On 17 August the leader of the velvet revolution, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan summarized 100 days of holding his office during the rally invited in the Republic Square. There were many people having gathered to take part in the rally: the residents of different regions in Armenia also arrived in Yerevan to support Pashinyan. The participants of 'green' movements were particularly active: the citizens from Jermuk fighting against Amulsar gold mining project joined the rally with a poster 'Amulsar Protectors – Jermuk Residents Support You'. In support of the Prime Minister and changes happening in the country, a rally was held in Alaverdi Town, where the activists were advocating against the emissions of the copper smelting combine polluting Alaverdi environment and using the water resources of the Debed River for using energetic purposes.
“My dear people,
Today, we are marking a special day and a unique event for the first time in the history of the Republic of Armenia. Hundreds of thousands of Armenian citizens are here: there are hundreds of Police and National Security Service staff employees in this square. Thousands of our compatriots from the Republic of Artsakh have joined us in this square. Armenians have arrived from Russia, the USA, Iran, Lebanon and many Diaspora-based Armenian communities. Those glorious Generals, army officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia who are defending our State borders are with us in their spirit and mind. And I would like to stress that here are our compatriots from Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Ararat, Armavir, Aragatsotn, Shirak, Lori, as well as from all the streets and neighborhoods of our country.
Armenians worldwide are united today than ever, and today is the day of unity and unity of the Armenian people. And since today is a day of unity, I am asking you to lower all those posters directed against anyone because this rally cannot be against anyone. This is the rally of the victory of the Armenian people, this is the rally of the unity of the Armenian people.
My dear people,
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Just 100 days ago, your mighty and united will triumphed. 100 days ago I was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia through your will and decision.
I came and told you that you had won, and your victory is not that I was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia; the victory consists in that you have decided who will be Prime Minister, and hereinafter it will be up to you to decide who is to become Prime Minister in Armenia.
Your will got the upper hand 100 days ago, and the international community cannot still realize what has happened in Armenia, how and why. No analytical center in the world had foreseen that such a popular awakening could take place in the Republic of Armenia. There was a widespread presumption that Armenia had surrendered to despair. That is why what happened is something exceptional.
The global history knows no such precedents when one year after a parliamentary election, Prime Minister is elected the political figure who has only a few trusted votes in Parliament, and all this happens without a single shot, without violence, without a single victim.
And now analysts do not spare effort to find out what was the factor, the powerful force that led to such developments. Some are looking for these factors in the West; others are eying the North, but I would like to tell the world from this podium that the Armenian people is just the exceptional and powerful force that forged this unprecedented event, the proud and dignified citizens of Armenia, all Armenians, every Armenian living in the world.
Against this background, however, I would like to note that our non-violent popular revolution is exclusive not only in its own way, but also because of its content, because some may not have noticed that the Prime Minister of Armenia is not a representative of a leading parliamentary force or any parliamentary coalition: the Prime Minister of Armenia is the direct and immediate representative of the people of Armenia, the Armenian people. And this is the reason why we call the events a revolution, because a de-facto change of the form of government has taken place in the Republic of Armenia, and now we have an institutional system called direct public administration in historiography, that is people’s rule. And the reason for this misunderstanding of the political situation is that in the domestic political life of Armenia some still use the concepts of coalition, coalition government and parliamentary majority.
There is no coalition in the Republic of Armenia, there is no coalition government in Armenia, there is no parliamentary majority in Armenia. There is the citizen of Armenia: the highest power belongs to the people, and people have direct control of everything in Armenia. This is the crucial point of our revolution.
And now I want to say what it means; in practice, it means that the revolutionary Republic Square is proclaimed as the highest body of the people’s power. This means that the government has been formed here, the government is accountable to this square and the government is bound to comply with the people’s will voiced in this square.
This means that when we make the most important decisions in Armenia’s political life, we must come together in this square and authorize the government to carry out this or that action or prohibit the government from doing this or that action. So, you are the highest and sole government in the Republic of Armenia. The power in the Republic of Armenia belongs to you. But this is not the only novelty of our political life. In the near future, together with joint efforts, we have to strengthen the referendum institute, and many decisions should be made by people in referendums. It refers to both local and national referendums. Therefore, such critical changes should be made in the near future as would allow the government and the people to decide together on issues of municipal, regional, national importance, and even the most important international events in referendums. This is the fundamental change that will usher in the second wave of our revolution.
