YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia on Monday celebrated the 20th anniversary of adopting a declaration of independence that marked the beginning of its formal secession from the crumbling Soviet Union.
The declaration passed on August 23, 1990 by the Supreme Council of Armenia, the then Soviet republic’s first post-Communist legislature, declared Armenia’s desire to seek an independent statehood and followed similar declarations passed by the legislatures of the Soviet Baltic republics of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
It took another 13 months for the Armenians to complete the process of their independence from Moscow in a formal referendum in September 1991 that was held amid so-called “independence parades” by other Soviet republics. The Soviet Union ceased to exist at the end of that year and sovereignty and independence of its former 15 republics, including Armenia, were recognized by the international community shortly.
In his congratulatory message, President Serge Sargisian described August 23, 1990 as “one of the milestone episodes of our modern history” and said it signified “the point in time when the dreams of the people of Armenia and the entire Armenian nation began to turn into reality, a moment that symbolized our centuries-long yearning
“The past two decades have made it clear that the adoption of the declaration was timely and appropriate, that the objectives and ideas enshrined in the declaration are viable and continue to be called to life through the joint efforts of all segments of the Armenian nation,” Sargisian said. “It was not easy to turn our intents into reality; nevertheless, we have remained true to our principles and values. We did not succumb to hardships and did not diverge from the road toward political freedom and responsibility to master our own destiny.”
Aram Manukian, the youngest of Supreme Council members back in 1990 who read out the text of the Declaration, also describes it as “the best document in the history of our people” and remembers that day as “an hour of triumph.” “Nations live through such moments vary rarely. I am proud to have been part of it and feel great responsibility,” Manukian said.