Working visit of the President Armen Sarkissian to the Swiss Confederation
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in the Swiss Confederation on a working visit, in Zurich met with Hervé Dammann, Senior Vice President on International Development for Latin America and Eurasia of a leading technological French Thales Group of former Vice President of the company Rafael Ashkenazi.
The interlocutors continued discussions on the agreements reached with the leadership of the company during previous meetings and on possible areas of cooperation.
They spoke about interaction in the area of modern technologies, particularly, in the area of artificial intelligence, management of digital data, and implementation of joint programs in a number of different areas.
Underscoring once again their readiness for cooperation in the framework of the ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) Presidential initiative, which is aimed at the development in Armenia of modern technologies and science, the representatives of the company said that Armenia possesses high-quality human capital, good educational and technological base which is very important for a company like Thales and creates a strong foundation for an efficient cooperation.
President Armen Sarkissian in Davos (Switzerland) participated at the opening of the World Economic Forum which this year is conducted under the title Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.
In fifty years of its existence the annual meeting in Davos has become one of the most influential high-level global gatherings which every year brings together representatives of states, governments, international organizations, and business community as well as reputable experts to discuss global, regional, and industrial agenda, to offer solutions to the existing problems and challenges.
This year over 700 speakers from different countries and over 3000 participants will attend the Forum.
The annual meeting 2020 of the World Economic Forum was officially opened by its founder and President, professor Klaus Schwab. He welcomed the participants and said in particular that he was proud with the community that was shaped in these fifty years. He welcomed particularly Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers who believe in the interconnectivity of the world and are ready to work together.
President of Armenia was present at the Crystal Award 26th annual ceremony held in the framework of the Davos conference. This year, the award was handed to the artists Theaster Gates, Lynette Wallworth, choreographer Jin Xing and actress Deepika Padukone for their exceptional contribution to creating sustainable communities, inclusiveness, and raising mental health awareness.
At the concert organized on the occasion of the opening of the 50th annual meeting in Davos, the European Union Youth Orchestra, with the participation of the choir and vocalists of the São Paulo orchestra, made “A Call for International Unity and Joy.”
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Switzerland on a working visit, during a business lunch held a meeting with the members of Switzerland-Armenia Chamber of Commerce and Swiss, including Armenian-Swiss, entrepreneurs. The event was organized by the Swiss-Armenian Chamber of Commerce with the support of the Embassy of Armenia in the Swiss Confederation.
The President of Switzerland-Armenia Chamber of Commerce Mike Baronian congratulated the President and the people of Armenia on the achievements registered in 2019 and noted that President Sarkissian’s presence at the event was important for the community and members of the Chamber of Commerce.
“In the last six months, I have had the honor to meet with the President of Armenia four times,” James Zhan, UNCTAD Director for the Investments and Enterprise Division noted in his remarks. “I have heard about his vision, projects, and wise thoughts not only during the meeting pertinent to investment policies and in the framework of the Armenian Summit of Minds but also at the UNCTAD Panel of Prominent Persons which took place last year. During the mentioned Panel we had the opportunity to hear President Sarkissian’s viewpoints on global issues, avenues to address them, particularly in the context of developing countries as well as his pioneering ideas on the future role of UNCTAD.”
The UNCTAD Director for the Investments and Enterprise Division James Zhan thanked Armen Sarkissian for entrusting them with drafting the report on Armenia’s investment climate. He noted that it would help Armenia improve investment climate and would position Armenia in the first lines on the global competition field. “Changes in Armenia will be considerable if the leadership adopts a vision of making the country a regional business hub and makes headway in the areas of IT and artificial intelligence, becoming a link in the global chain,” he said. “We see great potential in Armenia in the areas of agribusiness, textile, industry, wine production, and tourism. Mindful of that potential, the UNCTAD will continue to support Armenia in improving the investment climate in the country.”
In his remarks President Armen Sarkissian thanked James Zhan for the works accomplished by the Investments and Enterprise Division of the UNCTAD and spoke also of prehistory of the issue. “One year ago, I was in Geneva and asked to prepare a report on Armenia: what are the investment challenges in Armenia and which areas possess potential? They have done excellent job. First, they came up with interesting ideas based on the observation not only of the Armenian government but also on those of the investment community abroad. It’s a brief report but comprehensive nevertheless. They have done this job for Armenia complimentary and I would like to thank them for it. I hope to see in Armenia in early March partners from other countries - leaders of various states, and we will discuss the future of this UN body. I am greatly honored to chair the Panel of Prominent Persons of this Organization.”
