President Serzh Sarsgayn’s speech at the 14th extraordinary Convention of the Republican Party

Today, the President of the Republic of Armenia, Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan participated at the 14th extraordinary Convention of the RPA. The agenda of the Convention included the presidential nomination issue and Serzh Sargsyan was nominated as a presidential candidate. At the Convention Serzh Sargsyan made a statement.

 Statement by the President of Armenia, Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the RPA 14th Convention

 Fellow Republicans,

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you all at the extraordinary Convention of the Republican Party of Armenia. Today, we have the opportunity, before the Presidential elections, to assess the current situation, evaluate the efficiency of steps already taken and to chart our mid-term and long-term objectives. Let us try to recap what has already been done, understand where we stand now, and where we are headed.

Two decades ago, our nation received yet another chance to create its own independent statehood. And, thanks God, we did not miss it. In the first five years of independence our people endured immense hardship. Our people came out victorious in a war imposed upon them. Laid the foundations of a liberal economy on the ruins of collapsing economy. Created public administration structure characteristic of an independent state, and created the army. Often, encircled from many sides, sometimes entirely cut off from the world, within closed borders, it was able to move ahead by the intellect and vigor of its offspring: we have reaffirmed to ourselves and the world our ability to live independently. Our people have proven our right for existence in the 21st century; our right to have a state, our right to have a future. The first years of independence were the years of sweat and struggle, years of formation and creation. Through these very years the Armenian nation shaped the main rationale of our life and work for the decades to come: everything that is good and virtuous, controversial and contentious, leaning on the spiritual, intellectual and material values accumulated through preceding decades. We shaped it the way we could: as we desired, occasionally as we were compelled to.

In the following decades, our soldiers, workers, farmers, intellectuals and authorities have been able to solidify these achievements. Our people were able to preserve the achievements, make the Army and the state structures even stronger. We were able to create a stable financial system. Thanks to the unprecedented in our reality tempo of economic growth, we created the material prerequisites for development. Structures inherited from the Soviet era and created during the first years of independence were improved and modernized. The country undertook structural changes in the most vital areas of education and health care. The time was not simply favorable, it compelled and commanded these changes, it forced and induced to preserve and strengthen them.

Almost five years ago a new opportunity emerged for our state, for our people. Time offered a new starting point to our people. An opportunity and an imperative to make the structures formed in the preceding fifteen years deliver their best for the benefit of the people. As it often happens in history, this time too, the opportunity was accompanied, or rather was imposed upon us by demanding challenges. Our society shuddered from the outburst of social and political intolerance accumulated over years. Another war, which erupted in our neighborhood, shut down our borders. For a moment, the Armenian economy sagged under the impact of the financial and economic crisis. The problems and painful issues that had been set aside for almost fifteen years, piled up and demanded immediate resolution. The people, more than ever, were waiting to make the best of the benefits accumulated during the years-long period of favorable environment. Young people were demanding better housing and a better education, government employees – a dignified life. Citizens were demanding higher quality public services. Businesses were demanding a more predictable economic climate and less administration. The unemployed were demanding jobs. The workers were demanding confidence in the future. The insecure were demanding opportunities. The affluent were demanding dependability. And everyone was demanding justice and security.

To ignore the imperative of the time, fail to fulfill its demands was not an option. Nobody perceives this momentous truth with greater precision, than the political force which, through public trust, has voluntarily assumed the burden of governance: the Party, the Personality. And, together with you, we have been able to hear the call of the time.

We were able to bring the country out of the financial and economic crisis. We were able to ease the tax burden for small and medium enterprises. Were able to save thousands of jobs in the mining and construction sectors; provide a serious impetus to the creation of new jobs in food production and light industry; were able to keep our financial system intact; were able to do things that even much more powerful countries failed to accomplish.

