On September 21, 1991 The people of Armenia reaffirmed their desire for an independent state. Over 90% of the Republics population enthusiastically said “yes” to the independence referendum opening a new chapter in the long and turbulent history of our nation.
Over the past three decades, the independent Armenian state has achieved many successes and has had its share of failures, on the road to building a statehood. The greatest achievement was the formation of the Armenian National Army and the liberation of part of our historical lands in Artsakh, where we had our second independent republic of Artsakh and where a segment of our people live and thrive.
After short lived hopeful steps in freedom and democracy, our country fell into the clutches of rigged elections and political assassinations. The misuse of the privatization process and mistakes in its implementation led to the transfer of wealth to the privileged few, while the majority of the citizens of the Republic fell into poverty. Economic inequality and unemployment became widespread, which in turn, led to hundreds of thousands of people emigrating to Russia and western countries, seeking better lives for themselves and their families. Subsequently, Armenia started facing a demographic national disaster.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of our people clung onto their homeland, not losing faith in the noble ideals of independence and the future of their country. They fought against the corruption with a long-running struggle of protests and marches that came to fruition in April and May of 2018, when proud citizens of Armenia achieved a new triumph by overthrowing the former government, through a peaceful revolution.
Over the past two years, the Independence day celebrations have been reevaluated and have become more meaningful. Today, we are celebrating the 28th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and remembering the long journey we have been on, with its positive and negative aspects, hoping that past failures are behind us and the Homeland is on a new path to democracy, freedom, economic development and prosperity.
For Armenians in Los Angeles, this year’s Independence Day has turned into a dual celebration. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the leader of the Velvet Revolution, will make his first visit to the largest Armenian community in the Diaspora. His presence will be historic along with the message that he will deliver to the community. In past decades, Armenia and the Diaspora have never been as close to each other as than they are today. The anxieties of the past have been replaced by optimism. There is enthusiasm everywhere and a willingness to communicate with the Homeland and contribute to its economic growth.
Since the Revolution, the positive changes taking place in Armenia are evident in all spheres of life: Social, economic, foreign policy, strengthening of the armed forces, transparent governance, abolition of monopolies, fighting corruption, as well as the slowing down emigration. All these changes have been achieved in a very short period of time, in spite of all the gloomy forecasts.
Prime Minister Pashinyan’s long-awaited visit to our community will foster better relations with the Homeland and will bring us closer together. The Prime Minister’s approval rating is not only high with the people of Armenia, but also in the Diaspora, particularly in Los Angeles.
On Sunday, September 22nd, tens of thousands of Armenians will join federal, state, county and city officials at Grand Park in the heart of Los Angeles, to celebrate the 28th anniversary of Armenia’s independence, welcoming Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in his historic visit to the City of Angels.
Happy Independence Day and welcome Prime Minister to our city and community.