01, 2013

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at the extended meeting held at the RA Ministry of Defense

Dear Colleagues,

This is the first time that we are meeting in this format to discuss the results of the military exercises. I have invited you in this composition, I mean the leadership of the National Assembly, the Government in the extended format, including the Heads of the administrative regions, Deputy Ministers, Chief of the Presidential Staff and leadership of the Security Council Staff, Heads of the judicial and other important structures, because I believe that on the one hand regional and international challenges facing our country are changing, and on the other hand - our Armed Forces have entered a formation stage in which the organization of the full-scale planned strategic command and staff military exercises must be of a regular nature. To ensure their success, we all have to work together.

We have taken note of the report by the Minister of Defense on the stages of the CSTO Interaction-2012 and strategic command and staff military exercises. As Minister Ohanian has stated, they were mostly successful, however there were some deficiencies too. The deficiencies must be rectified fast and properly. In December, I signed a corresponding order, providing the Government with the precise instructions. However the main lesson that should be drawn from the exercises is the understanding of the significance of our internal interaction, of conducting serious preliminary works in all our state structures.

Issues related to the security and defense of the nation cannot be the responsibility of the power structures only. Moreover, considering our geopolitical location, existing challenges, need to conduct mobilization swiftly, we must continuously improve the abilities of the state system to interact and respond efficiently.

Defense of the Motherland is the number one priority and task for every one of us. Irrespective of the area you are leading, Armenia’s security and defense must be an important part of your work.

During the first two decades of our independence, we have gone through the life struggle imposed on us, emerged victorious from that fight and were able to rapidly start the process of the state-building. There were achievements and failures. Often we referred to our inexperience, lack of institutions, and deficiency of traditions. Mistakes were made, sometimes pardonable, sometimes not.

Twenty years have passed; situation in our region has changed, the world has changed, our state has also changed considerably. Things that were pardonable and probably even natural in the first years of independence now are unacceptable and must be excluded.

Today, we must reach a clear-cut understanding that from now on there must be zero tolerance towards those of our colleagues who are not alert enough regarding the security of the Republic of Armenia and defense related issues. Zero tolerance must be manifested towards those individuals who are degrading the Armed Force and discredit the honor and reputation of the Army. Zero tolerance must be manifested towards those individuals who are trying to evade service in the Army at any cost or to flop in their performance. There will be zero tolerance towards those servicemen who are using shoulder straps and uniform for their own ends or who disgrace the honor of the officer in any other way.

It happened that from the first years of independence, the Army has been playing a special role in our society. It was the war, whose spirit was felt all over Armenia – in some places more than in the others. In those days, every family had a close or a distant relative in the Armenian Army; and the Army was in everyone’s heart. That feeling became stronger when our Army attained victory which was so important, which was vital.

Twenty years later, we have the affection and respect towards our Army which must be engraved in the institutional memory of our country once and for all. That is, we have to do our best to keep the attitude of every strata of the society towards the Army explicitly positive. We have to get to that through the serious reformation of the Army, enhancement of information activities and everyday efforts aimed at the shaping of the proper public attitude to the Army related issues.

Results registered in the army-building process are among the greatest achievements of our state-building. It is pretty uncommon for the armed groups to be transformed into a regular army in the course of war. We were able to do it. Today, we are facing a new task: to consolidated the entire state structure around our Armed Forces. Strictly adhering to the democratic principle of the civil control of the military, we must within the legal framework to secure the unique place and role of the Army in our state’s life.

Dear Colleagues,

We are obligated to organize the defense of our country in the most reasonable way. By reasonable, I first of all mean the efficient use of the resources, whether it is the human resources, technical means, budget, directives and orders, or ability to provide for more impressive results. Power structures, including the Army, national security bodies, the Police, emergency units, their special civil staff, officer personnel, sergeants and junior staff are the pillars of the state security. In case of any potential threat to our security, they must be able first of all to act unified, through the compatible procedures and complementary technical devises. The military staff must be able to bring its solid input to the civil defense of other agencies and development of the most efficient mobilization systems.

Our society has almost forgotten that officer is first of all an intellectual. Precise steps should be taken to reinstall that notion. We should develop natural ties of the Army with all segments of the society, elevating the army-science cooperation to a new level, providing the Army with the modern and applicable scientific ideas. We will reinforce ties between the military and civil higher education institutions, providing for the acceptance of the men in uniform to the civil institutions as well as acceptance of civil students to the military institutions, giving them the opportunity to learn from the best teachers through the credit system.