Still during the crisis, we were able to contain the spike in energy, gas and water tariffs. We have built hundreds of kilometers of water and gas pipes, renovated rural roads and initiated the construction of an unprecedented highway infrastructure. We were able to take communication and information technologies to most remote corners of our country.

We gave the opportunity to hundreds of young families to buy homes and provided thousands of people in the earthquake zone with new housing. Thanks to the introduction of new systems of insurance, we were able to improve the well-being of government employees; were able to considerably improve the quality of public services for our citizens. The once problematic services today are comparable in their quality and administration to those in the most developed and civilized states. We have also been able to considerably advance the protection of the rights of the Armenian consumers. And, at last, it became possible to make maternity ward services free of charge, while medical care in general became more affordable. We brought modern, high-quality medical service to the marzes of Armenia; created guarantees for a dignified old age for working citizens through the introduction of a new funded pension system.

Rest assured that for our compatriots, who had left Armenia only years ago, Armenia has changed beyond recognition.

We have started, step by step, to marginalize the corruption and abuse that were getting rooted in our country for decades. We encouraged and promoted young and well-educated politicians and statesmen. We launched and brought to completion a number of critical official investigations. We put forth our collective will against connivance. We rejected outright a malicious practice of using force against journalists, opened up the media and restored the right of TV channels to access the spectrum. We dumped public communication from the position of strength and restored the right of people to be in opposition without labeling them traitors. We did not shy away from difficulty. We have commenced reforms in the most complex and important areas, starting with the Police and the judiciary. We demanded that our Police serve the people in a new way, conscientiously.

I assure you that the new generation of Armenian citizens will learn about impunity only from their parent’s memories.

Through the previous five years, together with you, we have been able to noticeably change our country. However, it is not enough, not enough at all. We have been able to make Armenia incomparably more attractive for businesses and a more dependable country for investments. However, there is much left to be done. We have been able to make Armenia a much more comfortable and safe country. Still much more will be done. Some of the problems have been fundamentally solved. The necessary steps have been taken or the solution of others. It will not take long for our citizens to see the results. We have set difficult targets. But we have chosen targets that will continue to make life in our country more prosperous and safer. Our society will become more equitable, and our state – more secure. All our steps are directed towards people, towards the citizens of Armenia. All our efforts are for the people, our compatriots, their well-being. We have never followed parochial partisan objectives. We take pride in finding solutions for exceptionally tough problems, and the achieved results. But each and every of these results requires a dozen, sometimes a hundred steps, steps which cannot be taken concurrently, because these steps must be taken also by others. These are steps which are commanded by the time. Very often, in solving intricate issues, you have to wait for your partners to make their move. Often you wait for each of them to make a step. However, as a rule, the results of such partnership are more tangible, durable and lasting. Many of our initiatives today have already yielded results. Nevertheless, we have launched many more initiatives, whose results will be observable for our citizens in the forthcoming years. Today, I would like to highlight our determination and will to bring them to a successful completion.

Dear Fellow Republicans,

We need to have a sound and forward-looking objective, which will allow to concur present challenges and move forward, ensuring a dignified and prosperous life for every citizen of the Republic of Armenia. Such an objective solidifies our conviction that our country will be competitive, endowed with an Armenia-oriented centripetal force. Together, we will be able to shape a country, which will be competitive enough to offer sufficient prosperity to its own citizens, will devoid of any sense a desire to earn a living abroad and will be able in a dignified manner to summon its children back – to return to a thriving Armenia. We are united by the idea that Armenia will be a much better place, far more equitable, freer, and much more prosperous. We have no alternative; we just have to build such an Armenia.

Today we have a mature battleworthy Army, which safeguards the security of our Motherland; we have established state and local governance institutions, a burgeoning civil society, and press which is freer than the press in many countries, including some developed ones of traditional democracy. The Armenian family, which went through the crucible of millennia, is our greatest value. A protected homeland and well-off families – these are the prerequisites of a well-organized state, and they will fulfill the objective of secure Armenia.

