Kocharian’s Earthquake Anniversary Statement

YEREVAN-President Robert Kocharian Monday made a statement regarding the 10th anniversary of the Armenian earthquake–which killed more than 25,000 people and left thousands homeless. The translated text of his statement–retrieved through Groong/ANN–is published below: Dear fellow Armenia’s and Friends of Armenia,

Ten years ago–today–the disastrous 1988 earthquake shook the very foundations of our country and our souls. Cities and villages were destroyed–and one third of Armenia’s industry was demolished. The great tragedy was the loss of thousands of lives. Men–women and children perished as buildings–schools–hospitals and churches collapsed within a matter of seconds. Not just Armenia–but the world was in shock.

From all over the world–the response was overwhelming. Humanitarian assistance from numerous countries–international organizations–individuals and the Diaspora flowed into then Soviet Armenia in an effort to relieve the human’suffering. Armenia’s devastated from the horrible natural disaster were consoled and comforted realizing that they are not alone in a time of extreme need.

Over the past ten years–the international community and the Diaspora has played a critical role in helping us overcome the devastating consequences of the earthquake. On behalf of the people of Armenia–would like to express my deepest gratitude for all the support and assistance you have given to our nation. You have helped us to rebuild our towns and cities and most importantly–to mend our souls.

While much has been done to reconstruct the earthquake zone–many opportunities were also lost because of the political turmoil and transitional period that followed the earthquake. Our current policies and Government program for the earthquake zone aim to complete rebuilding by the year 2001. While we have committed all available resources and manpower to this end–we still need the assistance of the international community and generous benefactors. We must work together to once and for all do away with the understanding of "disaster zone" and remember the devastation only in memory.

Today–as we respectfully remember the victims of the earthquake zone and mourn their deaths–we must turn our attention to the future. Our children are the future. On December 7–1988–children were born under the harshest circumstances in the earthquake zone who are ten years old today. I would like to ask the entire international community and our brethren in the Diaspora to join me in wishing our children a happy birthday. It is our responsibility to build and create the necessary circumstances for our children to live in a better world: in a world of freedom–independence–peace and prosperity.

During the past ten years Armenia has faced many political and economic challenges in addition to the earthquake. The Armenian spirit–withstanding the test of time–has always found the strength to overcome the worst of circumstances. It is this creative and invincible Armenian spirit that rose to the occasion and began rebuilding what was destroyed. On this sorrowful day–let us celebrate life and the Armenian spirit–which has allowed us to survive the worst of times–and it will boldly lead our future generations into the 21st Century.

Robert Kocharian

President Republic of Armenia

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