Equipment of our armed forces with the modern, including local production armaments and military hardware is a priority issue for us. Towards that end, we must strengthen the army-economy connection, boosting the armaments industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ultimate goal of our foreign policy is the final legal formulation of the victory achieved in the aggressive war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh. The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh must be recognized by the international community since there is no logical explanation as to why the people, who have exercised their legal right for self-determination and later protected it in the uneven war, should ever be part of Azerbaijan. Why the destiny of these people should be defined by the illegal decision once made by Stalin?

In that sense, the greatest threat to our security poses the explicitly Armenophobic, fascist, and bellicose policy of the Azeri leadership. Azerbaijan is violating openly the conditions of the ceasefire; troops are being killed routinely at the line of contact and their blood is on the hands of the Azeri leaders.

Very soon, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Karabakh movement. However, it was just the beginning of the modern phase of the movement. The people of Artsakh never put up with the unlawfulness conspired by Stalin; the people of Karabakh never considered themselves to be citizens of Azerbaijan, and never subdued to the decision to be forcibly attached to Azerbaijan.

The tripartite ceasefire agreement, signed nineteen years ago at the request of Azerbaijan, solidified the victory of the Armenian self-defense. Today, many in Azerbaijan have forgotten the request for a ceasefire of their former leaders which were addressing the leadership of Artsakh as the “Distinguished authorities of Nagorno Karabakh.” Young people, who during the previous war were hiding from the deprivations of war under their mothers’ skirts, today prefer not to recall these pages of the history.

Ignoring the tripartite agreement on ceasefire, Azerbaijan even today continues to center fire on the borders of Artsakh as well as the Republic of Armenia. It is no accident that the authorities of Azerbaijan reject outright all proposals of the mediators to remove the snipers from the line of contact and create mechanisms for the investigation of the border incidents; they go even as far as to refuse to implement the confidence building measures, the statement on which was signed by the Azeri side one year ago in Sochi.

Belligerent rhetoric and planting of hatred towards the Armenians in the Azeri society have become a real snag for our regional security. That country is bringing up an entire generation full of animosity and hatred towards our nation. What’s to be said about the statement of the Azeri leader that “Azerbaijan’s number one enemy are Armenians all over the world?” However one thing is quite clear: the propaganda spread by the Azeri leadership among their own people is simply monstrous. As a result, the people of Azerbaijan will not be ready for peace for a long time to come even if the agreement is reached on that issue.

Explicit and cynical distortion of history has become a common place in Azerbaijan. Only days ago, the leader of the neighboring state has stated again with the utmost seriousness in Sumgait that the Republic of Armenia of modern times was established on the Azeri land, that Yerevan is a historical Azeri territory, and that his forefathers had made a mistake by “presenting” it to Armenians. Probably all that it could be treated as gibberish should it not evoked tragic associations. Only a quarter of a century separats Ilaham Aliev from the bandits who with the covert assistance of the leaders of the Soviet Azerbaijan were provoking through the same statements their atrocious mobs to kill, burn, and exterminate Armenians.

It is quite natural that the leader of such a state exonerates and glorifies a disgusting murderer who axed a sleeping man. It was an act that would be considered a dishonor and disgrace for the entire officer corps in any respectable army.

Talking about the even and harmonious development of the region, we take as a point of departure the notion that all countries of the region adhere to the same system of values, have the same aspirations for the state-building, and the same development goals. It was in that very environment that the European integration became a success story; such conditions are being created and developed by some regional structures in the post-Soviet area, in South America, South-East Asia and Africa. In this context, the South Caucasus could become an ideal model of cooperation. However, when your neighbor lives in a system of values which is diametrically opposite to yours, it becomes a serious security threat for the country.

We must be ready every day, every moment for a new military adventurism by the regime which propagates war. I trust our neighbors do realize that as much as the war will be detrimental for Armenia, in the same measure, if not more, it will be for Azerbaijan. However I don’t think current leaders of Azerbaijan are concerned with the destiny of their people. They will be ready to resume war only if confident that have absolute advantage vis-à-vis Armenia, or if it is expedient for the distraction from the internal problems.

