime Minister do not substitute the sense of doing a job with the sense of completing a mission.
We must understand that we do not live in normal times, we live in a period when each of us has a historic opportunity to be glorified, purified, and serve the homeland and the future, and there is only one way of doing so - only one option. to deny his own personality, and to give his or her full mission to the service. There is simply no other option.
Thus, we will reinvigorate Armenia’s military-industrial complex in order to restore Armenia-Azerbaijan military balance, and we will oppose innovation technologies and innovation ideas to Azerbaijan’s huge military spending.
We will eradicate corruption and corruption-making mechanisms, and I am convinced that we will do so easily because when the president of the country is not corrupted and is not anxious about corruption, this is a crucial precondition for corruption.
And now, from this high podium, looking at the eyes of every citizen of the Republic of Armenia I want to declare: as Prime Minister, I will not resort to any corruption deal; I will not have any “ill-earned” income, any property, business, or stock. And I do expect such an approach of any member of government, any public official.
We will substantially increase the state revenues and will strengthen our country's financial system. We will substantially reduce shadow economy and recover economic relations.
I announced recently at a meeting with a group of major businessmen, and now I want to repeat: all Armenian businessmen - every one of them without exception - are exempt from all kinds of corruption commitments. Any official, prosecutor, mayor, tax officer, minister, etc., who may try to engage in business, will be my personal enemy and will have to wait for punishment. No one should think that he can avoid responsibility: we will detect and remove all the corrupt ones even from the outcast and darkest hackers.
We will dismantle the artificial economic monopolies. In practice, we can say that the monopoly system of the economy is living the last days in Armenia.
We will create equal economic opportunities for all, all will be taxed the same way and with the same law. Of course, the tax code reforms, the simplification and simplification of its implementation are among our priorities because the Tax Code has really created many complications and confusion, the aim of which is to create unlimited opportunities for corruption again and again, and we must liberate businessmen from tax pockets ahead of time.
With these actions, we will provide a favorable investment climate. every investor should feel protected as soon as he enters Armenia. And I want to say that I personally consider myself as a guarantor of any investment in Armenia.
I have already instructed the National Security Service to set up an investment protection division in the National Assembly. An NSS officer will be attached to each large investor who will be responsible for giving prompt response to all investor alerts and dealing with their concerns.
I also want to thank our compatriots living in Diaspora, who have responded quickly to the non-violent, velvety, popular revolution in Armenia and have already invested in Armenia.
Generally, as evidenced by State institutions, there has never been such an interest in investment and we hope we will do our utmost to turn that investment interest into an investment boom. And I call again to our compatriots in the Diaspora: dear brothers and sisters, do not wait any longer, please come and invest in Armenia; there are no political barriers to doing business in the homeland.
I know that in response to my call, many critics will say that capital has no homeland. I agree, of course. But in this case, the owners of capital have a homeland, and in this case, the homeland does not seek financial assistance, but rather wants to become a platform for expansion, which in turn will help strengthen the homeland.
At the same time, we will take all possible measures to enhance the social standing of business people. Those who provide jobs and pay taxes should at least boast a status equivalent to that of MPs, mayors and ministers.
The entrepreneur really needs to feel that the State and the public are grateful for creating productive jobs, opening jobs, and paying taxes. And this businessman's status must be so high and so honorable that every law-abiding businessman should be so protected that the status of a deputy or minister is not attractive to him.
On this very basis we should try to solve one of the pivotal issues of the Third Republic - separation of business and power. When formulating this issue, they first understand that a businessman should not engage in politics. And this is right and right.
But the application of this principle will not be complete and honest if we do not apply one of the key aspects of this principle. If a businessman does not have to deal with politics, then politicians should not engage in business or politics, and the government should not have a tool to make money for someone and the public has to leverage to control that its official does not engage in business.
But for a radical solution to this problem, we also need to reduce the impact of money on politics because when money becomes a decisive political factor, the primary task of politicians and parties is to solve the issue of money with all its consequences.
