YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — In honor of Army Day in Armenia, a group of servicemen received high state awards and military distinction for their dedication, courage and outstanding service rendered in the course of their military duty. The award ceremony took place today at the Presidential Palace.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian sent a congratulatory message on the occasion of Army Day and congratulated the awardees on receiving the Motherland’s highest awards and military ranks.
Sarkisian’s congratulatory remarks read as follows:
I cordially congratulate you on the occasion of Army Day.
This year, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of independence of the Republic of Armenia. It’s been a quarter of a century that we have a free and independent statehood. Throughout this time, we never doubted that our twenty-five year long journey would be possible without the Army which we created.
The Armed Forces of Armenia became the cornerstone which was laid in the foundation of our statehood. It was the dictate of the time and the region we live in. We knew all too well who we are and where we live. We are Armenians, and as one of the ancient nations of the Middle East and Western Asia, we had the millennia long experience.
Tragic events which are taking place today in the Middle East and in the areas which generally are very close to us, are painfully familiar to us and have been repeated regularly. We were the witnesses, contemporaries and chroniclers of similar events. They occurred right before our eyes in last centuries and during two millennia. Twenty-five years ago, when we assumed the responsibility for our own destiny, we were well aware that it was tantamount to entering a battlefield.
And we did. We entered the battlefield for the human and peoples’ rights, for freedom. We had already seen the smoke rising from the Armenian Church in Baku, and it was the last and most convincing sign for those who still had doubts. Later, in our days, the smoke rising from the burnt and blown up religious sites shuddered and astonished the world.
We shuddered in 1988, and the spontaneously formed self-defense units were our first steps in the struggle for survival. We also knew that the Fedayi movement would be doomed to failure, unless it became a regular army. The Armenian regular Army, our victorious Army, withstood the test of war because in those days Artsakh and Armenia, the entire Armenian nation became what a historian called the Askanazian nation, while the Holy Book calls it the Askanizian regiment, which represents the country, the nation and the armed forces.
Dear Soldiers and Officers of the Armenian Army, distinguished Veterans,
This glorious holiday is certainly a state and national holiday, but first of all it is your holiday. We trust in your dedication, in your professional skills, in your high combat spirit. We wish that from now no soldier is killed on the border. To you and our entire nation, I wish peace for our country’s freedom, for diligent work, which is a prerequisite for any progress.
I congratulate you on the occasion of Army Day and on receiving the Motherland’s highest awards and distinctions.
It is thanks to you and your comrades-in-arms that the Armed Forces of Armenia are carrying out their mission, and fulfill the tasks set before them. You are doing it with honor and you are doing it on a high professional level.
You are the worthy followers of those who in the fires of the heroic Artsakh war laid the foundation of our future Army. Many of them died, giving us life and freedom. Today, on this sacred day, we bow to their blessed memory. You are their worthy followers who are true to the behest of the martyrs and to the values they entrusted.
God bless the Armenian Land!
Long live the Armenian Nation and its warrior sons!”
The commemoration of Army Day in Army comes a day after Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan assured that Armenia is continuing to acquire “long-range and precision-guided” weapons for its armed forces thanks to military ties with Russia.
“Within the framework of a relevant [Russian-Armenian] agreement signed in 2013, we are ensuring their development through the acquisition of modern and compatible weaponry, military hardware and long-range and precision-guided systems,” he told a news conference. “All that is going according to plan.”
Ohanyan gave no details of those acquisitions that were apparently discussed last week in Yerevan at a meeting of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral “military-technical cooperation.”
The four-day meeting was co-chaired by Konstantin Biryulin, the Deputy Head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states, and Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Alik Mirzabekian.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said that the meeting discussed Russian arms supplies, but it reported no concrete agreements to that effect.
In June 2015, the Russian government provided Yerevan with a $200 million loan that will be spent on the purchase of more Russian-made weapons for the Armenian army. Shortly afterwards, a Russian official revealed that the two sides are negotiating on the delivery of advanced Russian Iskander-M missiles to the Armenian army.
With a firing range of up to 500 kilometers, the Iskander-M systems would have significant implications for the military balance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a renewed war for Karabakh.
Russia has not exported such missiles to any foreign state so far. Ohanyan and other Armenian military officials have been reluctant comment on the possible Iskander-M deal.
Ohanyan on Tuesday did not deny media claims that the Russian-Armenian commission also discussed the possibility of supplying Armenia with advanced Russian Su-30 fighter jets. But he declined to elaborate.
Armenia’s modest Air Force currently consists of more than a dozen older and less sophisticated Su-25 jets that are designed for air-to-ground missions.
Ohanyan reportedly thanked Russia for its “huge” military assistance to Armenia when he met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Moscow late last month. The two men signed an agreement on the creation of a new Russian-Armenian air defense system.