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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s Speech at the Sitting of the EPP Political Assembly

RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s two-day working visit to Brussels continues. Today the Head of the Government delivered a speech at the sitting of the EPP political assembly.
Dear Mr. President, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to once again have the opportunity to appeal to the European People’s Party and the pan-European political force.
As the Prime Minister of Armenia, I would like to share with you the challenges and opportunities in a large-scale image, within the framework of which RA Government implements its political actions.
We are lucky to have a mutual agreement between the political forces and the society in Armenia about the fundamental principles and values on which we are building our country. And thinking about what connects us with the European Union I have come to the conclusion that it is the value system, which has formed around our Christian roots and our common perception of justice, equality and fair society.
However, at the present, there is a rift between the declared values and reality in Armenia. Despite the fact that we have more common values and traditions with Europe, the legacy of centuries of Ottomans Empire and the Soviet Union had formed the core of our social behavior. However, we believe that the democratic reforms have the potential to change that. They begin with the improvement of electoral processes, increasing property rights reads, guarantees of judiciary independence, promotion of creation of the middle class and formation of an economically and socially responsible class of voters. This is the foundation upon which our Government builds its reforms agenda. In the modern world changes take place faster than ever. Therefore, Armenia should speed up the implementation of institutional reforms. It is obvious that EU's technical and financial assistance is going to play a significant role in order to ensure rapid and substantial progress. In this context the EU's Eastern Partnership is a vital tool that can promote the transformation process. We reaffirm our intention to develop further economic and political integration with the EU and we express our gratitude for the assistance. Currently, we are negotiating with the EU over the Association Agreement, and are launching deep and comprehensive free trade agreement negotiations.
With the EU support we have already implemented a number of important projects. In particular, I would like to mention the fact of creation of strong and independent human rights defense in Armenia. We have also invested e-governance in all the RA Government institutions. Electronic tax reporting system is an important tool for improving the business environment and reducing corruption risks. Moreover, we have established a one of the simplest systems of business registration, promoting the process of starting a business in Armenia.
Currently, two other important projects are underway, “Support to the Justice” and “Support to the accessibility of Justice in Armenia.” EU and its advisory group pay special attention to the economic and judicial reforms in Armenia.
Abut the negative; the geopolitical risks, that continue to spread in the South Caucasus, seriously distort the potential of our reforms. The unresolved conflict of Nagorno Karabagh as well as the absence of diplomatic relations with Turkey is serious threats to our regional stability and security. These two factors, plus the closed borders with Turkey drastically reduce the possibilities of diversification of the economy.
I would like to emphasize our willingness to continue the dialogue with Turkey without preconditions, with the intention to establish diplomatic relations. The existence of closed borders in the 21st century is an absurd situation. It is absolutely incompatible with the economic development and the idea of regional stability and peace. The opening of the borders between our two countries is an important step towards the final settlement.
It is obvious for us, that it is only possible to reduce the threats of the frozen conflicts in South Caucasus by building a common platform. Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia seek the European way of development. We clearly understand that the effective reforms will contribute to ensuring regional security and cooperation. The only option of the countries of our region should be based on values, such as mutual trust and solidarity. There are all the cornerstones of the modern Europe.

Dear colleagues,
The global crisis has revealed the major problems of our country, the lack of economic diversification, inefficient state governing system and unequal competition opportunities. The economic crisis also the poverty level in the country and affected the growth of the foreign debt. All these factors have reduced the potential of the reforms. However, EU has provided substantial assistance to overcome the global financial crisis.
Today, Armenia’s economy is gradually recovering; we have reached a five-percent growth during the first nine months of 2011. It is also encouraging that the diversification is gradually getting more powerful. Next year we are expecting to achieve full restoration of pre-crisis economic indicators. We aim to reach a growth, which could have a real impact on the development, contributing to the poverty reduction.
I would like to talk about our agenda of institutional reforms in a few brief paragraphs.
-The strengthening of democratic institutions is on top of our agenda. The presence of strong democratic institutions, active civil society, freedom of speech and fair representation is of vital importance for a political stability. Currently, we are preparing for the next parliamentary elections. We aim to conduct the most transparent and fair elections in the 20-year old history of independent Armenia. We want the upcoming elections to verify our strong and irresistible commitment to democracy. We have a new electoral code and a new civil service law, according to which high ranking state officials have to declare their incomes, and the society needs to have an online access to them. These two measures have been implemented to ensure transparent elections and electoral processes.
-We have been implementing reforms in all the levels of the educational system, because we believe that the educational reforms are the most effective way to increase the intellectual potential and the social behavior. We cannot build modern society without modern universities.
-We have been cooperating with EU in three key areas - technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights and phytosanitary. We believe in the success of this project and we hope that next years, based on our progress, we will be able to start deep and comprehensive free trade agreement negotiations.
-Corruption and inefficient state governance are serious obstacles to the implementation of the reforms. For this reason, we confirmed the anti-corruption strategy. We have developed a conflict of interests declaration legislation and currently, we are creating institutional basis for the implementation of this law.
-We have recently adopted the funded pension system, which will start working fully in 2014. As a result of this new system, we believe, our citizens will be responsible for their future more directly, as well as for the welfare of the whole society. This, along with the development of the middle class, will promote the formation of a more vibrant civil society.
-With the support of the World Bank, we have been developing an export orientation plan and a knowledge-based economic development program, based on the public-private partnership.
We know that the implementation of all these reforms is of vital importance for covering the gap between our reality and the declared values. As a party, that has a common platform of values with the EPP, I am sure that your role in this field is very important.
Dear colleagues,
I am going to conclude my speech by repeating that fact that our present situation clearly requires a radical change and bold initiatives. Armenia is very determined about that. Led by the RA president Serj Sargsyan, Armenia has a political will to accelerate the process of the reforms. Hereby, we reaffirm our commitment to the active and efficient cooperation with EU and EPP
It should be noted that that the delegation, led by the Prime Minister, comprises of the Chief of the Government Staff Davit Sargsyan, RA Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan, National Assembly Republican Party MP Artak Zakarian and other officials.

May 2020