12, 2020

The Government must realize that there is a crisis, and that crisis can be resolved only through national efforts. The exclusive interview of President Armen Sarkissian to CivilNet

President Armen Sarkissian gave an exclusive interview to CivilNet.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Mr. President, before referring to the internal political situation, I would like to hear your opinion: why did we reach this situation? I mean the war and the defeat in the war, this internal political situation. Do you have an answer to this question?

President Sarkissian: I think that today every Armenian has an answer to this and many other questions, or at least tries to find an answer. I will try to answer a little more generally. When we speak about this moment, I think the main question is the following: do we have a crisis or not? I think we do, and not one, but several. You asked about the war. Looking back over the past few months, I can see that we have passed a way, which in a sense was not a way of defeat. This was not a defeat, because during the war, it turned out that we have a huge number of young people who are ready to repeat the heroic path of their fathers in the 1990s or, perhaps, their grandfathers during the Second World War. They were heroes, ready to give their lives for their Motherland. We are talking about thousands of young people. We had families who, during their great tragedy, silently bearing their grief, were proud that their sons had sacrificed their lives for their Motherland. It is hard. We had a whole nation ready to live by the logic and psychology of war, ready to sacrifice everything for victory. We still have it today. We had a Diaspora that unprecedentedly did its best to support the homeland: financially, economically, with advice and participation. I think altogether this is a real victory of the spirit, the victory of the Armenian spirit. We were all participants and witnesses of the victorious spirit of the Armenians.

I am sorry that the Armenian victorious spirit, which has always been and will continue to be in the future, did not turn into a military victory on the battlefield. There are several main reasons. Supporting Artsakh, Armenia waged war against Azerbaijan, which had much larger economic and human resources, and Turkey. We all know that defeat on the battlefield, connected with the fact that this army of a fantastic spirit and victorious soldiers loyal to the Motherland, did not have weapons of the 21st century.

We did not have modern weapons, but the enemy had. It is not a matter of weapons or tools, but how you use them, i.e. the art of war. This takes me back to the 1990s when we won in 1994. The whole world was friendly to Armenia, the Armenian people and Artsakh and knew that the Armenians had won. One of the reasons was that we were a year or two ahead of the adversary in the art of war. Both of us started with voluntary movements and disorganized groups, but we realized and involved our compatriots who had served in the Soviet army and in Afghanistan. Thus, the culture and art of warfare came to Armenia, and we were ahead of the Azerbaijanis. We had the same weapons, but we outstripped them in the art and science of warfare, and therefore, we won. Аnother reason was that if in the 1990s, we went from volunteering to the army and created a powerful army, during this war, for some reason, we did not become an army of the 21st century, but went back to volunteering.

The losers on the battlefield were not the soldier and his spirit, but the decision-making officials who were supposed to be ready for a possible war, properly organize and wage it.

The fact that our society is divided and polarized has also played its part. The wrong ways and methods that existed in terms of public opinion and public involvement also had much significance. If you add all these, you will find the cause of the war or the post-war crisis. But there is no defeated soldier there, on the contrary, our soldier is victorious because I have seen that spirit when meeting with people. Our army has always had a brilliant spirit of victory, but it should also have the modern weapons, tools and organization. This is one crisis, and it is not the only one.

We already have a demographic crisis; if we look back, there was also a demographic crisis in Artsakh. For twenty-six years the population of Artsakh remained the same as it was: 140,000 people. In twenty-six years, the population of Artsakh might easily have grown to 500-700 thousand. In that case, there either would not be any war, or it would be different.

We have a risk of a possible demographic crisis in the future as well. If the coronavirus ends, and the crisis solutions remain unresolved, many of our compatriots will possibly leave the homeland. We have seen this happen for thirty years.

There is another crisis – the healthcare crisis, connected with coronavirus. Unfortunately, we are still far from resolving it and lose our compatriots every day.
There is an economic crisis that existed before the war, but coronavirus intensified the situation.

