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By Raffi K. Hovannisian

Armenia, conceptually one and indivisible as a nation and as a state, is enduring today the challenging test of its old and new history. It survives despite the recurring threat of elimination from the face of the earth. It survives against obstacles of every kind for the sake of tomorrow's long-awaited break of dawn.

We will, all of us together, here and now, bring to life the Armenian creed. We have not the luxury of bequeathing to the generation next in line our share of historic responsibility. We, and no one else, must complete the process of construction, prosperity, and insurance of our native soil.

In the new year the Republic and its people shall, by providence, live according to new means and benchmarks, in the following manner:

  • Nationwide, we transform our Homeland from being an instrument for the personal use of others to a dynamic force on the path of faith, hope, commitment, and truth. Its boundless essence is empowering, and our reverence toward it sacred and unconditional. This is the criterion for all spheres of life—spiritual, national, societal, family, and individual.
  • Liberty, both personal and collective, for all elements of society, is the value supreme. Without liberty there can be no real development or security, knowledge or creativity, tiller or intellectual, village or town, dignity or future.
  • All branches of power must be distinctly separated yet united in the duty to guarantee the provision of freedom for the country and its citizens. The citizen, individually and as a controlling concept, deserves full respect and, together with the president, is subject to the rule of law alone. The executive, legislative, judicial, and unfettered informational estates are, in check and in balance, guided by this principle.
  • The president is the carrier of trust of the body politic, the pointer of the way, shareholder in the common destiny. The president does not bear false witness to the people, who are the source of his authority. He contemplates no interest other than that of the nation. He is accountable to the public and in communication with it. He is answerable with his honor, his name, his life, before the law.
  • The government, in coordinating the domains that touch upon the national interest and that require federal concern, is the foremost facilitator of civil liberties. It is streamlined, flexible, rapidly responsive, and free of extraneous, burdensome bureaucracy. In each and every field of public service, the official treats the citizen with due regard, applying rules and regulations equally to friends and to strangers. The official is professional and courteous, conscientious and adequately paid. Diligent performance of his or her authorized duties is an essential part of the normal daily work. Any violation of ethics or any conflict of interest, whether derived from good or from selfish intention, is subject to the highest measure of liability provided by law.
  • The economy is a country's unique equation of national and free-market relations. Self-serving or rhetorical attempts to bring these two components into conflict are artificial and lacking in integrity. A strong, developing, competitive economy correlates inherently with global systems, at once maintaining its own profile and dynamic. In this arena as well, liberty is key, and the government endeavors at capacity to guarantee the right of free economic activity under the law. Tax rates reflect the most modest necessities of national and local budgets, not the immodest appetites of individual officials. Every one pays taxes pursuant to law, and rates decrease as collection becomes universal. Corruption, in all forms and manifestations, is prosecuted with the ultimate legal gravity. Armenia becomes a regional economic factor, a creator of jobs, a reliable site for investments, a country whose policy machine deals effectively with unemployment and other social dilemmas.
  • Science, education, modern technologies, national culture and sport no longer are mere items on populist political platforms. They are realms of individual and group discovery, and intersections between traditional values and current conditions, which comprehend both the perils of just marking time and the unlimited potential for progress and development in the millennium. These and related areas become the competitive field where Armenia's new generation stakes its claim, hoists the flag, and radiates its pride. It is time to prepare the ground for this by way of a multidisciplinary strategy anchored in individual initiative and state support.
  • National security and international relations are interconnected concepts, neither of them an end unto itself but rather both as avenues to secure private freedoms and public aims. It is here that the state's sovereignty and the nation's interest are paramount priorities. Whatever is required to defend our newly recovered sovereignty and to realize our vital interest becomes the sole decisive standard, deeply rooted and always stable. The institutional warranty of this national imperative is our compact armed forces; its basis and solidarity is society itself, unarmed but well protected.

    Armenia and the Armenian people are prepared to address matters of historical justice and modern controversy in an open, genuine, and purposeful manner. We are ready and waiting—with one and with all. Any peace program, economic incentive, prospect for cooperation is neither objective nor realistic without a comprehensive resolution of divisive issues, albeit brought to bear in gradual implementation. And any attempt to alter the existing regional status quo, whether in qualitative or spatial terms, automatically entails an across-the-board and multilateral reassessment of that status, en route to a shared horizon of substantive peace, mutual friendship, and joint security. Fully cognizant of our rights and interests, we wish well to others near and far.

  • The internal status quo, on the other hand, begs immediate change. Armenia is master of a unique identity forged through a long history and now possessing a contemporary agenda. It is indeed a complex identity: a rich cultural heritage; fateful orientations dictated by the strategic geopolitical contours of the Armenian Plateau; Genocide notwithstanding, the aspiration to normalcy and good relations with all neighbors; Asian correlations and Middle Eastern derivations; Slavic-Soviet birthmarks turned fraternal; and, significantly, the espousal of enlightened European and fundamental human values. In these niches of identity, we seek neither enemy nor scapegoat. Simply, we are preserving what is our own. If we have failed or if we have been deceived, we are at fault; and when we have conducted ourselves correctly, we have been worthy of credit. The answers to our questions, the solutions to our problems, the keys to our doors have always been in our hands. They still are, if we stand straight and tall in our quest.

Armenia and the Armenian—contributors with a cause in a thriving region, in the east and in the west, in the north and in the south. And most important, we in our own home, toward each other and with each other. The democratic hearth of a self-confident and proud, prosperous and faithful, diverse but single-willed people: the ancient Land of Nairi—Hayastan.

Fantasy or feasibility? The verdict is ours.

As is the triumph to follow.


September 3, 2002

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