YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Armenia marked the 19th anniversary of the establishment of its armed forces on Friday with an official ceremony at the Yerablur Military cemetery to pay their respects to the soldiers killed in the 1991-1994 Karabakh liberation struggle.
The ceremony, presided by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and attended by the country’s top civil and military leadership, was followed by an award ceremony at the President Palace where the President bestowed the nation’s top honor to a group of distinguished soldiers. A day earlier, a Liturgy was conducted at the Holy See of Echmiadzin for Armenia’s fallen soldiers, followed by an award ceremony at the Armenian Defense Ministry.
The country’s armed forces were formed by a decree on January 28, 1992, establishing the Ministry of Defense. The country at the time was embroiled in a war with Azerbaijan, which had invaded Nagorno-Karabakh in a bid to claim the Armenian territory after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The decree consolidated dozens of volunteer self-defense detachments that had formed in 1989-1991.
In a written address to the nation on Friday, Sarkisian described service in the military as the highest honor for the Armenian citizen.
“The value and significance of the Armenian regular army is obvious to us all, particularly at the present time. Regardless of what we say, or how many times, it’s still not enough,” he said. “Today, we should remember those who after a long interruption recreated the Armed Forces of Armenia. In the most difficult war and crisis situation our nation made a historic and irreversible step, pulling together all its power in name of that noble goal. Everyone gave whatever they could to the army which was just being born.”
Speaking at Yerablur Friday, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian discussed reforms in the Army and briefed reporters on the current situation at the Nagorno-Karabakh line-of-contact, where a string of cease-fire violations in recent months have had the Armenian army on high alert.
“Cease-fire violations have been a common occurrence since 1994 though there is relative peace at the line-of-contact tensions are again high,” he said, adding, however, that the Armenian Army is always ready to resist any assaults.
He also explained that military reforms are currently being implemented under a 2010-2015 action plan approved by the President and pledged that the army “would solve all issues and guarantee peace in the country.”
Below is the translated text of President Sarkisian’s speech:
I congratulate you on the occasion of Army Day.
The value and significance of the Armenian regular army is obvious to us all, particularly at the present time. Regardless of what we say, or how many times, it’s still not enough. Today, we should remember those who after a long interruption recreated the Armed Forces of Armenia. In the most difficult war and crisis situation our nation made a historic and irreversible step, pulling together all its power in name of that noble goal. Everyone gave whatever they could to the army which was just being born.
Today, “Our name is the Armenian Armed Forces” expression is stated proudly by every segment of our nation. The Army walked down the road of heavy losses and glorious victories, which essentially, has been our nation’s and our country’s road in modern history.
Everybody realized that our freedom and peace itself were not presented to us as gifts. We won them paying with blood, we, all together, won them in the cruelest war. Nobody knows the value of our blood better than we do. We emerged from all calamities with clear conscience, and that conscience is our Army – literally and allegorically.
Just as many of our churches stand on the relics of the saints, our army stands on the relics of our martyred friends – blessed people, who make today’s holiday even more precious.
Dear Soldiers, Officers and Generals,
I extend my special congratulations to you since you are the face of our Armed Forces and because even in the 21st century the power of an army is defined first and foremost by its human factor. I know well all hardships of your daily, 24-hour long work. You carry out your duties with honor in the country as well as in your international missions. Certainly, capabilities of our Army today cannot be compared with the capabilities that we had during the war for Artsakh. Today, we have qualitatively different people and most importantly, you have been able to uphold the unyielding combat spirit and resolve.
Our region today is unthinkable without you, without the Armenian Army which is the guarantor of our peace, security and eternity.
Long live the glorious Army of Armenia!
Long live the Armenian nation!