We must eradicate the vicious system of electoral bribe from Armenia. Obtaining and distributing electoral bribes should be deemed dishonest, and every attempt to distribute bribes should be prompt and frustrating by law enforcement.
Politics must first of all be a competition of ideas, and the role of money should be secondary, and there is a real opportunity to establish such a situation, because this was the basis of the non-violent, velvety, popular revolution in Armenia. Politics should be financed not by individuals, but by hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of citizens, because they must be policy-makers.
Continuing the topic of economic development and not wanting to repeat what is written in the government’s program, and what I said as prime minister in my May 8 speech, I have to state the following: after the Velvet Revolution in Armenia, various international organizations, partner countries expressed willingness to provide us with serious assistance, and of course we will benefit from that support.
We consider that the government has two key things to do to develop the economy. first of all, not to hinder businessmen to work and produce results, and secondly ensure high quality infrastructure.
We hope that international organizations, partner countries will help us to address these two problems and this will be one of the most important issues of our discussions and dialogue with them.
I want to emphasize that our economic policy will be primarily aimed at providing new jobs, increasing salaries and pensions, reducing poverty and achieving higher living standards.
Happiness is ultimately the highest purpose we want to make available to our citizens, and today we have the necessary political, social and psychological preconditions. On this path we have to guarantee the socio-economic component which as I am convinced will be provided through principled and consistent work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have already said that there should be no reverse in Armenia’s foreign policy, and I can now reaffirm that position. Armenia will continue to be a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, Armenia will continue to be a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and our task will be to increase the effectiveness of our membership of these organizations.
By the way, in attendance of the EAEU Summit in Sochi this May 13, I made sure that all EAEU-member countries and the CSTO-member States were pursuing the same objective, which provides a good basis for building stronger and closer ties with our EAEU partners as part of bilateral relations. It is very important for us to develop strategic relations pf allied partnership in various spheres with the Russian Federation, considering it among our top priorities.
Armenia-Russia relations should be based on friendship, equality and the reciprocated willingness to deal with all issues jointly. The Government considers military cooperation with the Russian Federation as an important constituent of Armenia’s security system.
We will seriously work towards promoting multifaceted friendly ties of partnership with the United States of America. The Government is committed to deepening cooperation with the United States to support the development and reform agenda of Armenia.
We will closely cooperate with the European Union in implementing the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement and liberalizing EU visas for Armenian citizens. Deepening cooperation with European countries is one of the most important directions of our government’s foreign policy.
We must make serious efforts to develop such special relationships with Iran and Georgia as are inherent in closely cooperating neighboring nations and which should be free from geopolitical influences. We attach special importance to relations with China and believe that China’s activeness in our region can give fresh impetus and content to the cooperation between Armenia, Iran and Georgia.
In general, our foreign policy will be aimed at implementing the logic of Article 13 of the RA Constitution, which states: “The foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia is carried out on the basis of international law to establish good-neighborly, mutually beneficial relations with all States.”
But I consider it necessary to emphasize another factor that I think extremely important from the point of view of our foreign policy doctrine. Our policy has not been and will not be pro-American, our policy has not been and will not be pro-European, our policy has not been and will not be pro-Russian; our policy has not been and will not be anti-American, our policy has not been and will not be anti-European, our policy has not been and will not be anti-Russian. The main goal of our foreign policy is to protect our country’s sovereignty and security, serve the national interests of our country. This should be a rule for every politician, public figure, non-governmental organization and party in Armenia.
The culture of posture-based policies should be eradicated in our country. We should not have any other guideline than the best interest of our country. Our sole mission is to ensure our country’s sovereignty and the State’s national interests.
This is an external, domestic policy and, in general, in any area of activity. And I want to say that this is the most important innovation in the system of values and culture of New Armenia.
Today, many are trying to find and find pro-Western, pro-American pro-American figures, or anti-American, anti-American, anti-European figures. And I want to say that this is a senseless search because only the citizens of the Republic of Armenia are included in the Armenian government, and the assignment of any other status beyond that is a consequence of misinterpretation, misunderstanding of the situation in Armenia.
