Statements and messages of the President of RA
Statement by President of Armenia and President of RPA Serzh Sargsyan at 15th Convention of RPA
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Convention of the Republican Party of Armenia is one of the most important political events of our country, and except touching upon intra-party matters it will also adopt positions on a number of national issues.
At the outset, I would like to speak about the Party. About 2 years have passed since the previous convention. Throughout this time, the Party has kept on strengthening, crystallizing and expanding; the same persistent work – the everyday work - is being carried out from Melik Adamyan Street to Meghri or Tashir. The Party is continuously developing. The structures, as well as the vertical and horizontal relationships between these structures become firmer, and this is indeed obvious.
The perception of the Republican Party among our society, especially among the young generation is being changed. The Party is becoming one of the key channels through which active citizens can deliver their abilities and ideas to various sectors of social life and achieve a higher level of self-realization. This is the reason we have ensured such a serious recruitment process at the Party. In spite of purging our membership roll periodically and not hesitating to fire different people from the Party, it continues to grow consistently.
Yes, the Republican Party is the ruling political force which initiates and carries out almost all fundamental reforms in our country by facing short-lived discontents arising against them. At the same time, the Republican Party is gradually strengthening its positions in all communities thereby becoming a guide for communal life and a real respondent to existing problems, a respondent in word and deed. The striking illustration of this is the results of all the elections conducted since our last convention, especially the elections of local self-governing bodies in different communities in which the Republican Party has gained convincing victories continuing to lay down a firm foundation for coming works and victories.
Our party is consistently promoting its international ties as well. Being a member of the EPP, the RPA has actively participated in EPP events – conventions, summits, political congresses and others. We have advanced our relations with a number of EPP member European parties from Germany, France, Spain, Greece and Cyprus.
Our relations with United Russia Party have risen to a new level – reciprocal visits, joint events, political contacts. One phase of Eurasian inter-party consultations initiated jointly with United Russia has taken place in Yerevan.
In addition, the contacts with the Communist Party of China have been intensified.
The Republican Party of Armenia utilizes these international contacts to pursue the national and vital interests of Armenia and Armenian people, as well as to achieve consolidation of democracy and modernization of party building.
This is the present reality. However, it does not mean that we are satisfied with the development rate of the Party. In contrast to organizational and structural reinforcement works, we are far from organizing meaningful discussions and building vertical ideological channels. I see serious unrealized potential here.
The Republican Party is the largest and densest social structure of our country which is represented in all populated areas and is present in all population groups, even in smallest ones. This offers a powerful and natural opportunity to deliver ideas and projects formulated in Yerevan to everywhere, test them with all our citizens, examine and bring them back in an enriched form. Moreover, this is the best mechanism to crystallize the concerns of all social layers through the party channel, work out and include them in the ongoing policy agenda. The peasant of Tavush’s Gosh village Artsrun Hovsepyan should not worry about who to apply and how to do it in order to have the issue of his house damaged from a landslide addressed, but should look for a republican living in his amidst being confident that the latter will help him to put his various concerns on the current policy agenda.
Possessing this powerful party mechanism, we should give a new impulse to the abovementioned line of action. It implies persistent work, and I think that one year is enough to accomplish it.
This is all about inter-party works. Now, I want to talk about the political landscape and the present and future role of the Republican Party in that landscape.
It is clear that the evolution of the political landscape and the civil society in Armenia mirrors the free competition of existing tendencies, ideas and parties having those ideas. A very interesting and rich mosaic picture has been formed with little free space on it. That situation is perfectly represented in the Armenian parliament which acts as a comprehensive political system.
Naturally, this reality forces us to consolidate, and to tell the truth, it inevitably results in consolidation. This is true both in case of the opposition and the ruling party. Moreover, this is a pivotal achievement on the road to building a modern state.
I think that the ruling party and the opposition are not enemies no matter how much they criticize each other; even if our citizens get such an impression produced by wide coverage of passionate political debates. We do not have to share our homeland; rather than we should complement each other in order to protect our fatherland and make it prosperous.
The ruling political party and the opposition are like two hands of a man; both are necessary because each one performs a clear function. The mutilation of one does not strengthen the other; the man merely becomes disabled.
The Republican Party will exclude the prospect of such an event for our state. It will keep on strengthening its position and role in our country. However, this should not be done at the expense of other political forces. Furthermore, the Republican Party will encourage other political players to unite clearly realizing that teamwork, crystallization and cohesion are objective imperatives for our development.
In order to strengthen and promote the political landscape, we will continue to heal it of its bile, hatred and skepticism. We will shape our policy based on correctness and respect expecting the same of other political forces.
I perfectly understand that today’s ruling political force, as well as the other political parties, is too far to satisfy all the demands of our citizens regarding the political system. I perfectly understand (by this I refer to us only in order not to offend others) that we have not been able to meet simple peoples’ expectations time after time, we have often tired them out with our clamor, political debates have been perceived as being idle logomachies, while party competition being contests end in themselves and having nothing to do with peoples’ expectations. All of this is very clear. However, we should understand that implanting a well-functioning political system in our country is as laborious and time consuming a process as establishing let us say a government system.