As for the existing challenges, President Sarkissian said in particular, “It is well-known that there are more challenges than achievements. It is my understanding that fight against corruption means creation of a culture in which people are intolerant towards corruption. It must become part of our culture as it has become in a number of European countries, including Switzerland. Thus, to achieve that, it is necessary to go through certain processes, changing the legal system. It is a very big challenge indeed.” President Sarkissian highlighted the change of the economic structure as yet another challenge. “At the moment when the fight against corruption begins, it is necessary to switch from the oligarchic economic to a much more open society,” the President said. “Nowadays, people are more politically open than two years ago. In Armenia, there is a society in which young people have started to dream big dreams about having startups and becoming successful.” According to President Sarkissian, “The world is standing at a crossroad. I believe that many of politicians and businessmen despair because they don’t know what’s going on and cannot make predictions,” the President of Armenia said. “They cannot predict what will happen next, what this or that politician will say and how markets will respond.
What is going on? This question today doesn’t have many answers. Predictability of the world has declined sharply. However, there are analysts and philosophers which view positively this situation even though we don’t know what to do, which direction to take, and there are no pillars of stability for the global economy. I have always maintained that uncertainly breeds opportunities.
If there is no predictability but you have a gut feeling and have predicted correctly, you will benefit from it. In the atmosphere of uncertainty, development has become Armenia’s course towards future. There is only one road leading to success: to work diligently for development and use that opportunities because from political and economic point of view we are not able to predict much, besides we stand on the crossroads of great technological changes which people call the fourth industrial revolution. I have another definition which I have used a couple of times - a political or swift revolution. This is not a regular revolution like others which will discover how fire can be obtained by burning wood or will tell about the practicality of computers. We are on the verge of permanent revolutions since we have discovered how powerful small can be. We have discovered how powerful a mathematical program can be, mathematical modeling in the form of artificial intelligence. We live in a new era. We are dealing with “new doors” leading to future.” Whenever there is a new start, all become equal – the most talented, the richest, the strongest, and the weakest. In this, I see an advantage for my nation. In this new world attachment is what important. It is our human nature. When we are born, we have no attachment tools. We become attached to the world through our mothers. But currently attachments change too. For instance, my two-year old grandchild and other grandkids, in a sense lives in a virtual realm because the first tools their discovered were gadgets. Tomorrow, all will be living two lives – a virtual life, which provides information at lightning speed, and material one. We are a global and interconnected nation. You will be surprised to learn the number of the Armenians in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Moscow, or elsewhere who via internet get information on the developments in Armenia. They also have a great impact on the country, present via internet their ideas on how to govern the county, on right and wrong. Armenia tells them that it’s time to come back to Fatherland.
Artificial intelligence provides Armenians spread all over the world a good opportunity to establish a connection with each other. Thus, Armenia is a small country but has a huge advantage – we are one of the most interconnected nations in the world. I am confident that in the rapidly developing 21st century small can be not only beautiful but also powerful. There are many examples to prove that. I have come here from Abu Dhabi where I participated to the Sustainability Week forum. That country is impressive: it is small but powerful. Prior to that I was in Doha which is also small and powerful. From here, I will travel to Israel which is too, small and powerful. In Abu Dhabi I met and spoke with the President of Rwanda, again, a small but growing country.”
President Sarkissian noted that all this speaks of discipline and a precise vision. “One needs to find his own route, decide what you want to change dramatically in your county and find avenues leading to success,” he said.
“Armenia needs to develop all areas: tourism, hotels, industry, and banking system which is already well-developed in Armenia. All these areas are interconnected since if you develop infrastructure, more tourists will visit, the more tourists means development of the real estate market which will result in the development of the banking system, and so on.
We need to stand up on our own feet and take care of our nature. And nature is not only about the territory we live on. I am representing not a country, which is rich with oil or gas reserves, but one which is very rich with water. We are looking for the ways to use solar energy more efficiently. I am proud to note that last year our efforts resulted in a pledge to build a 400MW solar stations in Armenia. They will be built by the Masdar company. This is only the first step, but we can do more. Armenia is producing six times more water then we consume. Many envy us on this. Water is much more valuable than oil. Who is going to be more powerful in the future: one who has nature, clean air, clean water, mountains, food, and a healthy lifestyle or the one who will not be able to use the base provided by clean nature and will not be able to foresee the future? We must invest into nature, clean water, clean food. This will become Armenia’s business card, our logo.
