In connection with the holidays of the New Year and Christmas, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hosted mass media representatives in the Government. Congratulating those present on the upcoming holidays, the Prime Minister wished them good health, much happiness and every success.
In his congratulatory speech, Prime Minister Pashinyan noted:
I am glad to see you and wish a happy New Year and Merry Christmas to you, to your families and the media outlets that you represent. After the Velvet Revolution of 2018, I repeatedly stated that the Armenian media became freer than ever before following the revolution. Sometimes this statement has been called into question. And after this, on the initiative of Vladimir Karapetyan, the following practice was introduced: when we return from foreign visits, we invite the journalists accompanying us on the way back, and I always start the conversation with the question of whether freedom of media is limited in the Republic of Armenia. I am pleased to report that I have not yet received information that contradicts my statement on media freedom. Of course, there are some problems, and there is a lot of talk about the fact that the media and journalists are victims of hate speech on social networks, which, of course, is a serious problem. However, I want to say that in this respect, the Government and I myself are in exactly the same situation as the media. And, of course, I am ready to work together on this issue.
The second issue is the attacks on the media or such cases as might impede media outlets’ activities. Unfortunately, there have been such cases, investigations are underway, and I am sure that all incidents will be properly investigated. I can only say that there are opinions that perhaps such attacks or events are carried out purposefully and, moreover, are organized by the authorities. I can say that this is not the case, and any such manifestation should be ruled out in the Republic of Armenia.
As for the relationship between the media and the Government, to be honest, media outlets create a lot of problems for the Government, including, sorry for this statement, in the form of a fake news, but overall I am very pleased with this process, because this gives government representatives the opportunity to speak out on issues that would have been impossible in ordinary circumstances.
After all, this helps us achieve a most important goal, namely to achieve 100% transparency in government activities. And I want to tell you honestly: do not think that the government’s dealings are 100% transparent even to the Prime Minister, because you have to admit that no one can process such a huge volume of information. While information is provided to the Prime Minister 24 hours a day, yet this does not mean that anyone can master such a tremendous stream of information. And, therefore, media activities help us enhance the level of government’s transparency and make the government more transparent to society.
And thirdly, I want to note that your activities help the government and all members of the government to be more professional, capable, responsible and accountable in their activities. I want to emphasize that, despite all the known and unknown shortcomings and difficulties, I consider that sustained media activities are of paramount importance in the Republic of Armenia.
I consider this activity useful primarily for the government, for the public, because if we are honest, if we are principled, if we are faithful to our obligations to people, no news can ultimately harm us. And if any news in this context can harm us, this is, first of all, our problem, our shortcoming, for which we, of course, must be accountable to the public. In this regard, I would like to thank all those outlets that work and exercise public control over the activities of the government and the authorities, as a whole. Your criticism helps us improve, be more accurate and more productive.
Based on the results of the past one and a half years, I can say that personally I feel this positive influence specifically on my activity, and I want to thank you for this activity. On the other hand, I do not want you to get the impression that I think that everything should be left as it is, because when we emphasize the importance of transparency and reaffirm that the media are the strongest tool in this respect, then the question may arise: Is it not logical that the public should expect the same transparency from the media? I think this is as legitimate an expectation as the expectation of transparency from the government, authorities, and senior officials. Therefore, I urge the media to collaborate and find a solution to this problem.
And since the format is not a working, but a festive one, I want to summarize my speech by the following statement: I was a journalist and editor for many years, that is, I was not engaged in any other work before I took up the political career. And I want to say that I believe and am convinced that I was not a better journalist than any other journalist in the Republic of Armenia, I was not a better editor than any other editor in the Republic of Armenia. But I can confidently say that the times when you worked as a journalist or editor are much better than when I used to work as a journalist and editor. And I say this only to emphasize that, I think, it is worth taking this opportunity and improving our work. You may wonder what the difference is. In my opinion, there are many state agencies, organizations and even ministries and officials who keep working within the same logic as 7 or 3 years ago, and similarly there are media outlets working in the same logic as they did 7 or 3 years ago. I have clearly stated in connection with the Government’s activities that I consider it a negative phenomenon and I will not tolerate it. I do not want to make any assessments in connection with the mass media because it is their right to choose. However, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, nevertheless, I think it is very important to use this time to create a more favorable environment for the media, to use the opportunity to create a more favorable media groundwork and a better media culture.
Thank you for listening with patience. Let me once again congratulate you, your media outlets, your families, your friends and relatives on New Year and Christmas and wish that in 2020, the Armenian media could work in a much better environment than even in 2019 and 2018. Thank you.”