There is a humanitarian crisis. We have thousands of compatriots from Artsakh who must spend this winter in Armenia. It is necessary to help them find a place to live, to give support, and an opportunity for their children to go to school and receive education. It is not written in the Constitution, but the President of the Republic and our Office is currently busy accommodating about 200 people from Hadrut. Each of us does that. I know there are volunteers, supporters, and organizations in Yerevan to help these people.

There is a social crisis. Under these difficult circumstances, thousands of families, who lost their heroic sons, live in hard social conditions, especially those who lost their breadwinner.
Thousands of young people are injured today; this is an immense social problem as well.

There is a crisis, so to speak, in the field of public opinion formation, both internally and externally. The war that seems to us to have ended on November 9 or 10 is not over because the war of media and public opinion continues very intensely. The adversary is attacking us in places that seem to be our most friendly country. For example, on the territory of Russia, a war of humiliation of Armenian nature and statehood is being waged in every way. The same is happening in Europe and the United States. In the Arabic-speaking countries, our adversary is engaged in anti-Armenian propaganda as well. Instead of using our resources, be it state or so-called SNCO, or non-state, to counteract the adversary, people inside Armenia are busy pouring dirt on individuals, organizations, parties, government, or opposition. Moreover, the quality of that struggle is terribly low; there is no limit, no morals and no truth. This is another crisis. We are spending immense human, moral and psychological resources to destroy the trust in the statehood within our nation, and this is leading to the abyss.

There is a moral-psychological crisis, which is very essential. As I mentioned, although the soldiers and the people have not lost, this situation forces people, especially the youth, to go through a very difficult moral-psychological path. I myself am one of the optimists who thinks the heroic spirit our people showed during the war will guarantee that we will rebuild our state. I hope that we will build a new statehood, which will be real with its structures and institutions; we will be able to use that spirit for Armenia to get to its feet and the Artsakh issue to get a final fair solution at last.

It is very difficult for those who live abroad, in the Diaspora. There is a need to overcome the psychology of losers. This is another crisis, which I think is very essential.

We also have a deep crisis of governance. In our country, institutions are often replaced by or identified with individuals. I am not the institution of the President of the Republic of Armenia. I am just the temporary head of that institution. A ministry and a minister are not institutions. Unfortunately, what we see these days is that by not taking up institutional actions, these institutions, departments or managements, or ministers often lose.

They lose to the bloggers and the so-called fakes. That means that the fake or false virtual world exerts pressure on a corresponding state figure, whose duty is to carry out certain functions objectively in reality. And he loses as he begins to submit to the “public opinion,” which in reality is not a public opinion but simply expresses the interests of separate individuals or groups.

On the list of these crises, there is another one, which is the crisis of not acknowledging the crisis. When you are ill, you must first diagnose your illness. In any sphere, from healthcare to science, it is essential not to deceive ourselves. This is a fundamental matter because we are used to accepting our dreams and desires as reality. Whatever we had, is accepted as having today as well. I can give numerous examples. Today’s Byurakan Observatory is not the same as it was in the times of Victor Hambartsumian. To think today that we have modern astronomy of the 21st century is self-deception. Today's Academy of Sciences is not the same as we had thirty years ago. The number of people has decreased six-seven times, and with funding, maybe twenty-thirty times. Of course, we have brilliant individuals or laboratories engaged in the most modern science, but to say that we have systematic science…

Deceiving ourselves, we say we have a powerful army, but in reality our army lacks its proper organizing and modernizing, and the result is what we have.

One of the first tasks is the following: we must try to tell the truth and say what we have to say. I think one of the first things that the future governments or the Government should do is to review the core values of the Republic and our nation, i.e. conduct auditing.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: – Assessing the potential?

President Sarkissian:
First of all, the audit assesses the reality, then the potential. The potential is people, the potential is our wealth, what we have, but you have to assess the reality of where you are today, in the air or on the ground.