In this part of my speech, I would like to address the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement issue. I have repeatedly stated that the negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict cannot be considered fully effective unless they involve Artsakh’s leadership, one of the parties to the conflict. Many have commented on this position as a novelty in the negotiation process on the Karabakh issue.
But this is exactly the case that this approach does not contain any new element, and what is considered a novelty is simply a well-forgotten old one. The fact that Artsakh is a full-fledged party was stated in the framework of the 1994 OSCE Budapest Summit and until 1998, the negotiations were held in this very format. Since 1998, Armenia’s representatives have been negotiating on behalf of Karabakh.
No matter they did it right or wrong, but there was a reason for that. Robert Kocharyan was the elected president of Karabakh before coming to Armenia, and Serzh Sargsyan was one of the organizers of the Artsakh self-defense movement. And therefore, they could either have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of Karabakh, regardless of how we all treat it.
I cannot do the same thing. Even with the greatest desire, I cannot even attribute myself to negotiating on behalf of the people of Karabakh, because there is no legal, political, or moral justification for that.
The citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh are neither participating in Armenia’s elections nor in the process of forming the government in Armenia. Instead, they have their own authorities - National Assembly, Government and President, and can only be represented by their duly authorized representative.
You may be aware that every time when the issue of involvement in the negotiation process is raised, Azerbaijan says that in that event the representatives of the so-called Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh should also participate in the talks as an independent party.
In fact, however, this is a fictitious argument, because the civil status of the Azerbaijanis living in Nagorno-Karabakh has not changed because of the conflict. Before and after the conflict, they continue to be citizens of Azerbaijan.
And as a citizen of Azerbaijan, these people continue to participate in the elections in Azerbaijan, including the presidential elections, which means that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev participates in the negotiations based on the mandate he holds from those people, which means that those people are already involved in the talks. In any case, I consider it necessary to stress that the attempts to give up this approach do not assess the situation correctly.
As I said before, I am ready to negotiate with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. But before that, I feel obliged to do everything to increase the effectiveness of the talks, of course, we are negotiating to settle the problem and not for merely negotiating. In terms of effectiveness, it is not less important to comply with the agreements reached earlier. This is a significant issue because it is a little uncomfortable to negotiate a new agreement, when the arrangements reached in the past have been left without implementation.
Nevertheless, we will continue to have a constructive position in the negotiation process on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and make our contribution to raising the level of stability and security in the region and the world.
I can also point out that as a result of the non-violent revolution, as a result of the popular revolution, as the government’s representative, I am convinced that the Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution, but I also want to emphasize that any adventure will be retaliated by our armed forces and the whole Armenian nation.
I want to emphasize that we will continue to make efforts for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide while at the same time being ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions. There is no contradiction in these approaches because the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not only a matter of Armenian-Turkish relations, but also a crucial manifestation of Armenia’s participation in international efforts to combat crimes against humanity and the genocides and their prevention.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Returning to domestic problems, I want to emphasize that it is extremely important to establish public solidarity. We have to make serious efforts to have a society free from violence and to establish relations without violence.
Unfortunately, in the years of the long internal political crisis, violence has been a usual tool that the authorities have applied against the opposition. And events have developed so that political forces and circles engaged in opposition political activities have also resorted to force and weapons, which has led to grave consequences.
A large number of such people continue to be in prisons and this is a situation that is of great concern to many citizens of Armenia, many members of the government. If we approach the question in purely legal formulations and in terms of individual actions and actions, we will get an image and that is the picture we have today.
But if we look at the question from the point of view of the inner political system crisis and causal relationships, when the government acted in the logic of “no game against us,” thus putting the public patience into serious trials, the situation will appear in a different light. In any case, I believe it is extremely important for the establishment of public solidarity and non-violence relationships so that there are no people in prison who can be considered as political prisoners.
But I would like to underline that this process should be based on a very clear record that the solution to the political issues in Armenia by using force and weapons has been closed and will not be back to that time.