We are living in a region entangled in a web of consistent hatred and warmongering rhetoric, a region full of threats and hazards. Some countries even question the right of the Armenian people to live on their historical land. The probabilities of military conflicts in our region are rampant. Stopping the arms race and lifting the blockade remain high on our political agenda. Dividing lines, xenophobia and the inclination of some of our neighbors to solve issues through force or threats thereof will continue to be rejected. Implementation of regional programs while isolating Armenia is not viable and will hinder regional stability, security and development processes. We will continue our substantial contribution to the process of establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust in our region. No nation is perceived by the Armenian people as enemies. In the same spirit, the Armenian people anticipate that the authorities of neighboring states will stop their policy of denying Armenians the right of existence, sovereignty, stable and secure development, meanwhile pushing their own societies towards violence. At the same time, we are confident that the first and foremost guarantor of a secure Motherland is our Army. Maintaining peace in the region and thwarting military recklessness against our country depend on a precise and purposeful development of our defense potential, in accordance with modern standards of professionalism, discipline, transparency, and control.

Persistence in the reformation of internal security structures and assuring their compliance with modern requirements, prevention of external threats, as well as steps to ensure an adequate response will span comprehensive – intelligence, political, diplomatic, economic, information, if necessary, military and other measures.

The Armed Forces of Armenia will not engage in exhausting and passive defense, because they are capable, through their mobility and combat readiness, to extend security in the region and beyond, and the basis for that is already set by the excellent execution of combat tasks by our peacekeepers in different corners of the world.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia will continue to be supplied with modern weaponry and materiel, including that of domestic production. Priority will be assigned to multifunctional complexes combining observation, detection, targeting and destruction systems. In all this, the domestic military and industrial complex will play a crucial role, and its continual modernization will remain in the focus of the state’s attention.

Hazing and intimidation of fellow servicemen have no place in the Armenian Armed Forces. The Army personnel will become most educated and professional. Discipline will be based on mutual respect of servicemen and unconditional performance of orders with utmost sense of contributing to the defense of the Motherland. In all this, the commanders will serve as ultimate role models, who will lead by their personal example.

In building a secure Homeland, the role of foreign policy becomes ever more prominent. Today, the international involvement of Armenia is more inclusive, dynamic and interrelated than ever. Our bilateral and multilateral cooperation is expanding. The process of deepening diplomatic relations is going on. The legal framework of our international activities is becoming more comprehensive. Armenia is developing relations with almost all leading states, power centers, and regions. There emerge more and more favorable conditions for presenting the interests of our country, for the protection of the rights of our citizens, and for the involvement of our compatriots.

Our permanent attention will be focused on:

• Strengthening the external elements of security;
• A peaceful resolution of the Artsakh problem, based on the right of people for self-determination;
• Expansion of Armenia’s participation in the international political and economic cooperation and structures;
• Pursuing pan-Armenian agenda and adding daily momentum to the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide;
• Steps towards the preservation of Armenian cultural heritage;
• Development of partnership with the Russian Federation and implementation of programs to strengthen strategic cooperation;
• Development and expansion of friendly partnership with the United States;
• Continual policy of approximation with Europe, further strengthening of our relations with European countries;
• Other priorities of our foreign policy.

We will continue to promote and contribute to the implementation of all initiatives aiming at the formation of a positive agenda of international relations, which is concurrent with out national interests. We will remain faithful to the adopted spirit of the partnership and cooperation. For the world, Armenia will remain a trustworthy and predictable partner.

2015 will be a singular milestone for the entire Armenian nation, the year of the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide – in Armenia, Artsakh, the Diaspora, as well as for the progressive mankind. We will put our efforts into bringing the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide to a dramatically new level – the level of international structures, states, international community, including the Turkish society.