I prefer to be on the ground if that ground is low. I prefer to be below, knowing that I have to climb one hundred steps to reach my goal, and every step will be painful, it will require hard work and discipline, than to assume that I am one hundred steps above, to lie in one way or another and then start to believe my own lie.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Mr. President, now about the ways-out. You described the situation quite capaciously, to put it mildly, in what a difficult situation we are and how many crises we are facing. For the most part, of course, I agree. You suggested the resignation of this Government as a way-out and early parliamentary elections; you have seen the need for that, but the ruling party does not seem to be inclined to it. What is the way-out of the internal political crisis?

President Sarkissian: To be honest, nothing has changed, and my proposal is valid because it is part of an ordinary parliamentary democracy. If you have a crisis, if you have lost a war, economic or military, you have to start again. Otherwise, defeat becomes commonplace, i.e. you continue to live by the psychology of a loser. Very often, if people lose, they try to close that page and start over. My proposal is within the logic of an ordinary democratic state, and not personalized at all. We are talking about our country and the crisis we have.

The solution consists of five simple points. The first is to acknowledge that you have a crisis, and consequently, the Government must resign. To tell the truth, I see nothing unusual in this step. I thought that the Government would be the first to respond to the President's proposal and would begin to undertake what I had proposed, i.e. a resignation, an interim government or that of national accord, which is difficult to form, because then not only the government or the ruling power must agree, but also the opposition. But in this case, the opposition is in one place, and the Government is in another. Today, we have a society, most of which is silent, does not raise its voice; we do not have two or three hundred thousand demonstrations. You do not need two or three hundred thousand people to take to the streets to have a crisis, you just have to see that there is a crisis. Therefore, the first step is the resignation of the Government, and then the formation of a government. You can call it an interim government or a government, which is limited in time.

I do not agree with the politicians who say that the government cannot be apolitical. The government of national accord can have a very simple structure where everyone agrees that it should not be politicized, i.e. it should be a government of professionals. In fact, our people are rich in human resources.

Yesterday, I saw Ruben Vardanyan's initiative: he offered fifty people. To be honest, I was surprised that there were fifty people; why not one hundred or five hundred? I could easily add another hundred people in five minutes: Ruben Vardanyan himself and his partner Noubar Afeyan, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the chairman of Moderna’s board of directors, one of the two American companies today, which have found a solution for the coronavirus. Why was Noubar Afeyan not on that list? Why can Noubar Afeyan not become the Minister of Science and Education of Armenia? Can you imagine a person with whom the whole world is trying to negotiate to buy this vaccine first, a person who is an MIT professor, for some reason, cannot be the Minister of Education of Armenia? By our Constitution, we have built a Berlin Wall that a person should have lived in Armenia for four years and that he should have been an RA citizen. We have put up barriers everywhere, according to the Constitution. The same goes for Lord Darzi, number one health organizer in the world, or Vardan Grigoryan, who could very easily be the President of our Academy of Sciences or the President of the University Council. I am not talking about the younger generation. If we look at our friend Russia, one of the most well-known companies is Yandex, run by a young man named Khudaverdyan. New technologies and artificial intelligence are our economic, financial and military success, because in the next wars, there will be the same drones with artificial intelligence. Can this young man be the Minister of Industry of the Republic of Armenia? No. So, we are building barriers everywhere.

People ask me why I sign the appointment of new ministers if I call on the Government to resign. I do not call for individual ministers to resign, but for the resignation of the Government to have a new start-up. No matter how critical the situation is, this country needs a Minister of Defense today. I do not decide if the minister is good or bad; it is the Prime Minister who makes the decision, and it is his choice, but this country needs a Minister of Defense, and the Ministry must work very actively, work at the important moment of demarcation as well.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Related to this matter, you applied to the President of Russia, by the way.

President Sarkissian:
Of course, because, as in history, Russia plays a significant role today as well. It is essential to us that there is the RF President’s signature under the ceasefire agreement.

Many questions arise beyond the ceasefire: a ceasefire that is very important to us, but at the same time, the peacekeepers, the return of our captives, and the issue of delimitation or demarcation. You cannot permit the adversary to come today and using the GPS or some other tools, say that now the border is not here, it is somewhere else.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan - Which, by the way, is happening now. Mr. President, you addressed the President of Russia. What answer do you have? Share with us if you have an answer.

