Artsakh State Minister Artak Beglaryan’s speech at AMAA Banquet
State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh
Artak Beglaryan’s speech at
AMAA 102nd Annual Meeting Banquet
October 23, 2021
Dear Friends, Dear Compatriots, Beloved Soulmates,
It’s my pleasure and honor to be here to talk to you and to have the invitation of the AMAA as special guest. It’s my honor also to be in Fresno for the first time and to talk about this topic and to be hosted by the Bedrosian Family. It’s symbolic to be in Fresno because Fresno is the symbol of Armenian survival and revival in the United States after the Armenian Genocide. Fresno is the symbol of Armenian development in the US after the Armenian Genocide. Since we are talking about Artsakh now, I am sure that the experience and the path of Fresno Armenians will be quite useful, quite helpful, and encouraging for us. It’s my pleasure to be hosted by the AMAA because, as you know already, AMAA has done a lot in my life, especially in my childhood. But not only mine, but also many Armenian families, many Armenian children since 1995.
AMAA always made quite wonderful and powerful and strategic investments in the lives of Artsakh people in social development, in education, and in many other spheres which are quite strategic for us. The results are visible now after the war too.
What we have in Artsakh? I know that many of you, all of you have that question. What kind of future we should have, we are going to have in Artsakh? I would stress some points.
First, we should understand that we have both long-term and short-term doings in Artsakh. The long-term doings, I would build on five pillars. First pillar is security because security is a must. In order to have all of the other pillars for a long time, and in order to have Armenian Artsakh forever. In terms of security, you know what we had during the war, what we have now after the war. You know that Russian peacekeepers are insuring, guaranteeing security there. In general, that’s successful in this one year. In parallel with that, we are doing our best to improve our own security system. Not only military, but also political and many other areas of security. But, we are not alone, our security is based on not only international and Russian guarantees, but also Armenian guarantees, guarantees of the Republic of Armenia, but also guarantees of worldwide Armenians. Everyone, all of you, each of you is a part of our security system for a long time. In the short period, in the upcoming years, for sure you know that the security guarantees are given by Russian peacekeepers. We hope and we insist that Russian peacekeepers should stay in Artsakh for a long time unless the conflict gets settled finally. Since we have the Azerbaijani and Turkish claims and their Armenian-phobic policies are continuous, that’s why we think that conflict settlement is not a short period, is not visible in a short period. That’s why we want to have additional international security guarantees now with the face of Russian peacekeepers.
Demography, the second pillar. Now we have over 120,000 Armenians living in Artsakh. Before the war, we had 150,000 living there. The majority of these 30,000 are internally displaced persons living in Armenia. A part of internally displaced persons have returned to Artsakh and living in temporary housing conditions, waiting for final solutions for their housing. This number, 120,000, shows our goal, our persistence to live in Artsakh, to create in Artsakh, and also to have Artsakh forever. It means that each family has its own investment in Artsakh, in the future of Artsakh, regardless of any kind of uncertainties on security, on development and many other areas regarding the future of Artsakh. On demography, the first goal Artsakh government has is to solve the housing problem in three years with support of Armenian diaspora and Armenian government and we are going to build over 6,000 new houses and apartments in order to return our internally displaced persons to their Homeland. After this and in parallel with this, we are making a new strategy, demographic strategy in order to have both natural growth for a long time, but also mechanical growth for repatriation. We hope to have Artsakh in 10, 20, 30 years with better demographic conditions because as much as Armenians are living in Artsakh, we will have better guaranteed future in Artsakh. That’s a must for us.
The third pillar is economic development. Though we have worse conditions now than before the war, but we are sure that even now, we should have favorable conditions for economic development. We want to restore our economic development growth and to build Artsakh better than before the war. With support of all Armenians and the Armenian government, we hope to have in a few years a sustainable, economic growth in Artsakh. Based on agriculture, based on construction, IT sector, some service and some productions including food production.
The fourth pillar is good governance. All of these areas and other areas that I didn’t mention are connected, are dependent on good governance. We are planning to make reforms in government system in order to have better governance in Artsakh. Without good governance, I’m sure that we can’t have the Homeland that we are dreaming of. We have many ideas, but still we are making strategies. That’s why I can’t give details to you on this area.
