President met with the participants of the operative meeting of the leadership of the RA Armed Forces
The President of Armenia, Commander-in-Chief of the RA Armed Forces Serzh Sargsyan today at the administrative compound of the RA Ministry of Defense met with the participants of the operative meeting of the leadership of the RA Armed Forces. The purpose of the meeting was through the meetings and lectures to familiarize the officials of the Republic with the priorities of Armenia’s domestic and foreign policy, tendencies of development within the Army, to discuss issues related to the cooperation between the Ministry of Defense and RA law enforcement structures, to exchange experience as well as through the specialized seminars to enhance knowledge and skills of the generals, officers, and special civil servants in the areas of tactics, operative expertise, army management, and functional duties, to form a collective perspective and viewpoints among the officials related to the combat readiness of the Army and continued enhancement of the state defense capabilities.
At the meeting with the leadership of the RA Armed Forces President Sargsyan spoke about the Republic’s public and national security agenda issues and answered the questions raised by the participants of the meeting.
President Serzh Sargsyan’s remarks at the operative meeting of the leadership of the RA Armed Forces
Good afternoon, distinguished representatives of the highest command of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia.
Once, I had the opportunity to work directly with many of you. For that very reason, I am very glad for this opportunity and would like together with you to underscore confidently that we made our choice and we have to remain true to that choice and to our uniform. I would like to talk about the issues related to the public and national security agenda. These issues are necessary to organize properly the national defense of the Republic of Armenia. After my remarks, I certainly anticipate your questions.
Issues related to the public security in the Republic of Armenia do not belong directly to the realm of responsibilities of the leadership of the Armed Forces. However, you all are citizens of the Republic of Armenia and from that very point of view, I see as important clarification of that issues with you.
Our immediate external milieu is complex, intricate, often very contentious and inexplicable. However, it doesn’t mean that we have simply to adjust to all that and sit on our hands, wait and see what surprises are coming our way.
I’ve said it before and I repeat it now: the mindset that we are doomed to failure as long as the Karabakh issue remains unresolved and the blockade imposed by Turkey is not lifted, is unacceptable.
Our internal failings are not created by the Turks of Azeris. They have nothing to do with the flaws in our state governance and they are not their faults.
The organization of our public life and good governance are issues of national security. Flawed governance has a direct impact on the national security and defense capability of the country.
For that very reason, we initiated the process of constitutional reforms. With that, our country has entered a stage of critical changes which should become immediately discernable for you and your families. I know that many of you are concerned with the fact that as a result of the changes to the Constitution, in the absence of the state of martial law, there will be no Commander-in-Chief. Yes, starting from 2018, when the new Constitution will enter fully into law, that position will be reserved for the wartime period only.
In France, which also a semi-presidential republic, the “cohabitation” term has been formed historically. It represents a situation when the president of the country represents one political party, while the prime minister and majority at the National Assembly – another political force.
After long deliberations, we came to the conclusion that for us to form such a “cohabitation” would be a rather lengthy process, and I am sorry to say, but unfortunately, is still unattainable. You all know that semi-solutions are usually imposed and the worst possible solutions, thus it was necessary to find and present a comprehensive solution.
In accordance with the new Constitution, our country makes a transition to the parliamentary model of governance. The authorities and capabilities of the prime minister with regard to national security and defense will become much broader than those assigned to the current president – Commander-in-Chief by the current semi-presidential system. The objective is this: to concentrate in one place responsibilities and the authority. Should it become necessary to elaborate, since this issue interests you a lot, I am ready to speak in a greater detail. Thus, we have eliminated the possibility of an unhealthy competition between the president and prime minister created by the “cohabitation”. I believe this is extremely important. I want you to fully understand and appreciate the very meaning of these changes.
These changes will not impact your work in any way, even if they do, only positively. With this regard you will feel no negative changes.
From the view point of the organization of the national defense and governance this change, as I have already said, will have only a positive impact. The Armenian state will continue to cherish and relish its indispensable and beloved child – the Armenian Army.
Generals and Officers,
Now, about the upcoming events for the next two to three months. We have entered the phase of the National Assembly elections. Yes, there will be heated discussions in our country in the pre-election period, sometimes there can be even exaggerated and inflated speeches. Certainly, there will be promises which will never be realized. I am sure many of you know and heard the well-known saying that people never lie so much as after a hunt, or before an election. However, it’s not important. The important thing is that we know from the experience of previous years that in times such as these Azerbaijan intensifies its anti-Armenian handlings in the international organizations, and even tries to make provocations at the frontline. Some indications of such attitude on their behalf become visible already.
First and foremost, I would like to underscore that I have full confidence in the stability of the political structure of Armenia. Regardless of how heated the discussions are, they will not disrupt our civil accord. Sharp exchanges and discussions prove our strength, the high-level quality and self-organization of the Armenian society.
