President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan in an address to the nation said that he is ready to resign as soon as the country will be ready to duly overcome the difficulties of presidential and parliamentary elections in terms of domestic and external conditions and constitutional regulations.
His post reads as follows:
With the heavy war imposed by the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance, losing much of our holy homeland and thousands of bright lives, nevertheless, thanks to the collective strength of our people, at the cost of the blood of our devoted children, we managed to preserve Artsakh, the 10th historic province of Greater Armenia. The part where the Armenians of Artsakh will continue to live, create and fight for their rights and freedoms, for national dignity and perpetuation.
First of all, I would like to express my deep condolences to the relatives of all the victims, to the entire Armenian people, for their irreversible and heavy losses. We are lifelong grateful and indebted to the relatives of every hero who fell for the Homeland, we are grateful to every person who sincerely participated in the defense of the Homeland in one way or another, from a soldier to a Diaspora Armenian child, from the front to the deep back. As it has already been announced, three days of mourning will be declared in the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia from December 19 to commemorate the memory of our compatriots who died during the war.
It should be noted that despite the current difficult challenges, the independence of the Artsakh Republic and the Constitution operate in the same way, moreover, they oblige us to continue more resolutely the struggle and the spirit of their historical, value and legal-political basis, the Artsakh Movement. It should be noted that the protection of human rights in international relations remains a purely declarative desire, to which the international community has largely failed to fulfill its obligations, turning a blind eye to the outrageous facts of crimes against humanity committed against Armenians.
In this most difficult situation, we must look directly into the eyes of reality, record the existing problems, set clear goals – to achieve those goals through hard, consistent, smart and joint work. I will briefly present what we have and what we should do by sectors.
Security: Of course, ensuring the security of our citizens is the main priority of the state, because without a secure environment it is impossible to achieve success and development in other areas. In this context, it is quite clear that the issues that most concern citizens and authorities in the post-war period are security and uncertainties. On the one hand, we have a line of contact with the Azerbaijani side, which has been extended about two and a half times due to the war, direct access to certain parts of our settlements, very limited means of communication with Mother Armenia, on the other hand, we have limited human and technical means to strengthen the new frontline. We have the security guarantees conditioned by the continuous support of the whole Armenian people and the Republic of Armenia և in the presence of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation.
Now the Artsakh authorities are doing everything possible to neutralize the existing security challenges and clarify the uncertainties within our powers and capabilities, some of which depend on the results of the highest level international negotiations. Nevertheless, despite the objective difficulties, one thing is clear to us: the Defense Army, with the support of all Armenians, will continue its functions and efforts to ensure the physical security of the people of Artsakh, which are supplemented by guarantees of Russian peacekeeping troops.
Nevertheless, the Azerbaijani side continues its persistent provocative behavior, as exemplified by their recent actions in Khtsaberd and Berdadzor. Various provocations of Azeri servicemen were prevented by Russian peacekeepers and Russian peacekeepers, and last night they were driven out of the village of Hin Shen in Shushi. No one was injured in the direction of Berdadzor these days, and the enemy was not allowed to enter any settlement. Unfortunately, several dozen of our servicemen were taken prisoner on the Azerbaijani side in the direction of Khtsaberd, and now the Ministry of Defense is clarifying all the circumstances. I personally will be consistent in bringing the perpetrators of this incident to justice. Their quick and safe return to the Homeland should be the focus of our forthcoming efforts, and we are already taking steps in that direction.
Taking into account the Russian Federation’s peacekeeping mandate in Artsakh, it is obvious that the violations of the provisions of the November 9 trilateral statement and the extended line of contact are a clear disrespect to Russia’s “mediation efforts” and the peacekeeping mandate. Therefore, together with the military-political leadership of the Republic of Armenia, we work with the Russian side to jointly prevent provocations by Azerbaijan, and the Defense Army, of course, in parallel, performs its duties to the best of its ability.
Foreign Policy: The foreign policy directions and priorities of the Artsakh Republic, in general, have not changed, but have changed in terms of their strength. In particular, it is necessary to single out the following main directions and goals:
• The main direction of foreign policy is to ensure the security of the people of Artsakh through political tools. The entire foreign policy potential of Artsakh and the Republics of Armenia must intelligently and consistently serve the realization of that priority goal, ensuring a stable, local and dignified safe environment for living in their homeland.