Any political force that used to use force, any political force in the past must make a declaration of its commitment to non-violent political struggle, because our government enjoys the confidence of every citizen regardless of political views, for security and cannot be allowed during the clarification of internal political or public issues, sounding shots, injuries, and shedding blood.
And I hope that all of us, every citizen of the Republic of Armenia, all political forces and all civil society representatives will express a clear position on this issue and will succeed in establishing genuine public solidarity with new quality political, public relations where violence is rejected and an instrument of communication, starting with family and backyard, ending with elections and political activity, has no place in violence.
Nevertheless, I consider it necessary to underscore that this thesis cannot be interpreted in any way for the sake of legitimacy, for the sake of public and national security, the prohibition of legitimate and legitimate use of force by the law enforcement agencies in cases and procedure prescribed by law.
The State and its law enforcement agencies have a clear function to ensure the stability and security of the country, and no one should doubt that the function will be fully realized and without shock. This is especially about the fight against crime, which is an integral part of the fight against criminal thinking.
We are convinced that criminal mentality is the most important ally in the mentality of Armenia and we are happy to note that in recent times, along with the development of civil society, in Armenia, the spreading and the use of criminal or so-called cognitive mentality is diminishing.
Nevertheless, the Government is decisive in fighting this phenomenon and we believe that the type of human being in Armenia should be based not on people’s advantage, levers, but also on those who respect their identity and dignity, Citizens cooperating with law enforcement agencies in disclosing their attitude to others is not the privilege, the power is the levy of governance, but respect, care, Common sense.
We will consistently work to ensure that anyone with criminal activity and thinking does not become such a character for youth and teenagers.
For our young people, there must be an image of an honest, principled, just, and law-abiding person. In this respect, I consider that the content of TV broadcasts is extremely important. Unfortunately, during the years of our independence, it has been filled with a variety of foul language, and I understand everyone who doubts that this is a consistent policy of lowering people and subjugating civilian altogether.
In any case, the government’s policy will be aimed at solving a very simple problem. TV broadcasts should increase the level of education of the public; television broadcasters should transfer values to people and not diminish values. And the government intends to make legislative changes to allow the State to establish specific standards of broadcasting, certainly respecting the well-known rights of liberty and journalistic activities.
Culture is also of key importance in continuously raising the level of public education, and the government's policy is to ensure the constant communication of citizen and culture. Our goal is that every citizen of Armenia has several times to communicate with culture and cultural life during the month. I mean, visit the museum, theater, exhibition, concert hall.
The government should take concrete measures to educate children from the early childhood to the culture of being involved in cultural life.
All this, however, is not a goal, but a means to reach a completely new, completely different level of public relations. And the practical purpose of this policy should be to change the level of relations between the two arbitrary representatives of the public, to raise the level and quality of relations. And this is also a political issue, the issue of raising the non-violent, velvet and revolutionary values of the society in Armenia so that we can exclude not only the political but also the psychological level of the return of old, the threat of violence or violence, public relations based on coercion and corruption system.
Dear compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I think one of the most important issues for the current period is the probe into the murders of March 1, 2008. We, those who carried out a non-violent, velvet revolution in Armenia, have a moral duty before the March 1 victims, because if it had not been for March 1, 2008, during the recent one and a half months, it would have been difficult to avoid bloodshed.
The brutal attempt of March 1 forced the government to be more careful in avoiding street clashes. And this experience helped us - the organizers of the revolution - to realize the seriousness of the political leadership’s responsibility and lead the movement in the logic of a non-violent struggle.
And here is one of the key expressions of the March 2008 civilian estimate of civilian casualties: the disclosure of the murders, and I have already instructed the law enforcement agencies to do so.
I think the law-enforcement system, the entity that is supposed to reveal the murders of March 1, will write its name in golden letters in the history of Armenia and the Armenian people. And on the contrary, I can not estimate the work of the law enforcement system as long as the March 1 killings are not disclosed.
I particularly highlight the March 1 case as I think it has a special place in the history of our country, and whether or not this case has a significant impact on the content and essence of our country.
