Australian Political Leaders Call Out Azerbaijani Aggression In Armenian Independence Day Video Messages

By ANC-AU | Tuesday, 21 September 2021

CANBERRA: A high-profile group of Federal Australian parliamentarians have joined the Armenian-Australian community in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Republic of Armenia, with many also addressing the ongoing threats and invasion faced by the country, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

A Government Minister and Shadow (Opposition) Minister were among the members of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group/Caucus) to deliver video messages, once again helping raise concerns for Armenia’s security and sovereignty in light of the attacks orchestrated by Azerbaijan, approximately one year after Baku launched 44 days of war crimes that led to the occupation of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).

Australia’s Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities & the Arts, Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, was proud to join his Bradfield Armenian-Australian constituents in marking the occasion.

“I’m proud to represent a community with a number of significant Armenian Australians and I’m very pleased to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Armenia … the second time Armenia was established as an independent nation,” Minister Fletcher said.

“As last year’s events in Nagorno Karabakh remind us, sadly the security of Armenia is an issue which needs continuing vigilance, and one of the ways we can maintain the awareness of the risks and consciousness of what needs to be protected in the global community is to never forget the Armenian genocide,” he added.

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Senate, Hon. Kristina Keneally joined with her congratulations.

“It has been 30 years since the Armenian people emphatically and almost unanimously, declared their independence in the referendum of 1991, that vote marked the second declaration of independence by the Republic of Armenia – a fact that serves to remind us of the many struggles that have threatened the nation, and the strong will of the Armenian people to overcome,” Senator Keneally said.

“While we cannot celebrate this occasion as we normally would, we do take the time to celebrate the strength, the determination of a people who’ve overcome the horrors of genocide and occupation to forge a modern nation.”

“Today in particular, my thoughts are with the families and friends of those who’ve been impacted by this pandemic, and of course the ongoing violence in the region,” she added.

The Chair and Vice-Chair of the coordinating Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union, Trent Zimmerman MP and Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, also added their strong support.

Zimmerman said: “The Armenian people for so many centuries have faced internally and from outside. For so long they were under the yolk of foreign occupation. They are a people who have had to endure the horrors of the Armenian genocide, and of course more recently we’ve seen foreign aggression again come from across the border from Azerbaijan.

“But yet, what I know and what I’ve seen, is that Armenians are such an incredibly resilient people, which is why independence after all those centuries after the yolk of soviet domination became possible 30 years ago,” the Member for North Sydney added.

Fitzgibbon, who is Australia’s former Defence Minister, said: “It's amazing that strong people grow out of adversity, and people of Armenian heritage have certainly known something about that.”

“The events of 1915 – a terrible genocide, the period under the control of the former Soviet Union and ... more recently the conflict with Azerbaijan,” the Member for Hunter added.

The Member of Australia’s largest Armenian-populated Federal electorate of Bennelong, John Alexander MP similarly acknowledged the momentous occasion, joining several of his parliamentary colleagues in highlighting the presently unfolding situation on the borders.

Alexander, one of the inaugural members of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network who made history becoming the first federal parliamentarian to visit the Republic of Artsakh, reaffirmed his solidarity with both the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.

“The Armenians survived the 1915 genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, so know too well what it is to suffer but also to endure and thrive. The Republic’s internationally recognised borders continue to experience attacks from its Azerbaijani neighbour, approximately one year after they occupied the Republic of Artsakh.

Alexander added: “I have visited the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh… they are wonderful and proud countries. I call upon Azerbaijan to withdraw from Artsakh and stop their aggression.”

Tim Wilson MP is the only Federal Australian parliamentarian of Armenian heritage, and the Member for Goldstein recalled his 2019 visit to Armenia as part of an ANC-AU delegation in his message.

“Armenia has an enormous amount of history, for which it can be proud, and which I am proud of, as one of the Australians with Armenian heritage,” Wilson said.

“They should celebrate their history on their national day because it’s part of the continuing story, and no doubt Armenia continues to face it’s challenges particularly on its border with Azerbaijan, but it’s important to always take stock and recognise everything that has been achieved.”

“The pathway for peace, prosperity and securing its interests is based on making sure it acknowledges the principles that unite the people of Armenia as a strong and proud nation,” Wilson added.

Member for Berowra Julian Leeser MP added his “Happy Birthday” message to Armenian-Australians.

“I think that the Armenian cause is just and although I don’t have an Armenian community to speak of in my electorate, I’ve been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Armenians on issues like the recognition and calling out of the 1915 genocide, and also condemning Azerbaijan over the situation in Nagorno Karabakh,” Leeser said.

“This is an occasion for celebration of the contribution of Armenian Australians to this country and of the Armenian people to the world more broadly – let me say to you again, a very happy anniversary on this wonderful occasion.”

Member for Mackellar Jason Falinksi MP, Senators Andrew Bragg and Eric Abetz were also full of praise in their congratulations to Armenia on its 30th anniversary.

Falinski said: “The people of Armenia have been through so much in the last 12 months due to the aggression of some of their neighbours … something that most other nations would crumble under, but for Armenia, it is something they know they will get through...because they have got through so much in the past.”

“It is a great honour to be given the chance to wish you a happy birthday. I hope that this year brings Armenia and all its people all that they can hope for,” Falinski added.

Senator Bragg said: “Being independent means you can control your destiny, and that is a wonderful thing to be sharing in common with the people of Armenia, who’ve enriched the public life of Australia … of course I’m thinking particularly of the Premier of our state Gladys Berejiklian and former Treasurer of Australia, Joe Hockey.”

Senator Abetz, who heads the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Australian Parliament, said: “Today, following 30 years of independence, the threats continue against the Armenian people and their homeland. Following last year’s attacks against the Republic of Artsakh by Azerbaijan and Turkey, the internationally recognised borders of Armenia remain insecure to the invading aggression and expansionist ideals of Azerbaijan.

“Yet despite (this) … you continue to practice and preserve your culture, speak your language and uphold your ancient traditions on your indigenous lands,” he added.

ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian thanked the members of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union for joining Armenian-Australians in celebrating 30 years of independence for Armenia at what are difficult times.

“Armenia needed a second independence day in 1991 because its first declaration in 1918 was not allowed to continue in the face of expansionist forces, despite rising from the ashes of genocide only three years before,” said Kayserian.

“Due to the invasion and occupation of the Republic of Artsakh last year, which has graduated into attacks by the country’s enemies into the Republic of Armenia this year, every member of our community now shares lived experience through the dangers facing the preservation of our ancestral homeland. This is why on this 21st September, we are proud to stand with our Australian elected leaders congratulating Armenia’s independence.

“We pledge to preserve the future existence of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, as to the Armenian National Committee of Australia and our constituent community, the Armenian motherland is non-negotiable,” Kayserian added.