• The second direction is the clarification of issues related to the international status of Artsakh, which implies international recognition of the independence of the Artsakh Republic, based on the unconditional recognition of the fact of realization of the right of our people to self-determination. If in the pre-war period the settlement of the conflict was based on three basic principles – the exclusion of the use of force – the threat of force, the right of peoples to self-determination – territorial integrity, then this war simply abolished the meaning of two of them: exclusion of the threat of force and territorial integrity. In particular, the fact that Azerbaijan has resorted to the use of force, during which it has systematically and deliberately committed numerous war crimes against humanity with the active participation of Turkey and its mercenaries, is out of the question for the world. At the same time, there is now no visible reason to claim that the international community wants to punish Azerbaijan for the use of force and crimes against humanity. In addition, due to the use of force and political agreement, not only does Azerbaijan not have a problem of territorial integrity in the international arena, but it also occupied the country in the last war in 1991. Some territories belonging to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, in addition to other territories occupied in the 1990s, left tens of thousands of indigenous Armenians homeless.
Therefore, if two of the three principles have become outdated, it is necessary to immediately implement the third principle, the recognition of the realization of the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination, in order to think about the settlement of the conflict. In this regard, one can take into account the “deprivations and sufferings of the people of Artsakh”, the existing ontological dangers of new crimes, considering the international recognition of the Artsakh Republic as a compensatory and preventive mechanism. It is clear to everyone that the internationally recognized status will provide significant practical guarantees for the security and protection of the rights of our people.
• The third direction is the restoration of the territorial integrity of the Artsakh Republic, which has “security” and “humanitarian” significance for our people.
• The fourth direction is the settlement of humanitarian issues, which includes solving the problems of prisoners and missing persons, ensuring the return of displaced persons to their places of residence, and the proper protection of cultural and cultural heritage. In this context, the provision of continuous international humanitarian assistance, led by the Russian Federation from foreign countries, with its direct and large-scale support to Artsakh, is very important. I hope that other states and large international organizations will follow Russia’s example, finally breaking the ice of Artsakh’s international artificial isolation. Of course, the unconditional, permanent and invaluable support of the Republic of Armenia to Artsakh can not be viewed from that point of view, it is exclusively about international assistance.
• The fifth direction is the foreign policy aimed at socio-economic development, the attraction of foreign investments, due to which we should strive to eliminate international isolation also in economic terms.
Artsakh is wounded not only by human and territorial losses, but also by the many acute humanitarian problems that have arisen, from the missing and captives to shelters and destroyed buildings, from social security to psychological trauma. Therefore, in addition to the challenges and needs of the pre-war period, a huge number of new needs have now emerged, which implies the need for more efficient and responsible work of state power. We must first solve the problems of providing housing for our homeless citizens and minimum social conditions in a short period of time. At the same time, and especially after that, we will have the task of guaranteeing favorable conditions for improving the quality of life of all our citizens and the socio-economic development of the Republic. From that point of view, we plan to launch a number of programs, in particular:
Together with the Republic of Armenia to do our utmost to return all prisoners, as well as to continue actively searching for the bodies of the victims and the missing.
• Resolve the issue of temporary housing for homeless citizens in a short period of time, through centralized accommodation in various buildings, adequate reimbursement of rent, rapid housing, and other possible programs.
• Provide housing for all the homeless in three years.
• Pay the amount of their mortgage loans and their interest instead of the citizens in the next three years.
• Provide significant assistance in servicing loans to individuals and legal entities.
• Significantly increase the program for the provision of construction materials in order to improve the housing conditions in the villages.
• The program of housing compensation for homeless citizens has been launched.
• Launched jointly with the Republic of Armenia and the program of one-time financial assistance to non-conscripted Artsakhtsis continues.
• A program of 300,000 or 250,000 AMD assistance to the homeless citizens is already working together with the RA, depending on the place of residence.
• Provide monthly social assistance of 68,000 AMD to unemployed citizens for at least six months.
• Subsidize the consumption of gas, electricity, fixed volumes for at least one year and Other utility costs in a flexible ratio according to the preferences and needs of consumers, and the announced limits will be raised.
