03, 2018

Speech by President Serzh Sargsyan, delivered at Army leadership’s operative rally

Good afternoon, dear representatives of the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia.

Meetings like this have long been traditional. It is through these meetings that the country’s military-political leadership reviews issues facing generals, officers and civil servants. Together, we will exchange information and check the efficiency of our work.

Over the years, the imperative of building on the individual’s knowledge and shills was placed at the heart of our armed forces. Our preference has always been not only quantitative, but also a qualitative advantage. These gatherings are one of the manifestations of stakeholder discussions on ways to achieve a qualitative advantage. Today we will exchange ideas on formulating common ideas, views and approaches on our future projects.

Our primary task is to harmonize defense policy with the reforms stipulated by the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. According to the Constitution, the vertical of the Armenian Armed Forces is amended as follows: Prime Minister-Security Council-Government-Defense Minister-Chief of General Staff. Civilian governance and control should also be enriched with new content.

However, this does not mean that the President of the Republic of Armenia will have no role in the development of one of the most important State institutions, the Armed Forces.

At the suggestion of the Prime Minister, he will appoint the highest military officer of Armenia’s Armed Forces, the Chief of General Staff, and other officials, as well as the highest military ranks.

Considerable amount of work has already been done to revise the defense-related legislation, but these activities will be continued ahead. Defense officials should be flexible in co-operation with both executive and legislative partners. A great deal of work has to be done in order to develop and adapt sub-legislative acts under these new conditions. We should not only write good laws and subordinate acts, but we also must enforce them. There must be no breaking or, moreover, a shortfall between these two.

In the context of the ongoing transformations and structural reforms in the armed forces, we have decided to hold Shant strategic command and military exercise this fall. The main purpose of the exercise is to assess the level of mobilization preparedness of State and military management bodies, as well as the increase of interaction and co-operation of various State institutions. The exercise involves introductory approaches applicable to various fields, enabling each ministry to test its own decision-making mechanisms and improve them

Dear Generals and Officers,

The peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a priority for the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh. Our position goes unchanged. I have had many occasions to talk about it all the time, from highest international podiums. I do not see the point of repeating what I have said already. At the same time, unfortunately I cannot share with you the positive news of a progress in negotiations.

One thing is obvious: we will continue the negotiations and our partnership with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, since they are authorized on the part of the international community to mediate between the conflicting sides and assist in the development of a peaceful settlement of the issue. However, the primary responsibility is on the conflicting parties, and we have always realized our share of responsibility.

That is why our army has been and will be a key factor in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Amid continued threats coming from Baku, the armed forces stand for our pillars and cuffs. The April 2016 hostilities were a large-scale attempt to check the balance of power, which proved to be a failure.

In our current situation, our task is to maintain the positioning configurations. Moreover, we must work consistently and be always ready to counteract the adversary’s attempts to change the balance of power.

We have repeatedly demonstrated and, if necessary, will again demonstrate that the attempts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem through military means are doomed to failure: the more painful and accurate is our response, the sooner they will realize it. The main goal of our consistent work is to strengthen that consciousness in the opponent.

Dear Generals and Officers,

One of our most important practical steps on this path is the successful implementation of the seven-year program of modernization of the armed forces. First of all, we have made the army more transparent and understandable for our society.

It did not weaken our armed forces, but on the contrary, it strengthened the army-society relationship. Moreover, the resources spent on the army are becoming more accessible and beneficial for the larger layers of society. It is translated into specific programs that are well-known to everyone.

The roadmap of reforms for the next seven years is prepared. Any planning and control at the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff is carried out according to the seven-year program, whether budget planning, inventory, human resource records or anything else. The management system is also being upgraded. Structural changes in the central apparatus should seek to clarify the functions and find most effective solution to problems, and not implement cutbacks.

I consider the wider introduction of automated control systems and information technologies in the armed forces to be a mandatory condition of work.

The Ministry of Defense is a major consumer that implements large-scale procurements. Maximum transparency, free and fair tenders should be ensured in the procurement process. The quality of products and services should be enhanced through more accurate specifications and cost estimates developed by the responsible units.

When making procurement, it is advisable to avoid the services of intermediary organizations, as well as to rule out different types of illegal actions – so called tricks - by organizers and participants of competitions.

Any loss or misuse of money is a direct blow not only to the reputation of the army, but to its combat readiness. Consistent and intolerant struggle against corruption must now be an integral part of your service. This process will always be under full control if each serviceman observes a taboo, namely that the embezzlement of army’s and State’s resources cannot be forgiven as it is equal to high treason.

I shall be clear: the distrust of our soldiers, junior officers against the leadership and. in general, the army and State is manifested primarily through the prism of corruption phenomena. This should be understandable for all of us. But to be understandable, we all have to fight against this phenomenon. This is an evil and foe to the State and the Army.

Dear Generals and Officers,

The acquisition of armament and military equipment is carried out according to the State program. Our main ally and partner in this matter is the Russian Federation, which is one of the largest armament suppliers in the world, and we have made specific arrangements to that effect, which give us the opportunity to get up-to-date armament on competitive terms. Of course, we will also use other possibilities, given our prospects for cooperation with different countries. In the armaments race, we are not pursuing a policy of counteracting quantities, but we focus on the efficiency of armament.

