STEPANAKERT (Armenpress)–Government officials in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic joined thousands of citizens Sunday to celebrate the 16th anniversary of independence from Azerbaijan.
The celebrations began with a visit to the memorial for the Karabakh war freedom fighters.
Chairman of Armenian parliament Tigran Torosian and other Armenian officials were in Stepanakert to participate in the events.
In 1921, responding to economic blackmail from oil-producing Azerbaijan and threats from Turkey, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin forcibly placed Nagorno-Karabakh under the Azeri rule, as the world’s only Christian territorial autonomy inside a largely Muslim nation.
For the next 70 years, Azerbaijan bombarded Nagorno-Karabakh with various forms of ethno-religious discrimination, economic mistreatment and intentional demographic abuse, in an attempt to eliminate its Armenian Christian majority and replace it with Azerbaijani Muslim settlers.
This policy was damaging to Nagorno-Karabakh but it failed, unable to shatter the region’s resistance to foreign domination. After decades of intermittent protests, the dissolution of the Soviet Union finally allowed Nagorno-Karabakh to break away from Baku’s rule, in 1988, and, in 1991, re-establish itself as a free and sovereign nation-the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian issued a congratulatory message on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence, the presidential press office reported Saturday.
“Many sons of the Armenian nation gave their lives for a free and prosperous Nagorno-Karabakh. Today we bow before their memory,” said Kocharian.
“I am convinced that programs implemented in Nagorno-Karabakh will promote
the welfare of the people,” added Kocharian