• Declare tax amnesty և establish broad tax benefits.
• Inventory of post-war material damage to discuss future compensation options.
• Asphalt the roads leading to all villages in three years.
Of course, the mentioned are only a part of the state programs, after developing short-term programs aimed at overcoming the current crisis, we will implement more long-term development programs. The implementation of these other programs will be possible not only with the help of the Artsakh Republic, but also with the active support of the Republic of Armenia, all Armenians, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, and the Russian Federation. I hope that various international organizations and other foreign governments will follow the examples of Armenia and Russia and provide continuous, direct humanitarian assistance to Artsakh.
Domestic policy: The war with heavy losses is itself a great source of crisis for the state and political systems. On the other hand, in the post-war and post-war period, any state needs internal stability and joint work, otherwise crises can deepen and deepen. Naturally, I understand the actions of Artsakh և to demand clarifications from the authorities of the Republic of Armenia on the results of the war and the current situation, as each government must be responsible for the fulfillment and non-fulfillment of its powers “accountable to the people.” Yes, I am responsible for this situation within the framework of the powers vested in me by the Constitution of the Artsakh Republic, but when holding anyone accountable, it is necessary to separate the wet from the dry, the objective reasons from subjective sins, the desires from opportunities. For example, if by the Constitution the President of the Republic is the guarantor of the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security of the Artsakh Republic, did I have sufficient internal and external opportunities and levers to fully guarantee the mentioned four values in this large-scale war? Did I not do my best in that direction? : Or if, according to the Constitution, the President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, then for whom is it a secret how and where the Defense Army is actually governed, and to what extent the President of the Artsakh Republic is involved in those processes? In the face of the great difference between constitutional powers and severe functional limitations in real life, I think I have done everything possible to contribute to the most important cause of the defense of the Homeland, regardless of my formal and informal powers and capabilities.
There are three main issues in this 44-day war and the resulting criticism. The first is whether it was right to end the war on November 9 under those conditions. I have honestly answered this question several times, that the alternative at that time was greater human and territorial losses, even complete deprivation of the homeland. The second question is whether it was possible to end the war sooner with relatively better conditions and less losses, and the third question was whether it was not possible to make the Armenian armed forces better prepared for the war in advance. The answers to the last two questions are positive, but I will return to the details on another occasion …
Nevertheless, regardless of the extent of my real and objective responsibility for the current situation, after the war I was ready to resign from the Republic.
My powers as president, but for some main reason I did not take that step.
• First of all, did Artsakh, which faced a post-war humanitarian catastrophe and plunged into many deprivations, have to go through a long period of political tension and instability of governance instead of uniting quickly and meeting the current needs of the people? I think the answer is simple. at least one must be insane to leave the people’s sorrows and enter the circus of internal political struggle.
• Second, in the face of serious external and security challenges, is anyone convinced that we have the proper or even the least guaranteed environment to hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections?
• Third, we should not forget about the constitutional regulations, which are structured in such a way that at this stage the early presidential and parliamentary elections can cause a constitutional crisis, deepening the general state crisis.
• Fourth, finally, I am not a person who avoids responsibility, on the contrary, in this difficult period, I take full responsibility for rescuing our Homeland and people from the post-war crisis. As for the actions and behavior of other officials during the war, I welcome reports from various NGOs of possible high treason and other alleged crimes. I am ready to fully support the law enforcement agencies in conducting an effective investigation into this case, I am also ready to personally provide clarifications. As for the results of the investigation and the actions arising from them, I am not only ready to bear my share of responsibility, but I am also obliged to do my best to bring the perpetrators to justice in specific issues and to solve the identified problems.
Now coming to my decisions and future plans, I would like to emphasize the following points:
• I have started political consultations with all interested parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forces տարբեր various public groups to combine our efforts to overcome this crisis. We already have concrete agreements and efforts with a number of forces, we continue discussions with others, I see the opportunity to cooperate with everyone. It should be emphasized that cooperation should be widely understood and not limited to political responsibility in the form of appointing specific individuals to various positions. In other words, every capable and compassionate force and person should have the opportunity to use their potential to achieve our common goal, and on that path I will always be open to cooperating with all forces and individuals.
