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Democracy a strategy for Armenia։ PM Pashinyan participates in Copenhagen Democracy Summit

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the “Copenhagen Democracy Summit”. The Prime Minister made a speech and answered several questions at the discussion on “From the frontline: Armenia’s defense of democracy.”

In his speech, Nikol Pashinyan noted,

“Dear participants of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor and privilege to have this opportunity to share with you the challenges that Armenian democracy is facing. The good news is that democracy has indeed become a reality in Armenia, but what has changed for the citizens of Armenia by real democracy.

Before the 2018’s Velvet Revolution, in our country massive electoral frauds were the usual companion of elections. There was no trust among the citizens that there is a real chance for them to elect and form the parliament and government.

Now the situation is totally different; citizens know that they are powerful enough to decide. The two general elections that were held in Armenia after the Velvet Revolution have been acknowledged as democratic, free and competitive both by the Armenian society and the international community.

Armenia made huge progress in strengthening the democratic institutions. An achievement which is very well reflected in various reputable democracy indexes. Now we are the 43rd in the Reporters without borders’ Freedom of Speech index, compared to 79th place in 2017. Categorized as having partially free internet in 2017 by Freedom House, now we enjoy the status of a country with free internet. In the Transparency International’s Corruption’s perception index, Armenia is now at the 62 place instead of 107th in 2017. In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index now we are 84th compared to 111th in 2017.

In order to asses this progress it’s essential to note that alongside democratic reforms, Armenia has been contending with external security challenges. 44-days war in Nagorno-Karabakh, invasion of Azerbaijani troops into sovereign territories of Armenia in 2021 and 2022 and occupation of more than 200 square kilometers of Armenian territories with the indifference and inaction of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the forced displacement of more than 100 000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have casted doubts among Armenian citizens, weather democracy is the right choice or maybe democracy means less security?

So, democracy needs to prove its efficiency while dealing with security, economic and humanitarian challenges.

And we hope to see Global Democracy standing by us in addressing all those challenges. We are pleased with the deployment of EU monitoring mission alongside the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. And we welcome EU’s decision to expand its capacity. On the other hand, we hope for inclusion of Armenia into the European Peace Facility and in this regard, we rely on the support of all EU member states.

A new set of commitments aimed at strengthening Armenia’s economic resilience, state institutions and addressing humanitarian needs of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh has been taken on by European Union and United States during the high level meeting of President of European commission Ursula von der Lien, Secretary of State of USA Antony Blinken, and myself, which took place on April 5 in Brussels.

The rapid and effective implementation of those commitments is of utmost importance.
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Despite all the challenges we believe that the real and most aspiring companion for democracy is lasting and sustainable peace. And my government took the share of its responsibility for this. Recently we reached to an agreement with Azerbaijan to start the delimitation of our interstate borders on the basis of Alma Ata declaration of 1991.

That means that during the delimitation we should simply reproduce the administrative borders between Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan which became state borders according to Alma Ata declaration. The start of border delimitation is the implementation of agreement reached during the quadrilateral meeting of October 6 of 2022, between the President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of European Council Charles Michel, President Aliyev of Azerbaijan and me. Now it is time to incorporate and reflect those agreements in the peace treaty and have it signed.

Another key point for our regional stability is the «Crossroads of Peace», project, initiated by my government. This project implies that Armenia and Azerbaijan restore and open transport and other communications in accordance with the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries through which they pass, and comply with the principles of equality and reciprocity. These elements of the concept were agreed upon during the meeting of July 15 of 2023 between the President of Azerbaijan and myself, facilitated by the President of European Council Charles Michel, and are reflected in the public statement made by President Michel as a result of the meeting. We are ready to move towards the implementation of what has been agreed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before answering your questions, I would like to stress that Democracy is a strategy for Armenia. In democracy we believe, in democracy we live.

Thank you”.

Within the framework of the “Copenhagen Democracy Summit”, the Prime Minister answered the questions of moderator, Executive Editor of Politico in Europe Gordon Repinski.

Gordon Repinski – You mentioned the security situation of Armenia. Anders Fogh Rasmussen called your neighbor an autocracy. You are in a very difficult geopolitical and geographical position. How do you solve the security problem in that environment?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – To be honest, I would not like to comment on the internal situation of our neighboring countries. But on the other hand, as I said, democracy did not arrive in Armenia due to circumstances. I believe that it fully corresponds to the mentality of our people. It is a strategy for our government, it is our political belief, it is also our political identity.

