04, 2011

President Serzh Sargsyan answered questions from journalists

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After the meeting, which was attended by the managers and owners of the mining companies operating in Armenia President Serzh Sargsyan answered questions from journalists

Mr. President, what’s been the purpose of this meeting with the management of the leading mining companies and what are the results?

Mining is one of the most important branches of our economy. Some of our largest enterprises are engaged in this particular area, which means also – a number of our major taxpayers. As you already know, at the sitting of the National Security Council we confirmed a three-year reformation plan in tax and customs areas, and I wanted to personally assure the owners, the management of large businesses that we have serious objectives, and we want to see the tax and custom procedures as clear-cut as possible, so that in the process of collecting budget receipts the taxpayers are relieved of unnecessary fuss. It doesn’t mean that we are going to reduce tax rates or that we anticipate reduction of receipts. As international experience shows, in the process of reformation, some distortions may occasionally take place. We will not reduce spending in social, educational, health care or defense areas; we will not stop or delay payment of pensions. Hence, by simplifying these procedures we expect the taxpayers to display a conscientious approach. This is a mutually beneficial process, and I have discussed the details of this process with the leaders of the area. Certainly, we have discussed also the development programs for the mining area and in two or three years, as the owners told me, they will double their efforts, i.e. they will double their production, which means two times more taxes, it means if not twice as much then at least 70-80% more jobs and, naturally, associated production. That’s been the topic of our discussions.

Mr. President, recently, much has been said about the ongoing dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. How would You assess the current stage of the country’s internal life?

In this period of time, my approaches have not changed. I believe that political processes in our country proceed normally or at least everything is moving in that direction.

The coalition parties have become more active in the legislative as well as executive bodies. We witness certain signs of revitalization in some areas of economy, in some instances we witness enthusiasm, and I believe in the nearest future the results will show in figures and in public perceptions.

Parliamentary activities are rather active: ARF and Heritage opposition parties have invigorate their works. I think a very important tradition is being formed at the moment in the Parliament, and I mean that the discussions – sometimes they are harsh, and sometimes accusations fly - nevertheless these discussions are conducted close to the norms of propriety. This is very important, and I trust that if the coalition and the parliamentary opposition alike make certain efforts, we will reach a bar of civility, which is absolutely crucial. I also attach importance to the positive changes observable in the activities of extraparliamentary opposition. Meetings are being invited, speeches are being made which are not intended to split up the society, are not intended to enforce the ideas of “crashing” or “smashing”, but which are rather intended to transfer political struggle to certain milieus. I like the fact that the organizers of the meetings and the Police are able to work with each other. And, thanks God, for a while there have not been any serious violations of public order. This may allow for the Freedom Square to once again become a scene where alternative opinions on Armenia’s development are voiced. This is the message that the Freedom Square carries, and if the situation unfolds in that direction, I believe through our joint efforts we will be able to sweep off the Square false perceptions existing today, or, to be precise, which existed yesterday, that it’s a setting which feeds extremism. It is very important for all of us.

I would like to remind that this year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Republic. Nowadays, we are conducting events and they will go on beyond September 21, up to the end of the year. I would also like to remind that we are entering the month of May – for our nation it’s a month of achievements and victories. In May, we will also be celebrating the Republic Day, a holiday which is full of significant lessons, and those lessons are relevant even today.

Schism has never been good for any nation, or any country. Evil cannot solve the problems of development; we all must be able to defeat evil. Only the strong can defeat evil. Today, we have strong leadership, we have opposition which will not allow the authorities to lose alertness, and through cooperation we can achieve great success in our country. In this task, we are also ready to be the first, we are ready to make steps toward the lessening and relaxation, and I have already tasked the Minister of Justice to present proposals.

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