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Armenian president Robert Kocharian was sworn in today for a second term in office at a special parliament session. The ceremony was attended by 83 parliament members, government officials, foreign diplomats and other dignitaries. Putting his hand on Armenia’s Constitution and one of the oldest Armenian Bibles, president Kocharian vowed to unreservedly perform all his duties, set by the country’s basic law, respect human rights and ensure the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

After the ceremony head of Armenian Church Catholicos Karekin II gave his blessing to the president, praising Kocharian’s weighty contributions to the restoration of Armenia’s independence in Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. The following is the next of Robert Kocharian’s inaugural speech.

Your Holiness, Dear Compatriots, I extend my appreciation to our people for active participation in the elections and their vote of confidence in me. I thank all those who echoed my appeal for working together.

Each election is a challenge for the people and the state. However, elections come to an end, and one resumes day-to-day work aimed at overcoming problems faced by the nation. The campaign, despite its overburdened nature, was a great opportunity for me to come into active and direct contact with the people. It was an exciting learning experience for me.

We were approaching the elections with sound economic performance indices in all the sectors. We were approaching the elections without any domestic arrears. From the point of view of elections, this was a robust start-off position for the authorities. Nevertheless, the electoral campaign was an arduous and unyielding one. Moreover, the controversies of political forces partially grew into controversies within society. This is something to reflect upon, and we must draw some conclusions. It is vital that the policy of the authorities be understandable for the public. We must always clarify our actions, the necessity thereof, and their usefulness for the people. We must routinely report to the public. This must become our modus operandi. Otherwise, we risk facing an increasing gap between the authorities and the public. It might inhibit the implementation of reforms, since the success thereof would for the most part depend on the level of confidence enjoyed by the authorities.

Meanwhile, active reforms must persevere. They are the only way forward. Otherwise, the country will not develop. It is necessary to find the right balance between the volume and pace of reforms, on the one hand, and the inertia of public conscience, on the other. An effective and well-targeted social policy is needed to protect the most vulnerable segments of our society. My work is currently focused around the aforementioned issues, with the intention of applying practical solutions once the parliamentary elections are over.

Dear Compatriots; Today, I wish to reiterate my commitment to a persistent implementation of my campaign platform. Indeed, numerous meetings with constituents have revealed new issues, which too will be addressed in our future efforts. However, the essence and basic course of the platform will be maintained. The campaign platform is now developing into a plan of actions to guide me through the years to come. There is only one solution to all of our problems: labor. Labor shall be the key to economic progress and prosperity for each and every one of us. I call upon all of our citizens to embark upon peaceful and creative labor; to be more proactive and courageous in the small and medium business sector, in particular. The middle class cannot be created by fiat from above. You are the only ones who can make it happen. The authorities have the obligation of procuring favorable conditions for this process. This will be the foundation for political and economic stability in tomorrow’s Armenia.

One of our priorities is the process of reforms in the whole public sector and services. The government machinery is designed to cater the needs of citizens at the cost of the taxpayers, and shall, therefore, serve the people. The fight against corruption, clanship, and patronage must become another priority in our work. The efficiency of this fight will depend on the political will of the authorities and the civic activity of our people.

The solutions of these and many more issues will largely depend on the forthcoming parliamentary elections. It is already apparent that civic activity will be high, and one may predict acute rivalry for the legislature of the nation. We must create an active parliament; otherwise, we run great risks of undermining the sound development of the country. It will be of utmost importance that the elections be held in a thorough manner and that all sorts of irregularities be minimized.

Being the President, I recognize that the combination of three consecutive election campaigns has been a major challenge for a country in which the foundations of democracy are just being established. It is a firmness test for the stability and economy of the country. This fact imposes enormous responsibility on all of the participants in the electoral process. Irresponsible behavior should not be allowed to damage the bases of statehood. The campaign obsession may not be a justification for actions aimed at splitting the public. National coherence is a must for addressing issues of pan-Armenian importance both domestically and abroad. If split, the capacity of a nation would be diminished extensively.

We cannot afford this “luxury”, as our capacity is inherently limited. Measures are necessary to strengthen the optimistic mood emerging in society. I would like to make special note of the forthcoming referendum for constitutional reforms. It will be a vital event in the life of our country. The success of the referendum will imply undeniable progress in reforming public administration, strengthening the judiciary, and promoting democracy and the protection of human rights. It would be an impermissible flaw to miss this opportunity. I expect that all the parties, non-governmental organizations, and the citizenry will support the constitutional reforms.

Dear Compatriots; By taking upon myself the duties of the President of the Republic of Armenia, I recognize that I have undertaken a historic responsibility. The pursuit of national interests, the step-by-step implementation of the age old dreams of our people, and the construction of an independent, democratic, and prosperous Armenia are the only ways forward. I complete this address by stating my belief that in five years, I shall report to our people to have conformed with their hopes and justified their confidence. Thank you.

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