Armenia Marks 17 Years of Independence

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Republic of Armenia celebrated Sunday the 17th anniversary of Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union.

17 years ago, on September 21, 1991, Armenia’s overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to break free from the crumbling Soviet Empire and live again as an independent state. The move marked the apex of a democratic movement that began in 1988 with millions taking to the streets in support of Nagorno-Karabakh’s unification with Armenia.

Congratulating the nation on Sunday, President Serzh Sarkisian emphasized the importance of independence for the country.

“Independence is the materialization of our dream, it is our biography, with ups and downs, struggles and fights, opportunity and possibility to defend our national dignity, sacrifice, national achievemen’s obtained through that sacrifice, and the right for all of us to share the pride of these achievemen’s,” the republic’s third president said in his address on the occasion.

Sarkisian also emphasized that during these 17 years, the Armenian people have defended their country, built a state structure, laid the foundations for a growing economy, and given new breath to culture, education, and health care.

“From year to year for us freedom and independence acquire new meaning and substance,” he said. “We overcame all difficulties and never gave up. It became clear for us that only independence can give us the ability to protect the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people.”

Meanwhile, in a written statement, Armenia’s Prime Minister, Tigran Sargsyan, paid tribute to Armenia’s national heroes, “who gave their lives as a sacrifice for this noble cause, paving the way for an irreversible march of independence.”

He praised the nations unity during the march for independence and congratulated the country for having endured the hardships along the difficult road to independence and statehood.

“Our people were well aware of those hardships and challenges awaiting them on the way to building a free, sovereign and democratic State as they made an historic choice over a decade and a half ago,” he said. “Nonetheless, they were convinced that any such challenge might be overcome through national unity, adherence to the objectives and principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, as well as with unfailing will and perseverance.”

Sargsyan, who has made a name for himself as an independent reformer, expressed confidence in the country’s future.

“I am confident that we will manage to meet the new challenges coming from this quickly changing world, to safeguard our country and people from any eventual threat and push ahead the process of reform with strong determination,” he said. “We do have enough will and resources to preserve and build on today’s hard-earned achievemen’s in order to bequeath a stable and prosperous Armenia to future generations.”

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