In these moments of the start of the New Year, our thoughts and hearts are first of all with our brothers and sisters and their families who sacrificed their lives for the homeland.
After the tragedy of the 44-day war of 2020, in many families that had lost their sons, babies were born: our martyrs fallen on the battlefield are being reborn.
They are reborn in the literal sense, because many newborns in 2021 bear the name, surname and patronymic of their martyred brother. Same name, surname, patronymic.
This is a profound revelation, the victory of life, the embodiment of mythology. born in 2001, dead in 2020, reborn in 2021.
I want to bow first to the fathers and mothers who have made such a decision, because they give a new impetus not only to their families, but also to our homeland, to live, to overcome despair, to believe in the future and to live for the future.
Encouraged by this process and taking into account the wishes of many families, the Government will launch a state program to restore reproductive health in the families of the victims starting from January 2022. And in all cases where it is not possible to fully restore reproductive health, the families of our martyred children will have the opportunity to apply to state-funded surrogate mothers.
From January 1, 2022, the program of state support for the third and each subsequent newborn starts, according to which each family, regardless of their social status, will receive 50 thousand AMD monthly state assistance for the third and each subsequent newborn until the age of six.
I am saying all this to show that the Revival is a state policy, and Revival should be the motto of 2022. I hope that in many of our families, babies named after martyrs that are relatives, friends, or even strangers will be born in 2022.
Such decisions, of course, are connected not only with financial, but also with more socio-psychological factors. Such decisions are made primarily by believing in the future, and restoring, strengthening and developing faith in the future is our greatest mission.
The success of the policy of opening an era of peaceful development for our homeland and the region is a way to strengthen faith in the future, and though we realize that it is not up to us alone, we will consistently pursue that path to change the situation and atmosphere around the Republic of Armenia and our region. Ensuring security is our biggest challenge today, and experience shows that peace is the most reliable way to ensure security.
Parallel to this, the key issue is the reform of our Armed Forces, the army. Armenia must have a professional army, moreover, with more and more involvement of women. In the strategic perspective, conscription should be significantly changed, transforming into mandatory combat training exercises, which should take place several times in a lifetime, with a certain frequency.
I want to emphasize that politically our army will not set a task of conquering territories, its task is to protect the security and territorial integrity of our country.
All the steps of the Government are aimed at revival and a peaceful future. The opening of regional communications, the delimitation and demarcation processes of the borders, yes, contain many risks, but also many opportunities, and our policy is aimed at managing and neutralizing the risks, and using the existing opportunities.
The settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the full protection of the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh is our strategic goal.
Our Government has always stood with Artsakh before and after the war. In 2021 alone, the Government provided more than 128 billion AMD ($ 267 million) in assistance to Artsakh. According to the 2022 budget, we plan to allocate more than 144 billion AMD ($ 300 million) to Artsakh, and we must also think about mechanisms to make these allocations and their use more effective.
2021 was a difficult year, which began with the socio-psychological and political crisis caused by the horrors of war. At times, it seemed that post-war unrest would escalate into chaos and civil clashes. But I want to note also that 2021 became a proof of the viability of Armenia and the Armenian people, because to the surprise of many, we were able to return the process to a full political course, giving the citizens of the Republic of Armenia the opportunity to express themselves and make decisions of their own free will.
The early parliamentary elections in 2021 received great international attention because the international community still finds it astonishing that Armenia was able to hold free, fair, and democratic elections in such conditions.
Today, yes, the international community sees Armenia as a leading force for democracy, and this is an achievement that we must not lose. Our task is to make democracy, the assessment of being democratic, a real factor for the security, prosperity and development of our country. Democracy should become the driving force of revival and the future. Armenia once again demonstrated its commitment to democracy and democratic values in the local elections in the period of October-December 2021.
And yes, democracy, the rule of law, the protection of human rights must be inviolable in our country, the opportunities for individuals to live freely, to create, to work and achieve results should be supported and promoted.
In this regard, the reforms we are implementing in the field of education and science are of fundamental importance to us, because the opportunity will remain just an opportunity if we do not give our citizens the ability to use it. And this can be done only through the development of education, science and technology. In 2021, the voluntary teacher certification program was successfully launched, as a result of which the salaries of many teachers have already increased by 30 to 50 percent. The process of voluntary certefication will continue in 2022, thus not only increasing the attractiveness of the teacher’s work, but also creating guarantees that only properly qualified teachers will enter the classroom, whose work will make our children and generations more competitive.
Our program of building, reconstructing or renovating 300 schools and 500 kindergartens has already started. In 2022, we will have more than 100 schools and at least 100 kindergartens that will be in this process. We are making some changes to the formulas of the subsidy programs to be implemented in the communities in order to further expand the opportunities of building kindergartens for the communities.
With the 2022 state budget, we have increased science funding by more than 80 percent. From January 1, the salaries of science workers will increase, please focus on this, by 40 to 165 percent, but that is not all, and the process will continue until 2026. With this we make the scientific work attractive for young people, but we also encourage the scientific community to make a more active and greater contribution to the development of our country.
I do not want to overfill this New Year message with additional data, nor do I want to create an impression that everything is great. It is clear that we have not overcome the shock of war and will not overcome it for a long time. This situation is exacerbated by the ongoing epidemic of COVID-19, the economic consequences of which are now being felt by everyone more than in 2020. Unprecedented global inflation, which is a consequence of the restrictions imposed due to COVID in 2020-21, has entered everyone’s home and most citizens today are living worse than at the beginning of 2020.
But our response to the consequences of the war and COVID must be thinking, working, efforts. Thinking, working, efforts. This is what we should make of they year of 2022, the year of Armenia’s real and strategic growth. As a result of the war, we are at a zero point, and perhaps it is time for time to work in our favor. Raise the toast for free, peaceful, revived and reconstructed Armenia and Artsakh.
Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!