We have at our disposal and will always have the necessary means to curb the enemy at the right time. When we speak of containment, we of course do not merely mean stopping the attack, we mean taking such retaliatory actions as may dissuade the enemy from violating the commitments and provisions set out in the 1994-95 agreement.

We need to raise the level of each soldier’s responsibility for armament and military equipment. They should use their weapons or military equipment not only with skill and strict respect of safety standards, but also with care. Each soldier should be well aware that when performing a military task, the weapon is the most loyal companion. I do not say this for the form, but I say because such phenomena have occurred and still continue to taken place in the army.

Military industry is one of the priorities of the Armenian government. Our domestic military-industrial industry should be competitive. To this end, such samples should be created in terms of quality and price-setting as might provide preconditions for export as well.

Our goal is to ensure that the military industry not only becomes one of the most important suppliers of our armed forces, but also one of the most important driving forces behind the country’s economy. We should involve young scientists who really come up with great enthusiasm to tap their potential. The idea of forming a research platoon in the military industry is realistic.

I would also highlight cooperation in the field of military industry, joint projects and the creation of joint production. It is necessary to deepen the military-diplomatic ties, remaining faithful to our alliances. The role of the peacekeeping mission is to increase the international standing of the Armenian army and State. That is why we are not only extending the horizons of Armenia’s international military cooperation, but also acquiring new friends and colleagues.

We have wide opportunities in military education. In addition to Armenian educational institutions, our youth has the opportunity to be educated and trained in Russia, China, the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Greece and elsewhere. The Monte Melkonyan Military College provides high-class and high-quality teaching staff. The patriotic upbringing of the new generation is the most important pledge for having a future.

The social issues facing the armed forces are in the limelight of the public. Our duty is to provide a systematic approach to our war veterans and victims’ families. The Soldiers’ Insurance Fund operates in maximum transparency and is a good example of cooperation between the State, private and public sectors.
I believe that volunteers’ contributions will increase over time. Indeed, I value both the idea of creating this fund and the ongoing activities. If we follow closely, we will see that this has helped us address the problem to some extent.

I am convinced that over the years, the Fund will have such opportunities that will allow us to step up efforts and, in the best sense, break the deadlines set for the Fund mission. I mean, we will gradually get back to the former status. Financial opportunities will make it possible. Although, I have said and now I repeat that the social problems of the families of killed and disabled soldiers are a heavy burden for any State. There are World War II veterans whose social problems have not been solved yet.

See how many years have passed. This is a problem, and the duty of any State is to solve it. The time will come when we will not have a family of dead soldier left without serious social support.

Specific housing programs are being implemented to improve the housing conditions of officers. According to the program, after the registration of the officer, he will get an apartment in the third year. For that, a mortgage loan will be provided, and during the nest 20 years he will only have to pay the principal amount with a certain discount.

A well-reputed and victorious army needs high discipline. No shameful cases should cast a shadow over your enormous work. The army is kept in the spotlight by society and, therefore, such cases are sensitive to public reaction.

The combat readiness exercises and a clear timetable are the most effective way to strengthen discipline, rule out violence and reduce emergencies. For all of us it is obvious that most of our losses are in violation of the rules of military duty, which, of course, is unacceptable. No matter how much we can improve the figures; excellent performance implies achieving the “zero” indicator in this area. That is, no victims in the army. Only then we can speak of being fully satisfied.

Self-improvement and methodological training should be an indispensable component of your service. There is no other way to get theoretical knowledge than reading. And if there is no theoretical knowledge, what should be applied in practice? You should always find time for it. And it is a well-known fact that time escapes those who do nothing.

The Armenian soldier must constantly improve and develop. Knowledge gained during learning and work quickly disappears if not reinforced with self-discipline. Do not miss out on any opportunity to learn anything. Useful things can be learned from anyone, from supervisors and subordinates.

Be careful about yourself and your neighbors. First, you should see your own mistakes. Make conclusions so that you do not make the same mistakes any more. And once again, it is necessary to emphasize that officers must provide their own example if they are to be strict and exacting. You cannot be exacting if you violate the rules.

Dear Generals and Officers,

Progress is first of all conditioned by the efforts we make, the desire, the degree of commitment, and the principles we have adopted. A mistake can be forgiven, but immoral and unscrupulous approach not, never. As one of our great people has said, every nation is where it has reached with moral strength.

Over the past years, I have always been with you. We have traveled a long way together. During that time we had moments of delight and regret. We had great achievements, we had losses, but we came to the point where we feel redoubled responsibility for the past.

And in order to be able to fulfill this responsibility with dignity, I will always be more often with you and will provide more support. But it is clear that you are the first responsible person, and any assistance and support is effective only when a concrete person, a concrete public official, strives to reach if not full but at least some degree of perfection. And I am convinced that most of the people present in this hall are just thinking that way.

Honestly, I trust you and believe in you. We just have to take steps that can enhance our people’s security. This is our supreme task.

Thank you for attention. Now I am ready to answer any question.

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