This consultation is dedicated to our country's development program for the period of 2017-2020, which was published today in accordance to the requirements of the Constitution.
The program presents in sufficient detail specific tasks to be solved in diverse spheres of our republic's socio-economic development. It enables to have a comprehensive picture of the entire volume of envisaged work and most importantly to outline all the paths through which we intend to ensure the dynamic and harmonious development of the country and varius economic sectors.
Since the program is comprehensive and I have already introduced the core development indicators of our country in recent years as well as the existing problems and the work to be carried out a special session of the National Assembly, now I consider necessary detail crucial directions and tasks of the activities to be implemented.
At the beginning I will touch upon statebuilding and governance sphere.
As you know, under the new Constitution the governance model of the country has changed, which has brought about considerable change in the system of state governance.
However, the constitutional reforms have not reconsidered the philosophy of state-building in our country. The Republic of Artsakh has been and will remain a free, independent, democratic and social state. These principles are fundamental, and we will spare no effort further on to strengthen our statehood in accordance with democratic norms and rules.
During the next three years extensive work will be carried out in almost all the areas of governance. Consistent and principled work will be extended to fulfill reforms planned in state governance and local self-administration systems and ensure they are more productive and transparent.
First of all reforms towards bringing the legal terrain into conformity with the Artsakh Republic Constitution will be initiated. Here we have quite serious things to do.
Under the new Constitution over eight dozen of laws will be passed or changed.
Conforming the legal terrain with the Constitution is already actively processed and is to be finished within three years.
The process presupposes joint and efficient work by the coordinating board of constitutional reforms adjunct to the President, legislative, executive and judicial branches of power.
Under the new legislation territorial administration bodies of the Artsakh Republic within the currently functioning regions will be changed into local self-administration bodies (with the exception of Stepanakert).
This will require the implementation of coordinated work in structural, administrative as well as public dimensions, which will allow having a newly-formed, effectively functioning system.
Reforms in the judicial and legal system will be in the limelight. Above all measures, including activities towards elaborating normative legal acts, emanating from the 21 July 2017 Artsakh Republic Judicial Code, will be worked out. Corresponding changes and amendments are stipulated in a number of Codes.
Granting full measure to protecting human rights and freedoms is among the priorities of the Artsakh Republic statebuilding. Extensive work will be carried in this direction; in particular, comprehensive strategy of human rights protection will be devised.
The Armenian Apostolic Church, which has an invaluable role in the survival and development of the Armenian nation, is one of the cornerstones of our independent statehood. The State will continue to encourage further deepening of state-church ties, as well as the expansion of cooperation with the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church and strengthening the national value system.
Among pivotal directions our statehood we could mention army building and security. Multifaceted programs directed towards enhancing fighting capacity of the Defense Army and improving social conditions of servicemen will be continuously implemented during the next three years.
The army will be replenished with advanced military equipment, everything possible will be done to develop and upgrade its defensive potential and strike capability, level up combat training, improve mobilisation readiness of the republic, reinforce army-society ties, ensure patriotic upbringing of the younger generation.
The notion of active defense continues to underlie the army-building strategy. We have never been aggressors and are never going to, but we will spare no effort to neutralize on time all the threats hanging over us.
The Defense Army will remain the guarantor of security of our country and people, one of the most influential factors of maintaining stability in the region, securing the process of peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabagh conflict.
Touching upon conflict settlement, I would like to highlight once again that independence and security are inviolable values for us and constitute fundamental principles of statebuilding in the Artsakh Republic.
Further development and strengthening of the Artsakh Republic - free, independent and powerful, capable to ensure its safety on its own - are a priority for us, as well as, without exaggeration, key pillars of the future of the entire Armenian nation.
The official Stepanakert is committed to the peaceful settlement of the conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group.
We will continue to voice principled stance towards restoring the full-fledged format of the negotiations process. The fate of Аrtsakh cannot be determined without its direct involvement in all the phases of the negotiations process. And here we will continue to undertake relevant steps together with Mother Armenia.
Extensive work is anticipated in other foreign political dimensions as well.
