President Kocharian’s Inaugural Address

I extend my appreciation to our people for actively participating in the elections and for their vote of confidence in me. I thank all those who echoed my appeal to work together.

Each election is a challenge for the people and the state. However–elections come to an end–and one resumes day-to-day work aimed at overcoming problems faced by the nation.

The campaign–despite its overburdened nature–was a great opportunity for me to have active and direct contact with the people. It was an exciting learning experience.

We approached the elections with sound economic performance indices in all the sectors–approached them without any domestic arrears. From an election standpoint–this was a robust start-off position for the authorities.

The electoral struggle was tough and uncompromising. Furthermore–the confrontation between political forces partly turned into a confrontation inside the society. This is something to reflect on–and draw conclusions.

The public must understand national policy; this is vital. We must always clarify our actions–their necessity–and their usefulness for the people. We must routinely report to the public. This must become our modus operandi. Otherwise–we risk facing an increasing gap between the authorities and the public–and inhibit the implementation of reforms–since their successes depend partly on the level of confidence enjoyed by authorities.

Meanwhile–active reforms must persevere for progress. Otherwise–the country will not develop. It is necessary to find the right balance between the volume and pace of reforms–on the one hand–and the inertia of public conscience–on the other.

An effective and well-targeted social policy is needed to protect the most vulnerable segmen’s of our society.

My work is currently focused around these issues by applying practical solutions once the parliamentary elections are over.

Today–I wish to reiterate my commitment to resolutely implement my campaign platform. Indeed–numerous meetings with constituents have revealed new issues–which too will be addressed in our future efforts.

However–the essence and basic course of the platform will be maintained. The campaign platform is now developing into a plan of action to guide me through the years to come.

An active work force is the solution to all of our problems; it is the key to economic progress and prosperity for each and every one of us. I call on all of our citizens to embark on creating a peaceful and creative work force–to be more proactive and courageous in the small and medium business sector–in particular. The middle class cannot be created by fat from above. You are the only ones who can make it happen. The authorities have the obligation of procuring favorable conditions for this process. This will be the foundation for political and economic stability in tomorrow’s Armenia.

One of our priorities is to reform the entire public services sector. The government is designed to cater to the needs of citizens at the cost of the taxpayers–and shall–therefore–serve the people. The fight against corruption–clan-like practices and favoritism must become a top priority in our work. The success of this struggle depends on the political will of the authorities and the civic involvement of our people.

The solutions to these and many other issues depend largely on the upcoming parliamentary elections. Civic activity will predictably be high–as will rivalry for control of the legislature.

We must create an active parliament; otherwise–we run great risk of undermining the sound development of the country. It is of utmost importance that elections be held in a thorough manner and irregularities be minimized.

As President–I recognize that the combination of three consecutive election campaigns has been a major challenge for a country where the foundations of democracy are just being established. It is a firm test for the country’s stability and economy. This poses an enormous responsibility for all participants in the electoral process.

Irresponsible behavior should not be allowed to damage the foundation statehood. Electoral ambitions do not justify actions aimed at splitting the society.

National cohesion is vital in addressing pan-Armenian issues both domestically and abroad. If split–the potential of a nation is diminished. We cannot afford this "luxury," as our capacity is inherently limited. Measures to strengthen the optimistic mood emerging in society are necessary.

I would like to especially note the forthcoming referendum on constitutional reforms as a significant event in the life of our country. The success of the referendum will imply undeniable progress in reforming public administration–strengthening the judiciary–and promoting democracy and protecting human rights.

It would be an impermissible flaw to miss this opportunity. I expect that all parties–non-governmental organizations–and the citizens will support the constitutional reforms. Dear Compatriots,

By taking on the duties of the President of the Republic of Armenia–I recognize that I have undertaken a historic responsibility. The pursuit of national interests–the step-by-step implementation of the age old dreams of our people–and the construction of an independent–democratic–and prosperous Armenia are the way to progress. I complete this address by stating my conviction–that in five years–to have conformed to the hopes of our people and earned their confidence.

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