The fifth pillar for me, the best and most important one is education. Without education, nothing is possible in the long-term. Because we want to rely on education in order to solve our long-term problems including security, demography, economic development, good governance, etc. We are sure that with good education, everything could be possible in certain time for sure.
In short term, especially relating to war consequences, we have again five types of humanitarian problems. The first one is housing that I mentioned in demography. The housing problem is a short-term problem, firstly for the internally displaced persons, but also in a longer period it’s a serious problem for our demography because we have lots of families including non-internally displaced persons who can’t plan their life, can’t have new babies just for this reason, because they don’t have their own houses. They don’t have their own apartments. That’s why it’s a longer problem for us than three years, but with support of Armenian government and Armenian diaspora, we hope to solve this issue in a few years. After the three-year period. We are now building twenty new communities in Artsakh for internally displaced persons and for occupied communities, but it will not be enough. We are planning much more as I said.
The second problem is a social problem, social and labor problem for internally displaced persons. Because people lost their job, people lost their properties, people lost even documents, clothes, everything. In a shorter period in the first month, we and you and the whole Armenian world gave short term humanitarian aid to Artsakh people. It was the response, the reaction of the first consequences of the war. Now we are jumping into the recovery, long-term recovery period. In this period, we are going to build new workplaces and to give people some opportunities to have their own income. In other words, in the first months, we were giving fish, now we are going to teach them fishing. It’s a principle for us, for the government. I am sure that all of you agree with us that long-term development and recovery supports new workplaces and income generation program.
The third humanitarian issue is physical and psychological rehabilitation of our people. Actually, the whole Artsakh population has psychological traumas because of the war and because of the ongoing uncertainties and some security frights. Many of them also have physical traumas and physical issues which should be solved, rehabilitated with the support of us. We have a rehabilitation center. We have improved the conditions of that center, but it’s not enough. We are going to make better conditions for them, but also we are going to have a new system of social psychological support by the government. Here, the AMAA example is quite useful for us, especially the “Shogh” Centers. We are going to have a new institution with social workers and we have started this reform. I guess in a few months, we’ll have the whole institution there. We think that in a few years we will have better psychological and mental conditions including psychological, post-war psychological traumas will be solved in general.
The fourth problem is infrastructure. The humanitarian problems are inter-connected with infrastructure problems too. It’s not only relating to 2020 War consequences, but they are also long-term problems that you know. We have recovered many infrastructure including roads, electricity, network and stations, water pipelines, gas pipelines, schools, kindergartens, hospitals etc. Still, we have some large detriments as a result of the War that we need to solve. We need to restore now. That’s not enough. Again, we want to build Artsakh back better. We want to have better infrastructure conditions than before the War we had. We have many projects there both the government but also Armenian worldwide organizations and Armenian government supporting this.
The fifth one, which is again not only short-term, but long-term problem is institutional capacity. For sure, for solving the war consequences and problems, we need better institutional capacities. We are building them or improving them. That’s not enough. This is the area where the Armenian world has, I would not say zero, but quite a small number of investments. Unfortunately, by now, we have not given enough attention on institutional capacities because the needs should be recorded, should be assessed by institutions. The needs should be satisfied by institutions. Many other things, both short-term and long-term, should be done by local institutions which means also individual and professional capacities. This is an area that I want to attract your attention to in order to invest here too because we are isolated the international community. We don’t have the good experience of the international community of institutional building. We only have the experience of Armenia and Armenians worldwide. That’s why, whoever has any kind of capacity, any kind of solution or any kind of proposal, we are open to discuss such kind of investment in Artsakh too.
What qualities we need in order to tackle both long-term and short-term problems? There are many qualities I’m thinking of. Again I separated five qualities. The first one is self-analysis, which is quite important for us at all levels; individual, group or organizational level, community level, and national level. Everyone, each group, each community, and our nation and the governments in Armenia and Artsakh, first should be able to analyze themselves, ourselves including myself. To understand our mistakes, to understand our successes, our weak and our strong parts, and then, we can analyze our environment including our neighbors. Unless we have good self-analysis, we can’t reach our goals both short-term and long-term.
The second quality is unity. At least for national goals, we have to have unity everywhere. Debates, competitions are good, but antagonism is not acceptable especially when we are working on national goals, national dreams. That’s a must for us.
