We hope that global democracy will stand by us. prime minister

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the "Copenhagen Democracy Summit." The RA Prime Minister spoke at the discussion on "From the Frontline; Armenia's Defense of Democracy" and answered several questions.

In his speech, Nikol Pashinyan noted.

"Dear participants of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honor to share with you the challenges that Armenian democracy is facing. The good news is that democracy has indeed become a reality in Armenia, but what has changed with real democracy for the citizens of Armenia?

Until the Velvet Revolution of 2018, massive election frauds usually accompanied our country's elections. Citizens had no confidence that they had a real opportunity to elect and form a parliament and a government.

Now, the situation is entirely different. Citizens know that they have enough power to make a decision. The Armenian society and the international community recognized the two general elections held in Armenia after the Velvet Revolution as democratic, accessible, and competitive.

Armenia has made massive progress in strengthening democratic institutions. This achievement is very well reflected in various authoritative democracy indicators. We are now 43rd in Reporters Without Borders' freedom of expression index, up from 79th in 2017. Classified by Freedom House as having a partly free internet in 2017, we now enjoy the status of a free internet country. In Transparency International's corruption perception index, Armenia now ranks 62nd instead of 107th in 2017. We are 84th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's democracy index, up from 111th in 2017.

To evaluate this progress, it is necessary to note that along with the democratic reforms, Armenia faced external security challenges. The 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the invasion of Azerbaijani troops into the sovereign territories of Armenia in 2021 and 2022, and the occupation of more than 200 square kilometers of Armenian territory amid the indifference and inaction of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the forced displacement of more than 100,000 Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have raised suspicions Among the citizens of Armenia, is democracy the right choice, or does democracy mean less security?

Thus, democracy must prove its effectiveness in dealing with security, economic, and humanitarian challenges.

And we hope Global Democracy will stand by us in facing all these challenges.

We are satisfied with the deployment of the EU observation mission along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and welcome the EU's decision to expand its capacity. However, we hope that Armenia will be included in the European Peace Fund, and in this regard, we rely on the support of all EU member states.

During a high-level meeting on April 5 in Brussels between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and myself, the European Union and the United States undertook a new set of commitments aimed at strengthening Armenia's economic resilience, strengthening state institutions, and meeting the humanitarian needs of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Swift and effective implementation of those commitments is critical.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Against all challenges, we believe that lasting and stable peace is the faithful and most promising companion of democracy. The government I headed has taken its share of responsibility in this regard. We recently agreed with Azerbaijan to begin demarcating our interstate borders based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration.

This means that when demarcating, we must reproduce the administrative borders between Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan, which became state borders according to the Alma-Ata Declaration. The start of border demarcation is the implementation of the agreement reached during the quadrilateral meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, Azerbaijani President Aliyev, and myself on October 6, 2022. Now is the time to include and reflect these agreements in the peace treaty and sign it.

Another critical factor of our regional stability is the "Crossroads of Peace" project, which my government initiated. This project assumes that Armenia and Azerbaijan restore and open transport and other communications under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries they pass and based on, the pits of equality and reciprocity. These concept elements were agreed upon on July 15, 2023, during the meeting between the President of Azerbaijan and myself, chaired by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and are reflected in the public statement of President Michel on the meeting results. We are ready to move towards the implementation of the agreed points.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before answering your questions, I want to emphasize that democracy is a strategy for Armenia. We believe in democracy; we live in democracy.

Thank you."

Within the framework of the "Copenhagen Democracy Summit," the prime minister answered the questions of moderator Politico in Europe executive editor Gordon Repinski.

Gordon Repinski—You mentioned Armenia's security situation. Anders Fogh Rasmussen called your neighbor an autocracy. You are in a challenging geopolitical and geographical position. How do you solve the security problem in that environment?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - To be honest, I would not like to comment on the internal situation of our neighboring countries. But on the other hand, as I said, democracy did not arrive in Armenia due to circumstances. I find that it fully corresponds to the way of thinking of our people. It is a strategy for our government, it is our political belief, and it is also our political identity.

