Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia’s sovereign territory last week only cemented the reality that our country’s independence is not only fragile, but it is also threatened. Our enemies will stop at nothing to crush our sovereignty and steal that right to self-determination that 31 years ago created the independent Republic of Armenia.
No one can forget the pride and elation felt by every Armenian when 31 years ago today—September 21, 1991—Armenia shed its dependence from the Soviet Union and became an independent nation. Every year on September 21 we, as a Nation, affirm our commitment to Armenia’s statehood and reflect on the fact that this independence has lasted longer and continues to prosper.
However, since the 44-Day war, the anniversary of Armenia’s independence has become a bittersweet one. Last week’s attacks are proof of that. On the one hand, celebrating independence is a source of pride and a reaffirmation of Armenia’s right to self-determination. On the other hand, the current realities plaguing and jeopardizing Armenia’s sovereignty only reenforces the the fact the we must fight for our independence on a daily basis.
Soon after the 29th anniversary of Armenia’s independence, our enemies—Azerbaijan and Turkey—launched a full throttle attack on Artsakh, as a result of which thousands of Armenian soldiers and civilians were killed and territories in Artsakh were surrendered to Azerbaijan.
This aggression continues today, as Azerbaijan uses military provocations to force Armenia and Artsakh to make concessions. Just last month, we witnessed the forced surrender of Berdzor, Aghavno and Sus, which was preceded with a massive attack during which two Artsakh soldiers were killed. Just last week, we witnessed the egregious aggression on Armenia’s sovereign territory when Azerbaijani forces launched a large-scale attack on Armenia’s Gegharkunik, Syunik and Vayots Dzor provinces as a result of which 207 people were killed and some 7,500 displaced.
Of course, the advance on Armenia’s sovereign territory began in May, 2021, when Azerbaijani forces again breached Armenia’s borders and advance positions on its territory. Yet the response by Armenia’s authorities was preaching a nebulous policy of “peace in the region,” and actively engaging in dangerous negotiations to open our country’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The events of the past week, month, and the past two years, have come to solidify a nagging reality that for 31 years, successive Armenian governments have taken the sacred concept of independence for granted and have advanced policies that have endangered the very foundations of that independence.
Today, as we mark the anniversary of Armenia’s Independence, protecting, buttressing and nurturing that independence has become an existential imperative, for which, more than ever, national unity and consolidation of efforts is critical if we are to hold on to our independent homeland.
The events of last week proved that Armenia’s “strategic ally” will not lift a finger to protect our country and those who have suddenly emerged as our advocates are guided by their own interests in the region.
Thus, it is incumbent on each and every Armenian to realize that there is no alternative to independence and after 31 years, as fragile and tenuous as it might be, we, as Armenians, have a duty and responsibility to ensure its perseverance and vitality.
Today, on the anniversary of Armenia’s Independence, let us recommit ourselves to Armenia, Artsakh and prosperity of our homeland, because our hard-won independence cannot—and must not—be compromised and it must be preserved at all cost.