The members of our political team have spent most of their lives fighting for democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech. Now we have the opportunity to realize all these values in our country. But of course, the security situation was complicated, and now it is more complicated not only because of our regional situation, but also because of the global situation, because obviously the world order is collapsing at the moment.

My assessment is, and I have had occasion to say this publicly, that the war that took place in our region was, in a way, a prelude to further developments. And now the main issue is security.

What is our strategic point of view, how are we going to guarantee the security of our country? Recently, I gave a speech in our parliament, where I said that, in my opinion, the most important tool for ensuring security is a legitimate foreign policy. This is the reason why we so often speak about the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration.

I would like to inform the audience what the Declaration of Alma-Ata is about. It was adopted by 12 Soviet Republics, where some very important ideas are mentioned. First, the Soviet Union ceases to exist and the administrative borders between the Soviet Republics become state borders as the Soviet republics become independent countries.

It is very important that on October 6, a quadrilateral meeting was held in Prague with the participation of the President of France, the President of the European Council, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, where two very important agreements were reached. First, Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty on the basis of the Alma-Ata Declaration, and the Alma-Ata Declaration sall serve as the basis for the demarcation between the two countries. This is the reason why I said that we have no problem of drawing a new border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We just need to reproduce the existing border on the ground. This process is happening right now, and I hope that we will continue it steadfastly.

Gordon Repinski – The border conflict that has occurred in recent years has had a negative impact on relations with Russia and Russia’s role for Armenia. What would you say about this?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – You know that Armenia is a member of CSTO. Now we are also officially a CSTO member, but I have announced that we have frozen our participation.

Gordon Repinski – So are you still a member or…?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – It is a matter for further discussion, but it is very important to record the current situation. A crisis arose in our relations from that very point, when Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenia, and according to CSTO procedures, the Organization and its member states had to support Armenia in this situation. But even after the formal application, the CSTO refused to take any concrete steps, and in fact, that is the main reason for freezing our participation in the CSTO at all levels.

Gordon Repinski – 
Do you expect the West to occupy the current vacuum and ensure your security?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Our political position and policy is that we are diversifying our foreign relations in all spheres. Now we are developing defense cooperation with India, France and other countries. Now we have a certain cooperation with the European Union, because as I mentioned, we are happy about the deployment of the EU Civilian Observation Mission on the border between us and Azerbaijan. Of course, it is a civilian mission, but on the other hand, in a way, it is a new factor for the security of our region. This is the first time that the European Union participates in the security agenda of the Republic of Armenia in any way.

Gordon Repinski – Would you like to become a EU member?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan –
 Now we are waiting for the EU’s decision to include Armenia in the European Peace Facility. We also hope to start visa liberalization negotiations, and last year I announced in the European Parliament that Armenia is ready to be as close to the European Union as the European Union deems it possible. This is our position.

Gordon Repinski – Now a question from the audience, which is also about your opportunities to get closer to Europe. Can you elaborate on what initiatives Armenia is taking in the fight against corruption?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – As I said, we have made huge progress in the fight against corruption, but unfortunately, we cannot say that we have eradicated corruption from Armenia. But what to do: to continue, to be firm, and to be persistent in the agenda of democratic reforms. This is the reason why cooperation with the European Union is of utmost importance for us, because today the European Union is our main partner in the implementation of our democratic reform agenda.

We hope that the European Union, as well as the USA, will increase their support to Armenia in the implementation of democratic reforms, because, as I said, democracy is a strategy for us.

By the way, in 2019 we started a Strategic Dialogue with the USA, and today we see the strengthening of our cooperation with the European Union. I also mentioned that we recently had a tripartite meeting with the participation of the USA, EU and Armenia, by the way, it was an unprecedented format, where we adopted a huge agenda of institutional and economic reforms. It is also very important that we received more and more tangible support from the EU and the US to address the humanitarian needs of the Nagorno Karabakh refugees, which is also very important, because it is a very sensitive and emotional issue for us.

Gordon Repinski – And the last question. In which year would you like Armenia to become a member of the EU?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – This year.

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