It will be necessary to give new impetus to the processes of recognition of our republic, making it known to the outside world, as well as establishing and deepening cooperation with various countries and their constituent entities. Here among the most recent developments the recognition of the Artsakh Republic by the USA Michigan State, which we consider as a significant accomplishment, is worth mentioning,
A range of important programs towards the development of bilateral relations will be realized in the short-term perspective. In this context I would like to inform you that immediately after concluding our consultation I will head a delegation abroad where a set of important events will be held towards establishing and deepening of cooperation with various entities.
The efficiency of activities in the foreign domain is highly dependent on the vision of our foreign policy.
We have managed to build from the outset our foreign policy in keeping with principles of balance and multidirection and these would unequivocally continue to be the milestones for the foreign policy of our country in future as well. In this context we will continue to maintain good-neighborly relations with Europe, the USA, Russia and regional states.
Such a policy is also conditioned by the existence of the Armenian Diaspora and our steps must only foster its potential. We will continue to expand, deepen and cement in every possible way ties with diverse segments of the Diaspora.
Addressing this question I would like to note that qualitatively new impetus must be given to the cooperation with the Artsakh segment of the Diaspora, where we have a broad field of work, especially, especially in areas of their dense concentration. Here special attention will be paid to economic, cultural, academic, educational and humanitarian issues.
Generally speaking, we are not going to predetermine the establishment and deepening relations with various countries and entities with the recognition of the Artsakh Republic. Such a stance will obviously complicate our recognition process and impede the establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation.
Among significant accomplishments of our state-building is safeguarding domestic political stability and high level of public safety, and this will continue to remain one of the priorities of the state.
With regard to enforcing security and public order, the core of the program is building resilience of every member of society. Citizens of Artsakh should feel that they live in a protected, secure and safe country, which is fundamental to human capital development.
Law enforcement authorities will act aiming primarily at the identification and neutralization of the existing and potential military-political threats risking national security, maintaining stability in the region.
Over the next three years the main objectives of activity in the field of maintaining safety and public order will remain respect for the Constitutional Order, protection of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens, ensuring national security, defense of the state border, protection of interests of the society and state, crime prevention, leveling up the effectiveness of measures to manage public order and security, intensifying the fight with scourges, consolidating work of the law enforcement agencies towards curbing violations, ensuring coherence of judicial and legal reforms.
With the aim of efficiently implementing the functions of law enforcement agencies consistent replenishment of structures with up-to-date material and technical facilities is highlighted.
Talking about our tasks in the social-economic sector, in the past ten years economic growth in the republic averaged 9,8%, which is a high figure, in particular, taking into consideration financial-economic crises throughout the world and in different regions during the above-mentioned period.
Addressing on 19 July in the National Assembly I pointed out that we were planning to achieve average economic growth of 8 to 10%, in 2020 pushing the GDP to 310 billion dollars. As ambitious as the approach may seem, it is realistic and achievable.
To guarantee the aforementioned indicators comprehensive programs will be worked out with a focus, most particularly, on enhancing labour productivity and effective use of other resources, realization of programs fostering import substitution and expanding export oriented non-energy sector, raising the employment rate.
In 2017-2020 economic policy will be primarily targeted at achieving interrelatedness of selected economic sectors of the republic, so that synergy can be maximized.
The role of business-friendly environment is great as a lever for economic growth and competitiveness for the economy of Artsakh. We intend to undertake relevant measures in this direction as well, turning the business environment into one of the competitive advantages of the country, while at the same time doing our utmost for narrowing administration.
One of the essential prerequisites for addressing the issue of sustainable long-term development is accelerated technology development in priority areas, future course of which is due, to a large extent, to the targeted investment policy and its effective implementation.
Particular attention will be paid to export promotion, creating a favorable climate for the development of small and medium scale enterprises, optimization of tax targets.
To effectively implement the economic policy it is imperative to run relevant budgetary policy. We intend to assess the quantitative and qualitative impact of projects, financed from the state budget, tightening the fiscal discipline.
The Artsakh Republic is a social country, which necessitates the existence of the system of strong social protection and implementation of well-targeted policies.
The state will pursue keeping in particular focus underprivileged segments of population. Within the framework state support will reflect, in particular, on resolving housing issues of war-affected families, the implementation of programs towards improving living conditions of underprivileged families, families of freedom fighters, diseased and disabled during the Artsakh War, encouraging high-fertility, as well as on programs related to refugees and resettlement.
