Armenia Celebrates 22nd Anniversary

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — On September 21, Armenians in Armenia as well as around the world, celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia. Messages poured in from leaders near and far.

President Serge Sargisian, for the occasion, signed decrees to confer high state awards, honorary titles and high military ranks on a group of representatives in the fields of science, education, health, economy, arts and culture.

He also issued a statement, in which he congratulated those who had received awards. “While the state itself is strong with persons like you, who through their work and service are providing a strong momentum to state structures and our society. Moreover, the state is the people and first of all, capable people. The more you can do in your areas, the stronger we will be as an entity and as a state. I congratulate you on receiving high state awards. Certainly, it is gratifying. However, this reality does not make your job easier: on the contrary, you are assuming a greater responsibility. You’ve become exemplary, worthy persons whose services to the state and people are significant.”

Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II in his statement said, “We extend greetings and blessings from the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin and congratulate all our people in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, on the joyous occasion of Armenian Independence Day. On this glorious day in 1991, we re-established an independent Armenian State. We solemnly celebrate this day, vanquishing the struggles and sacrifices of our generations in obtaining it. Placing faith in God, our people always hoped that the blessed daybreak would come, as a plight and pledge for its national awakening.”

From the US, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement. “On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I extend my warmest wishes to the people of Armenia as you celebrate your Independence Day on September 21. The United States and Armenia have a strong relationship based on historic ties and mutual respect. I am proud and grateful for the enduring friendship of many in the Armenian community. As someone who for three decades represented Massachusetts, which boasts one of the largest populations of Armenians outside of Armenia, I have special firsthand knowledge of the contributions that you have made to America’s culture, democracy and economic vitality.”

He continued, “Today our two countries are working together on a dynamic bilateral and regional agenda. Through forums such as the US-Armenia Economic Task Force, we look forward to further strengthening the economic and commercial bonds between our peoples. I wish all Armenians a joyful and prosperous Independence Day, with peace and happiness in the coming year.”

Close to Washington, DC, Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a proclamation recognizing September 21, 2013 as Armenian Independence Day in Maryland.

“I am very thankful that the Governor of our great state has issued this proclamation celebrating Armenia’s 22nd independence day,” stated Armenian Assembly Board Member Annie Totah. “Governor O’Malley has helped Maryland Armenians prosper and has worked tirelessly to make Maryland one of the top states in the country. It’s been a real pleasure for me working with him and his administration.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), in his statement said, “I’m so glad to join with the vibrant Armenian community that I represent and proudly say ‘Urakh Ankakhutyan Or’ (Happy Independence Day) as we celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia. The road to independence has not been easy, but time has proven that Armenians are survivors in the truest sense of the word, survivors of foreign domination, survivors of the first genocide of the 20th century.

“Armenian Americans continue to illustrate what a valuable asset they are to our society, breaking new grounds economically, socially and politically across the nation, and enriching our customs, traditions and the quality of life.

“Over the years I’ve been privileged to work hand in hand with many individuals in the Armenian community in a wide variety of issues that concern the community such as securing aid to Armenia and Artsakh, supporting self-determination for the people of Artsakh, ending the US Government’s tragic failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), co-chair and founder of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, made the following statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to commemorate the Anniversary of Independence for the Republic of Armenia: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 22nd anniversary of independence for the Republic of Armenia.

On September 21st, 1991 Armenia gained its independence from the Soviet Union and the Caucuses region saw new opportunities as well as new challenges. I am proud to say that the Republic of Armenia has taken on those opportunities and challenges with great success and is now an important democratic ally of the United States.  Eighteen years ago, I helped found the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and have served as a co-chair of the caucus since that time.  Together, our two countries continue to work towards developing greater economic ties including trade and investment and seek to build regional stability.  Here in Congress, the Armenia Caucus is working towards these ends.  I ask my colleagues in Congress to join me, along with the Armenian people and Armenian Americans across the country in celebrating 22 years of Armenian independence.”

In Tokyo, Japan, the Armenian Embassy organized an official reception at the Okura hotel on September 21, where more than 180 guests gathered, including members of the Japanese parliament, ministries, other state agencies and the diplomatic corps.

Armenian Ambassador to Japan Hrant Poghosyan spoke, underscoring that the Armenian government wants stronger and closer ties with Japan.

A congratulatory address was also delivered by a Japanese parliamentarian, Kazuyuki Hamada. He noted that Armenia has been an attractive country for the Japanese people because of its history, culture and tradition. The proof, he said, is the great number of Japanese tourists and businessmen who visit that country.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin congratulated his Armenian counterpart and all the citizens on the occasion. Putin praised Armenia’s successes in the socioeconomic, scientific and technological and cultural fields and pointed to the country’s growing standing in the international arena.

He also stressed that Russian-Armenian relations have risen to the level of an allied partnership and will continue to develop.

In addition, Putin expressed the conviction that with joint efforts Armenia and Russia will strengthen the bilateral ties and expand the cooperation, including in the context of Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union (CU).

This very same Customs Union brought a group of demonstrators to the streets of Yerevan, in protest of Armenia joining the Russian-led CU.

March organizers released a statement arguing that Sargisian does not speak for all Armenians and that Armenia should not join any outside union that threatens its sovereignty.

The marchers, from various political affiliations and stripes, assembled in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and then made their way down Northern Boulevard to Republic Square.

As the ranks of the marchers swelled, they took over one half of Amiryan Street.

A number of minor scuffles broke out between the marchers and police along the protest route.

(Stories from Panorama.am, Armenpress and Hetq were used to compile this report.)

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