Armenia Marks 16th Anniversary of Independence

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–President Robert Kocharian painted a bright picture of the present socioeconomic situation in Armenia and offered a highly favorable outlook for the future Friday as the country celebrated the 16th anniversary of Armenia’s independence.
President Kocharian and other top Armenian officials began the official ceremonies Friday by visiting Yerevan’s Yereblur military cemetery where hundreds of Armenia’s killed during the war with Azerbaijan were buried. They laid flowers on the graves of General Andranik, former Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and to a Monument commemorating all perished freedom fighters. Catholicos Karekin II served a special service for the repose of their souls.
“Contemporary Armenia is on the path of sustainable development,” Kocharian declared at an official reception attended by hundreds of politicians, public figures, foreign diplomats and other dignitaries.
“Today Armenia is dependably protected by our Armed Forces,” said Kocharian in his address to the nation. “On this festive day it is our solemn duty to pay tribute to our fallen heroes. Our unfailing Army is the source of pride for every Armenian citizen.”
“It can be said with certainty that the economy is developing rapidly, thousands of jobs are being created, the population’s incomes are growing considerably, poverty is declining, and the quality of life is improving,” he said. “Thousands of our fellow citizens, who had left the country to ensure their survival, are returning. A middle class is being formed.”
Congratulating the country for the recent parliamentary elections, Kocharian expressed confidence that the upcoming presidential elections will be conducted in accordance with international standards. He further added that the “consistent continuation of the chosen political course is an important guarantee of Armenia’s stability and progress.
Opinion polls conducted by the government-connected Armenian Sociological Association over the past year suggest that most Armenia’s disagree with the positive assessment made by their two top leaders, however. According to the post recent of the polls conducted in July, 54 percent of them believe that Armenia is on the wrong track. Only about a third of respondents saw an improvement in the overall economic situation over the previous three months.
“I am optimistic about the future of Armenia, while understanding that a lot still needs to be done,” said Kocharian. “Our potential is great and our people deserve a better life,” he said.
Commenting on the future of Nagorno Karabagh, Kocharian reaffirmed Armenia’s support for the subsistence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, stating that only matured statehood can provide for the security of the people of Artsakh.
“The recently held presidential elections in Nagorno Karabakh manifested the united covet for independence, faith in their statehood and willpower to defend it,” he said.
“The Motherland of all Armenia’s is stepping into a new stage in its development,” said Kocharian. “We are setting more ambitious goals and I have no doubt that combining our forces we will achieve these goals and will build a strong and prosperous state for the generations to come.”
September 21 marks the 16th anniversary of the referendum to secede from the Soviet Union. 94 percent of Armenia’s voted in the referendum in 1991 to secede. Two days later, Armenia’s first non-Communist parliament passed the Declaration of Independence.


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