12, 2017

Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan, delivered at gala meeting on National Security Staff Day

Dear Generals and Officers,
Dear Service Veterans,
Dear Guests,

I am glad to be back once again to this building, where I had the honor to work for many years. I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate all employees of the National Security Service on the professional holiday.

I will not reveal a secret if I say that this service should act as a good-working clock mechanism 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is for this reason that those who do this work should be real devotees. I am sure that wages, epaulettes, ranks and awards are not just the main incentive for those serving in national security agencies. As much important as the latter may seem, the main incentive is the endless dedication to the sacred cause of ensuring Armenia’s security. Your work is equally aimed at ensuring the security of our State, society, every citizen of our country and each individual. For well-known reasons, your work is often covered by the veil of secrecy, and it remains by far invisible to the public at large. Some could notice that even in the late hours the lights do not go out in your offices. Let our citizens take note of the outcome of your hard and responsible work throughout their safe daily routine.

Of course, I know very well about everything as I keep in focus the matters related to the security of our country. I am sure that the national security officers perform their duties with high sense of responsibility and professionalism. In this regard, I express my gratitude to the management and the personnel of the Service for their conscientious work and competent solution provided to complex problems.

Dear Colleagues,

I think it necessary to sum up the work done by the service staff; outline those tasks and priorities set before you that are important for ensuring the security of the country.

During the development of the national security strategy, we were well aware that threats and challenges would keep changing and mutating over time. More than ten years have passed, and during this period, indeed, much has changed.

Our steps to counter the emerging threats were adequate of course, and yielded positive results. However, we have no right to be satisfied with our achievements in the field of security. It is obvious that we are facing now no fewer external and internal threats. On the contrary, they acquire an increasingly multilayered, sometimes even veiled character.

I want to emphasize that the current international and regional military and political situation continues to be complicated and tense. Thus, those tasks are determined, the solution of which is to guarantee the preservation of the fundamental values of national security. Your role here can not be overestimated, since the National Security Service is the body that is called to protect the State’s sovereignty, the borders’ safety, the constitutional order and, most importantly, the security of our population.

Almost in all corners of the world today there are different manifestations of terrorism, the international struggle against which is gaining new momentum. Either we are participants in this large-scale and universal international process, both for ensuring our security and for guaranteeing our proper cooperation with other States.

We welcome such cooperation and consider it exemplary. I am sure that all countries should unite their efforts in combating the disastrous evil of terrorism. Stimulating consistent international cooperation is the only correct and effective way to defeat terrorist groups of all kinds.

Dear Generals and Officers,

In the fight against terrorism, I want to particularly emphasize your efforts aimed at early detection of its manifestations. Thanks to a comprehensive analysis of terrorist threats and timely intelligence operations, you were able to prevent both real terrorist threats and a number of closely related criminal manifestations.

According to the forecasts of authoritative international structures, as well as according to our experts’ estimates, there are no signs of a decrease in terrorist threats in the coming years. From this point of view, the Republic of Armenia has always been considered a relatively safe country. Nevertheless, we can not exclude that due to the geopolitical location of our country, the specific external environment or, at least, the growth of the number of tourists, there will be forces that will try to materialize their ill intentions in Armenia in this way. Therefore, in the fight against this evil, we must demonstrate maximum vigilance, should work closely with our allies and other interested services.

Our country is to be open for tourism, which is one of the priority vectors of Armenia’s economic development. Moreover, the simplification and liberalization of entry visas with different countries will be an ongoing process. Therefore, you must be vigilant. I think that your antiterrorist actions need to be further intensified.

The methods and means of combating terrorism must be regularly improved. Only in this case we will be able to more effectively protect our citizens and State institutions both inside the country and abroad.

I think that by finding prompt and competent solutions to the tasks discussed a few days ago at the National Security Council meeting, we will be able to raise our abilities to counteract this evil to a new level. I also believe that due to the specifics of the new system of governance, one of the priority issues on the agenda of the executive branch will be the revision of the current strategy for combating terrorism in order to modernize, bring it into conformity with the demands of the times.