Armenia and Artsakh do not want war; however everyone must know that we will give a fitting rebuff to any challenge. The people of Artsakh will never face the danger of physical extermination again. The Republic of Armenia will guarantee against that.

The destiny of Artsakh will be decided by the people of Artsakh. It is secured by the international law and numerous international documents. Thus, the full participation of the leadership of Karabakh to the negotiations becomes an imperative.

Our approaches on the resolution of the NK conflict coincide with the approaches of the international community which undoubtedly testifies to the fact that we are a predictable and comprehensible partner for all. Our approaches are natural and balanced and more importantly they take into consideration long-term perspectives for the stable and peaceful development of the entire region. However we should not be complacent with that. Only the strong country and the strong army can guarantee that we will reach that goal, the stable and advanced Armenia, the well-educated and combat-ready troops. The strengthening of the democratic institutions in our country, well-protected citizens, loving families, prospering country-side and modern towns are indivisible parts of that power and stability. To achieve all that, we need to work day and night, thinking incessantly about the might of our country, realizing each moment that our generation has been endowed with the exceptional mission – to fully develop our regained independence.

Dear Colleagues,

Speaking about Azerbaijan we shouldn’t forget that there is a country in the region which supports unequivocally Baku’s anti-Armenian propaganda. The Turkish-Azeri tandem formed under the “One nation, two states” slogan, for over twenty years through the blockade, deepening of the lines of division and rejection of cooperation has been trying to compel Armenia to make unilateral concessions. They have failed and they will fail again.

As a peace-loving, progressive and farseeing nation, we realize the importance of the establishment in the region of the atmosphere of mutual trust to be able to coexist peacefully with our neighbors and develop naturally. With this very comprehension, we initiated the process of normalization with Turkey. Everyone is aware now how it ended and how Turkey withdrew from the assumed obligations, persisting in keeping the last closed border in Europe tightly sealed.

Tension in Turkey is building up. The policy of “zero problems” with the neighbors yielded zero results. It is happening because Turkey is trying to solve all problems with the neighbors at the expense of the neighbors. Today, Turkey is a rapidly developing country which is making impressive progress; however that progression will be deficient and may be dramatically stalled if the Turkish authorities do not seriously review their attitude towards the history of their state and their people. That progression is seriously endangered even now, since Turkey is repeating the same mistakes it made in the past.

Recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide is Turkey’s duty before the victims of the Genocide, those who survived and their descendants, before the entire human kind but first of all, it is a duty before its own people. Today, the people of Turkey albeit slowly but have started to question the bogus version circulated by the Turkish authorities for decades, while the most progressive and courageous segment of the Turkish society is speaking out loud about the Armenian Genocide.

For the Republic of Armenia, the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide is not just a matter of justice and retribution or a moral debt to be paid to our ancestors: it also has a security dimension. I trust without Turkey’s sincere repentance and elimination of the repercussions of the Genocide, Armenia’s safe existence in the region is endangered.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have stated on many occasions that Armenia with Spyurk is one country and quite another without it. The Republic of Armenia and the entire Armenian nation cannot and don’t have separate goals. Our interests are intertwined regardless of where in the world Armenians live. Hence, our activities also must be coordinated, complementing each other.

The empowerment of the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Artsakh and Spyurk is in our collective force which was forged during the Armenians centuries-long historical experience. Realization of that fact made Turkey throughout the process of negotiations try to create an impression that Armenia and its population want one thing, while the Armenians all over the world - something different. Realization of that fact makes the president of Azerbaijan state that Armenians all over the world are Azerbaijan’s number one enemy.

It is also our unity and unanimity that deter and dissuade our opponents. Our work with Spyurk should unquestionable become an indivisible part of our security and defense agenda. The Armenian establishments of Spyurk, churches and mass media are essential mobilization and defense factors in our arsenal. Spyurk has proved it numerous times, and I have no doubt that will not hesitate to prove it again if needed.

Every period of time has its unique challenges and hardships. Adequate and timely solution of the problems impacts the vitality of the nation and the state, their development and future. The preservation and reproduction of the all-Armenian decent system of values should become the primary prerequisites for enduring and overcoming challenges, as well as diversification and modernization of the relevant institutions which work towards the further enforcement of the Motherland-Spyurk cooperation, coordination of efforts and resources for the resolution of the vital issues.