President Sarkissian: You know, letters, especially between the heads of states, are not written to get an answer; they are not for questions and answers. Such letters are written when needed.

The two republics discussed the borders as far back as the late 1920s. The last time, in the Soviet years, in 1984, in 1988, when the delimitation was over, the relevant departments of the two Governments signed it, but the Supreme Councils did not discuss the issue.

However, if we go back to that delimitation, it will be completely different from what is done today with the Google Map and the GPS. In any case, this is a most serious problem, and here you need a Minister of Defense to meet with his counterpart Mr. Shoigu, and a Minister of Foreign Affairs to meet with Mr. Lavrov.

The answer to your question is very simple. I am in favour of a new professional government. My not signing will be simple populism: “Look, the President did not sign…”

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: But your rating would rise well…

President Sarkissian:
To be honest, I am not here for ratings. I have come to serve the people. I have already mentioned what happens when a minister loses to a blogger. Bloggers, virtual world, fakes, Facebook: they determine the rating you say. However, if I do not sign, the Prime Minister will sign it in three days, and the same person becomes a minister. What will we gain there? The temporary semi-real rating you mentioned. I do not need it. I do not have Facebook, nor do I follow it. I came here to serve the state and to make decisions that are right, not rating-oriented. Otherwise, I will blame myself for doing what I said - when a governor or a minister loses to the public opinion. I do not want to lose there.

Let us return to your main question. There are five points. Firstly, to recognize the crisis and the resignation of the Government; secondly, to form a government of national accord or a professional government, either temporary or transitional; thirdly, to announce the elections. It is logical, at least in a year, because part of the society, who are either with the Government today or not, either with the opposition or not, will have the opportunity to express itself; maybe new leaders will be born, or maybe Ruben Vardanyan’s list will become five hundred people. I am sure we can easily find five hundred talented people to take on different spheres, not just temporarily. There are two more points. There is a need to change the Electoral Code.

When I talk about changing it, I do not mean reforming it once again and receiving no good from it. I am talking of amending the Electoral Code that will really reflect the state we live in, a parliamentary state, and express the values we have. And here we come to the fifth point that there is a need for constitutional changes. They often say, what is the problem? The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia is not very different from the Constitution of Germany.

On paper, it makes little difference; in fact, there is an immense difference because the Germans and we differ in cultures: political, disciplinary, culture of political dialogue, etc. I can give you many examples. At this, in two and a half years, I have collected a huge number of documents as a living laboratory on what does not work. Let me give a simple example: nominating the Constitutional Court members. The first two candidates I proposed did not pass for their connection with the previous Parliament. Then it turned out that I had to nominate a member of the Constitutional Court within ten days. And when we read not only the Constitution and the laws but also the NA Rules of Procedure in a more detailed way, it turned out that this was a requirement of the NA Rules of Procedure. In other words, they were trying to force the President to be guided by the NA Rules of Procedure. I appealed to the Constitutional Court, which five and a half months later actually said I was right.

Or, the next example. I am giving examples related to the institution of the President, not to other institutions. A law presented, the RA President has two options: either send it to the Constitutional Court or sign it. It does not matter if you do not sign it; the NA Speaker signs, and it becomes a law. I have to judge any law that is on my table in terms of the Constitution: whether it satisfies the Constitution or not. There are many laws that do not contradict with the Constitution but they are anti-state, anti-national, anti-educational, and anti-social... One of the latest examples was related to real estate taxation. What contradiction does this law have with the Constitution? One can invent, of course, especially if the lawyers are fantastic, they can make any comment. But what about the contradiction? I prefer not to see a contradiction with the Constitution but to express my opinion on the unfair situation created by such a law. People who lived in the centre of Yerevan, whose parents were famous scientists and artists we are all proud of, are now ordinary citizens with low incomes, should leave because they will not be able to pay that tax. And where will they be going? They will leave Armenia. I sign it, for I cannot send this to the Constitutional Court. The President of the Republic does something unusual: together with the signature, he makes an extraordinary statement saying that if he had the right to veto, he would not sign.