We will continue to implement programs to provide housing to large families, as well as to children, left without parental care, most particularly, programs to provide housing to families with five and more minor children.
We will also continue to take steps towards the implementation of state programs of financial support to families of group 1 and group 2 disabled war invalids as compensation for electricity and natural gas.
The scopes of implemented programs will be expanded reaching out other groups in need of social welfare, undertaking work to increase grant amounts.
Within the framework of state housing construction programs priority will be given to improving housing conditions of families of military personnel, providing them apartments.
The state will continue its policy of interest rate subsidization of mortgage loans issued to the socially underprivileged, as well as non-reimbursable financial assistance to young families residing in rural areas for building houses.
The realization of the 2017-2020 programs seeks to raise the level of real wages of the population, increase the amount of monthly minimum wage, reduce unemployment, create new workplaces.
In social-thrust programs priority will be given to state-private sector interaction, in particular, with a view to provide social supplementary services to socially vulnerable population groups.
One of the strategic areas of our country's development is to improve the demographic situation. In recent years there have been positive trends here, which though satisfactory, cannot be fully sufficient.
With respect to bettering the demographic situation emphasis will be placed on encouraging fertility. The state will simultaneously pursue its policy of providing state assistance for purchasing apartments and housing units via bank mortgage lending.
With the aim of improving the demographic situation special importance will be accorded to resettlement. In this sphere there are plans to elaborate new principles of state resettlement policy, legal enactment of changes in accordance with and in the context of organization and conduct of resettlement.
Particular attention will be given to encouraging fertility, large number of children and marriages, as well as to activities towards stimulating population inflow through active inward migration policy.
In 2017-2020 relevant work will be undertaken on the development of various branches of industry.
One of the dynamically growing sectors of our economy is the mining industry and here our overarching objective is to maintain high growth rates.
The implementation of ambitious programs in the area of hydroelectric power generation is scheduled. This is one of the directions having immense potential for ensuring sustained income in the long-term perspective.
We plan the construction of ten new hydroelectric power stations by 2020 as a result of which Artsakh will turn into an energy-exporting country and the average annual volume of generated electricity will total 550 mln kWh. By 2023 we intend to level it up to 750 mln kWh
Meanwhile, developing these two directions of industry every effort will be made to prevent mining development initiatives from negatively impacting the environment, which is also one of the greatest wealth Artsakh possesses.
Our policy in urban planning sphere will aim at the development and implementation of urban construction programs to achieve sustainable human settlement development, distribution of the population, production capacity and means, implementation of programs in the fields of architecture, housing and communal services, construction and construction industry.
We will also continue scaling up of industrial construction and civil engineering, applying strict criteria for not only the quality of work, but also preserving integrity of architectural design of new building and structures, unequivocally taking into consideration our national style and specificities.
We will undertake measures towards working out master plans of communities, which will allow setting forth the main lines of long-term development of the communities, devise and realize respective programs and put into practice investment programs.
In housing construction much attention will be focused on building new housing units in rural settlements.
Construction works and major maintenance of pre-schools, general education schools, cultural and healthcare facilities, maintenance and exploitation of public-use roads will bear ongoing character.
Issues of seismic safety and reliability of buildings will be of central importance through the formulation and implementation of engineering and protective programs aimed at enhancing seismic equipment.
The 2017-2020 programs provides for large-scale activities towards sustainable development of agriculture.
Emphasis will be given, most particularly, to the implementation of intensive agricultural production operations, applying advanced technologies and management systems, issues of providing professional assistance in the form of advice to people engaged in agriculture, issues of expansion and upgrading of the irrigation system.
Gross agricultural production is expected to increase annually by 10%, enhancing food security, cultivation of crops, providing higher value-added, reduction in the number of imports through increasing domestic production, creating a supportive environment for the activity of economic entity in agriculture, consistent upgrading of technical equipment are envisaged.
Our agricultural goods must be competitive in both domestic and foreign market, become a distinctive brand of Artsakh in the global market, symbolizing high quality, eco-friendly character, utility and affordable prices.
The task is, of course, thorny, yet possible, through painstaking and coordinated work. Here new impetus must be given to the integration of modern technologies, optimizing the potential of Armenian and the Diaspora, building strong and mutually advantageous business ties with international business circles.
