“People constitute an invincible force” - Prime Minister’s Speech at Republic Square Rally
- 1670x1113px - 457 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 447 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 646 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 469 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 363 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 566 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 521 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 728 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 433 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 905 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 609 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 943 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 661 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 675 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 560 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 592 Kb
- 1670x1113px - 608 Kb
more 14 photos
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today convened a rally at Republic Square to commemorate the March 1 victims and outline ways of addressing the internal political situation in Armenia. The rally started to the sounds of Armenia’s national anthem. Nikol Pashinyan delivered a speech at the rally. Below is the transcript of Prime Minister Pashinyan’s remarks.
I am asking you to observe a minute of silence in memory of our brothers and sisters killed in the Artsakh war. Thank you.
Today is March 1, and I would like to ask you to observe a minute of silence in memory of the March 1 victims. Thank you.
We are going through challenges times. We have many reasons to be anxious. But I want us to fill the Square with energy, joy, victory, optimism today – on the first day of spring. I know there are speculations that people have been brought to this square, and so on. There is one way to answer that question: look at the way people are communicating with this rostrum from the first to the last row.
So, today, on the first day of spring, we will show that as always we will keep together as proud, victorious, optimistic and happy citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
For 13 years now, public events have been held in Armenia on March 1. First, the events of March 1, 2008 took place, followed by gatherings held to commemorate those events and honor the memory of 10 victims. March 1, 2021, however, we meet in a completely different situation: I mean the tragic aftermath of the second Karabakh war, the fact that thousands Armenian soldiers have been killed, the huge number of missing people, the fact that many of our brothers and sisters remain in captivity, the ongoing propaganda of violence, the armed forces and attempts to involve the judiciary in political processes have posed new challenges.
These are security, foreign policy, regional and internal political challenges, and the future of our country and people depends on how well we will manage these challenges. We have now reached a point where we are running out of opportunities to make mistakes. During the past 31 years of independence, we have made many mistakes - all types of mistakes that were possible in theory and in practice. We did so during the last 2 years and 10 months, too. I mean, after the revolution. I mean our government and myself. And I want to apologize to all of you, to all the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, to all the Armenians of the Diaspora, to all the citizens of the Artsakh Republic for the mistakes I have made.
I have been thinking a lot about where I went wrong. I can cite specific cases, of course, but more importantly, why we made a mistake, why our government, our political team made a mistake. Strange as it may seem, one of the biggest reasons for our mistakes was that we were too much loved as a government. We were so popular that in order to justify that popular love, our love for the people and the Homeland, we wanted to do everything accurately and perfectly. And the search for perfection led to inactivity in many cases.
We sometimes had to choose between the worse and the worst. But we refused to make that choice, considering that the people had not brought us to power to choose between the worse and the worst. The people have brought us to power so that we could make a choice between the better and the best. And as we were trying to make a choice between the better and the best, it turned out that the presence of the worse and the worst was so ingrained, so deep that the choice was irreversible, and the best choice was to opt for the worse. And yet, unfortunately, our government was not the only one to make mistakes. As the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, as the head of the country, I want to apologize to our people for all the mistakes of all the authorities of the Third Republic. But I do not want this to sound like regret, I want it to sound like a sign of determination that we, the proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, will not give up, will never give up in our struggle for a free and happy Armenia.
We have to show so much will and perseverance, so much love and determination in our daily efforts; we will look back on all the mistakes we have made since independence. Not only will we redouble our efforts to have a happy and strong country, but we will do our best to make those efforts effective. But it is likewise important that in such a difficult situation, we have the will to preserve and defend those values and achievements we have had since independence.
As we talk about mistakes we say that we have made many big and minor mistakes, but this does not mean at all that we have not had any achievement. Our greatest promise is to preserve and build on those achievements. An important achievement is the reinstatement of the people’s power in our country; the right of the people to exercise their rights, the crises faced should not be resolved at the expense of the constitutional power, but, on the contrary, through the re-establishment of the people's power. The right of the people to form a government should not be endangered by anything, but, on the contrary, should be strengthened. In other words, only the people have to decide who will be in power and who will not be in power in the Republic of Armenia.
This is just the essence of our current crisis: they want to take away the power of the people. We have gathered in the square to say that we will not allow it. We will not allow that. We will not allow our hard-earned achievements that we recorded throughout many decades of struggle and hardship to be destroyed. And you, the people, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia will continue to be the highest authority in the Republic of Armenia.