• Although the Constitution gives the President of the Republic wide powers, but based on the logic of the mentioned cooperation and unity, I am ready to make decisions of vital importance for the Homeland and the people in consultation with the National Assembly, the Security Council and the wider public and political circles. In general, holding public discussions should become an organic part of our political culture and governance system.
• I have decided to resign from the post of the chairman of the Free Homeland Party, to leave the party so that I can function as the President of the Republic, to be perceived as a supra-party leader of the state, as a figure who should be accepted as a unifying person especially in crisis situations.
• At the same time, realizing the certain public and political moods caused by the war regarding the need for my resignation from the post of President of the Republic, I would like to note that I am ready to resign at the first opportunity, when the Republic is ready to properly and dignifiedly overcome the presidential and the severe difficulties of the parliamentary elections.
At the first opportunity, I will resign from the presidency; in a reasonable time, special national elections will be organized in Artsakh, during which I will not run, I will leave politics.
• In the coming days, I will approve the new structure of the government, optimizing the various departments in order to increase the efficiency of their work և save public funds.
• I will approve the new composition of the government, making significant personnel changes, including in law enforcement agencies. I would like to emphasize that in the selection of new staff I will be guided as much as possible by their human and professional merits and public authority.
• All presidential decrees and government decisions related to the defense and security of the Artsakh Republic will be adopted only with the positive conclusion of the Security Council, to be adopted by other bodies.
Appropriate mechanisms will be developed for issuing conclusions on relevant legal acts.
• The composition of the Security Council will be expanded to include not only specific authorized officials, but also representatives of various socio-political circles.
Public administration. The public administration system is now in a state of crisis, which is having a negative impact on the effectiveness of the post-war effort. Therefore, I plan to make all the major structural and personnel changes in a few days, to accelerate and multiply the efforts to solve urgent issues. After at least a minimum of meeting the urgent needs of the people, we must embark on governance reforms, some of which we envisioned in the pre-war period, and the rest of which were met in wartime and post-war conditions. As a result of these long-term reforms, the professional skills of public servants will be improved, the efficiency of administration, citizen service, public spending, implementation of state programs, and a number of other processes and institutions will increase.
I urge all government agencies and officials to work extremely responsibly and compassionately to address the difficult post-war challenges. None of us has a moral right to rest our head on a pillow if we know that the solution to this or that issue depends on the relatives of the deceased or missing person, the wounded, the homeless or another vulnerable person. None of us has the right to indulge in extravagance, when many people are deprived of basic living conditions, when the children of the dead and the missing need simple attention. Every public servant must realize that now all the people of Artsakh are vulnerable in one way or another, we all have a duty to serve them, we have a duty to be an example of compassion and service for others. I expect that in our society there will be an unprecedented atmosphere of mutual assistance and solidarity for a long time, due to which we will be able to overcome this crisis quickly.
By the way, in the context of the above, I would also like to refer to the public moods about people who have avoided fulfilling their responsibilities on the front lines and in the rear. Yes, there is legal reproach and demands on them in the society, “high-ranking officials,” low-ranking public servants, “various employees of the private sector have been fired on that basis. During the war, I published a list of some high-ranking officials who had been fired. Moreover, deserters on the front lines and in the rear should not be given the opportunity to hold high-ranking positions in the future either, as those who evade their duties at the most crucial moment for the people simply cannot serve the same people in good faith. As for low-level employees, given the variety of cases, some legal issues that have arisen and the current volume, this issue should be the subject of a separate study in order to make fair decisions. However, it should be emphasized that when applying incentives, employers must take into account the behavior of the employee during the war, excluding unfair decisions against bona fide employees.
There are too many problems and challenges in this period, sometimes unmanageable and uncertain for us. However, before our previous and future generations, we must stand firm in the position of salvation and development of the Homeland. We as a nation are determined to get out of this difficult situation with honor, to turn our backs, to move forward in our historical march. We simply do not have the right to fail at this stage, which could mean the failure of all stages. This is our just struggle, the natural continuation of the struggle of our ancestors, we will definitely succeed.
“Strength, security and survival of the Armenian Holy Motherland.”