Armenia Marks Independence

By Sara Khojoyan

YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow) — The third Republic of Armenia turned 17 on Sunday, September 21.

On September 21, 1991, Armenians went to a referendum to support overwhelmingly the aspiration to quit the crumbling Soviet Empire and live as an independent nation.

The first to congratulate the nation on the solemnly celebrated anniversary of the young republic was President Serge Sargisian, who emphasized the importance of the independence for the country.

“Independence is the materialization of our dream, it is our biography, with ups and downs, strives and fights, opportunity and possibility to defend our national dignity, sacrifice, national achievements obtained through that sacrifice, and the right for all of us to share the pride of these achievements,” the third republic’s third president said in his address on the occasion.

The head of state emphasized that during the 17 years the Armenian people have been able to protect their country, to establish state structure, to lay foundations for growing economy and to give a new breath to culture, education and health care.

“From year to year for us freedom and independence acquire new meaning and substance. We overcame all difficulties and never gave up. It became clear for us that only independence can give us the ability to protect the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people,” Sargisian underscored.

Armenia’s political establishment and cultural elite celebrated the main state holiday at the Presidential Palace. However, the other two presidents of the republic, who like Serge Sargisian, also stood at the sources of independence, did not attend the reception.

Armenia’s second president, Robert Kocharian, was among the invited guests but did not participate in the reception as he was abroad, as Sargisian’s press office later confirmed to ArmeniaNow.

Meanwhile, the country’s first president and current opposition leader, Levon Ter- Petrosian, celebrated the anniversary separately with his supporters.