YEREVAN — President Serzh Sargsyan and First Lady Rita Sargsyan attended a concert named Generation of Independence to mark the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence, at the Karen Demirjian Sport and Concert Complex.
Present were a slew of dignitaries, including the leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, and Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan.
In his address, Sargsyan looked back to how far the country had come, since its painful emergence in the and the role of youth in the future.
“We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our independence with our heads held high. What did we have at the beginning of that road? We had a country, one third of which was literally leveled to the ground by a devastating earthquake. People had no place to live, to say nothing of jobs. In that situation, we received hundreds of thousands of refugees from the neighboring country. Moreover, we were standing at the verge of a full-scale war. We started under energy crisis and blockade. Probably neither of the former Soviet Republics had such unfavorable starting position. But we did not falter in our choice, remained true to our resolve to build an independent and democratic state.
“Our people overcame all hardships with the peculiar tenacity, wisdom, diligence, and courage. Our people revealed the ability to defend Armenia and Artsakh, to develop economy and social life.
He added that the most important defenders of the nation are its youth. “For me, the greatest achievement of the new 25 year old Armenia is the generation born in independence. In past 25 years, a new generation grew up in Armenia for which to be a citizen of Armenia is not just a destiny but also an honor: a new generation, which is open to the world and is educated better that the previous generations; a new generation which is politically literate and believes in the noblest and most humane values; a generation whose mentality is based on the principles of freedom and democracy.”
He urged the linking of Armenia with Karabakh and the diaspora.
“The Armenia-Artsakh-Spyurk trinity is our strength. Whatever we have done in a quarter of a century, we have done together. Tomorrow we will do even more. In the process we have not only used the existing potential but have also accumulated new experiences and new potential. We have formed new platforms and tools which open new horizons before us,” Sargsyan said.
He concluded on a nostalgic note. “The National Hero of the Republic of Armenia Movses Gorgissian used to say, “Long live the Armenia which will come tomorrow.” He was speaking of an independent and free Armenia. Today we are saying, ‘Long live the Armenia which has come,’ but immediately follow by saying ‘Long live the Armenia which will come tomorrow,’ and we mean a more prosperous and secure Armenia.”
Earlier in the day, a spectacular military parade started at Republic Square. Commander of the joint army group, Major General Andranik Makaryan supervised the military parade, first reporting the start to acting Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan.
The parade launched with the prayer of the spiritual leader of the Armenian Armed Forces, Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan. The names of Armenian national heroes, as well as those of soldiers and servicemen killed during the four-day war in April were announced afterwards.
The Armenian national flag, the flag of the armed forces and the honorable Holy Cross of King Ashot II were then brought to the Republic Square, with Sargsyan congratulating the Armenian people throughout the world on one of the most important days in our history.
The parade featured intelligence units specifically designed for battlefield reconnaissance tasks, special units equipped with modern machine guns, long-range sniper, as well as other high-precision weapons, a peacekeeping brigade convoy, military police units, as well as soldiers of the 102nd Russian military base.
The military display showcased unmanned aerial vehicles, multifunctional electronic warfare systems designed to disorganize the enemy troops and weapons control systems, ZF-80 armored transport vehicles and mechanized infantry and armored units.
And, most importantly, Armenia showed off Iskander-E missile systems with a range of 300 km, Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers, Tochka tactical ballistic missiles, as well as Buk medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, whose presence in the Armenian armed forces was confirmed during the pre-parade rehearsals.
On September 21, 1991, a referendum on Armenia’s secession from the USSR was held, with 94.99 percent of the people voting for independent and democratic Armenia.
Two days later, Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission released the referendum results: 2,056,792 (94.39 percent) of Armenia’s 2,163,967 voters had taken part in the voting, with 2,042,617 voting for Armenia’s independence.
The referendum was held in accordance with the USSR election law, with 117 observers from 25 countries monitoring the event.
Based on the referendum results, Armenia’s Supreme Council declared independent Armenia, on September 23, 1991.
(PanArmenian.net contributed to this report.)