The first speech of the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Hovhannes Kajaznuni was made on August 3, 1918, at the second session of the parliament. The Prime Minister read the following government statement:
“My government is starting to work in extremely difficult conditions. The government was called upon to exercise executive power in a state that has just celebrated its birthday and has not yet left the first period of its organization.
The government has no support in the past – it is not a successor to a past government to continue an already launched program. It did not even inherit a ready-made apparatus adapted to the needs of the central government. It is forced to start all over from the very beginning, and from formless chaos and a pile of ruins, it must create a viable and efficient body.
The government received the country in a state that can only be called catastrophic.
The war which has lasted 4 years, the revolution, the indiscriminate retreat of the Russian army from our borders, the collapse of the empire, our defeat on the military front, the loss of territories, the division of the Transcaucasia into separate states – all these deep shocks could not but leave huge traces.
The complete destruction of economic life and finances, the cessation of the production of goods and their exchange, the acute shortage of ammunition, the absence or horrendous cost of the most necessary goods, the complete cessation of imports, the cessation of railway traffic, the shortage of other means of transportation, hundreds of thousands of refugees without a home and food, unreliable conditions at the borders, and, as an inevitable consequence of all this, anarchy – these are the difficult conditions our government began to work in.
This exceptional situation determines the nature of the government. It cannot strive for versatile and full activity, cannot have a large-scale program, and it will be limited to the most necessary and unambiguously urgent tasks.
To stop the process of collapse, to bring the country out of the state of anarchy, and create conditions for state-building, this is how the current government perceives its mission.
As part of interior affairs, it is necessary to:
- Establish an elementary order, as well as security for residence and property owning in the country.
- Open communication routes for unimpeded movement.
- Restore normal postal and telegraph communication within the country and with neighboring countries.
- Take vigorous measures to alleviate the food crisis.
- Monitor the condition of refugees and displaced individuals, return some to their former places of residence and accommodate others in new areas.
- Prepare a meeting of the legislative assembly of Armenia as early as possible.
In finance, it’s necessary to pave the way for creating the country’s own monetary system, as well as take the necessary measures to provide the country with banknotes, restore production and exchange of goods, and develop a healthy tax system.
In justice, adapt the court for civilian understanding and legal traditions of the country, at the same time involving representatives of the people in criminal proceedings.
In armed forces, restore the country’s troops to create not a big but strong in spirit and discipline army.
In external affairs:
- Reinforce the truce with the Ottoman Empire and establish good neighborly relations with it. In the strictest manner, fulfill all the obligations that we have made with respect to the Ottoman Empire and ensure that the Ottoman Empire, for its part, does the same for us. In particular, solve the issue of the withdrawal of Ottoman troops from our territory and the return of migrants.
- Mutually agree with Georgia and Azerbaijan and resolve the issue of the borders of Armenia and other states based on ethnic principles, the only ones that correspond to the spirit and goals of democratic states.
- On the basis of the agreement with Azerbaijan and Georgia, liquidate the common institutions and property that remained from the Transcaucasian republic.
Here is the government program. It can be called a program of the most necessary guarantees which ensure the existence of the state. It is clear that it does not cover all the demands of the country and that a number of important and already ripe problems remain beyond its scope.
However, the government does not place these tasks in a queue since it considers it impossible to solve them in today’s conditions. The government does not want to make a mistake, promising great prospects and making unrealizable promises, does not want to take on responsibilities that are beyond its power.
The government is confident that the program it presents is the maximum for today’s opportunities. The government will make every effort to achieve this maximum and hopes to successfully solve at least part of its tasks, given that it has the unconditional trust and effective support of the Council (Parliament).”