03, 2023

President Vahagn Khachaturyan had a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Today, President Vahagn Khachaturyan had a meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

President Vahagn Khachaturyan: First of all, thank you for the meeting. Actually, there are some questions that need to be discussed separately. What do I want to start our discussion with? I follow what’s going on in the world and so do you, and there are different assessments. However, there is one general assessment by all: the world has never been in such a severely tense state since World War II, and whether we want it or not, these problems concern us, too. In this regard, I wanted to say in your presence, too, that I appreciate the work that the Government, you personally and our diplomats are doing. I understand how hard it is today, to withstand the challenges we are facing. And these challenges mainly concern our security. You gave that opportunity to our society through journalists, during your press conference and your speech at the Cabinet meeting.

I want to draw attention to an important fact. It seems like the society is not ready for all you present openly to them. What is this approach, this way of understanding and interpretations conditioned by? I believe we are still in the old stereotype of the Soviet Union, saying how can the Government or the Authorities be open to the public? Everything was close back then and in the best-case scenario, we were forming opinions based on our assumptions regarding what was going on in the country. Now this approach, which is a result of democracy, gives everyone an opportunity to be a part of the events taking place in the state. However, it is hard to process, because when we start thinking in that direction, we take on some responsibility, and the biggest problem of democracy in the world today is responsibility. Many even give up some of their rights and, again, leave it to the state to deal with. That is, the state has given them an opportunity, but they say “no, you do it, we cannot.” What I want to say is this is typical of not only Armenia, but I think that this approach and the way of keeping society aware is the right way, and I hope this will be continuous, and in this way, we will deal with some of the problems facing our country. What comes to the 2021-2026 Action Plan of the Government, I think all that has been done should be a little more promulgated. For example, when looking at the junction that is being built in the south, at Meghri, Agarak section, it is very impressive to see what is going to be done there, and what transport junction it is going to be in the end. We need this, too, because in many cases, we think that doing things is more important, however, we also need to present it to the people.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you for the invitation and the appreciation, Mr. President.

Generally, I think the topic you talked about is very important, for it is very important for our Government and for me personally to continue communication with the public. I should also highlight that at a certain point, I noted that there are a lot of processes, the aim of which is to prohibit communication. That is, to make the Government hide in its shell, in this case in the offices, and stop communicating with the public, and there were times when I also wondered to what extent we should communicate with the public. The reason is that our understanding of governments is that we should only share the good news with the public or only look at things from a good perspective.

By the way, I want to say that this problem, this dilemma, also haunted me for a long time, until the war of 2020, for the reality that we had as of 2018 within the context of the Nagorno Karabakh issue, the content that we had, did not have anything in common with the public understanding, with the understanding we had regarding the negotiation process and the content of the Karabakh issue. Yes, basically, it was a strategic decision to communicate with the public. Irrespective of everything, communication with the public is momentous, as it has a strategic meaning, also from the viewpoint of safety.

What comes to the process of implementation of the Government’s Action Plan, I should stress that by the Constitution, by the time of March 1, presented the report on the course of plan implementation to the National Assembly. I think we have a very substantial document, but still, we didn’t manage to include everything there, in the sense that we tried to make the document succinct. I can emphasize 2 very important points from that document, of course, we will discuss them in detail in the National Assembly.

The first aspect I find important refers to the healthcare field. According to the results of 2022, the amount of state-ordered health services has been more than twice the amount in 2017, meaning that we have recorded a 125 percent increase compared to 2017. The number of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia benefiting from the state order increased by 125 percent in 2022 compared to 2017, meaning that it increased more than twice. That is a matter of the health of our citizens in various cases and situations. May God keep everyone healthy, but, surely, the Government should help God in that to solve the healthcare issues.

The next statistic, which I also find very important, is the following: Armenian airlines transported more than 900.000 passengers. This is very important, as having Armenian airlines was also our political commitment, and actually, 25 percent of the airlines in the market are Armenian. This is also very important from the viewpoint of repatriation because about 200 jobs were created in the field of aviation during 2022, and many high-class pilots who were born and raised in Armenia, but never had a job in Armenia and visited the country only during vacations, are now working in Armenia and can also spend their vacation here.

There is more data. Thank you for following the activities of the Government, and as you follow it, I assume you will also follow the discussions in the National Assembly.

President Vahagn Khachaturyan: Of course. Let me mention a number. I always paid attention to it as a professional, and from my point of view, that’s the biggest achievement. I am speaking of the unemployment issue. It has been 25-30 percent for years. We have official statistics and research. Official statistics, according to the Employment law, was 10 percent, and the actual unemployment was 25-30 percent. And it was the most negative one in the international comparisons. Now it is 11.5 percent. In my professional assessments, I find this to be the greatest achievement. In the end, there are two important factors in the US Federal Reserve system - inflation and unemployment. We have only inflation because in many cases inflation can also be kept at the expense of unemployment, too, but both factors are very important. This means that the purpose of economic policy is to provide workplaces or reduce the level of unemployment and inflation. Now, I find this factor very important in Government activities, and of course, I took the report once again and will look through it till the end and will follow it, but I also appreciate the work that is being carried out. I would like to note another fact, too. Your personal participation in the presentation of reports. I find it to be a momentous factor in raising the responsibility of our institutions when the Prime Minister is present in each institution with a representative team. It is actually something to appreciate because before there was an acceptable option when the Prime Minister didn’t participate, the Deputy Prime Minister or a Minister would go and introduce themselves, that is, it was formal. This is also a good way of raising the effectiveness of the government, and all that’s left is to solve the most important issues, which you keep talking about, too. You know that with my work, I am also dedicated to the implementation of that idea, which has two major components – establishing absolute peace in the region, making our region an international cooperation center, and the second one is democracy, there can be no way back from the principles we have chosen. That is what the Government is doing.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Yes, obviously, security, external security and peace establishment are an absolute priority, and that is also a reason why our joint work, basically a large part of our agenda, is dedicated to it. But what I also find important is that despite all that, we not only didn’t fail the reform agenda but on the contrary, had the idea of having a somewhat asymmetric response to all of this as the axis of our Government’s report. What I mean by this is that we shouldn’t deviate from the development agenda, the reform agenda, even for a second, of course, continuing to focus more and more on the security agenda. 

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