15TH ANNIVERSARY OF ARMENIA'S INDEPENDENCE -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 21, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. FRANK PALLONE, JR. OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2006
* Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, today marks the 15th anniversary of Armenia's independence. I would like to congratulate the Armenian Government, its people and the entire extended Armenian community on this momentous occasion. Over the last 15 years, the Armenian people have made tremendous progress toward a modern, open and free democracy that should serve as an inspiration to other nations.
* Following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Armenia was among the first of the former Soviet republics to embrace the path of democratic change in pursuit of freedom and self-determination. However, the road to independence was not easy. Centuries of foreign domination, genocide against its people in the early 20th century and seven decades of totalitarian dictatorship did not discourage the Armenian people.
* Since its independence, Armenia has emerged as a viable, vibrant society playing an important role in stabilizing the South Caucasus region. Armenia continues to be a trusted partner of the United States in a strategically important area of the world, a regional leader in political and economic reform, and a nation committed to the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
* Armenia has joined the global war on terror by engaging in a strategic relationship with the United States and other coalition members. Armenia's armed forces also participated in NATO's stabilization force in Kosovo, in addition to maintaining and developing a robust program of individual partnership with the North Atlantic Alliance through its Euro-Atlantic Partnership framework.
* Armenia also has made tremendous progress in building up a free-market economy. It is one of only a handful of countries to have qualified for the Millennium Challenge Account, is a member of the World Trade Organization and has been granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations status by the United States.
* Mr. Speaker, Armenia has overcame a brutal legacy of Ottoman persecution, Soviet oppression, Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno Karabagh, and the ongoing dual blockades by Turkey and its allies in Baku in its path to independence. I urge my colleagues to join me in expressing congratulations to Armenia as well as extend my sincere support and encouragement to flourish as a strong democracy for years to come.