No matter who will stand here as a leader addressing the people, he or she can only be one that the people will choose through their free and sovereign will. We, the people, the citizens, the government will simply not allow any other way to come to power. We just will not allow it.
March 1, 2008 was a turning point in that struggle for power. On March 1, 2008, the then rulers of Armenia used the army against the people and decided to shoot the citizens of Armenia. It is crucial to state that there are several people being charged on the March 1 case who are running a trial today. And yes, I have to say that in my opinion the March 1 case has been revealed.
Many wonder how the March 1 case can be considered uncovered as the murderers have not been exposed. My opinion and personal assessment is that, it is true, the shooters have not been identified, but the murders, the background in which it took place, have been revealed, and I do believe that it will be evidenced during the court trial.
The circumstances need to be examined and assessed by the court as part of judicial proceedings. This is the reason why all possible and impossible means are being used by the defense team of the people accused in the March 1 case to delay the trial as much as possible, so that evidence is not properly examined. I mean the nuances of that case.
Why are they procrastinating, because they hope to be reinstated in power just as they once seized the power which belonged to the people? What we say over and over remains the same. And the key point of the truth revealed in the March 1 case is that the authorities of 2008, yes, took out the army against their own people, used the army to prevent the expression of our people’s will. And it is in this context that murders have taken place.
As I have repeatedly said, the perpetrators did not target specific individuals; they targeted the citizen of the Republic of Armenia so that he or she would not even think of having power in the Republic of Armenia. The perpetrators of the murders have not been identified yet, because immediately after the events of March 1, the investigative bodies collected the shotgun shells from the scene and replaced them with bullets and cartridges fired by other people in other places. In other words, the then government did everything to conceal the potential evidence of the murders and other illegal actions. Why? Perhaps, we will get the answers to these questions during the March 1 trial. That is why everything is being done to prolong the process.
I say all this not only to emphasize the meaning of the day, but I want to say that the same people - absolutely the same people - are still trying to take out the army against the people, the legitimate government elected by the people. And I simply cannot assess the statement of the General Staff of the Armed Forces in any other way.
I want to say that the statement of the General Staff, without any setbacks, is the result of the influence exercised by the 2008 authorities on the military. I am saying this without any hesitation. This is not a guess, but specific evidence. Among others, Serzh Sargsyan, using his influence among the Armed Forces and some generals, is trying to urge them to stand up against the state and the people.
But now I want to say that this statement of the General Staff of the Armed Forces is absolutely illegal, because the Constitution of Armenia clearly states that the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia should maintain neutrality in political matters. The General Staff of the Armed Forces has adopted an oppositional political position in breach of the applicable regulations and violating the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. I want to remind you of a very important circumstance. During the revolution of 2018, when some servicemen showed political activity, our party, the Civil Contract party, made the following statement on April 23, 2018: “All servicemen on military duty must immediately return to their place of stationing. No rank-and-file, non-commissioned or commissioned officers should take part in peaceful acts of disobedience. We see your support in the exercise of your service duties. At the same time, we remind that the army, the military must be apolitical, not interfere in the country’s home affairs.” We made this statement on April 23, 2018, calling on all politically active servicemen to return to their service.
Today, the well-known political forces are trying to involve the Armed Forces in their anti-popular campaign. But that will not happen. On the contrary, the statement issued by the General Staff makes the removal of Onik Gasparyan from the post of the Chief of the General Staff inevitable. This is inevitable, because the Republic of Armenia cannot have such a chief of General Staff that makes political statements, moreover, he does so at the instigation of Serzh Sargsyan and the former authorities - the Republicans - who want to stifle the popular will under the larvae of tanks.
But, on the other hand, I want to say again that this circumstance should not give rise to vendettas in the Armed Forces. Thank God, so far the army and Onik Gasparyan himself has not crossed the red lines. And I want to make sure they will not do so. But I reaffirm that Onik Gasparyan must resign from the post of Chief of General Staff. I want to say that there will be no vendetta in the Armed Forces, because it does not matter who signed the aforementioned statement.
The decision to make such a statement and collect signatures was made by Onik Gasparyan at Serzh Sargsyan’s instigation - I would not say by order - because I have to state it right here that when the Chief of General Staff appointed by me carries out the orders coming from the Rejected person, it is just the greatest betrayal. But I say again and let us understand correctly: Onik Gasparyan was the one to initiate the process and put on the table a statement with the signatures of generals. After signing, the decision to publish that paper was made by Onik Gasparyan, too. And I say again, Onik Gasparyan must leave, while the others must return to their service.