Or they will put a law on education on my table. I have to look again to see if this is in line with the Constitution. I have the experience of working in different universities and scientific centres of the world, can I judge whether this law will contribute to the development of the educational system or science, or not?

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Is it about the management of Higher Education Institutions?

President Sarkissian:
Yes, and not only higher education institutions. In the future, also science, and scientific institutes… As someone who has many years of experience in the field of science and education, asking other peoples’ opinion: of my colleagues, also addressing the public, individual institutes, and universities, can’t I express my opinion not by sending that law to the Constitutional Court, but by rejecting, send it back to the Government, and say: dear Government, dear friends, this law for one reason or another does not correspond to the development of our educational system?

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: And is it not possible to apply to you from the beginning during the process of elaboration or to work with them through internal pipes?

President Sarkissian: Of course, everything is possible if there is such culture, a sense of statehood, and state institutions work properly. Of course, in principle, it could be done, even if we were in Germany, maybe it would not be necessary, because the President's opinion would be asked in advance. But I have been the President of the Republic of Armenia for two and a half years I have not visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs even once in two and a half years. Not because I had no wish, or my institution, the presidential structure, had not offered...

For many reasons, this visit of the RA President to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not take place. I am one of the first ambassadors of Armenia, if I am not mistaken, Alik Arzumanyan and I were the first ambassadors of Armenia. When Armenia became a UN member, I had the great honour of standing under the flag. A person with thirty years of diplomatic experience, who is the President of the country today, having two and a half years’ desire to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, be it the Diplomats’ Day, or New Year, did not have the opportunity. And now you are talking about cooperation.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Mr. President, you mentioned the cooperation issues; I mean within the country, also systemic. When the Statement of November 9 or 10 was signed, you said you were not informed, and then you announced that your potential remained unused during that time. Tell me, please, if it had been used, what opportunities there could have been that were not used.

President Sarkissian:
You are asking a difficult question. I do not know, I am not the judge. People who know me, and the path I have passed, know that over the years my life has been arranged in such a way that I went from science to diplomacy, from diplomacy to business, to international structures, and huge companies I have worked with. As it turned out, I became experienced in science, education and diplomacy. I was the Prime Minister, unfortunately, for a short period; I had to resign for health reasons. I do not know what we have lost, but I feel that very little of my potential has been used during these two and a half years.

I am very sorry. During the war, I did what I could, twenty-four hours a day. I could have done more, but it is the same example. For two and a half years, despite my very clear wishes expressed several times, I have not visited the Ministry of Defense. Shall I continue?

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Please.

President Sarkissian: And what does this mean? People need to understand clearly. The fourth President of the Republic is not the same as the first, the second and the third. It is the same name, but the first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Mr. Kocharyan and Mr. Serzh Sargsyan were executive presidents, they ruled the country. I am the President of a Parliamentary State, therefore, I cannot give orders to any Minister, I cannot just instruct that I want to go there. Because it is written in the Constitution that the foreign policy is formed and conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Yes, I informed people as much as possible from morning till night during all the days of the war, I gave four-five interviews a day to different media in the world, not only in Europe, America, and Russia, but also in the territories that were not "covered" at all by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others. I am talking about the Arab and Islamic world. Do not forget that this is a very important area in political and military sense, and in terms of diplomacy. Because many people and our adversaries were trying to impart an anti-Islamic, and an anti-Arab nature to this war. It is quite the opposite today, most of the Islamic and Arab world is friendly to us. I took this as an initiative and started doing it myself. As a result, we saw that in the most difficult days of the war, Saudi Arabia announced an embargo on Turkish goods. During the war, I visited a number of countries that are among the most important in the Arab world. And after the war, the King of Jordan invited me to pay an official visit. Under the circumstances of the COVID, no one is received on an official visit; but I was received officially, at the highest level. This is a friendly hand to friendly people who are in trouble. And it is a friendly hand from the head of a state of about ten million, from a man who is a direct descendant of Muhammad, i.e., in a sense, the leader of the Islamic world. In other words, this step has an immense political and diplomatic significance. And I am grateful to the King of Jordan for taking that step. There were also parallel discussions during that visit. At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called their Foreign Minister to discuss the Karabakh issue.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: During your meetings?

