President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan attended the opening of the Armenian Forum for Democracy along with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and representatives of the top leadership of the country.
The President addressed the forum.
“I am delighted to welcome the participants and guests of the Armenian Forum for Democracy. This comprehensive event, which is already becoming a tradition, is another proof and testimony that Armenia has irrevocably and firmly set foot on the path of establishing democracy and democratic institutions, and it is irreversible.
Since the day of its establishment, our Republic has declared its commitment to democratic and universal values and principles. Throughout more than three decades of independence, the victory of democracy was being created amid numerous and various obstacles in our country: vicious phenomena in the state administration apparatus, semi-war situation, and grave security challenges.
But to the credit of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, we can confidently state that democracy is already an established fact in our country.
Of course, the war of 2020, the subsequent external and domestic political turmoil and challenges were a serious ordeal for democratic values and ideas in Armenia. But most importantly, in this situation the Armenian authorities, not pulling back from the essence and principles of democracy, pursued the most democratic and acceptable way of resolving the issues. I mean the extraordinary parliamentary elections held in 2021 which became the most effective and transparent way of expressing the will of our citizens.
The title of the Democracy Forum is already binding for the statesmen, representatives of executive and legislative powers, and our citizens who follow the course of the forum as democracy is not only a set of freedoms but also responsibility. A free citizen, a free state and public figure, a representative of civil society, bears much greater responsibility in a free and democratic state than in any other system.
This is an undeniable truth, since in the end the citizen said yes to the existence of the independent Republic of Armenia in the Independence referendum, the issue of the leadership of the country is again determined by the citizen with their vote in the parliamentary or other elections. That vote is responsibility which I believe is one of the most important pillars of democracy, and in the 2021 parliamentary elections, our citizens, with their free expression of will, fully undertook that responsibility with their vote.
Dear participants and guests of the Forum for Democracy
I also wish to address a reality that gives rise to various interpretations. It is no secret that in the face of external challenges of our country, the Karabakh conflict, democracy has been subordinated to security issues for years.
The establishment of democratic institutions was neglected at the highest level and an attempt was made to present it as a threat. I wish to emphasize that such an opposition is not only baseless, but on the contrary, democracy is one of the primary tokens of the strength and power of the state. After all, Armenia's independence referendum, Armenia's first presidential and parliamentary elections were held amid a war imposed on us, so our statehood is in a sense also the birth of democracy.
The same holds true for today also where the wounds of the 2020 war are still fresh, the country is still coming to its senses after severe losses, it seems that democratic institutions have been pushed into the background, but as I already mentioned, the Armenian government found the solution through democracy itself. I believe that democracy is the weapon with which we can and should present ourselves to the world.
To sum up my speech, I would also like to emphasize an important fact. Democracy implies peace as without it, it is impossible or very difficult to have well-established democratic institutions. And in this regard, Armenia is steadily moving towards democracy and peace.”