Arayik Harutyunyan: The international recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh on the basis of the right to self-determination is our main and uncompromising goal
30 years ago, on this very day of 1991, amidst hostilities and artillery shelling of peaceful settlements, our people organized a high-level Referendum on Independence marking the way for us to achieve our goals. With the Constitution of the Republic of Artsakh adopted in 2006 we reaffirmed our commitment to those values and ideas that formed the basis of our newly-independent statehood. Nevertheless, no matter how difficult and bloody this thirty-year-long march was, we managed to build and strengthen our statehood through national efforts, continuing to be dedicated to the values of the Artsakh national-liberation movement.
Despite the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group aimed at peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabagh conflict, Azerbaijan, bypassing one of the three principles presented to the conflicting parties – the non-use of force, as well as other well-known principles of the international law, launched several military aggressions against the Republic of Artsakh and its civilian population among which the 2020 war has become the hardest challenge for our statehood and people. Regardless of the great human, territorial, material and moral-psychological consequences of this aggression, the Republic of Artsakh has been standing, the will and endurance of our people on the chosen path towards independence are unshakable. Among the bright indicators of this very fact are that within this short period of time the population has reached about 120,000 people, a high-level security environment has been ensured, the fully functioning state institutions have been carrying out numerous development projects restoring economic infrastructure. It is noteworthy that not only the state bodies fulfill their vital functions on the basis of the Constitution and legislation of the Republic of Artsakh, but it is also symbolic that on this very day local self-governing bodies’ elections are held in two large communities, which itself is a small but important manifestation of our state-building determination.
Touching upon the post-war situation and our plans for the future, I would like to highlight several key points:
A. Security. Today we can state that despite the targeted provocations undertaken by Azerbaijan, due to the efforts of the Russian peacekeeping troops and the Defense Army, relative stability is maintained in Artsakh, which gives an opportunity to have a vision for the future and make active efforts in that direction. In this regard, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all the servicemen defending the Motherland, as well as the entire personnel of the Russian peacekeeping troops and personally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, due to whose immediate efforts the aspirations of the Turkish world have been thwarted and peace has been established in the region.
Another pivotal direction to ensure the proper security is the consistent development of capabilities and fortifications of the Defense Army considering the existing challenges and peculiarities of the situation. In the past year, tangible work has been carried out and with time we will improve the efficiency of our security mechanisms.
B. Foreign policy. We will continue the struggle for the unconditional recognition of the realization of our people's right to self-determination and the return of the occupied territories. We are in favor of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, where the international recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh on the basis of the right to self-determination is our main and uncompromising goal, which will pave the way for the realization of the ultimate goal of the Artsakh movement. In this regard, we expect the unconditional and long-lasting support of the whole Armenian nation, without doubt and hesitation towards the path we have chosen.
C. Demographics. One of the main guarantees of keeping Artsakh Armenian and settling the conflict in favor of nation is the existence of the Armenian people in their native soil. In this regard, the post-war demographics are quite promising, but serious efforts and resources are needed to achieve the desired results.
Within this context, the satisfaction of housing needs is the main issue, which we started to solve immediately after the war. In particular, we have initiated large-scale constructions in different parts of Artsakh, within three years we plan to build about 5,000 apartments for the displaced and other vulnerable groups. Of course, this does not mean that we are retracting from our lost homeland, but on the other hand, we are well aware that the negotiation process in this regard can take a long time, thus, during this whole period leaving the displaced families to the whims of fate or the infamous experience of keeping them in tent settlements is unacceptable for us.
As a continuation of the topic, I would like to emphasize that the housing issue in Artsakh must be resolved comprehensively. Hence, in conformity with my pre-election promise, each family will have its own apartment, but some patience to eliminate the sharp consequences of the war is needed here. In parallel with this process, we will gradually launch new housing programs to support all families in need.
We have already launched or planning to launch a number of other programs to promote natural and mechanical demographic growth in Artsakh. This is one of the main directions where Pan-Armenian consolidation, large-scale and continuous participation is needed, taking into consideration the amount of resources required.
D. Socio-economic development.
The bulk of our economic potential has been lost in the aftermath of the war, which has made socioeconomic problems very acute. Of course, thanks to the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund and other charitable organizations, humanitarian assistance of the Russian Government and the ICRC we have been able to solve many problems. But, for achieving institutional solutions, the volume of state budget of the Republic of Artsakh for the coming years is very important.
I am glad to note that due to the support of the Republic of Armenia, in 2022 the expenditure part of the state budget of the Republic of Artsakh will make about 215 billion drams. For comparison, let me state that in 2020 the state budget was about 122 billion drams. This will definitely provide an opportunity to address the potential challenges, but much greater resources, including economic investments, are needed to continue improving socioeconomic and demographic situation. Therefore, I expect that all capable Pan-Armenian circles will have their direct participation in this important direction.
Naturally, in parallel, the full introduction of free and qualitative healthcare and education systems is of utmost importance for us. The process was launched before the war, is in progress now and will include new programs in the coming year.
E. Domestic policy.
As before the war, so more after it, I opened the doors for cooperation with all political forces, believing that only through joint efforts it is possible to face these difficult challenges. In this regard, we have many visible results, which are also largely the derivatives of this co-operational environment.
However, I am not satisfied with the degree of involvement and participation of all public and political forces in state-building process and in solving different problems in Artsakh and plan to launch a new stage of consultations with all circles to discuss the possibilities of forming more efficient formats and mechanisms. We will continue to implement reforms in the public administration system to increase the level of efficiency, transparency and public accountability.
This is the vision I and my government have. The disappointment, mourning, loss of the most of the Homeland, have caused a decline of mood, uncertainties to all of us, but my call and my urge is to quickly rediscover ourselves. I believe that as 120,000 Armenians now live and create in the native cradle, so will we overcome all the problems shoulder to shoulder, will successfully resist all the challenges and carve new victories together.
At the end, I once again turn to all the parliamentary and non-parliamentary political forces, all local and Pan-Armenian organizations and individuals, to leave aside all the disagreements. The door of cooperation is open to all of you. For the sake of Artsakh, bright future of our people and the sacred blood of our martyrs let us build the homeland of our dreams hand in hand. After all, the authorities come and go, only the values for which we live and struggle remain permanent...
Source: Արայիկ Հարությունյան
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