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‘CEPA is of paramount importance to success of reforms in Armenia’ - PM addresses European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

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‘CEPA is of paramount importance to success of reforms in Armenia’ - PM addresses European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan who is in Brussels on a working visit today visited the European Parliament. The Premier was greeted by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David McAllister.

Prime Minister Pashinyan addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee with a speech, in which he stated:

“Chairman McAllister,
Distinguished members of the European Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored and privileged to address the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

After the Velvet Revolution it is the first opportunity for the Armenian Prime Minister to speak at the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Hence, I would like to focus, in particular, on the fundamental changes that already happened and are currently taking place in my country. I will also speak about the challenges that we are facing today and about our goals and plans for the future.

Distinguished colleagues,

Armenia is currently undergoing changes which are unprecedented in their nature and magnitude - changes that are completely transforming our political and economic landscape.

Last spring a nonviolent revolution occurred in Armenia. Armenian people, guided by the slogans of love, tolerance and fraternity, stood up to protect their political rights and build a society in conformity with their ideals and values.

They opted for democracy and pluralism, for justice and equality. They spoke against corruption and a political system based on a client-patron relationship. They stood against the elite which monopolized the political and economic life of the country; against oligarchic economy, and against those who established and exploited extractive institutions leading the country to a standstill.

Velvet Revolution restored democracy in Armenia!

The snap parliamentary elections, held last December, reinforced our achievements. Those political forces behind the revolution won a landslide victory. We gained an overwhelming support of the Armenian people – more than seventy percent of the votes.

For the first time in about twenty-five years, the elections held in Armenia were not contested by any political party. It is equally important to say that the recent elections obtained the best possible assessment of the European observers who hailed them as free, fair, and transparent.

I am confident that the victory of democracy is irreversible in our country! My confidence is based on the following premises. First, ideas of freedom and democracy have deep roots in the core values of our people. Armenia was one of the first countries where a nation-wide popular movement arose against the former communist regime back in late 1980s.
The restoration of our independence in 1991 was indisputably aimed at establishing society based on constitutional democracy, rule of law, and liberal values. The distortion of democracy, which we witnessed in our country during the last twenty years, happened as a result of a deviation from the initially chosen path of development. It originated from a wrong and misleading interpretation of our traditional set of values and aspirations.

Second, the democratic transformation in our society is based on a wide social demand coming from all layers of the Armenian society and the six-million-strong Armenian Diaspora worldwide.

This progressive process was born out of the will and aspirations of our people. Moreover, it had nothing to do with outside forces. It did not produce any tectonic shifts in our foreign policy nor originated any changes in our foreign policy strategy. Armenia remains committed to its foreign policy obligations and partners.

Third, democracy is not merely one of the viable options for us. Rather, it is a matter of security for us. We believe that for our people and our political culture it is true to claim that democracy provides for stronger and more efficient economic and political institutions, which constitute an important precondition for the development of country.

Therefore, we couldn’t afford the luxury of under-developed institutions which previously existed in our country. They caused economic inefficiency impeding the progress of our country. Promoting our economic and political institutions became an imperative in Armenia. It has no alternative today.

We need democracy in order to be competitive in the 21st century! However, democracy needs to be protected and reinforced. What are the main challenges that we are facing today?

First of all, it is the poverty which still exists in our country. Today, the people who live under the poverty line make up about one third of our total population. They constituted the main social basis for fraud elections and electoral bribes that we were witnessing in the past.

In our society there is an obvious correlation between economic development and democracy. Erosion of the middle class was actually accounting for the decline of democracy that we witnessed in the past. Thus, a strong and viable middle class is considered to be one of the main prerequisites for sustainable democracy in Armenia, and the economic revolution is chosen, therefore, as the next goal of our Government and the cornerstone of its Program. With this view in mind, we have adopted and already started implementing an ambitious reform agenda.

As I mentioned on many occasions, among the current priorities of the Armenian Government are the fight against corruption, eradication of monopolies, elimination of poverty, consolidation of the independent judiciary system, establishment of rule of law, and a level playing field for all economic and political actors.

We are going to put in force a package of robust measures to reform our tax and custom systems.

We also focus on reforming our education system. People should be able to live and create in a rapidly evolving and shrinking world, in which progress is driven by knowledge.

I am proud to inform you that a lot of visible changes have already occurred in our country over the past few months. For example, we have already eradicated systemic corruption in Armenia.

The power of monopolies and existing oligopolies in Armenia has already been strongly reduced. Today, there is nobody in Armenia able to use political influence to achieve economic goals anymore.

Distinguished Colleagues,

While implementing our reforms policy we are stumbling on obstacles. One thing is clear in this regard: implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union is of tremendous importance for the success of our reforms!

The value and the attractiveness of this initiative are in achieving its objectives exclusively through the implementation of reforms. CEPA is a reform-generating tool. The fulfillment of its provisions will entail qualitative changes in many areas of our society.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to assure you that the Government of Armenia is resolute to take all necessary measures to implement the CEPA. We are determined to conduct an active and fruit...

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