Anna Hakobyan: I will Do my Best to Achieve Solid and Tangible Results.

12 July, 2018
Speech by Anna Hakobyan, spouse of the Prime Minister of Armenia, the founder of "My Step" Foundation during the launch event of the Foundation: 12 July 2018

Your Excellencies Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen

It is an honor and pleasure to have you here today. I am sure you have already managed to enjoy all the charm of this cozy place. Now let me assure you – the most enjoyable moments of the day are still ahead.

Today I would like to present you “My Step” Foundation; how did it come to life and what its tasks are.

From the moment my husband assumed highly important duties of the Prime Minister of Armenia, I have been facing a difficult choice over what my task should be. As you know, I am the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper with the largest print circulation in Armenia. I have to be very frank: I had made the decision to carry on with my work, firstly because I love my job, secondly - I think the press is of high importance in any country, and, I believe, of even higher importance, in post-revolutionary Armenia.

It was during those days that our dear Sona, the manager of “Yerevan Perspectives” International Music Festival, who’s hosting us in this beautiful venue, visited our office where we had a discussion. I was informed that this vastly respectable festival was on the verge of discontinuing unless the funding issue was somehow solved. A meeting with such a content was the first one for me but not the last one alas. To be concise, over the last two months, I had dozens of similar meetings with people implementing crucial projects, which cannot continue without funding. In the past, they have all been funded via diverse channels, and primarily through inter-personal relationships, which is unacceptable in new Armenia in view of the new realities. Parallel to these, I was approached with people who were eager to provide both financial and any other type of assistance to new Armenia and to any project/initiative we would deem suitable.

That is, on one hand we have people doing a wonderful job, yet in need of financial resources to press on with what they do, and on the other hand – there are those who offer funding great initiatives.

At the same time, people having various problems were meeting me suggesting to raise those issues and using my status to come up with solutions.

Soon enough I understood, that the society had very specific requirements and expectations from me and that I had no moral right to reject those. And unfortunately, no one was interested in my personal wish to continue my professional career as an editor-in-chief. I realized that I had to take my step as the wife of the Prime Minister and to have my modest investment in making our revolutionized Armenia even better within shortest possible time. To bring this into life, an institutionalized body had to be in place, and the “My Step” Foundation came to be the one.

Hence, the mission of our Foundation is to become a platform for identifying solutions to those critical issues, which currently, for certain reasons, cannot be fully solved by the state and the government. We will strive for building an inclusive and healthy society through our joint efforts, where no one is left behind and every single one enjoys equal opportunities.

And again, the meetings we had with different people, resulted in our activity framework starting to take its shape – culture, education, healthcare and social security.

To address issues across all these areas, the Foundation will function in three formats.

First, we will serve as a bridge between those having brilliant ideas and those who wish to provide funds for the latter. Second, we will sponsor already existing or proposed projects which comply with the adopted and declared criteria. And, third, we will have our own two or three initiatives to be developed and implemented by ourselves.

Specific criteria for establishing the Foundation’s board of trustees will be developed, and the selection of an Executive Director will be held through open competition. Adjacent to the Foundation, experts’ groups will be formed to study the proposed projects and express their professional opinion to the Board of Trustees before voting on whether the given project should be approved and funded or not, alongside with the grounds for both decisions. Final decision will, of course, be made by open voting.

I would like to draw your attention on a very principle aspect:

First. “My Step” Foundation will operate transparently and report for each penny it spends. The very first precondition of the establishment and operation of the Foundation is to ensure its transparency and accountability. In our era of information technologies, there appear to be many instruments through which the solution to this issue is only a matter of technique. Following my speech, Mr. Gurgen Martirosyan who has willingly and voluntarily assumed the task of setting the technical basis of the Foundation, will cover the topic of block chain technology, which will help ensure 100 percent transparency for the donations and realization of the funds.

Second: “My Step” Foundation will be open to each and every one and ready to cooperate with the most diverse organizations and individuals regardless of their political, gender, religious, national and ethnic background.

Third: The continuity of the operations of “My Step” Foundation will not be linked to my personality; I will gladly transfer it to the subsequent Prime Minister’s lady after the completion of my husband’s term. Before then, I will assuredly do my best to develop the Foundation and create conditions for its sustainable and undisrupted functioning to serve the most righteous, good and high ideas for the happiness and prosperity of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, their citizens, and our compatriots around the world.

I want to thank everyone present in this room, who are mostly those people who assisted us, contacted us, presented their proposals and expressed their willingness to stand next to us. Your step was really very important for us, and I hope that from now on we will cooperate more closely and efficiently. I would like to apologize from those who are interested in the activities of the Foundation but are not present, and underscore once again that we are open for cooperation with everyone, we have no constraints; there is only the goal – high goals, and the will to pursue these purposes.

As this is my first speech as the wife of the Prime Minister, and especially in front of this audience I want to share with you number of personal observations. It's been 2 months and 4 days that I am the wife of Armenia's Prime Minister, and I am willing to tell you what that means.

I was always aware and it has never been news for me that in Armenia there are stereotypes in regards to the role and significance of women, that women are very often differentiated and unfortunately are very often treated in unfair and offensive ways. I have witnessed these during my entire life, in my own environment, amongst relatives and friends, in work related situations and more.

However, those stereotypes formed around the First Lady of the State have truly exceeded all my expectations. During these two months people treated me as a woman who can secretly have an influence on her husband's political decision makings, to mediate in order for her husband to accept meeting with this or that person, or to approve this or that suggestion. People treated me as a woman who can internally impact on ensuring employment for acquaintances, or acquaintances of acquaintances, or even for their acquaintances in different ministries. To mediate for this or that actor to be accepted back to this or that theatre, or for this or that person to be appointed as the art director of the theatre. I felt to be a woman who is very intimidating for many government members. During these two months, I felt as a woman with whom being close to is considered a privilege to solve this or that personal matter. This list can get longer if I carry on. I have to admit that the feeling was not one of the pleasing ones, more over it was quite a disappointing one. Fortunately, those who are close to me and those who have my full trust did not have that attitude towards me and being surrounded by them has empowered me.

As today is the launch of my initiation as the wife of the Prime Minister, I kindly ask all of you to accept everything said here for your knowledge that from now on not to assign any other roles than this to me, and not to have any expectation.

I want to let everyone know that I do not have favorite actors and singers. I neither can nor am willing to mediate for anyone's employment. It is not essential how many times anyone has had coffee with me. That circumstance changes nothing in their lives. And more importantly I am not willing to surround myself with a royal court, because I find these types of affairs unpleasant for me. And generally I am not capable of engaging in secretive and shady activities.

In many countries around the world women, especially wives of political figures have been able to break stereotypes and to earn the respect of their societies. And I hope that in Armenia we will also be able to follow suit.

I promise that all the steps I take as the wife of the Prime Minister will be open and visible to everyone, and I will do my best to bring about concrete and tangible results for the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh, their citizens, our compatriots in Diaspora and lastly, for the best and highest ideas.

Good luck to "My Step" Foundation. Long live new Armenia and the revolution which is yet to occur in the hearts and minds of the people.

Thank you!

12 July, 2018

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