Dear Colleagues,

The experience of combating one of the types of terrorism - cyberterrorism - shows that its threat also does not diminish. Moreover, we must pay more attention, in general, to the problems of cybersecurity, taking into account the importance of the use of information and communication technologies in our lives.

Today, information networks have become one of the important infrastructures of each State. Their normal activities are of vital importance, probably for all industries. This sphere is one of the important priorities of our economy, where there is great development potential and prospects. It seems to be obvious that the threat of cyber attacks will keep growing along with our achievements.

Both physical and digital infrastructure should be protected in our country. In 2017 alone, you managed to prevent some 1.5 million attempts to illegally enter or attack information systems and official websites of our government bodies. Of course, I do not mean the micro-problems.

We are not going to give primitive decisions, limiting freedom of speech or the right to communicate or disseminate information. In Armenia there will be no censorship of the Internet, everything that is not prohibited by law is allowed. I am sure that the Armenian public is so mature that it can deal with micro-problems through the mechanism of self-organization.

The national security agencies must act within the bounds of international law and international best practice. International cooperation is particularly important here, and we should be ready to discuss all proposals for this kind of cooperation. At the macro level, it is essential first of all to ensure the protection of vital information and communication infrastructures and, among them, first of all those information and communication means used for defense and security purposes, as well as for the normal operation of our country’s financial and economic system and for ensuring network stability.

State databases and networks should be protected in the best possible way, because external criminal interest and attempts are inevitable. Such attacks can be either from organized terrorist groups formed in opponent States or otherwise, from private individuals - the so-called “partisans.”

Our specialists must outrun them at least one or two steps in order take the necessary preventive measures in good time. I think the proper implementation of the newly approved presidential decree on ensuring information security and the concept of information policy in the Republic of Armenia shall strengthen the existing tools in this area, which is extremely important in the context of the continuous development of modern high technologies.

Dear Generals and Officers,

One of the priorities of the National Security Service continues to be the enhancement of the effectiveness of intelligence and counterintelligence. Armenia must effectively protect its national and State interests and those of every citizen. This is a persistent and consistent work, which is not limited to the State borders. It is necessary to work both within the country, and, probably, even more so, abroad.

The work you have done in this area allows us to speak with certain satisfaction about the achievements. At the same time, the military-political situation in the region, the extent of reconnaissance activities carried out by the main enemy and the continuously developing telecommunication technologies must make us more vigilant. With their new qualitative nature the challenges call for equivalent steps to counter them. I think you will agree that the results can be even better if you compare the traditional ways of your work with the reasonable application of modern methods and means.

I highly appreciate the work done to protect our borders. As a result of the measures taken by the national security bodies in this sphere, positive results are being stated year after year.

At the same time, research over the past few years had shown that there are more cases of illegal crossing of the State border by foreigners or attempts to do so. Tendencies of increasing migration caused by regional and global processes make it possible to predict that with a view to moving from one State to another, different individuals and organizations will look for new ways of illegal migration. This will also cause unhealthy interest of these forces in relation to the borders and territory of our country. Therefore, it is necessary to intensify cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the Police, rule out the risk of potential shortfalls on this field.

It must be borne in mind that here any insignificant flaw can be used by the main enemy for the purpose of sabotage or reconnaissance, or the infiltration of terrorist groups. I think that in this respect, we should also actively use the opportunities offered by the latest technologies.

Dear Colleagues,

The function of ensuring the constitutional order is especially important in the work of the National Security Service. The constitutional order is the main pledge to guarantee the independence of the country, the security of the State and the people. Any move aimed against this value is a real threat to national security.

Adventure-seekers should be well aware that attempts to undermine the foundations of statehood in Armenia are doomed to failure. In Armenia, no matter will be resolved by violence and weapons. The exclusive right to making a legitimate use of force is vested in the Republic of Armenia. The Constitution and the law have created all the necessary institutions and mechanisms for discussing and resolving all kinds of issues, disputes, discontent and contradictions,.

There is no doubt that the National Security Service and our other law enforcement agencies are able to prevent or neutralize any such an attempt. I think that your consistent actions and a balanced approach in July last year are the best proof of my words. Those who in the future will try to achieve their personal or group interests in an unlawful manner of actions, I advise them to refrain from adventurism.