Another essential element of secure Motherland is the peaceful resolution of the Artsakh problem. This in non-negotiable: the destiny of Nagorno Karabakh will be decided solely by the people of Artsakh. The Nagorno Karabakh problem must be solved exclusively through peaceful means, through negotiations. At the same time, we are ready for a staunch putdown of any reckless scheme or encroachment, which may endanger our security.

Considering Azerbaijan’s destructive policy, persistent propagation of hatred towards Armenians, daily threats to use force, we will continue through all possible means to enhance security guarantees for Nagorno Karabakh and its population. We will carry on with the process of negotiations. Expressing our gratitude to the Co-Chair states of the Minsk Group for their efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict, we will at the same time continue to draw the attention of mediators and the international community to opportunities for the establishment and strengthening of confidence building measures, which could be helpful towards a peaceful resolution. Azerbaijan’s policy in general and, particularly, their refusal to withdraw snipers, refusal to put info force a mechanism for investigation of border incidents, the glorification of a murderer, inducement of xenophobia and racism, unreliable and hypocritical stance during negotiations are not conducive to the establishment of confidence building measures and, if left unchecked, will exacerbate the situation in the entire region. It would be reasonable and natural if Artsakh came to the table of negotiations as soon as possible, thus our efforts will be aimed at the expeditious resolution of that issue. Effective negotiations in a constructive atmosphere will become possible only when the parties to the conflict genuinely want to reach a just resolution of this issue, abandoning baseless maximalist claims.

Dear Colleagues,

Only fair Armenia can be secure. A “fair state” implies the ability to discuss with the citizens important issues and adopt fair decisions. A fair state must guarantee for everyone equal opportunities in politics, in the economy, and in cultural life; a fair state must ensure and enhance competition, at the same time protecting the most vulnerable social groups; a fair state must be able to forestall corruption efficiently.

Justice is based on the rule of law, on the ideas that recognize a person as the greatest asset, with everything that follows. Ensuring justice is the task for all state and local governance bodies; nevertheless it remains the primary task of the courts.

With this regard, we will continue to carry out fundamental, deep reforms, which, in a short period of time, will ensure accessible justice for our citizens, its real independence and efficiency.

We also realize that only free Armenia can be fair Armenia. In our country, pluralism, political liberties, freedom of speech have no alternative. This is an important principle, and we still have much to do to uphold and develop it.

Tolerance is the pillar of the political processes underway in our country. In the process of solving current issues we must rule out discrimination, suppression of dissent and other despicable manifestations. Constructive and responsible criticism is the promise of a healthy development of the political system. Development of a multiparty system and constructive dialogue between the political units are among important elements of a secure Armenia. In previous years, we have been implementing the policy of building bridges, and will maintain that principle in our agenda. The principle of national and social solidarity has no alternative.

Only ideological competition testifies to the maturity of the political systems of democratic states. We base our work on the national and democratic values and we also attach importance to stable relations with our partners in the Diaspora and its traditional political parties, which aim at the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora political ties and the creation of favorable conditions for reaching the Secure Armenia objective.

A stable and sound political system also implies assistance to the creation and development of civil society institutions. We are determined to get to the point when every citizen of Armenia is confident that his or her voice is heard, his or her criticism receives proper attention and is treated with respect. The mature state of civil society in our country is a fact. Non-formal associations of citizens for the solution of issues which concern them has become a factor which influences decisions of the authorities and serves as a unique balancing mechanism. We will continue to move forward in this direction.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the well-being of families remains an essential base of secure Armenia. We have to set serious goals for our economic, social, cultural, educational, health care, and equal territorial development policies.

Dear Fellow Republicans,

You have been handed the first draft of our program. We did it so that with your proposals and observations you make it a comprehensive and fundamental program. There is still sufficient time so you are requested to present your considerations to the Party office for reviewing so that the program is augmented and finalized.

