STEPANAKERT—It is only fitting that the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Shoushi—a glorious victory for the Armenian nation—would be marked by a glorious military parade in the streets of the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic—Artsakh.
More than 2,000 troops of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Armed Forces marched through the streets of Stepanakert Wednesday. They were followed by tanks, anti-aircraft systems and other heavy artillery, including surface-to-surface ballistic missiles known as Scud-B, which have a firing range of up to 300 kilometers.
Thousands attended the Stepanakert parade, which kicked off the official celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Shoushi Liberation.
On May 9, 1992 soldiers of the Nagorno-Karabakh self-defense forces, in a harrowing operation, recaptured the ancient Armenian capital of Shoushi and liberated it from Azeri forces, which had been using its perch to relentlessly shell Stepanakert and its population. The Shoushi operation was adeptly followed by the liberation of Lachin and the opening of a land corridor to Armenia. More importantly, however, the liberation of Shoushi became the driving force for victory in Artsakh and a crowning moment of the Armenian Liberation Struggle.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian was joined by his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, former Armenian and Karabakh presidents Robert Kocharian and Arkady Ghoukasian, as well as other high-level dignitaries in watching the parade from atop a balcony in the city center.
In his congratulatory remarks on this momentous occasion, Sahakian called the liberation of Shoushi “a celebration that has been sanctified with the blood of our sisters and brothers, thus becoming one of the most cherished nationwide holidays.”
“May 9 is a holiday of victory, the victory of nationwide unity and consolidation, freedom-loving spirit and unbendable will,” declared Sahakian.
“May 9 is the victory of all Armenians in the national liberation struggle, when all parts of the Armenian nation became a single entity uniting around the glorious idea of defending Artsakh. Everything was being done for the sake of our sacred mission, for the realization of our age-old aspirations, for the bright future and perseverance of the Armenian nation,” added Sahakian.
“With this sense the defense army—the most important guarantor of our nation’s freedom and security, its pride and one of the greatest achievements—was formed. The army was born in the crucible of the war. It accomplished and, today, continues with honor its sacred mission of to defend the homeland. It is also due to the Armenian army that peace and stability in the whole region are secured. This undeniable reality cannot be ignored,” expressed Sahakian.
“We will continue doing everything to keep the army strong and victorious, with a high level of fighting capacity and strong spirit, ready to realize any task assigned to it,” said Sahakian.
“The Free, independent and developing Artsakh is of great and important significance for all Armenians. Due to the support of Mother Armenia, our sisters and brothers from the Diaspora and Artsakh managed to not only recover from the wounds of war but also embarked on a path of stable development. A nation that protected its native soil with flying colors must live a worthy life. We will spare no efforts to achieve this goal,” declared Sahakian.
“Today our sons who were born in the liberated homeland and keep its boundaries secure are proudly standing in the parade. They continue the mission of their heroic fathers with dignity thus preserving the memory of all our martyrs,” said Sahakian.
“Together with those who achieved our cherished victory, today’s servicemen of the Artsakh army steadily defend the security of their native land and peaceful life of their own people. This has been so for 20 years, and it will continued to be so forever,” added Sahakian.
In his congratulatory remarks, President Sarkisian, who commanded a battalion during the liberation of Shoushi said: The liberation of Shoushi once again opened new doors for our people’s peaceful, creative work and the flourishing of the nation. This victory too was achieved through the greatest sacrifice of our people.”
Celebrations continued throughout the day, with cultural programs in Shoushi and other gatherings attended by thousands of residents of Artsakh and Armenia.