The year 2022 is passing and minutes later 2023 will knock on our door, opening a new era in the life of each of us and our country.
This is why we love the New Year. it is a cosmic and psychological threshold, beyond which we hope to leave all our failures, all our mistakes and losses, and see our dreams realized.
This childish idea of the New Year accompanies a person throughout life, until the point when a person understands that a dream can be called a strategy in another way, and the fulfillment of the dream – a program of activities, something that is exclusively in your domain of activities, and on the way to realization of that dream, you must rely on yourself, only on yourself, and therefore your dream and actions must be precise, extremely precise, measurable and achievable.
This is perhaps what venerable old man, Yeghishe Charents, had in mind when he wrote the novel “Yerkir Nairi”, which is a little-read and little-understood message among us, and today, perhaps, we bear the heavy consequences of reading it little and even less understanding it. The public activity of Hovhannes Tumanyan, the pinnacle of the Armenian mind and soul, is understood at a lesser extent, forgetting which has distorted our understanding of national and state interest.
I want to declare 2023 as the year of reading strategic pieces of Charents and Tumanyan, as a key message and strategy for state accomplishment, as a prescription for reconciliation with ourselves, as a way to formulate our dreams as a strategy and perceive the strategy as a dream, as a tool to understand what is happening to us these days. And the following is happening. we are fighting to have an independent, sovereign, prosperous and secure state, specifically a state. We are in the biblical exodus and we are walking through the desert, moving from the Land of Nairi to the Republic of Armenia of a very specific shape and size of 29,800 square kilometers. This is a difficult and dangerous, but also inevitable journey for the sake of salvation, for the sake of the Republic, for the sake of statehood.
There is only one formula for solving the very pragmatic problem of having a sovereign, strong and secure state. we must be able to change the quality of our relations in our region, first of all, in our region, an extremely difficult political, historical and socio-psychological thing to do, in an environment where we are very often threatened, very often pierced and very often killed.
But our today’s dialogue is about what exactly we have to do, not others, and the formula for action is one: to love the motherland according to Charents and according to Tumanyan. This means loving the Republic of Armenia as a motherland and putting it at the base of all actions, all dreams, all strategies.
2022 was a year of severe challenges.
The illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor has put our brothers and sisters of Nagorno Karabakh, all of us, in a difficult situation. I have already spoken many times about the political assessment of this situation and possible solutions. At this moment, I want to strongly hug our brothers and sisters under siege and tell them that they are the important addressees of the message about changing the quality of relations in the region, and this is an exceptional hour for pondering for all of us.
The aggression against the sovereign territory of Armenia from May 2021 to September 13 of 2022 was doubly painful because our security allies left us alone, preferring to remain in the status of passive observer or offering active observer status as an alternative.
But we were not left alone in the world and I want to thank those countries and international organizations who were not indifferent to this situation and, having no obligation to our country, took unprecedented decisions to support the establishment of security and stability in our region.
And most importantly, today I kneel before all our martyrs, their parents and family members, their children, and my message is first of all dedicated to them, who are the strongest symbol of the future of the Republic of Armenia, because they died for Armenia to live, the fell for Armenia to rise.
This is the reason why our response to global and regional storms and new security challenges is asymmetric. The more the challenges intensify, the more we focus on the institutional, socio-economic, political, democratic reforms, development agenda, because it is the only way that will increase our resilience today and ensure tomorrow’s prosperity.
In this sense, 2022 was a year of exceptional achievement. Armenia ranked 11th in the world ranking of economic freedom, receiving international recognition as a leading country in investment and economic freedom. This happened as a result of the fact that, against all odds, the government remained committed to implementing systemic reforms.
As a result, we are concluding the year with double-digit economic growth, which is an exceptional penomenon of international level in a year of global crisis, and will increase the international visibility of the Republic of Armenia like it happened in 2019.
Registered jobs in Armenia crossed the threshold of 700 thousand. another unprecedented result in the history of the Third Republic. Thus, we can record that since the victory of the People’s, velvet, non-violent revolution of 2018, around 153 thousand new jobs have been created in Armenia. It is important to note that compared to November of last year, the average salary of one worker in November of this year increased by about 45 thousand drams or 20 percent, which means that the fears that Armenia will face a social crisis in the conditions of global inflation did not come true.
On the contrary, there is a construction boom in the Republic of Armenia, a housing construction boom. Tens of thousands of families are getting apartments in newly built buildings, including with the support of the Government. In 2022, we refunded 36.5 billion drams of income tax to the families purchasing apartments, in addition to 22.7 billion drams of the previous year.
In addition, thousands of young families benefited from mortgage loan support programs for the birth of a baby. In 2022, the amount of support under this program reached 2.1 billion drams. More than 10,000 third and every subsequent child receives 50,000 drams monthly assistance from the state, over 10.000 children.
I would like to highlight our plan to build 300 schools and 500 kindergartens, which is already launched and is gaining momentum. During 2022, we commissioned 24 schools and 46 kindergartens that have been overhauled, reconstructed or newly built. Hundreds of new schools and kindergartens are under construction, reconstruction or major renovation. This is an integral part of the institutional reforms taking place in the country, which have not only educational, managerial, security, but also a deep historical and socio-psychological context.
The large-scale reforms we are implementing in the police system are important, the most visible result of which is the introduction of the Patrol Police with new standards in Armenia.
The deep and comprehensive reforms that have been launched in the army are of key importance. The formation of army based on a literate, patriotic, professional soldier and officer that meets modern requirements and conditions has started, which should be combined with at least doubling of military salaries, a system of social guarantees for soldiers and their families, and new weapons and equipment. But we need such an army not for war, but for peace, to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not set eyes on others’ land and we expect others not to set eyes on our land either, and with this rformula we are ready to go to peace.
I also consider the large-scale events that we held in Armenia in 2022 to be important. European Boxing Championship, Junior Eurovision, Starmus International Festival, International Biology Olympiad. These are events, by holding which, we appear to the world in a new way and the world recognizes Armenia in a new way.
My dear citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
We bring all this to life primarily thanks to the unprecedented growth of tax revenues in the state budget. The tax revenues of the 2022 state budget amounted to 1 trillion 925 billion drams, which is 670 billion drams, or 53 percent, or one and a half billion dollars more than the same indicator of 2018. But this index is primarily thanks to working, value adding people, tax-paying entrepreneurs of the Republic of Armenia, and I want to thank them for not considering the taxes paid to the state budget a financial loss, but an investment in the future of their state, themselves and their children.
It is with those funds that we repaired more than 500 kilometers of roads in 2022, started the process of doubling teachers’ salaries, launched a satellite into space for the first time in the history of the Third Republic, buy new buses and trolleybuses for the capital, raised the minimum salary, in line with our promise, we have established an airline, raised the salaries of scientists, increased the funding of science by 150 percent compared to 2018, increased pensions from September 2022 and will increase them again from July 2023. Moreover, in the case of cashless trade, we have refunded about 527 million drams to pensioners and beneficiaries, and I want to express special thanks to the banks that participate in the program on an equal basis with the Government.
Thanks to these additional budgetary funds, in 2022 we served 786,000 state-ordered health care cases, which is more than double compared to 2017, by 437,000 cases or 125 percent more.
And why do we do all this? For one reason, and one reason only, because we love you, we love our country. I love you all, I love our country, our state, and where I make mistakes and stumble, where I fail, it is because of the love that might be excessive, which maybe overshadows intelligence. But in the end, love is more and all-powerful, and we will bring our ship, the Republic of Armenia, to a peaceful harbor in the stormy ocean.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!