25 Years on: Reclaiming Our True Independence

Twenty-five years ago, Armenia declared itself independent from Soviet rule, with over 99 percent of eligible voters saying “yes” to statehood. After 70 long years, Armenia was once again a free and independent nation.

'Because the fact remains that this is a two-way street; Armenia needs us—Diasporan Armenians—just as much as we need Armenia.' (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)
‘Because the fact remains that this is a two-way street; Armenia needs us—Diasporan Armenians—just as much as we need Armenia.’ (Photo: Araz Chiloyan)

Though most believed that prosperity and bliss would come about following Armenia’s second independence, the years immediately following 1991 would prove to be bleak and disappointing. Ongoing war with neighboring Azerbaijan; devastation following the earthquake of 1988; severe economic hardship; unchecked ownership and entrepreneurship; and an illegal blockade were just a few of the countless problems the newly formed republic faced.

The people of Armenia, who had been so optimistic at the ballot boxes, were soon losing faith in the system they had so courageously fought for and, for the first time, felt a sense of disenchantment toward the idea of independence.

Twenty-five years have since passed, and unfortunately not much has changed in Armenia’s geopolitical and socioeconomic situations—a permanent peace has not been established with Azerbaijan and Armenian servicemen continue to be killed on the Nagorno-Karabagh (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact; hyper-privatization has paved the way for the prosperity of only a few and a large portion of the population continues to live in poverty; Armenia remains a blockaded, land-locked country, that seems to be the victim of constant bullying by greater powers.

Though these are realities our country is faced with, they are realities we must do our best to change. And by feeling a sense of belonging to Armenia, we must actively do our best to bring about real change.

Because the fact remains that this is a two-way street; Armenia needs us—Diasporan Armenians—just as much as we need Armenia.

So it is our responsibility—the responsibility of all Armenians regardless of where we live—to engage with what is happening in this country, and actively try to be a part of its development and progress. It is the duty of all Armenians—both in the homeland and in the Diaspora—to keep faith in the idea of independence and to actively try to make Armenia a true and rightful democracy.

Only then can we expect real change. Only then can we reclaim our true independence.



Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the former editor of The Armenian Weekly. His writings primarily focus on politics, human rights, community, literature, and Armenian culture. He has reported from Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), Turkey, Canada, the United States, and Western Armenia. He has served on the local and national executives of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada and Hamazkayin Toronto, and served as the administrator of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Toronto. Janbazian also taught Armenian History and Creative Writing at the ARS Armenian Private School of Toronto, and has worked on several translations.

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  1. Why such a dark and menacing sky in the photo? Yes, there is much work to be done, but let’s try to emphasize the positive.

  2. Great article. To the extent possible, it is the responsibility of every Azkasser/hyrenesserr Armenian to help Armenia and Artsakh move above survival level and compete on all levels.
    The question is where on earth there is 100 % true and real democracy. Never too late to start the process but while there are many do gooding organizations, where are the long term and far sighted leaders who will be able to reverse damage done and redirect the country?

  3. Thank you for covering the deplorable situation in Armenia. There is very little to rejoice on Armenia’s 25 years of independence. We have a country that has performed miserably in every sense. The poverty level is at 35%, the population struggles on daily basis to put bread on the table, corruption is rampant, socio-economic problems exist on every level, the country is bleeding of its population and the citizens have lost faith. In all this misery, a very few privileged oligarchs live a lavish life. Armenia’s independence will only be rejoiced by those few, while the majority wander what has happened to their beloved country and their lives. In short, the general population has nothing to celebrate and rejoice on this day of Armenians’ independence.

  4. The education of the young generation in Armenia is the only hope. Hopefully they can one day soon replace the old stale corrupt leaders of Armenia. (Corruption is everywhere btw, growing even here in the good old US) The Diaspora will always support Armenia, even though our numbers dwindle with the passing generations through slow assimilation.

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