President Congratulates Armenia’s Worldwide Emphasizes Karabagh’s Independence

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–In his annual congratulatory New Year’s address–President Robert Kocharian bid farewell to a peaceful and stable year for Armenia and welcomed a more productive and successful one in 2005.

The president noted the advancement of Armenia-diaspora relations–referring specifically to the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund telethon that yielded a considerable amount of funds from the diaspora–for the completion of Karabagh’s North-South highway. He called it an important step in strengthening the factual independence of Karabagh–an independence which he called "nonnegotiable."

On the foreign affairs front–Kocharian said he was pleased with Armenia’s involvement in the European Union "New Neighborhood" program as it shows the Union’s readiness to build special relations with Armenia. He also underscored cooperation with partner-foreign states and Armenia’s continual active participation in international developmen’s.

Referring to the country’s deep social polarization–Kocharian said reforms must continue in an effort to raise living standards and fight poverty. The work carried out in 2004 will be noticeable in the coming year–he stressed–with the state budget’s qualitatively new structure allocating more to health care and education.

He also commended Armenia’s Armed Forces–which have kept the country peaceful and safe–while paying respect to the memory of Armenia’s fallen heroes.

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