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Official News

Thursday, 9 June 2011

T. Sargsyan: “Civil society should be built if we are to see fundamental changes in our countries”





On June 8, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan delivered a statement at the Vienna World Economic Forum during a session entitled “Eyeing Russia” which was devoted to the prospects of economic reforms in the Russian Federation, Russia’s accession to the WTO, the customs union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, the integration processes and economic problems.

The Prime Minister touched on the following key issues: the role of the State in shaping a pricing policy, establishment of innovational centers, improving the investment environment, implementing institutional reforms, combating corruption as a prerequisite for economic development and innovation.

As the Prime Minister said, corruption and the investment environment are not seen as major impediments to transnational corporations which prioritize the predictability of a State’s political future. According to Tigran Sargsyan, the investment environment is first of all necessary to domestic economic entities, small and medium-size businesses. “Middle class is impossible without developing small and medium-size enterprises. In turn, civil society cannot be achieved without the latter. Therefore, civil society should be built if we are to see fundamental changes in our countries. Thus, it turns out that small and medium-size enterprise should be fostered as a check on corruption on the way to building a civil society,” the Prime Minister noted.

In Tigran Sargsyan’s words, structural reforms are the key remedy against corruption. Authorities need to display strong political in fighting against corruption. “But where is the source of such political will? It may turn up with one’s confidence in the correctness of its programs. If those in power come to be convinced that what they do is for the good of the country, people and the future in general, they continue on the path of reform,” the head of government stated.

According to Tigran Sargsyan, many processes underway in Russia influence the overall situation in Armenia due to the community of common economic space, mentality and cultural environment.

Concerning Armenia’s possible membership to the customs union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, the speaker reminded that the Armenian side has repeatedly stated its reluctance to such a scenario for economic considerations. As a WTO-member country, Armenia has been abiding by sufficiently liberal export-import and fiscal policies since 2003. “It is obviously pointless to be a member of a customs union with which we have no common borders. The global experience provides no record of a country joining a customs union in the absence of common borders as in this case would be impossible to get the projected economic gain due to the fact that in clearing their goods and commodities such countries would have to deal with third countries. Moreover, in this event we would be compelled to revise all our customs rates to bring them into conformity with the ones applicable in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This implies making specific changes to the overall structure of the economy which is not an easy task,” Tigran Sargsyan noted.

Answering the questions of forum participants, the head of government made the following statement concerning the government’s role in pricing policy: “In my opinion, while trying to adjust prices, the States may run the risk of looking like Baron Munhausen who used to pull himself out from a pit by tugging on his own hair. Why? As stated above, governments can only succeed if they have a watchdog in the person of civil society monitoring their activities. Corruption turns up in the absence of civil society. On the other hand, the State, the government should understand that it is in their best interest to build up a civil society. From this point of view, in transition economies the State should be prepared to phase over its functions to civil society. This is a very painful process as corrupt systems strive to build on their vested powers in search of new opportunities.

Understanding that this is a dangerous disease, well-informed governments transfer many State functions to emerging self-organized societies. This is just the type of State needed in transition countries,” Tigran Sargsyan said.

One of the questions bore on the Karabakh peace process. “We are interested in the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations,” Tigran Sargsyan said adding that the OSCE Minks group has come closer to success as evidenced by the recent statement of US, French and Russian presidents. According to the head of the Armenian government, the main principles stipulated in the aforementioned statement are acceptable to Armenia which is prepared to display political will in search of a speedy agreement.

“In our opinion, all necessary preconditions are available for this. It is up to our Azerbaijani partners to display political will by signing a framework agreement as a basis for further talks,” the Prime Minister stated.
 

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