Strategic thinking. We should understand that this situation is a complex situation, is a complicated one. It doesn’t have an easy and short-term solution. We should have strategic thinking and patience in order to have one day, to see the results and the goals come true.
Persistence, this a part of strategic thinking too because we need to be persistent in reaching our goals. We don’t have the right to give up this way.
Service thinking, which is again, quite important personally for me too. Service thinking is a part of our life, national life, social life and everyone in each group; each community should be caring of other groups too. It doesn’t mean that we should serve only to Artsakh people. We should serve to Homeland including Armenia people and Artsakh and Armenia people should serve to our diaspora compatriots too. This is a part of our unity.
What can we do? Another question that especially after the war, many Armenians and especially the diaspora are asking. I think we have many things to do. If we have the goal, if we have these qualities, we can find solutions. We can find channels, but I would stress some points.
Firstly, whatever we can do for Artsakh is the first one, living in Artsakh one day. It doesn’t mean that at this moment, this decision should be made. It means that we should think of that. Second, we should work in or for Artsakh. This is a part of our service, which means that even in distance, we can serve Artsakh. Even in distance, we can have some works there. We can take some groups or some students, or some institutions in order to build capacities there, improve capacities there. This is also a great part of our service. The third one, doing business in Artsakh. By now, the overwhelming majority of our people, diaspora Armenians, make lots of charity programs in Artsakh. After the war too, some of them had done business in Artsakh. I think it’s the time to think about business. Business, especially in Artsakh, is both investment in workplaces, but also capacity building, but also charity programs. Because you are keeping many families in that case. You have money not wasted, but circulated, which is quite important to have self-sufficient system. Fourth one, having charity programs, projects, and hard investments in infrastructure whatever has been done so far since 90’s by Armenian diaspora. As I said, we have lots of infrastructure to restore and many of them to build yet. We still have this need, but I guess this should not be the only or even, the first priority for us. The fifth one, to have soft investment in Artsakh. It means again as I said, capacity building, education, both formal and non-formal education which is important for us. The results of which are not visible and sometimes are not predictable, but they are long term results. I can say this with my own experience both in Artsakh, but also abroad how I got education and how I returned there and what it meant, this education, for me and for my people there.
To sum up, I would like to bring a small story on my life. When I was four and half years old, my father was killed in a battle in 1993. I asked my mom, “Mom, where is father? When is he returning?” He said that, “Soon, I will come back.” Gradually, when I was growing up, I understood that my father would not return, but I was proud of my father and of the sacrifice of my father. I was not only proud, but I was sure that I will do everything in order to value the sacrifice of my father and many other fathers. When I was six, I lost my eyesight as a result of a landmine explosion. My mom always was saying that when you are sixteen, your vision will be back. I forgot that during the school time. I got good education at the school and I was persistent in order to be a good man, good citizen. But, when I was sixteen, my mother died. I remembered the promise of my mom that my vision would be back. My vision was not back, but I got additional vision in order to serve for sacrifices and deprivations of my parents for my Homeland, for my people. I got education, I returned to Artsakh and I started to serve to my people at the government, then as Human Rights Ombudsman. You know what I did during the war? I did quite a small part of the job because we had more than 4,000 sacrifices. It was quite a small thing, whatever I did. Everyone is saying I am a hero, but I am not a hero. Heroes are our sacrifices, our victims that they sacrificed the best things in their life. In the end of the war, on the last days of the war, always I had a question in my mind; whether these sacrifices, and since 90’s including my father’s sacrifice were in vain?
On November 9, this question was the strongest question in my mind and I thought that I’m doing an empty thing; not necessary thing what I’m doing. We had November 9 and the end of war. On November 10, I visited the grave of my father and my mother. I promised there and I swore there not to ask this question anymore because questions are not for us, such kind of questions. I swore and I promised to do everything that nobody, including myself, never will think about this question. Our sacrifices are not in vain because as Jesus gave the life, as Jesus had sacrifices in order to save the humanity, in order to give chance to humanity to be survived. Our victims and our heroes gave their life in order to give us a chance to live for the goal that they gave their life and they sacrificed their life for the same goals. It means that we have only one thing; to live so that nothing, no sacrifice should not be in vain, and we should live for the same goals that which they gave their lives.