Do we need to spend money to find our logo? I don’t think so. You will agree that we can present Armenia to the world not only as the country with the best drinking water but also the native land of everything which is clean and organic. This will be our logo which we will use to sell Armenian tomato, cucumber, and apricot. Armenia should become a place which is healthy for living because it has healthy food, clean air and a healthy lifestyle. This is the cornerstone. We need to think about future.”
Noting that future is in artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, President Sarkissian in that context presented his АТОМ (Advanced Tomorrow) initiative. “It comprises three components, one of which a Disney Land of the future,” the President presented some detail. “If we want to make Armenia attractive for tourists, we need to make them come and see the future. The venue will have also a Museum of Future where one will be able to see what tomorrow will look like. Another component is scientific, business platform where we will have major international companies working in the area of mathematical modeling and artificial intelligence. There will be big companies not only from Europe but also the US, Russia, India, and China. And the third component is educational.
In the political area, as a presidential initiative, I am working on creating a cooperation network of small but successful countries, the countries, which are small but have registered outstanding success through proper reforms.
It is difficult to define success. It is not going to be another G7 or G20. It will be a club where we will gather and share our ideas on how to achieve success by being small but successful and powerful.
I believe that if we have a vision, strategy, a program and work together diligently, hand in hand, our nation and our state will flourish.”
Appealing to our compatriots, President Sarkissian said in particular, “Armenia is our common home. Some of us live all our life in Armenia, some temporarily reside somewhere else but it doesn’t matter; your hearts, as William Saroyan said, are in mountains, in the Fatherland. Your mind, your money, you are physically elsewhere but your heart and soul are in Armenia. You are good citizens of this country, and I am confident you will be good citizens of Armenia.”
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Armen Sarkissian met with the President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation Isabel Moret who is also the Chairperson of Switzerland-Armenia parliamentary friendship group.
Recalling warmly her visit to Armenia conducted nearly two years ago, Mrs. Moret noted that Armenia and Switzerland maintain historically formed friendly relations.
The President of Armenia and President of the National Council of the Swiss Confederation spoke about the agenda of the Swiss-Armenian relations, stressed the importance of active parliamentary collaboration, and exchanged views on the opportunities of developing cooperation in the areas of modern technologies and innovations, science, food security as well as implementation of joint programs.
The parties discussed also regional problems.
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Armen Sarkissian met with the WCB Vice President of the world’s technological leader Microsoft, Judson Althoff.
Stressing the importance of expanding cooperation and implementation of joint programs, President Sarkissian presented Armenia’s opportunities in becoming a technological and educational hub.
Judson Althoff said that their company is interested in cooperation in the framework of the Presidential ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) initiative, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence, mathematical modeling, and some others.
The parties concurred that Microsoft could become an interesting partner for the mentioned above Presidential initiative. They agreed to continue discussions and to sign in the nearest future a memorandum on cooperation.
They also discussed opportunities of cooperation in the area of education.
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Armen Sarkissian met with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti.
Noting that Armenia and EBRD are long-standing partners, President Sarkissian noted with satisfaction the efficient cooperation between the two and successful implementation of different projects in various areas.
Suma Chakrabarti in his turn underscored the effective cooperation with the government of Armenia and said that EBRD was resolute to continue assistance to Armenia.
President Sarkissian reiterated Armenia’s proposal to hold the 2021 annual meeting of EBRD in Armenia.
The parties exchanged views on the prospects of implementation of new projects, development of the financial market, and new opportunities of cooperation in the IT area.
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Armen Sarkissian is holding meetings with representatives of the world’s leading companies and business community.
President Armen Sarkissian met with the leading Japanese Mitsubishi Group's Member of the Board, Chairman of the Board of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shunichi Miyanaga. President Sarkissian and Shunichi Miyanaga recalled warmly their previous meeting in Tokyo.
They spoke about cooperation, opportunities of application in Armenia of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ advanced technologies and expertise.
Speaking of the ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) Presidential initiative, which is aimed at the development of modern technologies based on artificial intelligence, management of large volumes of data and mathematical modeling, the parties agreed that they could become partners in this area.
President Sarkissian and Shunichi Miyanaga exchanged views on the issues pertinent to nuclear fuel and management of nuclear waste.
