Kocharian’s Inaugural Speech

Your Holiness,

Dear Compatriots,

Dignified Participants,

I would first like to express my gratitude to all the citizens of the Republic of Armenia for their active participation in the elections–regardless for whom they cast their votes. The president elected is a president for everyone. This election is a pledge to the strengthening of our statehood and its further development. I am proud of the high honor of becoming President of Armenia–a position I earned because of the trust of the Armenian people.

This is my first speech as President of the Republic of Armenia. I would like to present the ideas and programs that will become a guide to Armenia’s development. We shall have a progressive and productive state.

The coming five years will be a period for the fortification of our grounds and settlement of our society’s social issues.

During this period–we shall improve the mechanisms ensuring the constitutional rights and freedoms of all citizens. The state will act as a partner and advisor to its citizens.

We shall proceed from the belief that the main guarantee for a strong and stable state is the well-being of the nation as a whole and each person individually. A wide-scale and effort necessitating work is ahead. That work necessitates internal consent–unity–constructive political dialogue and cooperation. The president should be the initiator and guarantor of the creation of such an environment. The state should guarantee the free formation and expression of people’s will–from the freedom of speech–conscience and religion to the creation of conditions for unhampered functioning of political parties and public organizations in an atmosphere of respect and mutual understanding. Armenia’should be a home not only for Armenia’s but also for all ethnic minorities living in Armenia.

The fundamental changes necessary for the strengthening of our statehood make constitutional amendmen’s very urgent. Those amendmen’s should first of all be directed towards the establishment of balanced relations between the authorities: president-government–president-national assembly relations should be made more precise and clear. New approaches are necessary for the activities of the Constitutional Court. The number one priority for us is the supremacy of law. Everybody–starting from the president to ordinary citizens–should be equal before the law. In this respect–great importance will be attached to consistent reforms in the legal-judicial system–which entails the establishment of a new legal-judicial system.

At the same time–only an economically developed and strong Armenia will be able to solve the numerous problems it is facing today. The economic policy should be directed toward the creation of favorable pre-conditions–conditions and the realization of targeted investmen’s–necessary for the development of Armenian industry–small and medium-size businesses–re-activation of industrial enterprises–and creation of job opportunities.

We will continue implementing reforms adopting new principles and new approaches. The political and economic decisions at the center of development policy should adhere to the needs and state of society. These decisions should be adopted taking into consideration the existing situation–possible social consequences. We do not need "reforms just for the sake of having reforms."

It is now clear that the state should not have given up its regulating role in the sphere of economic relations–especially when market institutions to replace the state were not yet established. During the years ahead we need to actively fill in those gaps.

With regard to agriculture–through governmental assistance we need to promote the development of farming activities and create conditions for their profitable operation.

The efficiency of a state is evaluated by the quality and level of its social care for the citizens. Social injustices allow people to feel deceived and disappointed. There can be no real freedom and democracy if employment and minimum standards of living are not ensured.

Consequently–social policy should first of all be directed toward the establishment of social justice. The existence of a strong state and the realization of constitutional freedoms and rights will be felt only when developed education and scientific systems are in place–when medical care is affordable for everyone–and when people can choose between the public and private services of the above fields. But I am convinced that each citizen should always have the opportunity to appeal to the state and receive due support.

A strong family has always been the basis of our people’s survival. The realization of this fact leads to the conscious that family–mothers and children should always be under the auspices and protection of the state. Special governmental attention should be paid to the settlement of youth issues.

The state should also focus on the development of culture which will continue to represent our ages-old nation and its history. Improving conditions in our homeland–we will establish dynamic and mutually beneficial relations with our neighbors and states pursuing strategic interests in the region–as well as–further our participation in the structures of international cooperation.

The Republic of Armenia will remain true to confirmed international agreemen’s and to the obligations assumed by those agreemen’s. Our state will have its own role in the regional and world economy–as well as policy.

The strength of Armenia also assumes a strong security system with an efficient and disciplined army. The best guarantee for the maintenance of peace in the region is the balance between powers. Our army should first of all serve that goal. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a pan-national issue–and we have to settle it with dignity. Proceeding from the principles of peaceful resolution–we should achieve international recognition of the Karabakh people’s right to self-determination–ensuring its development with safe frontiers and permanent geographic contact with Armenia.

Our generation is here to shoulder one more responsibility of the unification of efforts of all Armenia’s–and ensuring the Armenian Diaspora’s active participation in the social–political and economic life of our republic. A constitutional solution to the issue of dual citizenship will also contribute to this issue. Armenia’should be a holy motherland for all Armenia’s–and its victory should be their victory–its future their future. We have to realize that a nation–acknowledging the value of its combined forces–can never be defeated. Armenia will stand in front of the world as a democratic–stable–peace-loving and promising state.

Dear compatriots–this is how I imagine Armenia after five years–on the eve of the third millennium. Together–we will build that state during the next five years.

Thank you.

Authors

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