I believe that the specific obligations of the law enforcement agencies include the assessment, rehabilitation and disclosure of the actual damage caused to the State as a result of corruption-related activities.
But I want to emphasize that in this regard, our goal should be not to drive people into prisons, but to develop mechanisms for compensation for the damage to the state, the effective use of those mechanisms, if necessary also on terms of long-term life.
This is not to say anything about corruption, not to tolerate any mechanism, but to be careful about maintaining a positive atmosphere in our country. Woe to us, if we are given the logic of hunting witches to start hunting.
It will undermine the results of a violent revolution and will create a nervous situation in the public. In any situation, even in the process of reimbursement of major damages to the state, we should not avoid dialogue, the logic of the negotiation, because our task is not to punish anyone or to do evil, but to defend the rights of the state and people.
In this regard, I consider it extremely important to guarantee property immunity, not to allow redistribution of property, even though I consider some of the instruments currently operating under the Criminal Code of Armenia as applicable. These instruments, however, should be applied in the extreme case when other instruments of dialogue and negotiation are not applicable.
However, I consider it necessary to emphasize: such treatment should not be applied in cases of blood-related crimes. In this case, the laws must act in strict and just cause.
I think it is obvious that one of the most important challenges facing the government should be to express a position on the compulsory component of the cumulative pension and make a decision.
As you may know, the mandatory funded component is valid for all citizens born after 1974. And since the issue implies a serious political context, the government should make serious decisions on this issue.
Of course, we must make such an exclusive industry responsible decision that stems from the national interests of Armenia. And I want to emphasize some facts that should be taken into account when making decisions.
First, approximately 80 percent of beneficiaries of the mandatory funded system are already involved in the system, while only 20 percent of beneficiaries are going to be included in the system after July 1.
Second, as of this moment, 120 billion drams have been accumulated in accumulative funds, 70 percent of which is invested in Armenia’s economy.
Third, the managers of accumulative funds are internationally recognized companies which manage funds even greater than Armenia’s annual GDP, and their future fate in Armenia will largely be deemed as Armenia’s reliability index.
Authoritative experts concur with the opinion that this process is past the point of return. And when making a decision on this issue, we have to take into account the risks that may have devastating consequences for Armenia’s economy not only in the long run, but also in the short term.
In any case, I would like to remind you that our greatest commitment to the mandatory funded pension system was the lack of confidence in the government which had introduced it. Today, this problem has disappeared, and I want to express conviction that we will be able to make decisions on this issue that will take into account both the strategic depth of the issue and the long-term and short-term interests of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
In any case, please be assured that the government will work on this issue with maximum sincerity and transparency, and each citizen of the Republic of Armenia should be convinced that the only decisions we make in this and other issues are to repeat the only motivation for the citizens to serve them today and in the future with dignity.
Mining industry is the next major challenge facing our government. Many Armenian citizens have serious concerns about the state of affairs in this area. The government will decisively respond to all concerns, because our national wealth is at stake, and we must all be convinced that the exploitation of that wealth takes place within the boundaries of law and wisdom, without disproportionate, indefatigable or indefinable damage to the environment and the strategic interests of Armenia.
As you know, in this connection I have already given specific instructions. First, the process of new permits for the use of mineral resources will be suspended until further legislative clarifications, environmental, health and socio-economic diagnostic studies. Serious checks will be carried out at all ore mines to ascertain their legitimacy and compliance with environmental requirements.
At the same time, this process should be implemented in full transparency, with the help of specialized NGOs and the mass media. And I want to say clearly that our final positions and decisions for every single case will be exclusively based on undeniable facts. I rule out that we can make a decision on the whims of ours or others, either on the basis of corruption or for populist considerations. The genealogy of our conclusions should be understandable and visible to all, and these decisions should be based on the strategic interests of the Republic of Armenia and its people.
The next important issue that has a cornerstone is the existence of an independent judicial system. Having assumed the office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia I personally encountered the fact that the Armenian judicial system has the habit of working with the orders received from Baghramyan 26.
