On September 2, 1991, the people of Artsakh, then known as Nagorno-Karabakh, declared their independence from the Soviet Union.
Lawmakers from the Nagorno-Karabakh Provincial Council and the Shahumyan Regional Council convened a meeting on September 2, 1991 and declared the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with its border encompassing those of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, as Artsakh was known in the Soviet Union, and the Shahumyan Region. The move was in line with the day’s laws, particularly an April 3, 1990 measure which entitled national autonomies to determine their status on their own.
On December 10, 1991, a few days before the official collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno Karabakh held a referendum, where the overwhelming majority, 99,89 percent, of the population voted in favor of complete independence from Azerbaijan. After this, Azerbaijan totally blockaded Karabakh and launched military aggressions.
The Artsakh Liberation War began when for the first time in September of 1991 Azerbaijan bombarded Stepanakert with Alazan rockets from Shushi. In 1994, at the request of Azerbaijan a trilateral (Azerbaijan, NKR, Armenia) ceasefire agreement was signed on May 12.
On September 2, 2006, the people of Artsakh adopted the country’s Constitution through a referendum.
In the 29 years since its independence, Artsakh has been able to establish and cultivate a pluralistic democracy and open civil society, ranking significantly higher on international freedom and democracy indices than its authoritarian and belligerent neighbor Azerbaijan.
Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan issued a congratulatory message on independence day, saying this historic turning point was achieved with the participation of all Armenians.
“We have created this important state holiday together, thanks to the joint efforts of all Armenians, the great responsibility towards our Homeland, the memory of our ancestors and the future of generations, thanks to our courage and bravery,” said Harutyunyan.
“We have created it having in mind the dream of having a free, independent and prosperous country. Today our people are on the path to implementing that dream. I am sure we will pass this path successfully because we are building, developing and protecting our homeland by creating necessary conditions for the dignified life of our citizens. We will do for our fallen heroes. This is the sacred duty of all of us,” added Harutyunyan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also marked this event, saying in a Facebook post
“Congratulations on this historic day, Free Artsakh,” said Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in a Facebook post.
Pashinyan visited Artsakh over the weekend and attended a ceremony during which valor awards were presented to among others, Arthur Mkrtchian, the chairman of the first Karabakh Supreme Council, posthumously.
In his message on Artsakh’s Independence Day, President Armen Sarkissian said that Artsakh was the spark lit the fire of freedom, “which spread to the entire Armenian nation.”
“Our people rose to defend their rights and to take their worthy place in the modern family of nations. This was a truly historic time for the realization of our aspirations and abilities and its significance was duly appreciated in Artsakh as well as in Armenia,” said Sarkissian.
“Today, 29 years later, the Republic of Artsakh is a mature state thanks to the struggle being waged by all-Armenian forces. Thanks to the victory, which was achieved through the unity of Artsakh, Armenia, and Diaspora. Thanks to the willpower which is leading the people of Artsakh, and has become the promise of their success,” added Sarkissian.
The president said that Artsakh is a pivot of our national unity, adding that each achievement in Artsakh is a building block for the Armenian Nation.
“Our progress and ideas must be directed toward the protection of the Homeland, the security and peace of Artsakh and Armenia, well-being of our nation,” said Sarkissian, emphasizing that the struggle for Artsakh’s complete and the restoration of the rights of the people is not over yet.