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Pashinyan: No Independent Armenia Without Democracy, Admits Challenges and Calls for Continued Efforts

Primer Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia emphasized the significance of democracy for the country's independence and future during his speech at the Armenian Forum for Democracy held on Monday. Reflecting on his six years in office, Pashinyan attributed the nation's progress in democracy and human rights to strong political will and institutional democracy. The Armenian Report’s Ani Khachatryan was invited to attend and cover the forum. Here are our takeaways:

Primer Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

Pashinyan reiterated that Armenia's survival as an independent state is tightly linked to its democratic values. "If we were not a democratic country, I assure you that today we would not have had Armenia as an independent state," he declared. Despite the difficult times Armenia is facing, he stressed that democracy has been the pillar that has kept the country resilient.

A significant portion of Pashinyan's address was dedicated to the topic of Armenia's potential membership in the European Union (EU). This issue has been under debate, with some political allies pushing for a referendum on the matter. However, Pashinyan expressed reservations about holding such a referendum without clear signals from the EU regarding their readiness to accept Armenia.

Primer Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

Pashinyan pointed out that conducting a referendum would necessitate a comprehensive campaign, during which people would ask critical questions about the logistics and feasibility of joining the EU. "If we have a referendum today, we have to campaign. When we go on a campaign, people will ask us questions, starting with how, when, how long, with what steps. Does the EU want it or not?" he explained. Currently, Pashinyan feels unable to provide satisfactory answers to these questions.

Vassilis Maragos, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia, also spoke at the forum, highlighting the EU's role in supporting Armenia's democratic reforms. Maragos emphasized that the EU remains a key partner and encouraged Armenia to continue its efforts towards comprehensive democracy to benefit all its citizens.

Vassilis Maragos, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia

Despite acknowledging the progress made, Pashinyan admitted that the quality of democracy in Armenia is not yet satisfactory. He pointed out that local government elections need to be more politicized and civilized. Moreover, he emphasized the importance of freedom of speech and press, which he views as crucial for a positive democratic environment.

Pashinyan reiterated his commitment to democracy, stating, "The record I made back in 2018 remains unwavering. For us, democracy is not a matter of circumstances, but a strategy, and the government will continue on this strategic path." He assured that democracy is firmly rooted in Armenia and that the international community recognizes Armenia as part of the global democratic framework.

Primer Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

The Armenian Forum for Democracy serves as a platform to assess the progress and challenges in the country's democratic journey. Pashinyan called for a collective evaluation of the democratic reforms undertaken and emphasized the need to develop a roadmap for future efforts. "Based on the results of the forum, it would be good for us to recap together what tactics of further development we should adopt for democratic reforms, and what roadmap we should have so that our efforts in terms of the development of democracy are combined," he concluded.

In summary, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's address highlighted the critical role of democracy in Armenia's past, present, and future. While acknowledging the challenges ahead, he expressed optimism about the country's democratic journey and the support from international partners like the EU.


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