STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–The ninth anniversary of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence was marked Saturday throughout Karabakh–with the participation of delegations from Armenia headed by prime minister Andranik Markarian–and Moldova headed by First Deputy of the State Security Minister Oleg Gudymo.
On this occasion–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic president Arkady Ghoukassian addressed a message to the people of Karabakh–saying–"Nine years ago–on September 2–1991 our people–by declaring a new Armenian state in the Artsakhian plateau–made an historical choice. The future course of events demonstrated that we made the right choice."
Ghoukassian’s announcement went on to praise those who gave their lives during the Karabakh liberation struggle and made special mention of the Diaspora for its unwavering support in efforts to strengthen Karabakh’s statehood.
"In the name of the native land–in the name of the freedom for the people of Artsakh–we lost our best sons–and today we bow before their memory," concluded Ghoukassian.
At 11 a.m.–Ghoukassian–the leaders of the Armenian and Karabakh governmen’s–guests–other officials and citizens visited the Memorial complex of Stepanakert and paid their respects to the memory of those who perished during the Karabakh liberation struggle.
Ghoukassian also led a delegation to Shoushi for the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the late slain Armenian prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan–whose mother Greta was on hand for the unveiling ceremony.
In his remarks–Karabakh defense minister Seyran Ohanian said that Shoushi was chosen as the site for the memorial–because of Sargsyan’s commitment to the "revival of the Armenian spirit in this town."
Later that day–back in Stepanakert–Ghoukassian and the entourage of guests attended a ceremony inaugurating an underground passage.
That evening Ghoukassian hosted a state reception–honoring the guests and marking the anniversary.
"We won because Armenia–Artsakh and the Diaspora were together. And this unanimity is the main guarantor of our future victories. Declaring the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic we clearly recognized that it was not our ultimate aim. We will never refuse our people’s dream–reunification with Armenia. I am certain that sooner or late–the day will come where our ultimate dream will be realized. However–Sept. 2 will remain as one of the highlights of our history," noted Ghoukassian in his speech at the reception.
In connection with the ninth anniversary celebrations–Ghoukassian issued a decree conferring the rank of "Artsakh Hero" on Armenia’s defense minister Serge Sarkisian–commander of the military unit of the Karabakh Defense Army Samvel Karapetian–Armenia’s deputy defense minister Manvel Grigorian and General Christophor Ivanian posthumously.
In Stepanakert–the celebrations concluded with a victory concert at the city’s central square.
The information department of the government of Armenia issued a congratulatory announcement by Markarian on the occasion of Karabakh independence anniversary. Below is the translated text of that announcement.
Accept my cordial congratulations on the Independence Day of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
The Karabakh movement–which began in 1988–was the continuation of the struggle for independence and freedom that had been waged by the Armenian people from time immemorial. The declaration of Independence of Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 2–1991 was the realization of dream by Armenia’s living in Armenia–Karabakh and throughout the world. The people of Karabakh demonstrated to the entire world that they were ready to defend every inch of their motherland–sanctified by the blood of their sons. Retaining what had been gained through the struggle–heroism–aspiration and determination to lead an independent life–the creative people of Artsakh got down the strengthening of the army–rehabilitation of the economy–resolution of social problems and formation of democratic institutions.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic remains committed to its principles of settling the conflict peacefully.
We believe in the future of Karabakh. Independence and Freedom are not easy to gain–rather they are achieved at the cost of people’s blood–will and resolution.
Let me again congratulate all of you on this festive occasion – Independence Day. I wish you sound health–peaceful and creative life–as well as firm faith in the future."