What These Two Anniversaries Tell Us (On Artsakh’s and Armenia’s Independence Days)

Posted on September. 17. 2023

By Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian

The month of September is the celebration of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. Artsakh declared its independence on September 2, 1991, Armenia on September 21, 1991.
The 32nd anniversary of our two Republics may not be a long period in the history of our nation, but it is a testimony of our people’s determination to march onward. Considering the challenges that our two Republics have faced since their inception, the fact that they survived all the odds against them is in itself a sufficient cause for celebration and thanksgiving.
After the devastating earthquake in 1988, Armenia was hardly prepared for the moment of destiny when it declared its independence. Looking back over those past years, one cannot but notice that our compatriots in Artsakh and Armenia have demonstrated a quality over which the harsh circumstances of life have no power. They have been threatened by Turkish-Azeri attacks and economic blockade, but have risen to meet this grave crisis. They have lived through days of challenge and through hours of testing in the face of harsh winters and famine. They have experienced disappointments, but they did not surrender their spirit.
The 44-day war, in 2020, however, has affected our nation. The past three years have been an extraordinary painful and precarious time. Through deliberate harassment, Azerbaijan aims to derail its negotiations with Armenia, disregards implementing the November 9, 2020 tripartite agreements and through political pressure and violence tries to impose its own terms. Time and again, it has violated the sovereignty and security of Armenia and Artsakh. And since December 6, 2022, it has blockaded the 120,000 population of Artsakh, with the closure of Berdzor Corridor (Lachin Corridor). Depriving the people of Artsakh of food supplies, medicine and other basic necessities, and the right to move freely are tantamount to a genocidal act against the Armenian population living on a territory of its millennial homeland.
Sooner or later, and (we hope sooner), the international community will take practical steps to put an end to the blockade and recognize the right of Artsakh Armenians to self-determination.
Freedom is everyone’s desire. It has always been and will always be one of the deepest longings of human heart. God placed it there and no one has the right to take it away.
For the past 32 years, the people of Artsakh have been free. They want to remain free. They want to be themselves ─ to live their own lives, to think their own thoughts, to seek their own answers, and to decide their own destiny. They don’t want Azerbaijan to decide their destiny.
Their strong will and determination is admirable. We salute the heroic people of Artsakh! Their courage, inner strength and resilience have been an inspiration to us.
On the anniversary of Artsakh and Armenia, as Diasporan Armenians, we congratulate our twin Republics, and pledge our support for their sovereignty, territorial integrity and security. We continue to stand in solidarity with them.

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