Shahan Kantaharian: “There was determination to fix the errors and flaws in the President’s speech”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with editor-in-chief of Lebanon’s Aztag Daily Shahan Kantaharian to discuss the speech of President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. The speech was devoted to enforcement of the constitutional amendments in Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Kantaharian, how would you describe the speech that President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan gave recently? What do you think the main emphasis was on?

Shahan Kantaharian: In its entirety, the speech was unprecedented. The President very comprehensively touched upon the priority areas of Armenia’s domestic and foreign policies, the new challenges and the functioning of a new political culture. Moreover, the speech was related to not only the issues concerning the Republic of Armenia, but also issues concerning all Armenians around the world.

By saying ��?us’, the President specifies that this needs to refer to the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh and all Armenians of the world, meaning the Armenian World. He also emphasizes the imperative of standing up to the challenges facing all us Armenians. Therefore, the speech concerns all Armenians and encompasses all the prerequisites for Armenia to become the State of All Armenians.

The President expressed the following idea: “We have tremendous human potential.” We need to use this to create a pan-Armenian community and an Armenia-centered Armenian World. This is why our other objective is to fully use the potential of Diaspora Armenians in the state, social and political system that is being established in accordance with the new Constitution.

Therefore, Serzh Sargsyan’s speech opens new perspectives for our country, and the implementation of the new Constitution-indicates the paths. This refers to general and structural changes that will be more democratic and highlight the influential role of the opposition, meaning the active involvement of all political forces in the functioning of the political field and political parties and in the solutions to problems.

The speech comprehensively includes the major objective, that is, the objective to improve the economy, perfect the legal and investment spheres in which there will not be any monopolies, the investment policy will be ensured by law and there will be a system for healthy competition.

I believe the functioning of a sphere secured by laws on the economy and investments will become the starting point for overcoming the major challenge and meeting the key objective. It will help not only reduce the flow of emigration, but will also make our country engaging for both Armenians and foreigners. This issue was seriously formulated in the speech. There was a will to change the situation and open new perspectives for this. The problems are overtly indicated, and one can see that there is a state approach to solving them together.

At the same time, there was a determination to fix the flaws and errors. There was an overt statement. There was also special emphasis on the fact that something is changing in our country, and that change is opening up new perspectives for all Armenians around the world.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Kantaharian, are you aware of Lebanon’s response to the President’s speech?

S. K.: Lebanese mass media outlets provided coverage of the President’s speech, and it is safe to say that the comments were positive in the sense that, as I already mentioned, there is willingness to change the situation, and all the paths are indicated, the core of which is the new Constitution.

There will still be discussions, but taking into consideration the media’s coverage, I believe we can formulate that foreign presses are giving positive feedback to the President’s speech in general.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Kantaharian, in his speech, the President also attached importance to the improvement of the investment climate and the engagement of new investments. What do you think about that?

S. K.: I believe Armenia needs to clearly present and shed light on the field of investments and legal protection for investments in Armenia for the Armenian community of Lebanon, and not only. In terms of the market, Armenia is interesting not only for Lebanese-Armenians, but also for the Lebanese. Let us not forget that the Republic of Armenia and Lebanon have signed several bilateral agreements that need to be implemented. This implies a legal framework and interstate agreements in the spheres of economy, trade, education, science and culture.

In this regard, transport communication can only be helpful. Lebanese airline companies organize regular flights, and I believe Armenia needs to strengthen transport communication in order to increase the number of reciprocal visits and business trips.

Further activation of air communication will lead to the flow of people and recognition, which in turn may motivate and spark interest, and this can also lead to the engagement of investments. But the precondition and starting point for all this need to constantly be reconsidered. The prices of tickets need to be lower so that youth, and not only Armenian can also have opportunities to visit Armenia.

It is important for the Lebanese to become familiar with Armenia. This will help Armenia be in the center of attention of Lebanese tourists. Of course, if there are relevant projects and air communication is active, then both countries will work on introducing their investment climates.

For instance, if the region is dangerous, then people will start thinking about purchasing homes and making investments elsewhere as an alternative to the escalation of the situation. I believe if efforts are made in the right way, Armenia will be in the center of attention.

Hayern Aysor: What do you think the next milestone will be after the President’s speech?

S. K.: I believe one of the major milestones is the conduct of elections that will be very fair, convincing and transparent, in line with the 21st century and with the standards of a democratic country in modern-day Europe. The electoral code being drafted must correspond to the electoral codes of modern and democratic states of the 21st century.

It is also important for the Armenian people to be convincing. After all, the purpose of the new Constitution is to have democracy function and to work harder.

This can become a very major starting point and can help create a renewed atmosphere of confidence among people in order for them to engage in new processes, the goal of which, I think, must be to turn our state and society into a modern state and into a modern civil society in the 21st century.

Interview by Lusine Abrahamyan




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