On the occasion of a New Year and Holy Christmas, a holiday reception was held today on behalf of the President of Armenia at the Presidential Palace for the representatives of the mass media of Armenia. President Serzh Sargsyan congratulated and made good wished to the journalists present at the reception, in their persons all journalists and media workers, and their families.
Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan at the New Year reception organized for the journalistic community
I cordially salute you on the occasion of our end-of-the-year meeting. I am very glad for the opportunity to see and congratulate you on the approaching New Year.
First, I would like to speak about the passing year 2016. The year was destined to become an emblematic one because we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our independent statehood. I would like to note that our country differs positively from many others, upholding the freedom of speech and mass media. Even in the heat of war, there was no military censorship in the Republic of Armenia. Martial law constantly temps some to succumb to that temptation. However, in Armenia there exists a national agreement that any restriction on the freedom of speech is unacceptable. This is one of our most important institutional achievements which we have to protect and cherish together.
I wish the year would be exceptional only for that magnificent jubilee. However, it is well-known that this year we have faced two most obvious for everybody challenges – one of them external, the other internal. The first one is, of course, the Four-day war in April. Some cannot live with the victory the Armenian people in the war imposed on us. From time to time we hear them to grit their teeth, while this year the gritting became a revanchist itch. The heroic sons of the Armenian nation have thwarted the perfidious designs of the enemy.
At this point, I cannot help but speaking with admiration about the united and unified spirit of the Armenian people which had manifested itself pronouncedly in those days. Despite possible ideological or other differences, in those days our nation became one iron fist.
There are issues which belong to the realm of the national accord and the first among them is undoubtedly the future of our heroic Artsakh. On this issue our differences are negligible, minor. I don’t believe that even one percent of our people think otherwise.
We all desire for the people of Artsakh to be able to decide their own destiny, their ultimate status.
I thank you for your work in those days, I thank you for your solidarity.
The next, this time internal challenges unfolded in July, after a group of criminals made an assault on the police station and took hostages. On this episode I have already given my precise assessment and, I believe, I haven’t shunned from any of the sharp angles. I have also given my precise assessment on the works of the journalists and incidents of violence against them even though some are trying to find something in these assessments and claim that the President said “forget about it.” I believe that at least 95 percent understand what was the real meaning behind those words.
I am deeply confident that in Armenia problems are not solved through violence. This is another premise on which we have to reach national agreement too. Very often words pave the way for violence which means we need to be free and truthful and also reserved in our pronouncements.
I am certainly informed regularly that the Armenian media outlets are looking for the modes of self-regulation in order to address this issue. Insults, labeling, and fabrications are utterly unacceptable contrivances.
Nowadays we see that false news have become a challenge even for the most democratic societies. It is simply impossible to control the diverse and decentralized information realm.
I never anticipate a control over the information realm; but I do anticipate free, independent and responsible work; I anticipate that you will come up with the self-regulation initiatives to “separate the wheat from the chaff.” I am ready to stand next to you without interfering into your agenda or imposing anything.
The parliamentary elections of 2017 are approaching. In one of my most recent statements I said that we need impeccable elections and a National Assembly formed exclusively through such elections.
In process, I expect you too to take your mission with the same sense of responsibility. I expect you to be not only free and independent but also, as we always say, truly unbiased and fair, but not a tool in the pre-election struggle.
Bidding farewell to year 2016, I congratulate you all on the approaching holidays of New Year and Holy Christmas. I wish you good health and happiness, bliss and peace to your families and friends. And I wish new creative endeavors in your professional activities and the most importantly, I wish you to find peace with your own selves. This is one of the most important things.