YEREVAN (Combined Sources) – Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan were joined by several other high ranking dignitaries at the Yerablur Military Pantheon on January 28 in order to commemorate National Armed Forces Day in Armenia.
In addition to the two presidents, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, National Assembly President Galust Sahakyan, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, and several other members of the government paid tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the independence of Armenia.
The attendees paid tribute by laying flowers at the graves of Commander Vazgen Sargsyan, General Andranik, and at the memorial that is dedicated to all freedom fighters and soldiers.
At Yereblur, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan expressed the combat readiness of the Armenian army stated how the Armenian army has become a competitive force in the region. “Our Army is a victorious army, which passes the exam perfectly every day on the border, in Artsakh and on the line of contact,” said Ohanyan.
Ohanyan considers the first visit of the country’s leadership to Yeraplur being on Army Day a very symbolic act. It is a powerful way of commemorating all those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. “Here, our bodies quiver when we hear the names of each of them. The pain and courage turn into pride for our army and combat friends. They also transfer into responsibility for not making mistakes in the future,” the Minister concluded.
Later in the day, Artsakh President Sahakyan sent a congratulatory address on Army Day to the Armenian President.
The address runs as follows:
“Honorable President Sarkisian,
On behalf of the people of Artsakh, the authorities and myself, I would like to personally convey sincere congratulations on Army Day, a holiday that is considered very important for all the Armenians.
The glorious Armenian army is the offspring of independence and the pride of the entire Armenian nation, which it loves and cherishes like its child. Its brave soldiers, following the lead of their ancestors, devotedly carry out the sacred duty of defending the Homeland by performing and displaying unique feats and courage.
You have had a great personal contribution in the establishment and formation of the Army, including its ongoing enhancement and development. You are doing everything possible for consolidating defense capability of the two Armenian states, solving issues and reaching goals of nation-wide nature.
I once again congratulate you and the whole personnel of the Republic of Armenia’s Armed Forces on this cherished holiday and wish peace, good health and great success for the glory of Mother Armenia and the native people.”
His Holiness Karekin II on Armed Forces Day also added his remarks on this important day.
“From the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, our sacred sanctuary established by Christ, we extend our pontifical blessings and congratulations to the brave officers and soldiers of the Armenian Armed Forces, and all Armenians throughout the world on the occasion of Armed Forces Day.
The formation of the Armenian Army is a great achievement of our independent state which is the result of the struggle, love and devotion of our brave soldiers for the Homeland.
Today, through the feats of our soldiers and commanders; and sometimes by sacrificing their lives, the borders of our country are intact and protected. The valiant spirit of the Armenian soldier gives encouragement to our people, guiding us to serve to our Homeland with devotion, zeal and love for each other.
In front of the Holy Altar, we pray that our Heavenly Lord blesses and keeps all the soldiers and commanders victorious.
And may the grace, love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us. Amen.”
The National Army of Armenia came into being in a very difficult period that saw the agony of the USSR. In the complicated geopolitical context, people in Artsakh stood up for self-determination, a campaign that later developed into a large-scale war, claiming many young lives. It took over four years to build the national army, which received its baptism by fire in different rounds of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation battle, standing up for the defense and security of the people in Armenia and Artsakh.
The process involved both active and patriotic officers who had received their military education in the Soviet times and a new generation volunteers who built the backbone of the Armenian army.
As early as in 1994, army building, sustainable development, combat efficiency raising and training of personnel became regular processes, leading up to the creation of the Ministry of Defense and five army corpses.
Today, many veterans of the liberation struggle affirm with a high sense of pride that Armenia now has the kind of Army which was unimaginable for many decades before.
“The Armenian Army today is the most efficient and organized army in the region and one of our nation’s greatest achievements,” said Spartak Matevosyan, who served as a regiment commander during the war.
The veteran, who joined a special purpose regiment to fight in the hottest spots, remembered that after the call by then Minister of Defense Vazgen Sargsyan (for recruiting 10-15 young men from each region), even more volunteers joined their ranks to head to the frontline.
“The spirit of those days and the limitless devotion to the fatherland exists also today when it comes to the point. I often visit the border zones, and today were are visiting the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute [to meet with] fellows who shine with the same brightness and patriotism and are even more literate than we were.”
Igor Sargsyan, who participated in the historic battle to liberate Shushi as a member of a students’ detachment, agreed that the Armenian army is the most powerful in the region at present.
“These are not mere words of laudation; that’s the truth. The border incidents in the past 1.5 years demonstrate that our soldiers stand ready [for our defense]. They are firm in both spirit and discipline. Our soldier today is fully equal with his task,” he noted.
Sargsyan remembered that the land loser complex and the psychic state of a migrant – which many champions of freedom initially experienced – disappeared very soon, turning into a feeling of pride.
“Those people knew they had lost lands, but the liberation of Shushi corrected the backbone of our people, giving a higher confidence to us, the volunteers, in our ability to liberate our fatherland. You would have seen that enthusiasm if you had visited Shushi the day it was liberated,” the veteran recalled.