President Armen Sarkissian, who is participating at the World Economic Forum in Davos, met with the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia.
Giorgi Gakharia conveyed to President Sarkissian warm greetings from the President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili.
The President of Armenia and Prime Minister of Georgia exchanged views on the agenda of the Armenian-Georgian relations. They noted that the two countries have a very wide spectrum and huge potential of cooperation. Stressing that the results of the mutually beneficial cooperation would promote the well-being of the citizens of Armenia and Georgia, the interlocutors underlined the importance of practical steps and joint programs.
The parties noted that there is great potential for cooperation in the areas of high-tech, agriculture, food production and supply, tourism, and some others.
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Armen Sarkissian met with Roland Busch and Cedric Nake - Board members of Siemens, one of the world’s industrial and technological leaders.
The parties discussed cooperation, opportunities of employing in Armenia modern technologies of Siemens and its expertise.
President Sarkissian and members of the Board of Directors of Siemens spoke in particular about cooperation in the framework of the Presidential ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) project aimed at the development of science and education. They noted that there were great opportunities in the areas of artificial intelligence, mathematical modeling, management of large volume data, and some other areas. They concurred that Siemens and ATOM program could unfold efficient cooperation in the framework of the mentioned areas.
President Armen Sarkissian in the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos as a keynote speaker participated at the “Balancing Domestic and Global Inequality” panel. President Sarkissian participated at the panel together with another keynote speaker - the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, professor at the Columbia University Joseph Stiglitz. He was the Chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Economic Advisers Board, Senior Vice President of the World Bank and Chief Economist and authored a number of researches. His latest book istitled “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future.”
Considering the fact that the 2020 report on global risks mentiones inequality as the main risk factor, it was debated how decision-makers could improve the balance between the domestic political priorities and global economic situation.
Before discussions started, President Armen Sarkissian thanked professor Stiglitz for the role he has had in his life and clarified that in 1996, while the Prime Minister of Armenia, he had had disagreements on poverty reduction with representatives of the World Bank. “For me, as prime minister, the means of overcoming poverty was development,” President Sarkissian told. “We reached a common conclusion with the President of the World Bank to make Armenia not a country fighting poverty but make it a developing country. In this “fight” I was inspired by professor Stiglitz’s article on globalization.
Speaking of global risks, President Sarkissian noted their quantum nature and the base of quantum politics. “I have presented that theory in a 600-page book which will be published soon,” Armen Sarkissian said. “In order to understand how far your country can go, it is necessary to think about the current situation in the world. I was thinking about it even before becoming president. As a citizen, I am amazed by similarities. To understand it, it would be necessary to travel 100 years back when we were dealing with natural sciences and physics world, when the scholars were able to analyze classical phenomena up until the point when they collided with the processes which were inexplicable. It caused havoc. At that time, it became necessary to change the perception of the phenomena. Geniuses like Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Richard Feynman didn’t create anything, they changed the philosophy of comprehending physics. In the greatest discoveries happening around us, each of us has his small part. The current generation is living in two worlds – material and virtual. We are elementary particles.
Another important fact is the population growth. When I study nature, I come to realize that it is not classical, it is quantum. Bodies are ruled by quantum laws. I understood that with time we become more and more quantum that we are living in a society which is quite different from the previous.
Democracy is changing too, since in a normal democratic country one votes for parliament, or president for the next five years, then waits for results, polls, etc. Nowadays, you are voting daily on the Facebook page. Today we live in a totally different world which is of quantum nature and becomes more complex. There are no regulations not only in a sense that we don’t understand what’s going on, but there are also no regulations in a social dimension. Thus, welcome to a new world, which, just like nature, is not classical but quantum. Personally, I am very excited about it because we have scientists who need to understand how quantum policies are working. It’s a marvelous task and its solution will be an achievement.
Many of developed countries of the world have debts which must be paid off. The bigger the debt, the more problems it creates. How to solve that problem? One can do refinancing, negotiate, boost the economy, ensure economic growth but nevertheless there are certain restricting obligations. But let’s view this problem from another angle.
The greatest issue everyone is talking about today is related to environment. Each of us is interconnected not only through the debt we have inherited from IMF and World Bank but also by bilateral debts. Let’s imagine there is a big country which is concerned with climate change and is ready to invest 1 billion USD in the improvement of climate change: we plant trees, make production cleaner, and so. Let’s imagine that there is a smaller country which has five hundred million USD debt and has to service it.