I am grateful to my Party, to you and in your person to all members of the Party for nominating me for the upcoming Presidential elections. It is really very important for me. During these years, impressive steps have been made in a number of directions, which are yet to yield results and be brought to conclusion. This is very important for finishing what has been started.

The organization and conduct of good, fair elections is our first and foremost priority. We have received excellent reactions to our latest parliamentary elections. It is inspiring. Today, as a state, we are capable of conducting elections based on free competition, near absolute freedom of expression and unrestricted expression of will, and we are determined to move even further in that direction.

It is no secret that we have always been presenting ideas “in favor”, have never acted against an individual or a force, have been in favor of discussions and a wider dialogue, and have proposed avenues which in our opinion lead towards Armenia’s enhanced security, towards advancement and prosperity for our people. We will stay on that course in the future as well. By the Lord’s grace and by its tenacity, our nation has once again acquired its independent statehood and we will not fall behind the mainstream of the developed world. We have to ensure this. We must be able to create a secure Motherland for every citizen of the Republic of Armenia and care for the well-being of each family. There is no doubt in my mind that we will.

Armenia’s advancement is the only guarantee, which holds the promise of eternity for our nation, prosperity of our citizens, inviolability of our borders, our role and place on the international area, and our national identity.

Each new day in Armenia should be different from the previous, should be better. We will achieve the Secure Armenia with that very logic – a better Armenia, prosperous, conducive to living and create in, powerful and invincible Armenia, based on the concept of thriving families.

In Secure Armenia, everyone should be able to realize his or her dreams, reach personal, family and national goals, leaving behind all negative phenomena such as “privileged” individuals, monopoly, and connivance.

A Secure Motherland and thriving families – these are the objectives of our progress.

Dear Friends,

The Armenian statehood means a free and self-confident citizen. Degrading human dignity, deprivation of rights and destitution which, under previous administrations, used to be normal and regular, may not go on in independent Armenia. A citizen must feel safe and confident on the streets, in the work place, in a police precinct, and in the courtroom. A citizen of Armenia must be addressed in capital letters. This is to be taken in the literal as well as the metaphorical sense. It is the responsibility of any political force and, moreover, of the ruling Party, to contribute to the formation of a new Armenian. A new Armenian, who respects laws and who is confident that he is respected back.

It has been noted on many occasions that the Armenian Army is our dignity. That is really so. Today, I am saying even more: the entire Armenian state structure is our dignity. As a nation, we have things to tell the world, we have things to prove to ourselves and to the world. What can we prove to the world by offending and deceiving each other, by humiliating and undermining each other? There are many good things going on in Armenia, but very often these things go unnoticed unfairly, because there are also disgraceful things going on, which may disillusion even optimists. We have a fight to fight; and it is our fight.

Remember this: in any fight the one who is not resilient and patient is the first to give up and become disheartened. No one is allowed to dishearten citizens of Armenia. Desperation or disappointment of one single person means defeat in a wider sense. For that very reason, today, I declare: The entire state system in Armenia must embody Armenian dignity. Bad workers are those who possess neither human, nor national dignity, while our hard working officials can serve an example for foreigners. It is important to present ourselves to the foreigners in a dignified way; however, before presenting ourselves to foreigners, we must be able to present ourselves decently to the citizens of Armenia in a no less dignified manner. There is no issue that cannot be solved, as long as we are together. Success always comes when we converge our national efforts. Fast of slowly but it comes. Our failures start when we lack unity or, to put it bluntly, when we work against each other – and it doesn’t matter whether it is done in the open or covertly.

I appeal to all: Let us work and help each other, back each other, inspire each other with hope and faith. A member of the parliament and a citizen, the head of a region and a citizen, a policeman and a citizen, a minister and a citizen ought to work in this manner. In this case, everyone will enjoy that sense of security.