Our law enforcers are ready to counter any such manifestation as may undermine the constitutional order within the limits of their statutory powers and with equivalent means. Here. I must touch on another important issue.
Some are trying to push to the extreme the balance of security and freedom, reducing it to an exceptional dilemma. This opposition is false and unacceptable for me. Security and freedom are not opposing, but interrelated phenomena. I am sure that security guarantees at the expense of freedom or the guarantees of freedom at the expense if security are equally harmful.

Over the years, all our steps have been aimed at strengthening public peace and harmony in the country, and we will do o in the future as well.

Dear Generals and Officers,

I can not help mentioning the achievements stated in the fight against transnational organized crime. In a relatively short time, the National Security authorities succeeded in preventing in this sphere or revealing a variety of cases, ranging from illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs to robbery with the use of malicious computer programs.

The results of your work are also felt in other areas of crime control. I am talking, first of all, about the prevention of offenses at the domestic level. I would also emphasize that thanks to active cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, you managed to expose various crimes over the last period, including instances and attempts to smuggle weaponry and ammunition. A number of people who have been hiding from criminal responsibility and therefore dangerous to society have been identified.

Another priority area of your professional activity is the fight against corruption. I am sure the past year’s high-profile disclosure of corruption phenomena was a good signal directed to the public and to high-ranking officials. The work on this front is put on a more than serious foundation, but we will not be satisfied with the results achieved at all. I feel it needless to emphasize again in this office that the fight against such corrupt manifestations will be more tougher and more rigid.

I want you to know that I have ever greater expectations of you in this field. I am sure that the National Security Service has enough experience and a strong will to persevere in this matter. Effective steps are needed at all levels, including in the judicial and legal system to identify corrupt manifestations.

With all attention, it is also necessary to monitor the studies and ratings carried out by international structures. Armenia has no right to record a setback in the fight against corruption. Even if it is not about corruption itself, but about its perception, it is necessary to find and identify those shortcomings that lead to such perception.

In the fight against corruption, we need a positive shift. We did this and do it not for international structures, but for ourselves. This is expected of us citizens of our country. In this sphere, no justifications will be accepted either.

I positively assess the work of National Security officers in ensuring the safe conduct of national events, including elections.

Dear Colleagues,

Armenia will host three major events in 2018, the successful holding of which should be a matter of honor for all of us. I mean the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Armenia and the heroic May battles, the 2800th anniversary of the foundation of Yerevan, and, in particular, the summit of the International Organization of Francophonie.

These events may open up new horizons and provide new opportunities in terms of representing Armenia to the world. On the other hand, they give rise to unprecedented commitments in terms of proper and, most importantly, safe conduct of these events. I am sure that you realize that the lion'’ share of responsibility will fall on your shoulders. My assignment is to prepare very seriously for these events.

Dear Generals and Officers,

The National Security Service officers have always stood out for their special character, boundless, sometimes, selfless devotion to Homeland. Today our veterans, having the qualities listed by me, their example and the transferred knowledge, have always inspired you. There have always been unique people serving in your ranks, whose deeds were a feat and heroism. This is the reason why our people have always treated the activities of this service with reverence.

National security service has never been easy. And you never looked for easy ways. I am sure you will not be satisfied with what has been achieved.

Our goal is to build the best such service not only at the regional, but also, why not, at the international level. So we need to provide a safer environment, contribute to the economic well-being of the country. This will also guarantee a stable and dignified place for Armenia in the family of democracies.

On this path, we must continue to improve the professional capabilities of the service, enhance the quality of vocational training of personnel and upgrade the system’s logistics.

The tasks of improving social conditions, including the living conditions of the personnel of the Service, especially those of the antiterrorist unit, have always been and will be the focus of the management and my attention as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

Dear Colleagues,

Congratulating you all once again on the National Security Staff Day. I want to especially felicitate and express my gratitude to your family members. I am confident that by acknowledging the exceptional importance of your service and through their care and thoughtfulness, they contribute to your service for the Republic of Armenia.

Thank you.

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