By Hrach Melkumian
Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian praised Armenia’s Armed Forces as the ultimate guarantors of his unrecognized republic’s independence on Friday while they celebrated the 13th anniversary of their official creation.
Ghukasian joined Armenian leaders in Yerevan to attend official ceremonies marking the Army’s Day, a public holiday in the country. Those included traditional visits to the Yerablur Military Cemetery where hundreds of young men killed during the 1991-194 war with Azerbaijan were laid to rest.
“Armenia’s army is the main guarantor of the Karabakh people’s statehood and security,” Ghukasian told reporters on the sidelines of a celebratory concert in Yerevan’s Opera House attended by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and the top army brass. “If we have any full-fledged state structures, that is surely the army. I am sure that our future depends on a strong army.”
“It so happened that in our region it is the army that has solved issues until now. God willing, this will stop to be the case,” he said.
The army’s role during the Karabakh war was also praised by President Robert Kocharian. “The Armenian Army was formed in the turmoil of war as a brilliant manifestation of national self-consciousness and dignity,” Kocharian said in a written address to the nation. “The Armed Forces of Armenia are the reliable defender of our country’s borders, the guarantors of a peace and secure existence of our people, as well as an important condition for our progress.”
A large group of army officers were decorated by Kocharian on the occasion.
The holiday marks a January 28, 1992 decree by then President Levon Ter-Petrosian that set up newly independent Armenia’s Defense Ministry and appointed the late Vazgen Sarkisian to manage it. Sarkisian’s name is closely associated with Armenian military victories in Karabakh.