Members of our political team have spent most of their lives fighting for democracy, the rule of law and freedom of speech. Now, we can realize all these values in our country. But of course, the security situation was complicated, and now it is more difficult not only because of our regional problem but also because of the global crisis because the world order is collapsing at the moment.

My assessment is, and I have had to say this publicly, that the war in our region was, in a way, a prelude to further developments. And now the main issue is security.

What is our strategic point of view? How are we going to guarantee the security of our country? Recently, I gave a speech in our parliament in which I said that a legitimate foreign policy is the most essential tool for ensuring security. This is why we so often quote the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration.

I would like to introduce the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which was adopted by 12 Soviet republics and contains some very important ideas. First, the Soviet Union ceases to exist, and the administrative borders between the Soviet republics become state borders as the Soviet republics become independent countries.

It is essential that on October 6, a quadrilateral meeting was held in Prague with the participation of the President of France, the President of the European Council, the President of Azerbaijan, and myself, where two significant agreements were reached. First, Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration, and the Alma-Ata Declaration should serve as the basis for the distinction between the two countries. This is the reason why I said that we have no problem drawing a new border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We need to reproduce the existing border on the ground. This process is happening right now, and I hope that we will continue it steadfastly.

Gordon Repinski—The border conflict that has occurred in recent years has hurt relations with Russia and Russia's role in Armenia. What do you say about this?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know that Armenia is a member of CSTO. Now, we are also officially a member, but I have announced that we have frozen our participation.

Gordon Repinski - So, are you still a member?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan—It is a matter for further discussion, but it is very important to record the current situation. A crisis arose in our relations from that very point when Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenia. According to CSTO procedures, the organization and its member states had to support Armenia in this situation. However, even after the formal application, the CSTO refused to take any concrete steps, and in fact, that is the main reason for freezing our participation in the CSTO at all levels.

Gordon Repinski - Do you expect the West to occupy the current vacuum and ensure your security?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Our political position and policy consists in diversifying our foreign relations in all spheres. Now, we are developing defense cooperation with India, France, and other countries. We have a specific collaboration with the European Union because, as I mentioned, we are happy about deploying the EU Civilian Observation Mission on the border between Azerbaijan and us. Of course, it is a civilian mission, but in some sense, it is a new factor in the security of our region. This is the first time the European Union has participated in any way in the security agenda of the Republic of Armenia.

Gordon Repinski - Do you want to become a member of the EU?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We await the EU's decision to include Armenia in the European Peace Fund and hope to start visa liberalization negotiations. Last year, I announced in the European Parliament that Armenia is ready to be as close to the European Union as the European Union deems possible. This is our position.

Gordon Repinski—Now, I will pass on the audience question, which is also about your opportunities to get closer to Europe. Can you elaborate on what initiatives Armenia is taking in the fight against corruption?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - As I said, we have made massive progress in the fight against corruption, but unfortunately, we cannot say that we have eradicated corruption from Armenia. But what do we do: continue, be firm, and be firm in the agenda of democratic reforms. This is why cooperation with the European Union is of the utmost significance for us. Today, the European Union is the leading partner in implementing our democratic reform agenda.

We hope that the European Union and the USA will increase their support for Armenia in the implementation of democratic reforms because, as I said, democracy is a strategy for us.

By the way, in 2019, we started a Strategic Dialogue with the USA, and today, we see the strengthening of our cooperation with the European Union. I also mentioned that we recently had a tripartite meeting with the participation of the USA, EU, and Armenia; it was an unprecedented format where we adopted a massive agenda of institutional and economic reforms. It is also essential that we receive more and more tangible support from the EU and the US to address the humanitarian needs of the Nagorno-Karabakh refugees, which is also very important because it is a sensitive and emotional issue for us.

Gordon Repinski - And the last question: In which year would you like Armenia to become a member of the EU?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - This year.