U.S. President Barack Obama marked the 18th anniversary of Armenia’s declaration of independence late Tuesday with a special statement and a congratulatory message to his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian.
“The people of the United States join the people of Armenia in celebrating Armenia’s day of independence today,” Obama said in a statement posted on the White House website. “We deeply value the many cultural and historic ties that bind our two countries.”
“The United States gains strength as a nation from the contributions of so many Americans of Armenian ancestry. We congratulate the people of Armenia on their national day,” he added.
According to Sarkisian’s office, Obama also extended such congratulations in a separate letter to the Armenian president. The holiday is dedicated to the September 21, 1991 referendum in which the vast majority of Armenians voted for secession from the disintegrating Soviet Union. The then Soviet republic formally declared independence two days later.
Obama similarly congratulated Armenians on the occasion and hailed their “spirit of independence, self-reliance, and survival” one year ago, when he was still a presidential candidate. “Even in the face of genocide, the pain of the past has not defeated the Armenians, either in Armenia or the far-flung diaspora,” he said in a September 2008 letter to Sarkisian.