07, 2008

Remarks made by President Serzh Sargsyan at the meeting with the leadership of the National Security Service

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“I’ve invited today’s meeting to hold an interested discussion regarding the activities of the National Security Service. Before starting the discussion, I would like to make some notes about the National Security Service of Armenia, which, in my opinion, are important not only for your work but also for the consolidation of different state structures and the society as a whole.

It is no secret that nowadays the world is changing rapidly. Threats, in their form and essence, are changing too. Today we live in a reality full of new threats. Understanding that reality is one thing, however understanding of whether we are ready to properly respond to the challenges of that reality is another thing. How flexible are we? Are we able to look ahead? Are we able to make analysis to project the future threats and thwart them, or we are able only to deal with the challenges at hand? Are we satisfied with learning from our senior colleagues and reading official documents and instructions, or we are able to match the working mode of the modern and accomplished security services?

Let’s be frank and admit that to meet the requirements of the time we need to walk down a long road. I am confident that the current security challenges drive us toward being more vigilant and alert, toward adopting new working methods and new approaches. And I don’t feel like resting on the achievements.

Can we really be content with our security level when our peaceful villager can be and actually is killed by an Azeri sniper? And it was not an isolated incident. Can we really be content with our security level when it is possible to inject a segment of the society with so much hatred, when it is possible to create such a psychological atmosphere which erupted in mass disturbances with human casualties, painful losses? No, we can not.

Can we really be content with our security level when there are some populated areas where people get information from the Azeri TV? No, we can not.

Can we really be content with our security level when in the neighboring country racism is on the rise and Armenophobia has become an ideology?

We have many things to do, very serious things. And at the heart of these things is the security of the Republic of Armenia, of each and every of her citizens, of our statehood, and of any Armenian in any corner of the world. And I mean security in its best sense.

Generals and Officers,

The National Security Service is one of the pivotal structures of our state. Its role is increasing particularly in the current situation. I am confident that neither of you doubt that role. But the National Security Service cannot act alone, and today security means cooperation with both other structures of our state, as well as with our foreign colleagues. Only through cooperation can we ensure our security and stand up against current threats and challenges.

We may not forget that we live in a region beset with conflicts. Today security is first of all knowledge, comprehensive analytical structure. I am confident that we have sufficient potential to render a significant assistance in addressing regional and global security issues. We are a member of the international family and should be able to take our share of responsibility with dignity and accountability. Terrorism, trafficking, computer threats, proliferation of drugs and weapons of mass destruction – here is the incomplete list of the areas where we must be able to work and cooperate efficiently with our friends.

I consider the information security today’s most important issue. Our neighbors disseminate constantly and in huge amounts misinformation all over the world. I am talking not only about the international press and publications but also about the internet where the denial of the Armenian Genocide or lies about the NK problem are set on a professional footing. I also do know that we have many well-educated young men and women, scientists, organizations, simply concerned citizens who within their abilities are fighting back. With this regard the role of our compatriots abroad is substantial. But all this process needs coordination and a day by day monitoring. And I believe that it is the National Security Service that can and must deal with these issues.

Today there are more and more areas that command attention: serious attention should be paid to economic crimes, particularly, to tax evasion and smuggling. Recently I have had an opportunity to give my viewpoint on the relations between the law enforcement bodies, special agencies and the businesses. The National Security Service should simply “walk next to” the economic processes. It is not the Service’s concern if a kiosk man pays taxes or not. From now on the National Security Service will report only and only when a problem turns into a threat, when a wide-spread evasion endangers all our activities and becomes a security threat.

In my opinion there is an issue which the National Security Service should be preoccupied with every minute of every day. It is a crackdown on corruption. Of course, it is not only your problem, however in this fight you must be the frontrunners. Your passive stance regarding the problem looks odd to me. This is the greatest challenge threatening the advancement of our country, the greatest hurdle in our way. I am sure you will invigorate your work in that area. I will be very demanding on this issue and demands will be directed first and foremost to the national security agencies. The state is doing much in this area because the elimination of corruption is not about the punishment only: the people should see that we are not only talking but are also acting. If we are going to talk day and night about fight against corruption without naming those culpable, then our work will have zero effect, moreover, it will further aggravate the situation.

Sometimes I hear people say that I am more demanding toward the structures where I used to work and have had my personal input in their development. I am not sure to what degree it is true. In any case I have great confidence in people I have worked with, I have trust in the structures I have served in. I know their capabilities, I know the people there, their potential which should be used in its entirety. I truly believe that the national security bodies have capabilities, I am confident that we will be able to use these capabilities, and I am confident that the acquired experience provides opportunity to principally resolve the problems which stand today in our way to development.

Probably ninety per cent of those present here remember what the situation was at the Department of the National Security when I came there in 1995: a great number of professionals left the Service since they had no hope that the Service would restore itself. Disappointment was total and normal working conditions were absent. I promised that we would see changes in a short period of time: we would bring back those professionals who wanted to continue to serve, we would solve some of social problems, and the Service would take its appropriate place among the government structures.

Today too, I promise you that the National Security bodies will be constantly in the center of attention. We will do our best to strengthen the guarantees of social and legal protection. In return we will require a hard and dedicated work.

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