I want to say that some inspired the soldiers to turn the army into a scapegoat. They instilled the idea that the government wanted to try and arrest our servicemen, otherwise to make scapegoats of the military. Can you imagine, 40, 50, 100, 500 people have been persuaded that they will be judged, whoever the government catches, left and right, will judge. They did this. I must say directly, just a few culprits, who need to be identified and exposed.
Please do not accept my statements de jure, but I have to give a political assessment. Yes, all this, this narrative is used to hide only a few cowards behind the heroes. We know who the heroes are… we know who the cowards are. And you will not be able to turn our heroes, the people’s heroes against the people.
Dear Onik, you have made a big mistake. You did not comply with your commander’s orders. You fulfilled the orders of those who were rejected by the people, who plundered the country and were rejected. This is the greatest violation of the officer’s honor. This is a greatest humiliation for an officer.
Now let us talk about what to do next. A meeting of the Security Council was held today, which adopted the following statement. “Being the state body authorized to define the primary directions of defense policy, the Security Council of the Republic of Armenia strongly condemns all attempts to involve the Armed Forces in the political process. The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia clearly states the inadmissibility of involving the Armed Forces in political processes.
According to the law, the proposal to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces as a person holding the highest military service position remains at the discretion of the Head of Government.
Acknowledging that in accordance with the Constitution, the President of the Republic of Armenia, in his capacity of the most important institution overseeing the observance of the Constitution, has a discretionary and alternative mandate to appoint and dismiss the highest command staff of the Armed Forces and other troops in the Armed Forces, the Security Council suggests that the President should comply with the Prime Minister’s proposal to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff and sign the relevant decree.”
You know that the President of the Republic has sent back my petition with objections, and in response, we sent the petition back to the President’s Office. Now the President of the Republic must make a decision. And I express hope that being an experienced statesman, Armen Sarkissian will make the decision that is in the best interest of the people of the Republic of Armenia, the stability of the state. I will say that the President of the Republic is in bad health, I visited him earlier today, I wish him robust health and a speedy recovery on behalf of all of us.
I want to record the following: In fact, we must finally admit that the 2015 Constitution, which became effective in 2018, has shown many shortcomings during this period. We can see that this Constitution unfortunately gives rise to crisis situations, risks, and we must finally admit that fact.
I think it is time to state that we must work to pass a new Constitution or Constitutional amendments through a referendum in October this year. Finally, the transition to a semi-presidential system of government must be one of the possible options. We must carry out this process in close cooperation with the National Assembly, the Government, the President of the Republic, the political forces and civil society. Meanwhile, there are articles in our Constitution, the change of which does not imply a referendum; they just can be changed or amended through a vote held in the National Assembly.
Over the next one month, we will be working in the same format - National Assembly-Government-President-political forces - to amend the articles that can be improved through voting and consultations in the National Assembly. This is a task we must address in the near future. These topics have been repeatedly raised on the part of civil society, political forces during discussions in the National Assembly. The President of the Republic has also addressed these topics. Our biggest task is to develop such constitutional structures as may guarantee stability and security in the Republic of Armenia and will rule out the recurrence of crisis situations.
Now I would like to address a very important topic, which, to be honest, I did not plan to talk about today, but I have to talk about it. You know that late last year, as a means of restoring public solidarity, I proposed holding early parliamentary elections. The proposal was first of all addressed to the parliamentary forces, but the latter kept rejecting it all the way through January, February, that is, until February. And we said that if the opposition, especially the parliamentary opposition, as well as the movement of 17 led by Vazgen Manukyan, rejects that proposal, then it makes no sense to hold early parliamentary elections.
But today the leader of one of the parliamentary forces, Edmon Marukyan, stated the following - I consider this very important - that we actually suggested holding early parliamentary elections for not holding such elections at all. In other words, he meant that it was a just proposal, but in fact we had been looking forward to their rejection, and they rejected it. Now I want to officially reaffirm that that it was not part of a make-believe, and if the parliamentary forces, first of all the parliamentary forces accept our proposal made in January-late December, we will go to early parliamentary elections, since we are convinced that our people can well form a legitimate government in Armenia by virtue of their free will.