President Sarkissian:
At the same moment when we were with the king. At the same time, I want to tell you that the King of Jordan is one of those people who can help build and deepen our relations in the future with the Arab world, and the Islamic world in general, which is absolutely necessary. If we talk tomorrow about the protection of our historical, cultural and spiritual values, whether in Azerbaijan or in the territories they now control, states like Jordan, and our friends in the Islamic world will have as much influence as, of course, Russia.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: You mentioned Saudi Arabia, you said it imposed an embargo during the war, you spoke about the work in that direction during the war. Was it at your request?

President Sarkissian: I do not answer similar questions.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Very good. Mr. President, you mentioned about the interim government. Now 16 or 17 parties have announced it, holding demonstrations inside the country, and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister. There is a talk of a government of national accord; Vazgen Manukyan has been nominated as a possible candidate for Prime Minister. How do you view this process? According to you, what is a government of national accord?

President Sarkissian:
This is the five-point suggestion I have made. I am sorry that the Government and the current rule did not respond to that proposal; I think that is the way-out of this situation. To tell the truth, the opposition, in this case the 16-17 parties, has offered the same roadmap as a guide. It is not because I have suggested, but because it is, first of all, a logical way. Secondly, as for Vazgen Manukyan, I am not the person who should assess Vazgen Manukyan's path; I was a pupil at Charents school when Vazgen Manukyan organized the demonstration going to the Square by Amiryan Street in 1965. Later, I got in touch with Vazgen Manukyan and his friends when I went to university and then worked there.

Vazgen Manukyan was one of the leaders of the Karabakh movement; I remember him very well when he was on the platform and I was in the square. Vazgen Manukyan was the first Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of our independent country. His path speaks for itself. I got in touch with him two and a half years ago, during the April events, when he was the Chairman of the Public Council. My meetings with him showed that I was dealing with a man who is compassionate and full of energy, has clear ideas and a very good quality, an ability to listen. I cannot say anything more than this, it is not me who should appraise him.

We talked about Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia does not use its oil, it will remain a desert. If any of the Gulf countries does not use its natural resources, it will remain a desert. People use their natural resources and invest in education, science and technology, educate their people by sending them abroad, and open universities. Our wealth is not oil, but you, the Armenian people, who are talented. As I said, how many states or peoples are there that when thinking of a candidate for Prime Minister, can write the names of at least a few hundred people and most of them are not from Armenia? They are talented people with a lot of experience. This is our wealth.

In the sense of these transitional days, I consider it my duty and, I think, my place is here as President, to be able to do everything possible to overcome these difficult days with some victory. Let's go back two and a half years. I had just become President, when the movement started in a few days; there were changes. The days were very tense and sharp, not only because there was a huge crowd on the street, but also because there was a fear of clashes between the government and the people in the days approaching April 24. There was a danger that on April 24, when most of the people would go out to the Genocide Memorial, there could be clashes with unpredictable consequences. It was a very hard day. Of course, I must give a positive assessment to the leaders of the movement, in particular to Nikol Pashinyan and to Serzh Sargsyan, who finally decided to resign.

As you remember, the tension dropped immediately. And on April 24, all of us, not together, but in parts, went in the same direction as a united nation that has values, and one of them is the memory of our victims. I consider it a victory, because two and a half years later, on every occasion I have been abroad, I have said that we are the people who, even when there are 200, 300 or 100 thousand people on the streets, do not betray our values. We are able to be together on April 24. It is a immense victory - diplomatically, politically, morally, and of our dignity as a nation.

I want us to win in this transitional period as well. If we have to make a transition, it must be as it was two and a half years ago, without opposition, conflict, without calls for violence; at this, I appeal to both sides to forget such calls, because it is not appropriate for us, our nation. And if we have lost a war, a battlefield, we have no right to lose our dignity, and our national pride. Everyone is looking at us during this transition. Do not doubt. The adversary continues to show our difficulties, to tell about our difficulties all over the world, showing at this point also our national unity and solidarity; It is importan that people are able to be together in a difficult moment, and make the right decision.