Dear people, let me assume in this regard that the event that took place in this square can be mentioned historically in the future at the same level as the establishment of democracy in ancient Athens and, therefore, in the historical perspective, the Republic of Armenia can be mentioned in parallel to Ancient Greece. Yerevan can be mentioned in the same way as the ancient Athens, and Republic Square can become the crown of the modern era of the 21st century where modern civilization has been created. This is the historical significance of what we did, and it was made possible through your contribution.
Dear people, post-revolutionary countries are supposed to experience economic shocks. This is almost an axiom. Before and after our revolution, the analytical centers predicted that Armenia would inevitably enter a stage of economic decline. While predicting a decline, they pointed out that that there might be economic growth and activity, should the revolutionary government succeed in its efforts. Our revolution is also unique in that no economic downturn followed the revolution. On the contrary, high economic activity rates were recorded after the revolution.
9.6% economic activity index was registered in June, the first post-revolutionary month, with the annual economic activity index standing at 8.9%, and we have all the necessary pre-requisites to state that the economic activity index will continue to grow in the Republic of Armenia.
The most important result achieved during my tenure as Prime Minister is that more people are coming to Armenia than leaving it, which can be considered as the first and very important stage of our emigration prevention campaign.
I will now make public some official statistics: in the period from May 10 to August 14 this year 29,986 more people arrived in the Republic of Armenia than left it. Note that the number of departures was about 6,000 up in the same period last year.
Thus, this year we boast 29,986 more arrivals. 34,000 more foreigners have visited Armenia in the last three months as compared to the same period last year. In fact, this means an increase in investment and travelers’ interest.
Indeed, there are numerous Armenians among the visitors that accounts for the 20% rise in real estate prices in Yerevan and countrywide, which in turn testifies that our compatriots are buying apartments in Yerevan and in other cities of the republic.
You may know that during the days of the revolution, there was a lot of talk that hundreds of millions of dollars were fleeing Armenia, which was true, in fact. But I can state unequivocally and officially that the influx of money was 116 billion up in the same period. That is, the aggregate amount of money that came in and the deposits in the Armenian banks increased by 116 billion drams, or otherwise by about 250 million dollars consisting of deposits made by individuals and legal entities in the banks, which means that the citizens of Armenia and our compatriots in the Diaspora have strong confidence in the future, and this is the most important guarantee of economic progress and growth.
Over the past three months, Armenian banks’ credit portfolio grew by AMD 99 billion, that is, Armenian citizens have borrowed as much money and invested in business.
As of August 1, 2018, Armenia has exported just as much fruit and vegetables as it did last year. And I want to report that within three months the Armenian government and tax authorities have collected 28.8 billion drams more as compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the number of overpayments decreased by 26 billion drams.
This is the statistics we have. I will no longer dwell on the figures, but I feel it necessary to stress that these figures mean that after the political victory of the revolution we are entering a period of economic victories in the Republic of Armenia. And I want to assure you that we will boast serious economic achievements ahead. Of course, we are far from being satisfied with the model of economic growth we have today.
We want the model of economic growth to change because we understand that we are still caught in the old model when citizens did not feel the impact of economic growth. But I want to say that we will change that in Armenia.
We are going to replace the old economic system of exclusion with an inclusive economic system. This means that all citizens of the Republic of Armenia will have the same opportunities in terms of engaging in economic activity, enjoying the same freedoms. Everyone will be equal before the law and the tax authorities.
You may remember that still in opposition, I announced last fall that curbing the sugar and banana monopolies in Armenia would take no more that 15-45 minutes. And within 40 minutes after I became Prime Minister, I eliminated the banana and sugar monopolies. I declare that there is no monopoly in Armenia today, there is no petrol monopoly, no monopoly of anything, there is only the monopoly of power, and you are the owner of that power, the citizens of Armenia, the people of the Republic of Armenia.
I also want to tell you which way we are going to make a breakthrough in developing the economy. We will do that using the same model as we did the velvet revolution. The essence of this model is as follows: Why did we fail to make a revolution in Armenia for many years? Just because all of us, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia used to think that it was up to the opposition and opposition leaders to do a revolution. The revolution came when you all realized that not only the opposition, not only the political leaders, but all of you would do the revolution.
I mean that we have broken down the economic monopolies in the Republic of Armenia, and now each of you is free to make creative investments, generate added value and make the homeland prosper. We must make an economic revolution like the political revolution in the Republic of Armenia. The government will do its best to ensure that you enjoy its results and apply them in your life. This is the important point of our revolution, and a political revolution will come after the economic revolution. You are sure to succeed in bringing about an economic revolution, you must win again and you will win.
