YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian Tuesday congratulated the Armenian people on the 19th anniversary of Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union, News.am reported.
In his remarks, Sarkisian hailed the establishment of the Armenian states, evaluated its economic development since independence, and urged continued vigilance in the years as Armenia continues along the difficult road toward lasting peace and security in the region.
He described the “entire history” of the Armenian nation as one characterized by the “struggle for freedom,” which has waged on and off, successfully and unsuccessfully for “centuries and millennia.”
“Our royal and noble families, backed by national support, passed from hand to hand the standard of Armenian identity, Armenian spirit and Armenian statehood,” Sarkisian said. They did it not seeking glory but rather created those moments of glory; they united the nation around the idea, assembled means to achieve the sacred goal, fought and negotiated, supported arts and sciences.”
Sarkisian said this rich legacy has at times been “difficult to embrace” and is “so compelling that at times it seems like the burden is too heavy to carry.”
“But on September 21, 1991 the people of Armenia told the entire world things that were unspoken or only whispered. The people of Armenia stated out loud ‘Yes, we are the masters of our legacy, our identity, our standard and our statehood and will carry out our historic responsibility,” Sarkisian exclaimed.
On that day, he continued, the Armenian people announced they were “ready to unite around one sacred goal, ready to fight and negotiate, live and build.”
Sarkisian described the overwhelming vote in support of independence from the Soviet Union as “a promise…to ourselves and, more importantly, to our children.” According to him, that promise has been “fulfilled” over the years. Despite “mistakes” and “serious blunders,” he added, there have never been “deadly” mistakes to “endanger the freedom and security of our state.”
“Each year of independence was efficient, full of achievements and accomplishments,” Sarkisian remarked, adding that many positive and negative experiences have helped develop Armenia’s state structures and civil society.
Sarkisian noted some of those experiences, focusing primarily on three “major economic crises,” which, according to him, have been met and overcome since Armenia declared its independence. “We overcame them and drew some lessons. Today, we are on the road toward the economic recovery and now our task is to put economic growth on a solid foundation, with the assessment of the deficiencies in the world economic model that produced the crisis,” he said.
Sarkisian also used the address as an opportunity to discuss Turkey’s ongoing “illegal blockade” of Armenia and the ongoing threat of renewed war with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We are not enemies with anyone, but we have neighbors whose words and deeds are indisputably hostile. It is regrettable, but it’s a fact, and we have to make our steps based on that reality,” Sarkisian said, referring to Azerbaijan’s ongoing warnings to launch a new war against Armenia. “Recurrent violations of the cease-fire, explicitly provocative and terrorist activities on the line of contact always get adequate response and only double our vigilance.”
Armenia is “going down a very difficult” but correct path, Sarkisian stressed, adding that its current course will lead to “lasting peace and independence for Artsakh.”
According to the Armenian President the people of Armenia must rely on themselves for the betterment of state. This, he continued, “doesn’t mean that we have no friends, allies and partners.
“It means that we exist and that through our joint efforts, through the mental, physical and spiritual power of our nation we will bring closer new glorious moments of the Armenian nation,” he stated. “We will do it just like the heroes of our nation, who in the fight for freedom, brought victory closer by paying with their own lives.”
The national holiday was also observed by the United States and Russia, which have sizable Armenian populations of over one million residing in their countries, RFE/RL’s Armenia service reported Tuesday.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both issued separate statements to the Armenian American community on Tuesday marking the anniversary.
Obama, who sent a virtually identical letter to President Sarkisian, said, “The United States is proud of the historic ties and friendship between our countries and honored by the many contributions Americans of Armenian ancestry have made to our nation.”
Clinton, meanwhile recognized the “Many contributions to the United States” made by Armenian Americans. “We are committed to expanding our cooperation and building a promising future for all our citizens,” she added.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, meanwhile, congratulated Armenia on 19 years of independence, according to the Armenian presidential press office, reported RFE/RL. “Our citizens take pride in glorious pages of our common history, common achievements and victories,” Medvedev said.