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Speeches, Statements

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan’s remarks delivered at the opening session of “Small Transition Economies: Local Responses to Global Challenges” workshop

Dear Colleagues,

I welcome the participants and guests of the “Small Transition Economies: Local Responses to Global Challenges” workshop, which is co-hosted by the Armenian-Russian University (ARU) and Tel Aviv’s Boris Mints Institute.

I am convinced that such discussions, ideas and experience exchange result in solutions that are beneficial both for the academic world and for governments in the process of formulating and implementing reforms.

We must acknowledge that we are living in quite an exciting period where the classical theories and approaches sometimes fail solve the existing problems and their adaptation does not always give the predicted results.

Just as you go to practice in a large company or in a government, you often face the reality and the real environment where there are such factors as may escape the virtual models suggested in theory. There is a wide range of factors, such as geopolitical position, political situation, level of public confidence, indoctrination or isolation of the economy, etc.

This is exacerbated by another challenge: we live in a time when technology penetrates almost all areas of life, which we usually call the fourth industrial revolution. Today, we are talking about platform economies, online products, artificial intelligence, as well as cloud technologies and great data. Today we are talking about vertical gardens based on artificial intelligence, three-dimensional printing in the field of healthcare and great data-driven innovative solutions.

Thanks to great data and artificial intelligence, the GOOGLE platform allows us to learn faster about the spread of some diseases than the classic technology does. Today there is an orchestra with all its instruments made through three-dimensional printers. I do not know whether they are good or not, but the fact itself is quite impressive.

The above phenomena may pose a challenge for the educational system. In the fifties classical education was deemed to be the best type of higher education, where emphasis was placed on the thorough study of different theories. By the end of the eighties, education was subjected to transformation, with more emphasis placed on advanced training in specific disciplines. Now we find ourselves in another reality, with interdisciplinary education coming to the forefront - journalism and digital technologies, law and business, biology, information technology and so on.

Today, knowledge is provided not only through classical theories, but also through case studies. Today, we are shifting from fundamental science toward research and development, which can be commercialized. This brings us to a reality where any solution should be highly flexible and innovative.

We must constantly think of turning our shortcomings or gaps into assets. We must realize that the restrictions we face will prompt us to be smarter and find innovative solutions.

In view of the above and taking into account today’s realities, we have developed the program of our government. Now we are developing Armenia’s development strategy, the digital agenda of Armenia, as well as other policies. Based on these very circumstances and realities, we will build an independent, equitable, safe and intelligent Armenia.

We think that with its relatively small economy, Armenia might become the best platform for investors to enter the EAEU market, since while being a member of that club, we establishing a free economic zone on the border with the neighboring Iran and enjoy a GSP+ trade regime with the European Union.

Moreover, after signing the framework agreement with the European Union in November, Armenia will be the only country in the world to have a trade regime with both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. I think this can be an exciting advantage for us to attract investors.

We believe that the potential inherent in our relations with the Diaspora and the Diaspora’s participation in Homeland’s public life have not yet been used in full. We want Armenia to become a platform for Diaspora-based Armenians to create and invest. We will focus on the digitization of our governance system and economy, which will help us make the State machinery and the economy more efficient, competitive and transparent.

As a matter of fact, our advantage comes from the fact that we are a small nation, which gives us the opportunity to respond quickly to changes and be productive by changing rapidly.

Today’s forum is a convenient platform for discussing the aforementioned issues. We will henceforth be paying ever greater attention to platforms like this. Moreover, I want to state now that we have decided to regularly host economic and investment forums in Armenia starting next year to discuss the country’s problems and prospects.

I would like to once again greet the forum participants, welcome the guests and our young colleagues. We live in an extremely exciting period: you have fantastic opportunities. Changing the world and the country is an exciting challenge today. Always think that you are living in the most promising country.

I wish you every success. I want you to be courageous: don’t beware of any authority and always voice your own opinion. Be happy as you wake up every morning with the idea that you can change something in the world. I wish you all high spirits and good mood!