03, 2011

President Serzh Sargsyan talks to the journalists after forum in Tsakhkadzor

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President Serzh Sargsyan talks to the journalists after “Programs and problems for agriculture development in Armenia in 2011” forum in Tsakhkadzor.

Mr. President, your meeting yesterday with the team responsible for the sector of agriculture and today’s participation at the forum on agriculture issues – does it speak about increased attention toward the problems of the agriculture sector and what are your expectations from that sector in general?

Serzh Sargsyan: That’s right, yesterday I invited the economic team to energize their efforts and pay special attention to the area of agriculture. We implement numerous programs in rural areas, which, unfortunately, are not always very efficient. There is a need for new programs, new initiatives and today we have discussed new programs. These programs are meant to convince our people that they are not alone with their problems, that state officials support them, that there are those who are ready to help them, who are as much interested in their success as the farmers themselves. Strength of any state is defined by its economic base. National security, defense and foreign issues are all very important, however they can only be solved if the state rests a strong base. One of the most important components of our country’s base is agriculture. A major part of our GDA is formed in the rural communities. The period of vigorous agricultural works is rapidly approaching, and I believe, this will be our last, so to speak, in-doors meeting and during that meeting, as I have already said, we discussed certain programs. I am confident that these programs will be successful. I attach great importance to the fact that the discussions have been attended not only by the leadership of the RA Ministry of Agriculture and representatives of international organizations but also by the leaders of rural economy, unions, and regions. These are people who know the problems first hand. We expect to recover losses and achieve good, serious results.

On March 5, You met with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. At the meeting mediated by the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, you adopted yet another declaration. What are the guarantees that provisions of this declaration will be implemented?

Serzh Sargsyan: The Sochi meeting can, in a way, be called a turning point. There is a clear-cut base for negotiations and there are short-term agreements. Long-term outlook suggests that the negotiations will go on and it looks like in Sochi we have been able to finally settle on a way we should take to move forward. First, short-term agreements are very important for the consolidation of the ceasefire regime and second, they can work as litmus, revealing how the parties fulfill their obligations. As you know, we have talked about consolidating the ceasefire regime and enhancement of confidence building measures, because tension can built up in no time, while the peace process is a much more difficult issue, and now we, according to our agreements, are entering a process called to ease the tension, which would allow to conduct normal negotiations, conclude them and if they are successful – to achieve our goals. I believe, the Co-chairs have a good opportunity to investigate all incidents which took place before and after the negotiations and tell the public what has really happened. We are ready to provide all necessary assistance, we are ready to fulfill our obligations. We don’t want our troops to die, we want the peace process to get stronger. It looks like the time has come for the Presidents to tell how they use the talks, what’s their purpose? Is the purpose to achieve results or under the disguise of talks to get ready for military solutions? It doesn’t mean that because of the negotiations the work in the Armed Forces should be neglected. Of course not, what I mean is whether the negotiations are just a process or a vehicle to achieve results. I believe, the Sochi meeting was different. I hope, things we discussed are real and not illusory. In the nutshell, the negotiations are going on, there is a document which we are working on, and this is a long process; there are also short-term agreements which we have to fulfill.

The agreement signed by the coalition fortified the authorities, on the other hand, in the opposition field we witness certain activities - meetings invited by different political forces, manifestations, and declarations. What developments do you expect in spring?

Serzh Sargsyan: In spring, I first of all anticipate active work, in rural areas as well as in urban areas. Problems are plenty and they have to be solved. As you know, we have programs to do it, and these programs envisage many changes. These changes should yield results, which should be observable. The global economic crisis, events that took place in our region before that, problems in the area of agriculture in 2010 created additional difficulties for us and our people. It is quite natural that people want change, and it is also natural that we want to expedite these changes. We will carry on with the reforms; you can see that whenever we do something with determination and motivation, the results become quite visible.

For instance, we have boldly started reformation in the pension system. Thousands work in that system to serve hundred thousands of our retirees, and reforms in that area could have been very painful. However, after first two months it has become clear that these problems can be solved and as a result billions of Drams can be saved and redirected to the solution of other social problems.

As for the political life, I would like to say that we are ready to listen to criticism, proposals, however they should be aimed at the solution of concrete problems, they should be realistic, doable and not just made to profiteer in, or to get voters to influence some processes. By the way, that’s normal too. Opposition has to see problems, criticize and for the next elections gather a cohort of supporters, win and so on. I trust that over all, political process goes on in the right direction. I think that in the last one or two years certain formats have been shaped and certain processes have entered a normal course. The meetings are being conducted within the boundaries of propriety, and that’s how it should be. I believe, authorities and opposition should draw proper conclusions from the errors of the past not to repeat them in the future. Please don’t take it as sweet talk but thank God on both sides there are individuals who have huge experience, who know what state and statehood mean, who can see the line between the Motherland, statehood, national interests, and political ends. I am certain that political ends cannot become priority for neither one of us. Of course such ends should exist, otherwise political activities would be senseless, but I would like to repeat that each and every one of us must see clearly that line, each and every one of us must do everything not to repeat the errors of the past.

I will not tire to say over and over again that changes are always challenging, are always painful, and any political force, certainly, tries to use problems to advance their own causes; on the other hand I must say that we will continue with the reforms. There will be new developments in the Police, justice, tax and customs systems and ultimately these changes will result in people’s ability to decide during large political campaigns, during elections whom they are voting for. I am confident that reforms in our country will be continuous and as a result of these reforms we will have a democratic state. This is our goal, and we are resolute to achieve that goal.

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