The speech of Ara Abrahamyan
On the opening ceremony of the First International Forum of the Eurasian Partnership
Hello, dear friends!
I am glad to welcome you all in Yerevan at the First International Forum of the Eurasian Partnership.
Our Forum is a part of historical and epoch-making changes taking place in Eurasia.
Eurasia starts to realize that it is not a mere geographical, but also economic region, as well as a huge living organism, each of the organs of which must be healthy and collaborating with others.
My parents were doctors, I am an entrepreneur, and as a person, who grew up in a family of doctors, I believe that the economy is like blood that must freely circulate and supply all the organs. The blood stagnation in one place and insufficient supply of it to one of the organs can lead to distortions of the whole organism.
Therein lies the importance of the Eurasian Economic Integration. It is the key to the health of the entire continent.
The Integration of our economies is profitable for all the peoples of Eurasia. All the investors and entrepreneurs, who we welcome today in the framework of our Forum will also benefit from it, and those who will join us in the future too.
We are creating this Forum as a common economic heart that will supply the Eurasian Economic Community members and all states with investments, ideas and projects.
This process of creating a unified economic body has already started in January 2015 with the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Today, this Union brings together Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
The Eurasian Economic Union aims to provide freedom of movement of the goods, services, labor and financial resources between the member countries, as well as ensuring the maintenance of a coordinated policy in all economic spheres.
And this is just the start.
Recently the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg adopted a resolution on the creation of single energy, financial and hydrocarbon market.
This will become the first step towards the creation of a common single market across the Eurasian region.
Thus we need to turn Eurasia into a smart-managed region, that is, a place where innovations and specific specializations will be implemented.
Returning once again to the abovementioned medical comparison, I will add, that every organ of the body performs its own specific function, thereby serving the whole organism.
The International Forum of the Eurasian Union was been created to support the integration of our specializations and our cooperation.
If every country suggests its best resources, skills and capabilities for the integration, then nothing can hinder the development and growth of the smart-managed region.
If we unite Russia’s industrial capacity, Kazakhstan’s natural resources, geographical advantages of Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, as well as human and intellectual resources of all member countries, then we will soon have not only advanced and intelligent, but also a prosperous region.
Despite being territorially small and scarce in natural resources, Armenia is rich with its ancient culture, educated and hard-working people, vibrant and talented youth, as well as economic, scientific and technical resources of the Diaspora.
Taking all of these into consideration, Armenia strives to grow into the technological and financial center of the Eurasian Economic Union and in the future also of Central Asia, in order to become the so-called “gate” of the new Silk road.
Innovation, integration and non-standard thinking will make Armenia a vigorous and prosperous crossroad of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Many countries have already appreciated the huge potential of this union. Tajikistan is soon going to join the Eurasian Economic Union.
In November, 2015, Israel and China became official partners of the Union.
The signing of an agreement on complex trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and China will make the new “Silk” road the most powerful engine of the global economy.
The Eurasian Economic Union has also signed an agreement on free trade zone with Israel, which will start operating in 2017. As a result of this agreement Israeli innovations in the high tech industry will become available for all member states of the Eurasian Economic Union.
In September, 2016, the Eurasian Economic Union signed an agreement on the creation of a free trade zone with Vietnam, which will also become a model for arrangements with the ASEAN /Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation/ alliance.
Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union are already preparing to sign a free trade agreement.
India, Iran, Egypt and South Korea are also interested in cooperation with our Union.
As I already mentioned, the International Forum of Eurasian Partnership, where I am pleased to welcome you, will become a permanent platform for the creation of new economic opportunities and investment programs that will turn Eurasia into Smart Region.
During our Forum we will unite around the same table investors, entrepreneurs, scientist-inventors and members of governments in order to facilitate the bureaucratic process and ensure the green light for the most daring innovations, investments and joint economic initiatives.
I’m optimistic about the future of Eurasia, but I look at it realistically, without rose-colored glasses.
I know that our region is full of various conflicts and crises, and that terrorism and unresolved territorial conflicts pose a real and serious threat to us.
But based on my experience of an entrepreneur, I can assure you that the economy is unifying better than politics.
Conflicts will persist as long as the majority of the population from each conflicting side does not feel benefit of harmonious economic cooperation in his everyday life.
At the same time the politics cannot be ignored either. It can destroy the business and economic development of nations in case politicians fail to overcome long-standing animosities.
Let’s take the example of my country. We need to consider the fact that Armenia’s economic growth and prosperity is hampered by two long-unsolved problems.
Borders of Armenia with the two neighboring states are closed. This is not only depriving Armenia of oxygen, but also becoming an obstacle to overall regional economic development and prosperity in Eurasia.
Armenia seeks to settle the conflicts with all its neighbors, based on the principles of historical justice, mutual respect and common interests.
Despite the fact that the history of relations between Armenia and its western and eastern neighbors is flooded by the blood of innocent Armenians, the history demands us to open a new chapter of this relationship, working together to focus on our common regional and global future.
In this hall, our distinguished guests from Israel and Germany are sitting side by side, as good friends.
If Israel and Germany were able to realize and overcome the terrible scourge which the Germans had executed against the Jews by leaving it in the past and building close relations, Armenia and its neighbors can too.
All regional countries will gain much more by strengthening cooperation with each other, instead of their irreconcilable positions. It is not an easy task, but original approaches to the resolution of the historical conflicts between Armenia and its neighbors will help to rebuild bridges destroyed long ago.
Our task will be to express strong will to move towards the new common future without forgetting the past, as Israel and Germany learned to do.
I will try to be clear. Armenia strives to the full reconciliation and normalization of relations with Turkey, based on the principle of historical justice and common regional interests.
The one does not contradict the other.
Similarly, Armenia seeks to resolve its disputes with Azerbaijan and to return to the good neighborly relations without sacrificing the right of the people of Karabakh to self-determination.
In April, the military clashes once again showed how much heated remain the so-called “frozen” conflicts.
Hence there is a need to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict through innovative diplomatic approaches. /In the context of Karabakh it is our problem and it should not be used.
As a result of this peaceful settlement everyone will benefit.
When peace and security will prevail, economic development will accelerate throughout the Eurasian region. All the countries along the “Silk” road will benefit, from Armenia to China, from Azerbaijan to Europe.
There will be no losers, but only winners.
This International Forum of Eurasian Partnership is the best platform for discussing and developing new, non-standard approaches to the issues in the spheres of business and politics. It is a tool of shaping the future, and I urge all of you to actively use it.
Prior to this Forum the Eurasian Economic Union existed and was functioning separately from international businessmen. Now this Forum will mark the beginning of a permanent, active and mutually beneficial cooperation between them.
I hope that the Forum, which I had the honor to invite you to, will become an economic engine for all of the countries that our distinguished guests represent and all of the businesses in which they are involved.
I also hope that our Forum will manage to use the economy as a tool for resolving the conflicts that are dividing us from each other.
We – the participants of the First International Forum of Eurasian Partnership, here and now are starting to shape the new future of Eurasia.
We are taking the first step and we hope that we will be followed on this road by all the peoples of Eurasia.
Once again I am expressing my gratitude to all our guests, who came to Yerevan, and I am wishing all of us an efficient, creative and friendly work in the framework of the Forum.