September 21, YEREVAN. Happy Independence Day, Armenia! 25 years of sovereignty, freedom and liberation!
Instead of 25 candles, we prepared 25 significant facts and events that occurred in Armenia throughout the last 25 years of independence. There were both successful and troublesome moments through these years, and we tried to include the ones that affected Armenia and Armenians on a larger scale.
1. 25 years ago, on September 21, 1991, the majority of Armenian population (94,39%) voted “YES” on the referendum for leaving USSR and having an independent country. Later on September 23, 1991, the Supreme Council declared Armenia an independent country.
© Newspaper- Evening Yerevan
2. The Republic of Armenia had a presidential system. The first elections for the first president were held on October 16, 1991, and Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected with the majority of votes.
3. Along with the independence of Armenia, another major institution was founded: the American University of Armenia. It became a reality thanks to the steadfast support of the Armenian and United States’ governments and two major institutions in the United States: the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the University of California (UC). The vision of an American graduate university in Armenia soon became a goal to which other academics in America and Armenia lent their support. Today, the university marks its 25th year of foundation with more than 3000 graduates and offering both graduate and undergraduate programs.
4. March 2, 1992 is a remarkable date for the country. It became a full member of the United Nations on this day. This was a big step forward for Armenia as an independent country followed by joining other international organisations as well, and acting as an independent player in international relations.
© UN Armenia
5. As a sovereign and democratic country, Armenia needed a constitution, which was adopted on July 5, 1995. Although it was adopted for two times later, the 5th of July is celebrated as the Day of Constitution in Armenia.
“The Armenian People,
Recognizing as a basis the fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia,
Having fulfilled the sacred message of its freedom-loving ancestors for the restoration of the sovereign state,
Committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the fatherland.
In order to ensure the freedom, general well being and civic harmony of future generations,
Declaring their faithfulness to universal values,
Hereby adopts the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia.”
6. Besides the efforts to build a strong country, a horrible event happened a month after the celebration of 8th anniversary of independence, on 1999. The 27th of October is marked black in calendar for Armenians because of terrorist attack on the Armenian National Assembly. A group of armed men entered the parliament building and opened fire on the Prime Minister, Vazgen Sargsyan, National Assembly Speaker, Karen Demirchyan, and other members of parliament.
© Aravot Daily
7. On January 5, 2001, Armenia took a significant step forward leaving troubles behinds its back. It joined the Council of Europe bringing the country to a larger scale in terms of international affairs.
8. After joining the Council of Europe, the need for constitutional reforms arose. Therefore, after several adjustments and proposals, a referendum was held on November 27, 2005 for the first constitutional reforms. With the majority of votes the bill passed.
9. Although it was the first day of spring, March 1 was marked as a black day of terror in 2008. After the results of presidential elections that year, people went out to the Freedom Square of Yerevan, to show their disapproval. Later on, the protest turned into violent clashes between the protesting crowd and the police, leaving more than 10 people dead and many others injured.
10. After several environmental protests in 2011-2012 (for Mashtots’ park, Trchkan waterfall, etc.) the civic spirit arose among the youth and in 2013 they stood against the change of transportation price from 100 AMD to 150 AMD. People remember it as the “100 dram” protest, which was successful in keeping the price 100 AMD.
11. 2013 was a remarkable year for the country and its economic and political future. With the prompt and crucial decision of president Serj Sargsyan, Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union on September 3rd.
12. In August 2014, the UWC Dilijan college started accepting students from Armenia and abroad, making Armenia a destination for education. The mission of world-known UWC is based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding, that would help the students act as champions of peace.
13. Electric Yerevan, June 2015, will be remembered as the largest sit-in protest against price hikes, this time for electricity. Thousands of people moved from Freedom Square to Baghramyan avenue, blocking it with sit-in protests. The number of protestants increased after the police’s use of water cannons against them. After all, the protest turned out to be successful at some point with the decision to subside the extra cost of electricity for a year.
14. Right after the occasions of Electric Yerevan another wave of complaints arose against the proposal of constitutional reforms to change the presidential elections into parliamentary. This wave had its call, to “Say No!” Many social activists claimed the reforms to be unnecessary. However, this movement did not succeed, and, because of the referendum held on December 6, 2015, the bill passed.
15. The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was commemorated on April 24, 2015. The slogan for the campaign was “I remember and demand.” Many initiatives were dedicated to this in 2015, one of which was the “100 lives” project by IDeA foundation, which collected stories of Genocide survivors and those who helped them, uncovering true stories and showing gratitude to them.
In the scope of commemoration many popular people visited Armenia, including Serj Tankian, who gave a free concert with his band System Of A Down, and Kim Kardashian with her husband Kanye West, who gave a concert near Swan Lake.
16. The April and the following months were the darkest months for Armenians in 2016. Because of regular violations of ceasefire along the borders of NKR and Azerbaijan, many young soldiers and officers from both sides were killed. Armenians got united immediately supporting soldiers with food and other materials. The borders have not stopped being on continuous fire after ceasefire.
17. “Even in the darkest hours of human history, there are glimmers of light,” says the slogan of the “100 lives” project of IDeA foundation, which was implemented in 2016 as well. This time it was held in the scope of Aurora Prize award for Awakening Humanity. It aimed to show the gratitude of Armenians towards their saviors by granting the award to an individual, whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human lives and advancing humanitarian causes. The project aims to take an annual manner.
18. Year 2016 continued to be tense for Armenia in summer. Armenian opposition group named “Sasna Tsrer” took hostages in the Yerevan police building in July demanding the resignation of the president and freedom of political prisoners. People went out to Khorenatsi street to support the claims of the group. The number of people on streets increased after clashes with the police as in the case of Electric Yerevan. This protest was significant, with a number of journalists and civilians injured, and two policemen killed.
19. After tense times that Armenia experienced, the victories of Armenia in Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016, spread a light on dark days. This was the nation’s sixth consecutive appearance at the Summer Olympics in the post-Soviet era. Armenia won one gold and three silver medals. The gold medal winner was Artur Aleksanyan.
20. In 2010 the flagship element of the Tatev Revival Project was inaugurated. The Wings of Tatev aerial tramway, being the longest in the world, over 5,000 metres (18,000 feet), became a destination for tourists.
21. TUMO Center for Creative Technologies was launched in Yerevan in 2011 by Sam and Sylva Simonian and their team.Tumo offers after-school activities for adolescents, focussing on web programming and animation, as well as games and digital media. It is also holding workshops in other areas that call for creativity and collaboration. TUMO has quickly turned into a hotspot for the next generation of Armenian whiz kids. Tumo developed and enlarged its scale reaching Gyumri and Stepanakert as well.
22. The North-South Road Corridor Investment Program includes Agarak-Kapan-Yerevan-Gyumri-Bavra highways and road infrastructures. The expected results of the project are efficient, safe and sustainable transport networks. It is a 556 km long highway with implementation period of ten years, 2009-2019. The program is funded by the Asian Development Bank.
23. His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Armenia in June was another light spot for Armenians in hard times of 2016. He visited Gyumri and delivered a Ecumenical Peace Prayer and a ritual at the Republic Square.
© The New Indian Express
24.The Cascades complex in downtown Yerevan was renovated by the Cafesjian Family Foundation, transforming the area into a well-maintained public space, while additionally carrying out the construction work within the cascading steps that had lain dormant since Soviet times. The Cafesjian Center for the Arts, which opened in 2009, is currently housed within the steps and in the open air, sharing works of modern art with locals and tourists in Yerevan.
25. On November 26, 2014, Armenian traditional bread Lavash got included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as an expression of culture in Armenia.
© Yerkir Media