His Excellence Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan's speech on Artsakh Independence Day

“…and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:4-5)

Today, we are all united by the memory and reappraisal of the day of Artsakh independence. 30 years before this day Artsakh is threw off the decade-long fetters and the desire for freedom, suppressed deep in their hearts ripened and burst out to a decent ending – Artsakh independence.

The news of independence rang from the mountains of Artsakh to every hamlet of Armenia and the diaspora. Independence is not only proclamation or constitution, both necessary, but firstly it is the dignity to decent work and independent life both as a nation and as an individual.

Our people have chosen a decent way of life, acknowledged the high price to be paid for it and paid it. We faced heavy challenges to free Artsakh and to call the proclamation of independence to life.

All of us, no doubt, have weird feelings after the war: do we have to commemorate the holidays or victory the fruits of which are lost. Human reasoning opposes it and finds no occasion for celebration, but spiritual reasoning prompts another thing. This reasoning guided us 2000 years ago to Christ and therefore to eternity. “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body, they cannot touch your soul” Matthew 10:26. These words gave life to our nation.

No matter how our bodies were tortured, our souls remained alive. Thus, no matter how hard and deprived, we must never forget the glorious past that consequently led to victory. They should never lose their significance and power for us.

Our pain should lead us to unity and integration. We face huge challenges, whatever these may be, their pain and the fruit they produce is a part of us. All aspects of our country, be them appealing or not, equally belong to us.

This important memory may lead us to rethink, draw lessons and make up for the past and move forward to empowerment. Today we must forget our ego, join in the Eucharist and direct our prayers and efforts to build our country – it is not lost yet. God has left this remnant to stand firmly on it and advance.

We are surrounded with dark clouds, Artsakh conflict has not been completely resolved yet: many Armenians are still in captivity, our economic, creative and industrial capacity has dropped again, there is nothing in reality that we would like to see. Anyway we must do our best to change situation. God will not send angels from heaven to improve our lives. We are God’s agents on this earth to work, to labour, lest our children tell us "Our parents, engaged in trivial hassle, rose against one another and put to stake our freedom and independence."

This Independence Day makes it obvious that the secret power leading to final victory of Artsakh just cause is our unity. It is high time we understood that we are not isolated, made up of Armenian Armenian, Artsakh Armenian and Diaspore Armenian. We are one nation, wherever we are, and the final and best end of Artsakh independence is reunification with Armenia.

"The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church" is to guide our life and set our duties. Today our fallen command us to respect their blood and death by our lives. This should be a driving force for every of us. We should rise above our ego and serve it to our land, our Motherland and our Church. Neither money, nor weapon will save us without our devotion to the land and faith.

Therefore, we call on all Armenians to support the people of Artsakh with unity, unconditional and integral support to courageous people of Artsakh, their brothers and sisters, to visit them, invest in Artsakh and be committed to their prosperity and capacity building.

Most importantly, we call on Artsakh people to remain steadfast and firm in their Christian faith, faithful to the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church, and to cherish their bond to the holy land of their ancestors.

We call on the sons and daughters of Artsakh, who were forced to leave their homes and farms, to return to Artsakh and to become the master of your country. The more populated is Artsakh, the more cultivated is its soil and powerful its economy, spiritual, educational, and cultural life, the stronger will become our will for freedom – the heart of Artsakh's struggle for freedom.

Yes, there are huge challenges and hardships, but we have no other choice․ The only path is to face these challenges with work and devotion aspiring for a brighter future.

Apostle Paul says: “And endurance develops strength of character, character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (Romans 5, 4:5)

Let HOPE be the light of our life to burn with FAITH and radiate LOVE.