06, 2008

President Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of Russia

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Dear compatriots,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, I would like to convey to you, and in your person to all Armenians living in Russia, as well as to the friends of Armenia and our partners warm greetings from Armenia. I am looking at the audience assembled here and I imagine that gathering of so many terrific individuals under one roof would bring credit to any nation.

You know that the Armenian community of Russia is special in many ways. The largest number of the Armenians outside Armenia reside here. Of course, the entire Spyurk is connected to Motherland by thousand threads, however this is a community whose ties to Armenia are much stronger and many-sided encompassing political, cultural, and economic areas as well as family ties. And this together cannot but influence relations between the Armenian community of Russia and Armenia.

Recently I hear more and more from the leaders of the largest and most influential Diaspora structures that the connotation of the word “Diaspora” has changed. Today, the Armenian Diaspora in Russia is viewed by the Armenians around the world as the largest, influential and seriously involved community. And it is true. It would suffice just to look on this audience to understand the extent and involvement of the Armenian community of Russia in all spheres, all areas.

At the same time, the Armenian community in Russia is the least organized one. Due to objective reasons there are no major structures, lobbying organizations, or unions. But it is more disquieting that there is no appropriate Armenian school, modern and largely required media, or cultural centers. In the universities and scientific institutions there are still no centers of Armenian studies which would be able to compete with similar centers in the United States or Europe. I am confident that today the Armenian community of Moscow is ready to have a new “Lazarev seminary” which would be prestigious to study in not only for the Armenian nationals here and which will attract Armenians from all over the world and Armenia too. To accomplish this task is the duty of everyone in this audience. It is true that financing of such an institution should come from the business circles, but thoughts, ideas, the concept and ultimately, the pioneers of that endeavor should come from the intelligentsia present here.

There are, of course, some inspiring examples –construction of the Armenian church, efforts of the Union of the Armenians of Russia, activities of the Yerevan Plaza center, Ararat Hayat hotel, which has become one of the symbols of Moscow, is resplendent with the Armenian spirit. However, it is not enough. The potential of our community in this city and in this powerful country is much bigger.

All of this is defined by the fact that our relations with Russia did not start from scratch. They are based on the centuries-long friendship and strong relations, common history, long established traditions of cooperation, and strategic level of political relations between Armenia and Russia. Everyone understands that and all this proves that the Armenian-Russian community can play a unique role and in many instances already does.

Dear compatriots,

Today, Armenia has entered a new stage of reforms. I have stated on many occasions that the resolution of the problems facing Armenia and success in the implementation of our programs are only possible through the united efforts of the entire Armenian nation. The understanding of the Diaspora’s unique mission prompted us to create a separate ministry for diaspora affairs whose establishment is underway. In this area our goal is to increase the efficiency of our policies.

We are striving to make Armenia a health care, banking, intellectual services, and tourism hub of the region. And I guarantee the inviolability of investments.
I would like to bring a revealing example: today, Russian capital is the leading investor in the economy of Armenia, Russian investors feel comfortable in Armenia. You possess enormous economic and intellectual potential. You should try to utilize part of that potential in Armenia. Be assured that your activities are wanted and that your input is important for the Motherland. And as I said, I guarantee the inviolability of all investments.

In every corner of the world every son and every daughter of our nation wants to see Armenia strong and prosperous, stable and thriving. In any country our compatriots are reckoning about having a role in Armenia’s development, they want the news coming from Armenia to be good ones. We should create this good news on success and new achievements together.

I am confident that the Armenian community of Russia will gradually raise its organizational level, will join the family of cultural and educational centers for the preservation of the Armenian identity, and will increase the number of initiatives. My optimism is based on everything that has been done by you until now. At the same time, I am also sure that from now every Spyurk community will feel the support of our state. Armenia will be much more efficient in supporting cultural and educational initiatives in large and small communities as well as those aimed at the preservation of the Armenianhood.

The role of the Spyurk in the maturing of our state and development of our economy has been great. The time has come when the increasing possibilities allow to state that not only Spyurk has a role in Armenia’s advancement but also Armenia has a role in solving Spyurk’s problems. I want to assure you that from now on this principle will be in the core of Armenia-Spyurk cooperation.

Dear Compatriots,

It would be impossible to conclude this statement without touching upon the three most important issues.

First is the internal situation in Armenia. I would like you to properly understand and appreciate it. A political force, which months before the elections announces that it will not accept any other outcome of the elections but its own victory, is trying through political blackmail to destabilize the situation in the country.

I said many times and all my steps after assuming the office of President have signified that in the interest of the country I am ready to negotiate and work with any political force. Serious steps were taken to mitigate existing post-election tension – all TV channels allocate considerable time to the opposition forces, all individuals detained in connection with the event of March 1, who were not directly involved in violent acts or whose culpability was not proved, have been released. The rights of the parliamentary opposition have been extended, in the parliament an ad hoc commission has been set to probe into the events. These steps and efforts will continue however, to be successful they need to be reciprocal. And no one is allowed to undermine stability of our country by the calls to topple the elected authorities, by threats and terrifying acts.
Second issue, which I would like to talk about, is the Armenian-Turkish relations. On this issue our position is clear-cut: in the 21st century there can be no closed borders between neighbors. Regional cooperation could become the best means for establishing security.

The Turkish side is proposing to establish a commission which would study historical issues. We are not opposing creation of such a commission but only after the borders between our two states have been unlocked. Otherwise, it will become just another tool for indefinitely protracting and exploiting the issue.

I intend to take new steps toward the facilitation of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Most probably I will invited the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gule to Yerevan to watch together the match of our two national football teams.

Third is the issue of NK conflict settlement. You already now that recently I met with the President of Azerbaijan. We agreed to continue the process of negotiations in the framework of the draft document which outlines the core principles of the settlement.
Nagorno Karabakh was not part of Azerbaijan at any time. It was transferred to Soviet Azerbaijan based on the illegitimate decision of a partisan body. The unconcealed validation of the decision was that it would facilitate the sovietization of the Muslim East and promote the ideas of the October revolution.

The people of Nagorno Karabakh earned their right to have independent statehood in the framework of the law and later in the imposed circumstances and there can be no solution which would diminish that status.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Compatriots,

In conclusion I propose a toast for the strengthening of the Armenian-Russian friendship, for the prosperity of the Armenian-Russian community and our nation, and a better future for all of us.

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