The fight against corruption is one of our government’s most memorable achievements over the past 100 days. We hade promised you that we would expose the plunderers in the Republic of Armenia, and we are exposing them one by one. But I want to say that what matters most in the fight against corruption is not to put the plunderers into jail but rather to return the stolen money to the people and the State.
Dozens of millions of dollars have already been recovered and returned to the Treasury. But today we have a situation where law enforcement agencies are working under pressure, and besides there have been events that raise questions about whether our current judicial system is not only physically but also morally able to combat corruption. People are voicing increasingly much concern that a considerable part of our judges have been serving the corrupt system for many years. Today, more and more citizens are saying that many judges in Armenia have been part of the corrupt system, and in this sense, there is strong distrust towards the judiciary. Indeed, this is a very delicate subject, but in any case we should not be tempted to interfere in the affairs of the judiciary.
Nevertheless, I wish to state that on the very first day of my tenure at Baghramyan-26, I declared that I would rather refrain from the vicious practice of giving orders to judicial authorities and I did so. But on the other hand, I want to make it clear that this does not mean at all that some judges might keep getting instructions from the former corrupt authorities.
And I want to tell the representatives of previous authorities and the judges who keep receiving instructions from them: “Come to your senses and don’t mess with the people!”
In general, I think it crucial for us to record the current state of our judicial system, hold serious discussions in the near future and make a decision on the establishment of transitional justice bodies since we need them not only because many corrupt figures hold to their vicious practice, but also because there are many flaws in our legislation. For example, the law on illegal enrichment came into force on June 1, 2017, and due to this, we can face specific problems in trying to redeem the public funds misappropriated before June 1, 2017.
There is another issue, and I want to give you an example. I do not want to name the brother of one high-ranking official, but he has an account of USD 30 million in a bank not far from here. The applicable legislative framework makes it difficult to probe into the matter and conduct an investigation because the given individual has not been a government official for many years and has failed to submit formal income statements. That is why I feel that we actually need to seriously think about the formation of new transitional justice bodies. Please do not mistake them with the extraordinary courts.
The transitional justice authority is a well-known and generally accepted practice in civilized societies. Many countries have gone through it, and the international community welcomes this practice. Moreover, many international organizations and partner countries are willing to assist us in identifying, freezing and returning Armenia’s assets kept in foreign States and offshore zones. And we have to do our utmost to make an effective use of this tool. Realizing that they are going to be held accountable and jailed, many present themselves as victims of political persecution.
The question arises here: If you are a victim of political persecution, why are you in freedom? We know very well the way judges are given instructions. But we have abandoned that practice, and I want to say that I am proud of our government that we have abandoned that practice, but this does not mean at all that we will allow anyone to avoid responsibility.
I also want to emphasize that I rule out that anyone may avoid responsibility for killing 10 citizens on March 1, 2008, and perpetrating a coup d’etat in Armenia. It is impossible. Please confirm that you will not allow any murderer to avoid responsibility. I am authorized to state this on behalf of the people of the Republic of Armenia, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
Fancy that! They are spending money to buy news outlets, get fakes and rent hired profiles in order to declare that Pashinyan has come to surrender land. Can you imagine that? I have not negotiated a word on Karabakh yet, but they keep insisting that I have come to give away land.
They mistake others with themselves who, as I can understand from the documents pertinent to the whole process of negotiations, in addition to handing over land, have robbed the country, the army and our brave soldiers...
I want to state the following: I have repeatedly said that I am prepared to engage in full-fledged peace talks on behalf of the Republic of Armenia, but it is up to the authorities of Artsakh to negotiate on behalf of the Artsakh Republic. In the meantime, I want to reaffirm and you may second me that although we do not want war, we are ready to give a nationwide retaliation to any provocation on the part of Azerbaijan.
We are ready for a truly peaceful negotiation, we are ready to reach a peaceful settlement, but I would rather repeat for whoever may try to cast doubt on me that they do not still realize that the Karabakh conflict is to be resolved by the people’s will and not by the government. Should the talks result in a settlement that I would personally consider to be a good option, let no one think that I will sign any confidential paper or take any secret action.
If I see that there is an option that needs discussing, I will come to you and give you the details of it, after which you will decide whether to accept the settlement or not. You are surely the supreme authority in the country and you will have the final say on the matter at hand.
Some people say that the situation is fraught with civil war in Armenia. Civil war is only possible inside your offices: how many supporters do you have outside of your offices? All you have as civic support is 17 former corrupt officials and 22 fakes.
Should anyone hereinafter threaten us with a civil war, let them know that they will have to deal with the National Security Service. So, I advise everyone to think over before saying something aloud. You need to think before speaking about the right to freedom of speech.