In Armenia there are essentially some legal arrangements that ensure the independence of the judicial system, but in this case, the reality is much stronger than the law. And before us, there is a big stumbling block to the new government.
What to do: to continue the vicious tradition of instructing the courts proceeding from various good considerations, or take specific steps to ensure the independence of the judicial system?
Coming to Baghramyan 26, I decided to not continue this vicious practice, which, according to public opinion, has been used in Armenia for many years and refrained from taking over the strange role of the judge's boss.
Although I have to admit here that I often face such situations when the representatives of the judicial system are asking me for advice or even an instruction which way to proceed in a specific situation.
I want to clearly state that I am against this kind of practice because it is a disgraceful way for a person who has become Prime Minister as a result of a velvet revolution; besides I think that it can directly lead to dictatorship.
I have repeatedly stated that all judges in Armenia have assumed that status voluntarily and if they believe that they have the necessary skills, knowledge, wisdom to , and human fate, let them decide, as it is prescribed by law. On the other hand, no judge should make decisions based on bribes, interventions or calls coming from various instances, because they run the risk of ending up in the Yerevan-Kentron penitentiary.
I know that we have judges who are used to making decisions with bribes, orders, or other corrupt motivations. They can hardly change their habits, and had better resign and leave the judicial system. And I wish good luck to all those who are ready to serve the law and administer justice in the homeland.
The above does not mean at all that the government avoids assuming responsibility for building an independent judicial system in the country. On the contrary, we are taking a step that I hope everyone will appreciate. In this respect, I want to voice doubts about the comments the authors of which keep insisting that Armenia is caught in dual, triple power and so on.
These comments are not only ridiculous, but they also point to the fact that there are some people still unaware of what is going on in Armenia. There is no dual power in Armenia after May 8, 2018, because the Armenian nation has come to power, represented by the government and the Prime Minister of their own choice.
I hope that no one will be given the temptation to question this thesis with different experiments. Of course, such attempts cannot pose a threat to the people and the State, but I want to urge their potential authors to sober up, otherwise the people’s power will have to bring them to their senses.
The next important issue I wish to address is the triggering of a powerful tide of repatriation when the wave of emigration will not only stop, but the opposite process will start when dozens, hundreds of thousands of Diaspora Armenians may be back to settle in Armenia.
We can see this process taking place already, but I think we should have the opportunity to get our Diaspora compatriots engaged in State governance in Armenia in a bid to tap the potential available in the Diaspora.
In this sense, however, there is a strange impediment, namely the provision of Article 148 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, which stipulates that only those individuals can serve as a minister in Armenia who have been a citizen of the Republic of Armenia for the last four years and who have always been resident in the Republic of Armenia for the past four years.
After the recent political changes, when the Diaspora proved to be more than ever united over the state of affairs in the Motherland, this constitutional provision is harmful and dangerous, and we need to start discussions with a view to removing the aforementioned basic impediment to involving the Diaspora in the governance of Armenia.
This unprecedented Armenia-Diaspora consolidation and unity is indeed one of the most important achievements we have and we have to do everything to capitalize this acquisition.
Dear people, proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
The question may arise in this period whether this new government will succeed, or whether the velvet revolution will lead to satisfactory results. Frankly speaking, I am not asking myself such a question because we have found an irrevocable formula for succeeding in a non-violent popular revolution: the trust in our people, the faith in the homeland and the sense of service that motivates and inspires us ahead.
On the way to making of Armenia a free, powerful and happy country, nothing will stop us. We have succeeded and will succeed, because we have the most important thing - the people’s confidence in their own power.
We have succeeded and will succeed, because we were able to overcome fear, fraud, corruption, obscene fortresses with empty hands, and what we will do now when we have the power of decision-making and a legitimate authority.
The velvet revolution, the Armenian people have expanded the limits of human capabilities and this made many people realize that nothing is impossible. We have set an incredible and improbable path to reality, and we will walk along this path steadily and safely to the last.
And, therefore, long live Freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live our children and we, who live in a free and happy Armenia!