Today marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in Armenia. On August 23, 1990, the Supreme Council of Armenia voted to declare its independence from the Soviet Union. It would take another 13 months for Armenia to fully become independent after an overwhelming majority of Armenians on September 21, 1991 voted in a referendum to become an independent nation.
“August 23, 1990 is one of the most crucial and momentous episodes of our modern history. It signifies the point in time when dreams of the people of Armenia and the entire Armenian nation began to turn into reality; it also symbolizes our centuries-long yearning for independence,” said President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday, in his congratulatory message to the nation.
“The past two decades have made it clear that the adoption of the Declaration was timely and appropriate, that the objectives and ideas enshrined in the Declaration are viable and continue to be called to life through the joint efforts of all segments of the Armenian nation,” added Sarkisian.
“It was not easy to turn our intents into reality; nevertheless, we have remained true to our principles and values. We did not succumb to hardships and did not diverge from the road toward political freedom and responsibility to master our own destiny.”
As we reflect back on this day, it truly was a “momentous” turning point for the Armenian nation, but unfortunately, Armenia has deviated from the path that should have served as clear building blocs for an independent state.
One can argue with President Sarkisian’s claims of political freedom. True, while Armenia is not being ruled by outside forces, decisions by successive governments have made Armenia reliant on foreign entities. Domestically, countless elections within Armenia have also proven that the concept of an individual’s political freedom is nebulous at best in Armenia.
We also witnessed how the divergent agendas of foreign powers threatened Armenia’s national security during the dangerous protocols process. That threat still looms, since Armenia has not withdrawn its signature from the failed protocols.
Time and again, we have seen instances of blatant violations of basic rights guaranteed under the declaration of independence, as Armenian citizens have been forced to relinquish their right to speech, assembly and freedom of expression.
As we celebrate this monumental turning point in our nation’s history and acknowledge the advances made in nation-building and the preservation of our statehood, we, as a nation, must pledge to uphold the sacred principles outlined in the document and marshal the effort to ensure Armenia’s independence and freedom.