Today we mark the 29th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused immense suffering for humanity everywhere, the occasion is being observed under difficult circumstances.

On September 21, 1991, in an exuberant environment and with great hopes and expectations for a better future, the citizens of Armenia voted “Yes” on a referendum of independence from the Soviet Union, laying the groundwork for the Third Republic.

The past three decades have been full of ups and downs, unfulfilled expectations and disappointments have overshadowed many aspects of people’s lives in Armenia.

Victories were also recorded and we witnessed successes that continue to inspire hope that our Homeland is on the right track and that the attention of Armenians globally continues to be focused in the direction of Mount Ararat.

From the very first day, the work of building the foundations of an independent state faced internal and external difficulties and challenges.

The wounds of the earthquake had not yet healed and the Artsakh war was imposed on us, which at the cost of thousands of victims, ended with the glorious victory of the Armenian freedom fighters and the consolidation of the Artsakh Armenians’ right to self-determination. This was the greatest achievement of the years of independence, when for the first time in decades, our people were able to reclaim and expand part of our historic and ancestral Homeland.

In parallel with the war, the blockade of Armenia was exerted and the country went through a dark and cold chapter, forcing many to emigrate from their Homeland.

At the same time, a poorly planned and misguided policy of privatization began to be implemented, which wiped out most of the country’s wealth, transferring it into the hands of a few well-connected individuals, leaving a massive number of the common citizenry in poverty.

This was followed by the emergence of a criminal and oligarchic system of governance that held onto power for twenty long years, during which the democratic gains of the first years of independence were decimated and autocratic rule was established.

Those years were the most difficult and financially detrimental to Armenia. Some people lost faith in their Homeland, but the reclaiming of their nation remained an ever-present goal for many.

In April-May 2018, the Armenian people finally achieved their long-awaited objective by taking to the streets of the capital city of Yerevan in droves of hundreds of thousands, overthrowing the former corrupt regime, and establishing a new government through fair and free elections. The victory of the Velvet Revolution opened a new page for an independent Armenia and once again things began to move in the right direction.

Democracy and freedoms were re-established, the fight against corruption and monopolies started to bear fruits, emigration slowed down and optimism and hope took hold in the hearts and minds of the Armenian people.

In the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread all over the world affecting even the most robust and richest countries, which became powerless in fighting the spread of the virus and its consequences. Armenia was not spared from this global crisis, facing new challenges with its health and economic components.

On the eve of the anniversary of Armenia’s independence, we hope that the virus will be defeated soon, allowing us to return to our normal lives so that our people will once again return to a path of progress and prosperity.

We hope that next year, we will be able to gather in the heart of Yerevan to joyfully celebrate the 30th anniversary of our nation’s independence.

Happy Independence Day you all.

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