Of course, our state has made huge progress along this road. It is impossible to compare the present political system with what it was 10 or 20 years ago. Now we are in an absolutely different situation. However, it is clear that we still have a lot to do both in terms of promoting the stability and transparency of political parties and establishing a classic bipolar political system. I mean not only finding constitutional and legislative solutions but also building up relevant traditions.
It is a matter of a plain fact that Armenia’s political forces already start positioning and repositioning for the 2017-2018 elections. Everybody does this either latently or publicly. I consider it natural that the opposition parties are already busy with getting prepared for the coming parliamentary and presidential elections.
The positions, responsibilities and objectives of the ruling party are completely different. The coming 3-4 years offer us a great opportunity to work and make our country move forward. This is exactly what we are going to do. We still have time until the coming of the next state elections. We should still ensure the security of Armenia and Artsakh, as well as sustain economic, social and political development. We are obliged to make the most of this time period.
Furthermore, in case when the opposition can take part in elections without real achievements and ruthlessly criticize the authorities, the ruling party can’t afford such a luxury. The coming years are going to be very important. For us, they are going to be years of diligence and concrete outcomes. Everyday work and positive results; here is the best way to conduct propaganda for a ruling party.
A lot of things in the world do not depend on us, but a lot of things in our country do depend on us. No force can accomplish more in Armenia than we, the republicans (at least today). Thus, we should not deviate from our course and be obsessed with intra-party debates. I am exhorting you to fight less and work more.
I do not mean that the Republican Party should avoid giving explanations about its steps. On the contrary, it is our duty to report and go into details of what we do and why. However, it should not be done in the form of a campaign. We should not allow the entire society to be pulled into the pre-election turmoil before the time has come. It is hard to expect good things to happen when a whole country is solely concentrated on a political struggle leaving all things aside.
We will embark on a different road. The government program is ready. It is an entire complex of interconnected measures directed to proceed with implementing current reforms, backing manufacturers, creators and villagers, giving new impulses to small and medium business development and encouraging honest work.
Taking into consideration the global economic trends and the negative impulses produced by key markets, the government program has slightly reduced the economic growth target for subsequent years in order to raise the level of effective risk management. However, I am sure that the government will make great efforts at achieving much higher real results and exceeding the target indicators.
We have seriously examined all our subsequent steps. Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan has already managed to create positive expectations towards the government activities with his experience, management skills and working style. I am confident that everybody, including our businessmen, workers and peasants, teachers and doctors, will always be in the focus of the state’s attention. Today the government is strong and confident and enjoys the support of the Republican Party of Armenia.
Moreover, there is great responsibility put on the shoulders of the government members. Their work is going to be measured by concrete results, as well as by their devotion and diligence toward work. There are not indispensable persons. Officials neglecting their duties will be rapidly replaced. Our human resources reserve is multiple times as large as some people can imagine.
We have defined a new level of responsibility for the activities of our party members included in local self-governing bodies. All in all, we are going to pay greater attention to the activities of local self-governing bodies. Those are primary governing links, and people expect the so called “state support” first and foremost of local authorities. The intensive engagement of republicans in this sector is constantly growing. Consequently, the party channels should promote much more effective activities regarding the circulation of initiatives and ideas and supplying them to self-governing links.
Coming years are going to be a period of expanding our economic potential and promoting the public welfare. This is unequivocal. We will continue to take clear steps and make utmost efforts in that direction. There will be positive changes concerning both the promotion of economic management and enlargement of consumer markets.
We have already entered the final phase of becoming a member of the Customs Union. We expect the Customs Union’s large market to stimulate our economic growth and are confident that our investment and export growth rates will be considerably higher. In addition, we are also going to take individual approaches towards our businessmen and foreign investors.
The social and economic growth of our country is closely related to systemic changes. In this regard, the constitutional amendments will be of essential importance. Those amendments will give completely new incentives for establishing a stable democratic system in our country and building a lawful state. We should state clearly and with self-criticism that more than two decades after gaining independence, for both objective and subjective reasons, we still can’t assert unequivocally that we have laid down a firm foundation for our democracy, have ensured protection of human rights, as well as independency and impartiality of our courts.
All of us should plainly understand that the stable democracy and the lawful state are the pillars of our national security. We have no alternative. Accordingly, the constitutional amendments should help us fulfill this end purpose.
Our political system has a great need for modernization. It is over-personified and over-centralized. There is an obvious disproportion between the real power volume of various bodies and their political responsibility. The system of the executive branch is imperfect, lacks a solid internal logic, as well as a clear division of functions and powers. All of this is quite detrimental to effective management and the level of public confidence toward the activities of state officials.
You are aware that the Commission for Constitutional Amendments has proposed, inter alia, to make a transition to the parliamentary system of government. Regardless of my preferences, we should make this issue a subject of serious and impartial discussions, beyond all kinds of circumstantial speculations. I do not accept the approaches of the political forces and figures who suddenly decided that there is no need to amend the Constitution forgetting the fact that until quite recently they affirmatively demanded the alteration of the political system. I reaffirm once again what I said at the meeting with the members of the Commission for Constitutional Amendments: “People, political forces and today’s passing interests are all short-lived; the Constitution is for generations.”