We have based that cooperation on the principle of reciprocity and have stated that Armenia, as the Motherland of all Armenians and as a state, has to participate in the resolution of the problems facing Spyurk. The escalation of the situation in Syrian has been the first major test of our determination.

Instability in the Middle East is a serious challenge for the Republic of Armenia. It is conditioned not only by the existence of the Armenian communities in the countries of the Middle East, which is an important factor, of course. The Middle East has always been one of the centers of the global politics, not only from the viewpoint of strategy, politics, civilization, culture and religion. For Armenia, many of the critical developments were directly connected to the processes going on in the Middle East.

It’s been two years now that the political, economic and humanitarian situation in some countries of the Middle East, which at some points is becoming critical, continues to deteriorate, undergoing most dangerous transformations and threatening not only the regional but also the global realm. The dynamics of the last two years have revealed that very often the processes are going out of control not only on the intrastate but also on the international level. Tragic developments in Syria testify to that fact. Tens of thousands of innocent lives lost, hundreds thousands of refugees and against that backdrop the absence of any vision for the settlement is deeply troubling. We have stated on many occasions that the people of Syria must decide their own destiny.

The Government of the Republic of Armenia continues to focus its attention on the problems of the Syrian Armenians. Unfortunately, recently the number of the deaths and casualties is on the rise; the Saint Gevork Church in Aleppo has been burnt down, many of the Armenian institutions have been damaged. Currently, almost 6000 Armenians from Syria have found refuge in Armenia; the majority of them have received Armenian citizenship. Many of their problems, mostly of social character, demand immediate resolution. All our steps taken lately have been directed at the addressing the needs of our brothers and sisters in Armenia and in Syria.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Globalization and regional integration are among significant regularities of the 21st century. The Republic of Armenia is an active player in many integration formats and is guided first and foremost by the economic, military and political interests of the country. For that very reason, we have adopted a balanced policy of cooperation, developing partnerships with all countries which have friendly disposition towards Armenia.

Nevertheless, the Armenian-Russian strategic partnership will remain the pivot of Armenia’s security, which through the twenty years of independence has proved its vitality. Within this context, we attach utmost importance to our membership to the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Having made a considerable input to the establishment and maturity of that structure and entrusting it with a certain part of our national security, we view it as a real guarantor of our state’s security. With this regard, we also view as an important component of our allied responsibilities the preparation and organization of the joint military exercises Interaction-2012.

At the same time, we are unfolding close and transparent cooperation with the NATO, striving to use its best practices for the development of our Armed Forces. Armenian peacekeepers bring their worthy participation to the NATO international peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Dear Colleagues,

In this world, Armenia has allies, partners, and friends. They are precious to us, but first of all we must rely on ourselves. No alien can be more Armenia that we are. Thus, the maintenance of peace in the region is first of all our responsibility and our achievement. We have carried out that task until now with honor and will continue in the same spirit.

Security of Artsakh is not a matter of prestige for us; it is a matter of life and death in the most direct sense of these words. The entire world must know and realize that we, the power structures of Armenia and Artsakh stand against the army which pays wages to the murderers, if that horde can be called army in the first place.

We do not take steps to please the public or to gain cheap reputation. We are defending our right to live free and restfully in our own home. Times, when the Armenian people had to defend themselves against barbarians with whatever means they had handy, disappeared without a trace. Today, as an organized state we defend ourselves with the disciplined and combat-ready army and up-to-date armaments.

Our posture embodies victory of life over death; victory of freedom over viciousness and barbarity. Those, who promised to exterminate Armenians of Artsakh and those who still dream about it are late, way too late. They have to postpone the realization of their sick dreams for at least one thousand years.

It’s a fact; however it doesn’t mean that we may even for one second put our alertness to rest. On the contrary, our entire state machine will be working more efficiently.

Every society has its strong and weak sides. Our society too has its weak sides as long as we have not achieved the high level of the legal stat and democracy we are striving to. These sore, just like in the mirror, are more or less reflected in every area of our life. We have to turn our weak sides into strong ones. As a result, the whole as well as the areas which comprise that whole will become strong too. I urge all officials to display utmost seriousness and concentration. Get ready for hard work. That hard and responsible work will be rewarded by Armenia’s advancement, enhanced security and higher living standards our people. It will be our reward, and I cannot think of a greater or more gratifying reward.

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