I have offered meetings with the three former presidents of the Republic. I have already met with the third president, I met with the second president. I am ready, and I am going to meet with Vazgen Manukyan as the leader of the movement, elected by 16-17 parties. I plan to meet with the Speaker of the National Assembly. Meet everyone. I would like to remind you that in this country the presidential institution is the arena where I offer all forces, from the government, the ruling party to the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition, to come and solve the issues on this platform in a civilized way.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Mr. President, I would like to ask about the meetings. You met with Serzh Sargsyan, and today there was an announcement about the meeting with Robert Kocharyan. What do you discuss at those meetings, what is their sense?

President Sarkissian:
We are coming back again. There is a very significant quality or requirement in the political, statal, and diplomatic spheres called state thinking and discipline. We gave a press release on what I talked to the second and third presidents. And I am not going to tell you or Facebook what I talked to them about.
You can be sure that we talked about getting the country out of this situation. We did not talk about anything else. And I will continue to talk to everyone - the ruling party, the leadership of the National Assembly, the members of the Government, and the opposition, proposing that we show once again that we can be united in a difficult moment.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Why I asked you this question, Mr. President, is because there is a situation that on the one hand, there are the 16-17 parties led by Vazgen Manukyan, and on the other hand, there is the Government. These two forces do not meet each other half-way. As you mentioned, there is a large layer, which is neither on this nor that side, but it is dissatisfied; and we have a closed circle, that large layer does not stand up, saying that if they stand up, the former ones will come. That is, they are often intimidated by their exes. We have such a closed magic circle; how to get out of it, and how to pierce that wall?

President Sarkissian:
I do not agree with the wall and the magic circle you described. This is a story of ordinary politics. This is the situation we are in. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we find ourselves in such a situation; perhaps, we have had a more difficult situation, or a simpler one, but I think the way-out of this situation is very simple, we have to admit that we have a situation, and work to get out. In my case, I have to work as hard as I can every day to get out of this situation, trying to find solutions.

I have had negotiation experience of many years. In the negotiation dialogue, my role in this case should be, as a negotiator or someone who organizes and supports the negotiations, or is the platform where you can negotiate, to try to find common grounds between them, to explain and eliminate the contradictions, and finally bring them to a solution. If you think it was easier two and a half years ago, it is not. Everyone should make an investment, everyone should be his own judge what investment he can make.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Mr. President, my last question. As we started with the Artsakh conflict, which gave birth to this situation in the country, now, the following is announced: Russia, which signed the Statement on November 9, says this is a settlement of the conflict. Azerbaijan says the same thing: this document is the settlement of the conflict - what happened, and what we came to in 44 days. The Armenian side does not say anything. What do you think is the solution for the Armenian side? Should we continue negotiations in the Minsk Group format, or not? Should we prepare for a war or peace?

President Sarkissian:
You asked one of the most important questions, but it is also a difficult one. To answer that question not as Armen Sarkissian, but as the President of a parliamentary country, first of all, I must have a similar mandate from the National Assembly and the Government that after this you are the negotiator. In that case, after consulting with everyone and formulating the answer that you are asking for and want to hear, I would answer your question. I do not have such a mandate, whatever I say will be my personal opinion. Since I have not been a negotiator on the Karabakh issue, I have not negotiated with the Co-Chairs within the framework of the Minsk Group, neither before nor recently, therefore, I will avoid answering this question, I will try to answer in a more general way.

I am one of those people who believe that there are no final defeats or victories. If you want the victory to be final, you have to work every day. If we wanted the 1994 victory to be final, we had to work for that victory, and prepare for war every day, so that we could have peace. As I said at the beginning of our conversation, I believe in the strength of our people, because I believe that the soldiers, the families who lost their sons, and all the Armenian people did not actually break their spirit and did not lose it in the war. I believe that spirit will still have many opportunities to celebrate many victories.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan: Thank you, Mr. President.

President Sarkissian:
Thank you very much.


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