Statement by Senator Barack Obama on Armenian Independence Day

Sen. Barack Obama’s Office
Contact: Obama Press Office; (312) 819-2423

September 21, 2008

Statement by Senator Barack Obama on Armenian Independence Day

On this day, September 21, Armenians and friends of Armenia everywhere
celebrate the independence of the Republic of Armenia, and I extend my
warmest and best wishes on this happy occasion. Throughout their long
history, a spirit of independence, self-reliance, and survival defines
the Armenian people. After centuries of living in the Persian, Russian,
and Turkish empires, Armenians first achieved their modern independence
in 1918 and regained it after 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991. Their
struggle continues, but in the years of renewed independence they have
been able to guide their own destiny through years of war and economic
dislocation. Even in the face of genocide, the pain of the past has
not defeated the Armenians, either in Armenia or the far-flung diaspora.

America has benefited tremendously from the vigor and talents of the
Armenian people. Armenian-Americans have made enormous contributions to
American life – to our arts and academia, to business, science, and
politics – while still maintaining strong ties to their ancestral home.

Recent events in the Caucasus region remind us of both the importance of
rededicating ourselves to peace, and the possibility of progress even
where there is a long history of alienation. The conflict in Georgia
shows the danger that lurks when rising tensions are ignored and the
United States pursues a diplomatic strategy of neglect. But in recent
days we have also seen the hopeful step – taken by the Presidents of
Turkey and Armenia — to restart dialogue that could, in time, bring a
welcome normalization of relations and offer Armenia more diversified
opportunities for trade, transport, and energy supplies. American
policy must build on this step, to ensure that Armenia enjoys a future
not merely of independence but of partnership and cooperation with the
U.S. and its allies.


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