Dear people, now I want to speak about the Armenian-Russian relations as they have been talked about much recently. Earlier today, one of the representatives of the Republican Party was all in tears about the poor status of Armenian-Russian relations. At the beginning of my speech, I said that what happened in Armenia had not been predicted by any analytical center in the world, including the Russian analytical centers. The point is that our partners both in the West and Russia have not yet fully realized the new situation. And today it is just ridiculous to call the Armenian-Russian relations bad.
During this time, I had two meetings and three phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And I can say with certainty that the Armenian-Russian relations are not bad; quite the contrary, in spite of the Republicans and their satellites, the Armenian-Russian relations are good and will keep improving gradually.
We have said that there will not be any U-turns in Armenia’s foreign policy. One of our primary objectives is to build on the Armenian-Russian friendship and raise the Armenian-Russian relations to a new level. Three months ago, I promised that the Armenian-Russian relations would be upgraded, and today I want to tell you that after giving it the required formalities, we will inform you about a joint Armenian-Russian humanitarian project, which is unprecedented in the Third Republic’s history following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It will come as an unprecedented instrument of partnership and vivid evidence that we are going to consistently upgrade our relations.
But I would also like to address those Russian experts who keep insisting that Armenia seems to be moving westward or eastward, or that Armenia does not know where it goes.
The Republic of Armenia is not going anywhere. The Republic of Armenia stands firmly on its feet with straight spine, proud citizens and a decent stance. And the Armenian-Russian strategic friendship will be deepened and developed ahead.
We will also develop our relations with the European Union. Why do they not say that the EU-Armenia relations are bad? We raised some questions during my visit to Brussels. We will defend our country’s interests in our relations with the United States and Iran. The most important aspect of our foreign policy is the protection of our national interests, and we shall consistently follow that course since you have authorized us to do so. Please confirm that you have authorized us to continue along this policy line!
But I want to speak about something that used to be the case in Armenia over the past many years. For instance, the authorities often behaved in such a way that many negative domestic phenomena used to be attributed to Russia.
Why did this happen? Just because the corrupt authorities wanted to shake off the responsibility for their deeds as if they were not guilty, and there were some external forces prompting them to be corrupt. Here is the point, and now as they are on the way to prison, they are making phone calls to Russia to say that we are targeting Russia in fighting against corruption. I would advise them not to make such calls in vain because the phone calls will not help them as there are no naïve people in Moscow, or in Yerevan.
Dear people, to be frank, I had planned to speak in detail about the models of economic development, the steps we are going to take, the proposed amendments to the Tax Code and the imminent changes in the governance system, but I understand that it would be impossible because of my fainting voice.
I want to tell you something important. In general, assuming the management of the system of State governance, we could make sure that it was like the 3 copper quarries and the 3 boilers with 2 big holes in them as described in Tumanyan’s Sutlik Vorskan. The system of public governance in Armenia was so corrupt that no matter how hard we tried to fill the gap, money kept leaking through the loopholes into several dozens of corrupt pockets.
But I want to tell you officially that there is no corruption in the Republic of Armenia today. This does not mean that there are no such public officials who take bribes. This means that there are no corrupt officials among the high-ranking officials of the Government of the Republic of Armenia. I guarantee that henceforth there will be no such officials in the government. You can be sure that each dram or penny paid to the State budget will be spent on purpose.
And I want to say that in the near future we are going to solve very important issues. One of these problems is, for example, the efficiency of public administration, because a larger part of the State budget is being spent inefficiently.
We think that there should not be 17 ministries in the Republic of Armenia, and the number of ministries should be reduced considerably. The number of State agencies, too, should be substantially reduced so that we can do it effectively. And at this stage, however, our most important task is to attract new investments. I do hope, and I am calling on all Armenians worldwide and the potential investors to come to Armenia and make serious investments because we have instituted the rule of law in the Republic of Armenia.
We have been waging a fierce struggle against corruption for a while now, but we have never resorted to property redistribution, that is, no business or factory has been taken away from anyone. This is extremely important. This means that we guarantee the immunity of property. We guarantee the inviolability of investment.
I wish to state that businessmen in Armenia have nothing to worry about; only corrupt officials should have fears.
As far as businessmen are concerned, we are telling them that they are exempt from any corruption-related commitment. And even if some of them did not pay taxes, we will definitely put it on record and we will get them to pay these taxes.
