YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — On September 21, Armenia marked the 24th anniversary of its independence. A total of 94.99 percent of Armenian citizens said a resolute “yes” to independence by means of a referendum in 1990 in favor of secession from the Soviet Union. Two days later, on September 23, the Supreme Council of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic declared the country to be an independent, self-governing state, renamed the Republic of Armenia.
On the occasion of the 24th anniversary, President Serge Sargisian held a festive reception at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex, and issued the following congratulatory message, presented in summary.
“Every time, when sharply a hundred and one days remain until the end of the regular year, we reiterate our pledge and declare to the world vociferously that we are here, we stand firm and determined. We are the masters of our own destiny, and our ancestors’ legacy belongs to us. We are the guarantors of cloudless mornings for our children and the pledge of peaceful sunsets for our parents. It is we, and nobody else.
“The tongue we speak is Armenian, in which we prayed at the dawn of civilization and which can be heard today from the highest rostrums of the world. It can be heard thanks to the absolute unity demonstrated by our people 24 years ago.
“That unity has not only granted us independence, but has also given us the power to fight and the spirit to create throughout two and a half decades. The Army and the State, market economy and civil society have been the institutes we established as our unambiguous response to the chance given to us by time and challenges imposed upon us.
“on our borders, in our villages, our mountains and our valleys the 21st day of September sometimes, alas, breaks not under the sounds of the Peace Bell, but under battle alerts.
People in the Middle East, who gave shelter to genocide survivors, grandfathers and grandmothers of ours, are writhing in agony in the clutches of war that is by international standards just a few steps away from our door. Our sonorous “Aye” on September 21 two and a half decades ago has provided today warm shelter for our consanguine brothers and sisters, who escaped from the engrossing conflicts in the Middle East.
“Armenia is now at the important stage of making its choice on constitutional reform. Whatever decision you make, my fellow compatriot, remember that it is not only about your, but also your children’s future, remember that it is not as much yours, but forthcoming generations’ safety and welfare that is being decided.
“May the rays of September 21 disperse the dark in our future and brighten the decisions of our compatriots both for those that have already made their minds up and those, who are still stuck in doubts at this crossroad.
“Standing in front of the crucial gates toward the development of the power checks and balances and balancing of the rights and duties, I strongly believe we must have the courage to move toward the amendments, listen to the imperative of time and get out of the clutches of fear to accept the new. We must do that for the sake of generations. We must do that for the sake of a bright future for our people.
My fellow compatriots, September 21 denotes also revival of our people that survived the first genocide of the 20th century – one of the gravest crimes against humanity.
“Yes, this calendar sheet is also filled with lines fraught with our people’s blood. We remember those lines very well. And we will continue to remember it as long as the blood of our ancestors martyred by the Ottoman Empire’s sword in Van, Moush, Trebizond, Yerznga, Marash, Sepasdia, Erzurum and Kharpert has not frozen in our veins. We have also their precept to do everything so that never again shall our kind face the danger of annihilation and massacre. We have the belief that in a world full of contradictions and dangers, that in our frantic and running days, the only true guarantee of the Armenian kind is the Armenian sovereign and independent state. We have the conviction that people are the only source of power. We have the confidence that popular unity at the decisive turns and around vital issues is the only force able to respond to the external and internal challenges.
September 21 is the symbol of our faith, our convictions and our confidence. Congratulations on the Independence Day! Long live the Republic of Armenia!”
Messages of Congratulation
A special drive called “Thank You, Armenian Soldier” took place in Liberty Square of Yerevan on September 21. Members of Civil Voice NGO and volunteers placed boxes for gifts to Armenian soldiers in the square. “It is no accident that September 21 when Armenia marks Independence Day was chosen for that action. The army is the guarantor of our security, and our servicemen should feel that we stand by them,” the spokesman for Civil Voice NGO Babken Harutyunyan told reporters. “Following the distribution of gifts, the NGO will issue a video report and a press release to inform the residents involved in the drive about its results,” Harutyunyan added.
US Issues Message
US Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement on the occasion of Armenia’s Independence Day: “On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send my best wishes to the people of Armenia as you celebrate your independence day this September 21.
The United States values our relationship with Armenia, which remains as strong as ever, as evidenced by the historic level of American investment in Armenia’s economy today. We are grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of Armenian troops serving in international peacekeeping missions and celebrate the many achievements of Armenians who have enriched the cultural fabric of both our nations.
As you celebrate 24 years of independence, know that the United States is a partner and friend and that we fully support the security, prosperity, and democratic development of Armenia. Congratulations and best wishes to all Armenians around the world for a peaceful and prosperous year to come.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, said that Armenian-Russian ties are “developing successfully in various directions” as he congratulated Sarkisian on the anniversary. “We greatly appreciate the intention of our Armenian partners to further reinforce mutually beneficial cooperation both bilaterally and within the framework of the Eurasia Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States,” he wrote, adding, “I would like to affirm the Russian side’s readiness to continue to assist Armenia in addressing pressing present-day socioeconomic issues.”
President of France François Nicolas Hollande stated in his message that “imbued with its special ties with the Armenian people, France will continue its friendship, solidarity and support of Armenia. Particularly, as a Minsk Group Co-Chair, France will continue its consistent mediatory efforts aimed at the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, hoping that the progress made at the Paris summit in October 2014 will contribute to the urgent settlement of the issue.”
Congratulatory messages also arrived from President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic Bako Sahakyan, President Joachim Gauck of the Federal Republic of Germany, President Bashar al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic, President Pranab Mukherjee of the Republic of India, Emperor Akihito of Japan, and many others.
(Stories from Armenpress, Panorama.am, slak.tv, were used to compile this report.)