Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, acting Foreign Minister of Armenia, delivered remarks at the 10th EaP Civil Society Forum in Tbilisi11 December, 2018
On December 11, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, acting Foreign Minister of Armenia as a guest speaker delivered remarks at the 10th EaP Civil Society Forum in Tbilisi.
Minister Mnatsakanyan thanked the participants of the forum for the congratulations expressed upon the snap parliamentary elections in Armenia conducted in compliance with democratic standards. “It was indeed an important momentum in the past months from April-May all the way to December. What happened in April and May didn’t come out of the blue - it was a consistent build up of the institutional capacities of the Armenian public to deal with the situation that we had in April and May. We have very often been addressed the question about the nature of the process in April and May and it is a strictly domestic issue, it is a strictly Armenian-driven process.
And that when in 1991 we declared independence, defined the kind of country we want to build: a country which is built on the principles of democracy, rule of law, the protection of human rights. We had a very very bumpy road, we had many instances in the history of the past 27 year, when there were fundamental failures of the principles that we had been declaring at the heart of our nation building. But there was also consistent and gradual institution building. Public institutions, civil society, the media, state institutions. There have been coming gradually to the place where it was possible to define protest in a clear, politically mature and legally literate way and the capacity of the public and of the institutions to absorb shock.
The primary objectives of the Government of the past months were based on the very clear mandate of the public, a huge, strong mandate of the public and the priority in the list of demands was driven by the issues of justice, anti-corruption, rule of law. It’s very encouraging that the party of the Prime Minister has been consistent in its drive towards delivering on those items in the mandate and sustaining that strong public support which reflected in the elections on Sunday. The election observers, the international observation missions have been assessing very highly the elections in Armenia and that is extremely important: it reflects on the nature of cooperation we have with our partners. But the most important thing in all this was the acceptance of the results of the elections by the public. I was very keen to see the reports of the Ombudsman of Armenia or the media associations, the civil society groups - that was the most important assessment and it was a very important assessment. And on top of everything, the results were accepted by the public and by the participating parties."
Touching upon the electoral campaign the acting Foreign Minister highlighted the establishment of a new political culture in Armenia including the big political televised debate amongst the leaders of the political forces competing in the elections.
“Armenia’s policies including its foreign policy are strictly Armenia-driven, are strictly pro-Armenian. And it is in this pro-Armenian approach that we have been building partnerships, especially with the institutions, countries, organizations, with whom we find amplified examples of what we want to achieve at home. So our relationship with European Union has been driven exactly by that imperative of bringing its support, institutional support, financial support, support in experience in what we want to achieve in the country. The same is about the Council of Europe, the same is about the OSCE. They are great organizations with great expertise where you can derive that expertise and make it work for your country” - the Armenian Foreign Minister stressed.
According to Acting Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan the Eastern Partnership in fact is very much in the same context. “Yes, each of the countries are different. And each country pursues a certain set of policies which each of the countries finds suitable for itself. The partnership the way in which it serves the purposes of working together is the way to assess the quality of that partnership. I think it was good, very good because it was giving the right message, the important message to our European Union friends that there is this group of countries to the East of the European Union who are keen to work closely with the EU recognizing in context of regional adherence, of regional cohesion.”
Concluding the remarks Acting Minister Mnatsakanyan noted, “Armenian process was driven by a strong public and strong civil society. I specifically chose to come over here to pay my respect to all of you, to thank you very much, because the civil society is an enormous power. I come from a country which has has seen the power and the value of it. We have been working with the civil society on the implementation of the CEPA. We have worked out a roadmap. We have proposed the civil society to establish three working groups so that we can work in three dimensions of the CEPA implementation in cooperation, in close collaboration with our civil society.
I would specifically like to emphasize the role of women. That is an enormous power and if I may quote, a very short quote from the Prime Minister who put it in a very good way. He said at some point when I was standing in the square and when I was seeing more and more women in the square and more young women with their pushchairs, I was thinking to myself “it’s going to happen.” And the youth is an enormous power, in fact, funny thing, not anymore, thankfully, but for some time I was the oldest member of the government. And people were saying, they were raising the question of experience and so on. Experience doesn’t matter, what matters is the political will, the capacity and the responsibility and the team of these young people is driven exactly by such ideas.
I just want to thank you once again, civil society, thanks for all your hard work that you are doing and your partnership is extremely important. Thank you”.