I would like to reiterate: The one who despairs first, loses the battle. No one should look for solution to this problem in close or distant shores. The solution is within us. We must be worthy of the memory of those who did their work virtuously. For being worthy of our greats, one doesn’t need to be a hero; one simply has to do his work diligently. Rest assured that this way you will be making Armenia one of the safest countries in the world. All political and civil forces in Armenia and in the Diaspora, and the Republican Party of Armenia in particular today, along with other tasks, have a mission – to reach agreement within themselves and with each other on issues of democracy in Armenia, the rule of law and all other related issues. These issues are part and parcel of the security of Armenian citizens.

Struggle for power is a natural phenomenon; however, no matter who is in power, the leader will face the same problems, which are the problems of Armenia and the entire Armenian nation. No matter who is in power, the leader will need agreement and broad public support to work more efficiently. Public accord is a force which can ensure incredible results for any good initiative. At the same time, that very force will always stop the ignorant and reckless, preventing them from conducting unjustified experiments in our country.

Dear Colleagues,

There is no doubt in my mind that we will win and will see the Armenia of our dreams – strong, prosperous, and secure. And it will be achieved not only because of some favorable external conditions. We will accomplish it ourselves, at our own expense. The intellectual and moral charge of the Armenian nation is not in the least exhausted. On the contrary, we have powerful sources to recharge from – in our near and distant past, as well as here and now.

When Leonid Azgaldian articulated his famous maxim, he meant not only Artsakh – he meant Armenia and the entire Armenian nation – This Is Armenia, period.

This is Armenia where we are raising a new generation. This generation will be stronger than us – mentally, physically and morally. No one is allowed to shut up young people and stop them from taking to the skies. They have serious things to do and will do it, but not before they realize the most important thing – this is Armenia, period.

This is Armenia where we have formed a powerful army which is not to be fooled around with. The Army is our iron anchor of safety, security, and eternity. This is the Armenia which those with unclouded reason are wary of. In the middle of the night, the posture of a young soldier standing in the mountain snow is telling everyone, this is Armenia, period. No one is allowed to disjoint Armenia behind his back! I have said this on many occasions, and will repeat for those who do not get it – no one is allowed. Patience, indulgence and tolerance have their limits. And we have set that limits precisely: these limits are the limits of Armenian law.

Let us not forget: This is the Armenia which is watched by millions of Armenians living abroad. They watch us with hope, desire and anticipation of positive changes. Sometimes, we are watched through a magnifying glass; they rejoice and despair with us, and they are right. The power of the Motherland is a great power. Let me give you one example: Once a French Armenian told me that in his workplace he never had the opportunity to tell his co-workers about his Armenian origins. But several days after the liberation of Shushi, he could not resist the temptation. He began speaking about his being an Armenian proudly and loudly. Our success can bring back even those who are headed towards assimilation. Only one thing is needed –people should not be embarrassed but proud of Armenia’s image, and that image is shaped by us. Whether French or Syrian Armenians – they all comprehend alongside all its problems this is Armenia, and that says it all.

Yes, there are many problems, but there also exists a power to solve those problems – our people, the masters and guardians of Armenia, of Armenia which today is embarking upon a new historic era. This new will era must not inevitably come through revolutions or wars. The experience of successful countries proves that achievement acquired without effort may be lost as casually. Only that which is created through peaceful and effective work shall be enduring. We have taken that unwavering course: that is exactly what we are doing.

I say: we will persistently cast aside everything that is bad and wrong in our work and in our daily life. Towards that end, we have already taken numerous steps, which are yet to yield results. The endgame starts now, the winning endgame.

This is new Armenia, period.
This is Armenia of the freedom of speech and democracy, period.
This is Armenia of the rule of law and respect for rights, period.
This is Armenia of economic freedom and competition, period.
This is Armenia responsible for all nations, all citizens living here, period.
This is Armenia that respects all of its international commitments, period.
This is Armenia that remembers its past, draws powerful charges from it, but also Armenia that jettisons old debris and creates a new history, period.

Long live Armenia!
Forward, towards secure Armenia!

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