But I would like to say that even if criminal cases are initiated on tax evasion, they will be terminated by virtue of the applicable law as soon as taxes have been paid. Should the burden of overdue taxes turn out to be too heavy for a business entity, that is, may threaten its existence, we will find ways of deferment.
And I want to say that no business will be closed under my government, no business will be taken away from anyone, no factory or other property will be taken away. Such a scenario is awaiting only corrupt officials based on rulings issued by the aforementioned transitional courts of justice.
Those businessmen who have not killed anyone - those who have just worked under the old rules - will have the opportunity to operate successfully, thrive and help develop the Republic of Armenia. They will have the opportunity to make new investments, and the new investors will have the opportunity to compete with them on the basis of equality.
Meanwhile, I understand that while we say that monopolies are eliminated and there are no political barriers whatsoever, the former monopolists may use their super-profits to drive others out of the market.
We will closely follow this situation in order to provide monopoly-free conditions. Now the well-known forces - the Republicans and the anti-revolutionary forces - are disseminating rumors that the potential investors are waiting to see what is going to happen next.
My dear people,
Let me tell them that nothing will happen, and what was to come has already happened – I mean the people’s non-violent velvet revolution. The people’s victory is irreversible. The proud and dignified citizen of the Republic of Armenia has won, and nobody can misappropriate that victory.
You will have the opportunity to reaffirm your position during the Yerevan City Council election due to be held this September by choosing Hayk Marutyan as new mayor of Yerevan.
Now I would like to address the March 1 case once again. All of you have heard the interviews of Sasun Khachatryan, Head of the Special Investigative Service. By listening to those interviews, I can say the following: in essence, we can say that the case of March 1 is fully disclosed, and I can state with utmost responsibility that no perpetrator will avoid responsibility, there is no such option.
I also want to touch upon the internal political situation. You know that extraordinary parliamentary elections should take place within a year’s time, i.e. by next May. Let us see what is going on: as a matter of fact, the constitutional procedure implies that as Prime Minister, I will have to resign, and in case the Parliament fails to elect a new prime minister twice, extraordinary parliamentary elections will be held. But now they have started to think otherwise. They say, let him step down, then we will elect another prime minister. I know whom, but I shall not give his name.
First of all, I would like to say that those people continue to ignore what is happening in the Republic of Armenia, but since they do not understand what is happening in the Republic of Armenia, we will do the following: we will initiate constitutional amendments, implying that extraordinary parliamentary elections may take place not only after the resignation of the Prime Minister, but also after the Parliament has mad a decision of self-dissolution. These changes should then be approved by the same parliament, which is only possible if you, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, formulate it as a definite requirement. After you do so, we will ensure its implementation in the Parliament.
You may remember that I once advised the Republicans and their satellites not to “dig around in the devil’s grass,” and I am voicing that advice of mine once again. I will refer to the missing part of my speech during the next live broadcasts because they are very important. Now, I want to conclude my speech with what I started by assessing the excellence of our national unity at this moment.
I want to greet all the Generals, officers and soldiers of the Armenian Army, who during the revolution made it clear that they would not obey orders, even if Serzh Sargsyan ordered to use the army against the people once again. Our army is worthy of applause and praise. Our army should know that the people and the government, the Diaspora, the entire Armenian people stand by them. Yes, there are many problems in the army that have not been settled yet, let us promise that we will solve all these issues together. I want to greet our Police with applause.
Dear people, our revolution is exceptional. We did what we had said, and our dreams came true. You may remember us saying that the policeman is ours. Yes, they are our policemen as they serve the citizens, the law and the people of the Republic of Armenia.
I want to greet the National Security Service with a weeping applause. Something interesting has happened today, and I will tell you the secret. Before coming here, I started a symbolic march from Artsakh Avenue - Erebuni Street, where I was kidnapped by a special group of the National Security Service on April 22. And today, all those guys who carried out that operation were walking behind me and protecting our security. This is a unique time of national consent, national unity.
I would like to greet our brothers in the Republic of Artsakh who found it important to go a long way and reaffirm their solidarity by their presence here.
I would like to welcome our compatriots from the Diaspora who are here to attend today’s rally. And I also want to applaud Armenia’s proud dignified and victorious citizens, that is, all of you, the entire Armenian nation, who eventually, despite all doubts, proved that we are an exceptional nation with an exclusive mission. You ushered in a historic era of people’s direct rule in the 21st century.
Then, long live the highest bearer of the power in the Republic of Armenia, the citizen of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian people!”
In conclusion, Prime Minister Pashinyan read out the “My Step” poem, which has become the emblem of people’s victory.
19:02 August 18, 2018