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.
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.