To the best of their ability, they failed to show through street protests that the people are demanding my resignation. I give them a second chance with this challenge: let us go to the polls; let us see whose resignation the people are asking for, let us see what the people are demanding.
Back to the aforementioned assumption of make-believe, I wish to tell you a secret: we even thought of versions of slogans at that time, and one of the versions was that we should run in the snap parliamentary elections with the slogan “End of Velvet.”
People, let me say the following. I have stated that we are convinced of the position of our people, but it does not even matter. I said, I say the following: you have made me Prime Minister, and only you can remove me from that status. And I sincerely want the people to get that opportunity by voting, so that I could to make sure.
I apologize to you. I want to make sure that you forgive me, that you forgive us and that you have forgiven us. And I am now throwing the challenge to the parliamentary opposition: let us go to early parliamentary elections, and I am asking you, dear people, to support this call. Do not be afraid, my mighty people. Please support this call.
But I still want to say the following. There is one goal behind our readiness to hold elections: no matter how many slogans, speeches, promises and pledges we make, we will not seek our own victory in elections; we will seek your victory in those elections, because you are to win in them. There should be no “winners and losers” in the Republic of Armenia; there should only be one power- that of the people. The other powers, the political forces, the Armed Forces, all other forces must unconditionally submit to the legitimate government elected by the people. There is simply no other option.
Long live freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live us, and our children, who will live in a free and happy Armenia!
Long live Artsakh!
Long live the Armenians!
Long live our army, our heroic army, our soldiers, our heroic generals, our heroic officers, our victims, their relatives, their mothers, their fathers, their wives, and their children!
I bow to all of you. Please forgive us all our mistakes, if you can do so. Well, if you turn on the lights, let us all turn on the lights, offer them to the souls of our fallen soldiers and officers; let light fall on their souls.
The rally, a speech is a living organism, which makes that today I failed to refer to many other topics. We are facing several challenges. We have to deal with many issues, first of all the issues of captive and missing persons. But, to be honest, I do not find the public discussion of these issues expedient. The fact is that the current situation, yes, last week’s events caused some problems in that process, but I do not want to go into details. I just want the relatives of our captive brothers and sisters, the relatives of our missing brothers and sisters to be sure that we will not forget their concern even for a moment, not a second; we will never fail in our commitment to them. I want to say that your grief is in our hearts, all your bitter sorrows are in our hearts, and believe me, our hearts hurt with the same pain as yours.
There is an Armenian saying: “We do not come from the same place, but we are all from the same quarter.” Though in this case we are all from the same home, because Armenia is our home, and the people are my family. Yes, our motto should be upheld. There may be an argument in that family; there may be a trouble in that family; the family may fail; the family may lose, but after all, any family needs love, harmony, happiness and the power of unity. Violence should be ruled out in the Republic of Armenia for the sake of our martyrs. Settling political issues and resolving any other issue by force is to be ruled out in our country.
We have not ever had enemies inside Armenia, and we will never have any, which does not mean that law should not be enforced in our country, but legality will not be established in the Republic of Armenia as long as strong with the people’s will, we have not rooted out legislatively the practice of politicizing the judiciary and the Armed Forces. We could witness such a disgusting phenomenon in November-December, when some people tried to politicize the judiciary. All those who said that they were going to kill the Prime Minister and the government members were about to get indulgence, let alone the fact of not being arrested. People can be killed, but the truth cannot be killed. Those people will never again be in power in our country, because power is up to the people in Armenia, it only and exclusively belongs to the people.
And again, dear people, I suggest that we end our gathering with a march. Those gathered on Baghramyan Avenue are our relatives, our sisters are our brothers. Yes, they say bad things about us, but they are our sisters and brothers. It does not matter what they are saying.
I suggest walking the following route: we will walk along Mashtots Avenue, then we will go up Koryun Street; we will go down Abovyan Street; we will lay flowers at the statue of Myasnikyan in memory of the victims of March 1; we will say goodbye to each other and we will get back to our daily routine. And most importantly, please believe in the strength of the people. No one can stand against the people’s power whether by tank, by plane, or by nuclear weapons. People constitute an invincible force; people are powerful; the people are proud, and the people will triumph. Thank you all.”
The rally led by Prime Minister Pashinyan was concluded with a march in memory of the March 1 victims. Together with other participants in the procession, the Premier laid flowers at Myasnikyan’s statue and paid tribute to the victims.