YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenians marked on Friday the 92nd anniversary of the establishment of their first short-lived independent republic that emerged from the ashes of the Russian Empire at the end of World War I.
The main ceremonies marking the public holiday in Armenia again took place at the Sardarabad memorial, erected in 1968 in Armenia’s Armavir provice. The memorial, which opened on the 50th anniversary of the 1918 Battle of Sardarabad, was built on the field of the historic battle where Armenian volunteers successfully repelled an invading Turkish army. Click here for a special in-depth look into the battle and victory.
“Ninety-two years ago, after a long break, the Armenian people declared its independence on a small part of its historical territory. On May 28, an Armenian became a citizen of his state,” President Serzh Sarkisian said in an address to the nation on the day. “Even in our own days there are people who do not have the realization of being a citizen of the state, do not feel its strength and responsibility.”
“The feat of May 28 was first of all performed in our consciousness and hearts,” stressed Sarkisian, adding that lessons must be drawn from the 1918 events.
“Lesson number one – no one in the world is obliged to fight for you and instead of you. Lesson number two – no one is obliged to establish statehood instead of you. Lesson number three – it is possible to gain separate victories over a people that has formed state institutions, but it is impossible to commit genocide against it. Lesson number four – the Armenian people are in a position to solve the most difficult problems facing it, solutions to which at times seem unimaginable. The Armenian people are simply invincible if it appears to the world united. Lesson number five – one has to believe in the abilities of the Armenian people, its great potential to fight, build, think and create,” the Armenian leader said.
Sarkisian and other Armenian officials were among thousands of people who visited the war memorial at Sardarabad on Friday. He laid a wreath at the Memorial dedicated to the heroes of the Battle.
The Armenian Apostolic Church also acknowledged the significance of the day in the history of the nation. Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, also laid a wreath at the memorial. The Armenian spiritual leader offered a prayer for the souls of the perished defenders of the land.
In a congratulatory message on May 28 Catholicos Karekin II said the proclamation of the first Armenian Republic was “a turning point in our history, which also became a testimony of our people’s aspirations – to build a democratic, legal and civil state; to build a free and just society.”
“These contributions and the love for the homeland today shall direct our lives, become spirit and inspiration for our efforts and labors, so that we build a secure, prosperous and joyful future for our homeland and people,” said the Catholicos.
The other two South Caucasus republics also gained independence briefly at the end of the First World War.