The radical changes of any political system are closely related to the judicial system. All of us should clearly understand that we can neither ensure secure protection of human rights nor a safe investment environment without an independent and impartial judicial system. Thus, one of the primary objectives of the constitutional amendments is to find up to date and lasting solutions to the existing judicial issues.
These questions are of primary importance, and they should become a subject of examination at all levels in our party. We do not have much time, and I expect that already in summer, the RPA Executive Body will have an opportunity to scrutinize summaries regarding the results of such active discussions.
Regardless of anything, the primary objective for the coming years, our present and future objective, is to ensure the security of Armenia and Artsakh. 20 years have passed since the ceasefire agreement. Yet for both the victor and the loser the war is not over; it continues on a different platform. The victor knows well the price of victory paid with blood and losses during the imposed war. The loser is filled with a devastating fury to regain a victory; a fury which deprives him of reason and a desire to conduct constructive negotiations.
Today our neighbor who lost the war launched on his own initiative tries to wage an information war by editing the history with an axe and distorting the reality. Bankrupt on the ideological platform, he prefers form over content, gradually increasing his expenditures on armaments. Many of you sitting here have enjoyed the taste of victory and will agree that the war is won not by bullets but by people, especially by their character, their will, their convictions, their faith and most importantly their love for freedom. It is won by citizens, the proud and responsible citizens of our fatherland, united not around party membership, taste, preferences or pocket contents but round the conviction of a fair cause.
According to numerous international grades, our neighbor builds an authoritarian and militarized society, conducting Armenophobic propaganda day and night and instilling hatred and hostility in his society.
We know that the militarization of a society reaches an impasse. A pluralistic society where everyone is free to express his ideas, where freedom of speech is guaranteed and acceptable decisions are made as a result of preoccupied debates on essential and main issues, is viable and strong. We are on the way to building such a society. With all our shortcomings, we have already covered a long road in this direction. Likewise, we will continue to fortify the border, strengthen our state and reinforce our society in coming years.
The development of political and social relations in our country has entered a completely new phase. We are witnessing processes which are difficult to perceive at first sight, but are utterly changing the meaning and rules of those relations. Today, all projects having public importance succeed only when they are accomplished by stable institutional units. The role of purposeful movements in social arena and the role of large and organized parties in political arena are rising.
This tendency will keep on advancing. There is no alternative to this. It is driven by the maturity of time and our society. As a result, the decreasing role of even the brightest personalities will free up space for group engagement.
With their engagement level and wide availability, large parties become guides for adjusting political developments and almost nullify such phenomena as “Hi, I am this and I have come to master you.” The political landscape makes a transition to the horizontal management model in which inclusive institutions become key players.
Not seeing these trends means to lag behind the time. Moreover, we will keep on stimulating the way our political and social landscape develops. This is the best method to achieve effective democracy and to raise the self-actualization level of each Armenian citizen.
During protests we can sometimes hear young men chanting these wonderful words: “We are the lawful masters of our country.” This is of course a very inspiring fact. We should make each citizen feel himself the master of his country and realize this possibility effectively. Citizens’ convictions and protests can be realized through civil society movements when they are given open opportunities to be actively engaged in social processes. Citizens’ convictions and their ideas about state policy can also be realized in the political landscape through the availability of inclusive and active party channels. The idea of an omniscient and savior leader is futile, and leads to a completely different place. People are well aware of it. Progress is not made by sitting and expecting the president or the prime minister to appear and tell us what we should do. There is no such a truth.
Progress is made through unification, combination of opinions, ideas and discontents, as well as through effective mechanisms allowing us to highlight them, work out and accomplish. This is exactly the road along which Armenia has advanced at least for the last few years.
The Republican Party of Armenia dominates the political landscape and is the largest political structure. Accordingly, our party has to fulfill a twofold objective. Firstly, it should contribute to developing and crystallizing the political landscape, as well as to ensuring equal opportunities to promote political parties and establish a classic bipolar political system.
Secondly, the development of the Republican Party should not fall behind the time. Our party will continue to grow stronger accompanied by the reinforcement of the party-society relations. We should give a new impulse to intra-party democracy and foster meaningful involvement of women’s and youth organizations. Along the continuous growth of bottom-up information channels the people working at 2 Melik Adamyan Street should pay greater attention to analytic components. We should make this and multiple other goals our work priorities.
In coming years the entire political system will be overloaded with work. The ruling party should stimulate this process by continuously channeling filtered and developed ideas in order to test policy results on the spot and ensure feedback.
Concluding my speech, I call you to get ready for serious and hard work. The ideas and projects we intend to bring to life, and the steps we intend to undertake, are of vital importance for our country and people. The reputation of our party, as well as of the whole country depends on it. Being the largest party in Armenia is not a reason for relaxing and filling with unwarranted self-confidence. On the contrary, we should constantly reaffirm our position as a leading party with our work, devotion and purposefulness.
I wish all of us effective activities for the glory of our fatherland and for the welfare of our people.
Thank you for your attention.