Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had a meeting with President Vahagn Khachaturyan, Armenian News-NEWS.am has learned from the PM’s office.
In his speech, the President of Armenia said: "First of all, thank you for the meeting. Actually, there are many questions that need to be discussed separately. What do I want to start the conversation with? I look at what is happening in the world, you are also following. There are different assessments, but there is one general assessment by all: the world has not been in such an extremely tense situation since World War II, and whether we want it or not, these problems will affect us too. In connection with that, I also wanted to say in your presence that I appreciate the work that the Government is doing, that you are doing personally, that our diplomats are doing. I understand how difficult it is today to withstand all the challenges we face. And these difficulties are mainly related to our security. You gave that opportunity to our society through journalists, during your press conference, during your speech at the Cabinet meeting.
I would like to draw attention to one important fact. It seems that the society is not ready for what you present to the society openly. What is the reason for this approach of perception, interpretations? I think we are still in the old stereotype of the Soviet Union, that how can a government or an authority be open with the public? At that time, everything was closed, we formed our opinions based on assumptions or just tried to understand what happened in the country.
Now this style, which is a result of democracy, gives everyone the opportunity to become a participant in the events taking place in the country. However, it is difficult to digest, because when you start thinking in that direction, you also fall under a certain responsibility, and the biggest problem for democracy in the world today is responsibility. Many even give up some of their rights and tell the state again: deal with it yourself. In other words, the state gave him the opportunity and he says: no, you do it, we can't. I want to say that this is not unique to Armenia, but I think that this style, also this way of informing the public, is correct. I hope this will continue and by that we will also address some of the issues facing our country. Regarding the 2021-2026 Action Plan of the Government, I think that what has been done should be made public a little more. For example, when I look at the junction being built in the south, at Meghri, Agarak section, it is very impressive what is going to be done there, what kind of transport junction it will be as a result. There is a need for this, because in many cases we think that the important thing is doing something, but we also need to present all that to the people."
In his speech, Prime Minister Pashinyan said. "Thank you, Mr. President, for the invitation and assessment.
In general, I think the topic you talked about is very important because it is very important for our government and for me personally to continue to be in communication with the public. I should also mention that at some point I noted that there are many processes the purpose of which is to abort that communication. In other words, to make the Government close inside its cabinets and not to communicate with the public, and there was a moment when I also wondered to what extent we should communicate with the public. Because our perception of governments is that we should give the public only good news or only look at things from a good perspective.
I want to say that that problem, that dilemma, it also haunted me down for a long time, until the war of 2020, because the reality that we had as of 2018 in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, that content regarding the negotiation process and content of the Karabakh issue had noting to do with public perceptions. Basically, yes, it's a strategic decision that we have to communicate with the public. Regardless of everything, communication with the public is the most important because it has strategic importance, including from a security point of view.
Regarding the implementation of the Government's Action Plan, I must emphasize that according to the Constitution, we submitted the report on the implementation of the plan to the National Assembly by March 1. I think we got a very substantial document, but also not everything we managed to include in the sense that we tried to make the document concise. I can emphasize 2 very important points from that document, of course we will discuss it in detail in the National Assembly.
The first indicator that is very important to me, is related to the health sector. Compared to 2017, according to the results of 2022, we have more than doubled the volume of state-ordered health services, that is, we have had a 125 percent increase compared to 2017. The number of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia benefiting from the state order increased by 125 percent in 2022 compared to 2017, that is, it increased more than twice. It is a matter of the health of our citizens. May God give health to everyone, but of course the Government should also help God in this matter so that the health issues are resolved.
The next statistic, which is again very important to me, is that during 2022, Armenian airlines carried more than 900,000 passengers. This is very important because it was also our political commitment that we should have Armenian airlines, and in fact, about 25 percent of the market is covered by Armenian airlines. This is also very important in the sense of repatriation, because during 2022, about 200 jobs were created in the field of aviation, and many high-class pilots, born and raised in Armenia, who found no job in Armenia and only came during vacations, are now working in Armenia and can also spend their vacation in Armenia.
There is more data. Thank you for following the activities of the Government, and if you follow, I assume you will also follow the discussions at the National Assembly."
Responding, Vahagn Khachaturyan said: "Definitely. I'll say one number. As a professional I have always looked at, it is the biggest achievement from my point of view. It is about the problem of unemployment. It has always been 25-30 percent for us for years. There is official statistics and research. Official statistics, according to the "Employment" law, was up to 10 percent, and real unemployment was 25-30 percent. And it was the most negative among all our international comparisons. Now it has become 11.5 percent. I consider this the greatest achievement in my professional evaluations. Ultimately, there are 2 important factors in US Federal Reserve policy: inflation and unemployment. We only have inflation, because in many cases inflation can be kept at the expense of unemployment, but both factors here are very important. In other words, the goal of economic policy is to provide jobs or have less unemployment and less inflation. I consider this circumstance very important in the activities of the government and, of course, I took the report again, I will follow it to the end, but I also appreciate the work that is being done.
I would like to mention one more fact: your personal participation in reports. I find it an important factor in raising the responsibility of our departments, when the Prime Minister is present in each department with a representative team. It is actually appreciable, because before there was an accepted option when the prime minister did not go, the deputy prime minister went or one minister went, that is, it was just a formality. This is also a good way to increase the effectiveness of management, and we only have to solve our most important problems, which you keep talking about. You know that I am also dedicated to the implementation of that idea, which has 2 important components: establishing full peace in the region, turning our region into a center of international cooperation, and secondly, of course, democracy. We do not step back from the principles we have chosen. The government is implementing it."
In conclusion, Nikol Pashinyan noted: "Yes, obviously, security, ensuring external security and peace is an absolute priority, and that's also why our joint work, in fact, a large part of our agenda is dedicated to that. But the important thing for me is that despite all that, not only we have not failed the reform agenda, but, on the contrary, the key point of the Government's report itself is that our response to all of this should be asymmetric in some sense. I mean that we should not deviate for a second from the development agenda, the reform agenda, of course, continuing to focus more and more on the security agenda."