Imagine also that there are two smart leaders who have agreed to combine their efforts and have convinced the international community that the smaller countries should spend part of that debt on making their countries greener planting thousands, millions of trees and will give that loan to a larger country which will be able to confirm that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into “green bonds.” The idea is how to make planet Earth greener, with less CO2, or how to get rid of debts in favor of climate.
As a result, a small country, which makes a very favorable for the entire world move, will have another chance and borrow 500 million dollars.
We are living in an unpredictable and volatile world. It’s been my conviction that uncertainly always breeds opportunities. Opportunities appear for small country because in the technological sense, we all start from the same point. Armenia is a small country which has multiple scholars, physicists, mathematicians, great educational systems in the area of programming. Everything will change because in the future plants will not be needed for machine building. Five, 10, or 20 years from now, when you visit a trade center, your car will be ready before you have even bought some food for your kid. Your car will have three thousand components, it will be electrical, assembled for you by two robots. This is the reality.
Production processes at the manufacturing enterprises will change dramatically. Today, we are trying to find big markets where the labor is cheaper, while in the future large companies’ advantage will be their know-how. It is very important because the future of the world will be defined mainly by startups.
But how I am able to make an innovation when the industrial logic dictates that you need to go to university, become an engineer, then a senior engineer, and ultimately vice-president. This creates another problem because Armenia is a land-locked country but I am thinking of building a harbor in Armenia, make Armenia a major international “harbor” in the global ocean of information. At this point we come across other problems, risks connected to data, regulations, etc. But if we take the route of creating a startup, the idea becomes the most powerful tool. What’s the idea? Can you sell it, will it have some value, will we have idea marketplace in the future, and will we be able to regulate them?
We are entering a new world, and I am not afraid of that fact. I believe the speed we are moving with will result in the fourth industrial revolution to be the last one because it will be swift. The fourth, fifth, and sixth will be our evolution, revolution because we will be living in a new world and need to think outside the box.
All areas should be developed in parallel, tourism, culture should be developed, everything should be produced and sold. But all this should be based on new technologies, artificial intelligence. There are good examples of that in Africa too: look at Rwanda where e-governance has brought about great changes.
I am a great optimist. This world is going to be totally different; it will be not businessmen’s but young people’s world.”
President Armen Sarkissian in the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos met with the CEO of Qatar Investment Authorities Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud.
The parties spoke about President Armen Sarkissian’s recent productive visit to Qatar and reached agreements and noted that opening of an embassy of Qatar in Armenia, a visa-free regime and a direct air link create favorable prerequisites for the invigoration of business contacts between the two countries. They discussed opportunities for the implementation of investment projects and identified areas of cooperation. Among perspective areas were noted healthcare, science, education and technologies, food security, tourism and some others.
The Qatar Investment Authority is implementing investment programs in the country as well as abroad. The main areas of its activities are real estate, stocks, and some others. The Authority manages assets close to 335 billion USD. At the meeting with the President of Armenia, the CEO of the Authority noted that the structure is interested in the development of economic ties with Armenia and is ready to cooperate with the relevant agencies of our country.
President Sarkissian in the framework of the Forum in Davos met with the President of Iraqi Kurdistan: Armenia attaches importance to the development of multifaceted relations with the friendly Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos President Armen Sarkissian met with the President of Kurdistan region of Iraq Nechirvan Barzani.
Noting that Armenia has been following closely developments in the Middle East, President Sarkissian said that our country attaches importance to the development of multifaceted relations with the friendly Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan, and in the context of dynamic ties of the two countries, would continue to invigorate and deepen relations directly with Kurdistan. Among important factors, which could promote that cooperation, the President of Armenia noted the presence of the Armenian population; they live in Kurdistan region of Iraq and bring their contribution to its development.
Among possible areas of cooperation mentioned were IT, creative education, tourism, e-governance. President Sarkissian noted that the Armenian side is ready to share its experience in e-governance.
Along with the development of trade and economic relations, among other areas of cooperation they mentioned joint higher education, including teaching of students from Iraq, and Kurdistan in particular, at the Armenian universities.
In the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos President Armen Sarkissian met with the CEO of the world-famous Apple company Tim Cook.
The President of Armenia and CEO of Appel exchanged views on the opportunities of cooperation in the areas of IT, digital technologies, and innovations.