Crucial tasks are scheduled to be solved in the healthcare system. Here priority will be given to the improvement of medical services and facilitating access to them.
Public health, reducing morbidity, mortality and disability, development of primary healthcare units will be pivotal for us.
Complex programs towards early detection and prevention of different diseases, ensuring consistent realization of state immunization programs, improving conditions in medical institutions, providing technical equipment, training and retraining of staff, modernization of fixed network, introducing new methods and technologies for diagnosis and treatment.
Particular focus has always been placed on education. The greatest lasting wealth of our country, safe to say, is the intellectual potential of our people. That is the reason the fields of education and science are indeed crucial for us, especially in this century full of technological premises and in the era of globalisation.
We have set out the realization of a range of strategic programs targeted to expand coverage for pre-school establishment and realign them with modern requirements, elaborate new educational standards in the field of general education, enhance the quality of teaching, train the teaching staff.
There is considerable work to be undertaken in the higher education system, in particular, towards enhancing the quality of education, introducing state-of-the-art techniques, facilitating international cooperation, ensuring technical equipment for higher educational institutions, improving building conditions.
Concerning the forthcoming work I find it appropriate to point out a new ambitious program at the drafting stage.
I have already mentioned that the most valuable asset we possess is the intellectual potential of our people. With this regard I would like to draw your attention to an issue the solution of which has long been overdue, nevertheless for various reasons is not on the practical footing yet. I am talking about gifted children whom nature has endowed with unique abilities.
Artsakh has always been known for its prominent and distinguished scientists, on the number of which our small land is taking the lead in the world. Such capacity is present in our country to this day. It is only necessary to devise and implement a special state support program which will allow identifying this potential and giving these children the opportunity to acquire quality secondary and higher education in the leading academic institutions throughout the world.
We are planning to engage in this process the private sector as well - our philanthropists- expecting from them not only financial contributions, but also organizational assistance and advisory opinion.
To have world-known scientists, culture, sport and other spheres' representatives is a great honor for each state and significantly contributes to establishing and deepening linkages with different countries and entities, as well as the prosperity of the homeland.
The program is indeed ambitious, however, if properly realized, I am positive, will bring to Artsakh promising results in the long run.
The state will continue to place particular emphasis on the development of sport and physical education applying measures towards their promotion and undertaking in this context construction of new infrastructures, expanding sportschool networks and increasing the number of students attending them.
The state will also continue to reward the best athletes, modernize technical equipment of sports infrastructures.
The culture sector has always held a prominent position in our country's development agenda. Extensive work enabling positive developments has been undertaken here in recent years.
We will pursue efforts towards the preservation and popularization of ethnic culture, expansion of pan-Armenian and international cooperation adding the projects of constructing а new building of the state museum of Artsakh history, new cultural and entertainment complex in Stepanakert and a modern library to the work on improvement of conditions in cultural centres, halls and academic institutions done over the past years.
Coupled with activities towards improving building conditions in culture centres and ensuring the requisite material and technical base in regional centres and particularly in rural communities, new projects for community development through culture will be elaborated and implemented.
Tourism will be in the spotlight of the state, which, for its part, will promote the development of various infrastructures, favouring, in particular, the process of making our country recognizable to the outer world.
In the years ahead, comprehensive projects will be implemented towards setting up new tourism infrastructures, introducing multifaceted services.
Investment projects will be elaborated for the sustainable development of tourism destinations having great tourism potential, creating new workplaces and coming up with interesting proposals competitive in the world tourism market.
Through tourism within the frameworks of territorial harmonious development policy it is envisaged to create an incentive for founding traditional tourism cottages in rural communities.
All this will produce a positive effect on the growing stream of tourists and tourism marketing strategy of our country.
This is the overall picture of priorities for action for the period of 2017-2020.
Of course, in my address I have not referred to the points of the program agenda. The work to be undertaken, as I have first outlined, is detailed in the issued program.
To ensure its effective follow-up realization, well-organised and coordinated work of all the branches and structures of power, the state and public sector is needed, which requires from each of us strong sense of responsibility for performing duties.
I am fairly certain that we will successfully meet the challenges of consistently improving the welfare of our people, consolidating and enhancing the security and defense capacity of our country.
I extend my best wishes of peace, success and all the best to all.
October 16, 2017