I would like to stress that the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia are non-partisan and apolitical. It is true that the Minister of Defense Vigen Sarkissian heads the electoral roll of the Republican Party but there will be no overlap of his official duties and pre-election campaign.
There will be no partisan discussions in the Army, and we are not going to introduce such. Moreover, I warn you all that any such attempt is punishable.
We, as a state, are able to self-organize and conduct elections which will have the trust of our public and our people. Moreover, I am confident that the invited representatives of the international observer organizations will registered such outcome.
Some in Azerbaijan live under the illusion that Armenia preoccupied with the elections will be very busy and in their wretched minds – vulnerable. For that very reason, in this period of time I require you to be exceptionally alert.
I am confident that our troops – from the privates to the highest-ranking officers, in the period of the upcoming elections will be alert and watchful, ready to thwart any of treacherous designs of the foe.
Now, about our regional problems.
At this moment, I see no reason to believe that there can be a breakthrough in the negotiations aimed at the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue. Under such circumstances, the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the only way to maintain stability and fragile peace.
The official Baku is trying incessantly to accuse us of trying to prolong the established status-quo. It is not true. I would like to assure you all, that we really want the problem to be solved however the reality is like this: the Azeris propose solutions which are unacceptable for us, that’s the reason the issue is not solved. When they finally understand what kind of solution can become a reality, that very moment the problem will be solved. That’s the reason Azerbaijan every now and then resorts to minor and major provocations, escalating the situation at the frontline, to remind us and the international community of their existence.
Such propaganda devises are useless and are doomed to failure. Our position is the following: the existing ceasefire cannot be substituted with a ceasefire which will have worse conditions. We need to negotiate and create a solid base for the normal contacts between our two peoples and for peace.
Yes, the parties to the conflict should negotiate over a durable, reliable peace based on the checkable mechanisms. The first true step in that direction might be a diligent implementation of the agreements reached during the Vienna and Saint Petersburg meetings last year. But unfortunately, the leadership of Azerbaijan is not averse to assuming responsibilities at the highest level and rejecting them on the next day.
It is necessary to transform the ceasefire into peace but it will never take place as a result of unilateral concessions. We assess the situation realistically and do not expect unilateral concessions from Azerbaijan. We demand in return that the leadership of Azerbaijan understands that simple, rather to say very primitive issue.
Thus, we will spare no effort to maintain the balance of forces; we have no reason to enter into an arms race with Azerbaijan. Let Azerbaijan compete with its own ambitions. However, we will continue to build capabilities which will allow the efficient organization of defense as well as a pronounced response to the foe’s possible aggression.
For the vital activities of the two peoples, under the existing conditions the military balance is simply indispensable. Based on this balance, it is possible to negotiate over the peace. Attempts to tip the scales is simply pregnant with the danger of provoking new military actions.
Generals and Officers,
On the global scale, Armenia will continue to bring her input to the security, stability and formation of the positive agenda in the international relations. It is testified to by Armenia’s participation to a number of peace-keeping missions.
I am filled with pride when I meet with my foreign colleagues, as well as ministers of foreign affairs and defense who commend the Armenian peace-keepers. I am thankful to the Armenian servicemen, first of all to those who train those regiments and of course to those who are members of these regiments for holding high Armenia’s repute and honor.
The military alliance of Armenia and Russia is one of the most important elements of Armenia’s security. It has a very rich history and traditions because the Armenian and Russian soldiers never stood against each other in the trenches.
Nevertheless, no military alliance can be based on the emotions only. This alliance is based on the mutually realized common interests and necessity.
It is indispensable for maintaining stability in this region. Armenia will continue to carry out diligently all her responsibilities with regard to the Armenian-Russian alliance as well as in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
I want you all to understand clearly that yes, there take place developments in the framework of the CSTO, activities, statements which are not to our liking, but actions of this or that leader or representative of the CSTO member state or statements or their demeanor in general can never become a reason for us to say that Armenia’s membership to the CSTO has lost its necessity. It is simply unacceptable.
At the same time, we will continue to form a vibrant positive agenda with the NATO and its member states aimed at the strengthening of the international peace and security. These are all important factors to thwart the unfriendly, not to say hostile policy of our another neighbor –Turkey towards Armenia.
Among recent good news has been the agreement reached over Iran’s nuclear program. We need to follow developments on this direction with the utmost attention. Without overestimating our capabilities, we need to consistently encourage the parties of this agreement to implement truthfully their responsibilities.
Within her abilities, Armenia should bring her contribution to the strengthening of the regime of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. With this regard, I believe we are all concerned with the developments going on at the Korean peninsula.
I have tried to present briefly our external and internal environments and also to allocate time for questions and answers.
Please be active. Now, I am ready to take your questions.