Armenia Marks Army Anniversary

PRESIDENT STRESSES IRREPLACEABLE ROLE OF ARMED FORCES IN GUARANTYING SECURITY AND REGIONAL STABILITY

YEREVAN (RFE/RL-Armenpress)–Armenia marked on Tuesday the 11th anniversary of the creation of its armed forces with official ceremonies led by Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian.

Sarkisian and Armenian military leaders laid wreaths at a war memorial in Yerevan’s Yerablur military cemetery. Hundreds of Armenian fighters who died in the Mountainous Karabagh Republic war are buried there.

President Robert Kocharian and other top officials said the successful war with Azerbaijan laid the foundations of the existing Armenian army and should be remembered by younger generations. "Today Armenia’s Armed Forces are diligently fulfilling their mission to secure the Homeland’s borders and peace," Kocharian said in a written address to the nation. "I wish to our Army–and to all our nation–peace and creative labor which are pre-conditions for future achievemen’s," he added.

"Today our army is combat-ready and able to defend our sovereignty and independence," Sarkisian said for his part.

Kocharian visited two military bases during a campaign trip to the Armavir province on Tuesday. Officials accompanying him said his meetings with local servicemen were part of the celebrations–not the election campaign.

Speaking to reporters at Yerablur–Sarkisian said the ceremonies would have been "more solemn" if the holiday–officially known as "The Army’s Day," had not coincided with the intensifying election campaign. He said he asked Kocharian not to give traditional awards to army officers on the occasion because that could been seen as pre-election pressure on the military.

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