May 28: the Day of Armenian First Republic
On May 28 Armenia celebrates the day of the first Republic. On May 28, 1918 Armenian National Council declared about the independence of the Republic of Armenia.
The day of Republichas officially started to be celebrated since 1992. It is the symbol of the revival of the Armenia statehood. On this day Armenia’s high level officials, representatives of political forces and others visit Sardarapat.
To refer to history it is to be stated that having a victory over the Turkish army in Sardarapat the Armenian forces managed to prevent their invasion to Transcaucasia and to save Armenia from complete destruction. On May 28, 1918 after the collapse of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic the formation of the Republic of Armenia was declared by the “Armenian National Council.”
The Republic of Armenia only had two years of life until December 2 of 1920. After the forces of the Red Army entered Armenia the republic became a member of the Soviet Union.
According to the RA Law on the RA Holidays and Memorial Days adopted on February 21, 1996, May 28 is celebrated as a holiday of the first Republic.
In 1917 in Russia an October revolution took place after which Russian forces started to leave ranscaucasia quickly. Taking advantage of it the Seim of Transcaucasia declared about its decision to separate from Russia. Under those circumstances the Turks taking the opportunity restarted their attack in May aiming to invade Yerevan and Tbilisi. During that critical time Aram Manukyan, Dro, commanders Thomas Nazarbekyan, Movses Silikyan and others formed Armenian voluntary and regular units to prevent Turkey’s progress.
On May 21-28, 1918 in the battles that took place near Gharakilisa, Bash-Aparan and Sardarapat the Armenian forces managed to stop, then in Bash-Aparan and Sardarapat to give final blow to the Turkish regular army. On those very days on May 26 the Seim of Transcaucasia declared about its dissolution. Azerbaijan and Georgia declared about their independence. On May 28, 1918 Armenian National Council declared about Armenia’s independence.
In the statement released during those days it is particularly stated:
“Under the new circumstances after final collapse of Transcaucasia and declaration of independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Armenian National Board declared itself the only and supreme power on the Armenian provinces. By some weighty reasons the National Council temporarily takes all the functions of the government to rule on the Armenian provinces.”
The statement became the declaration of independence of Armenia.
On June 4, 1918 the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation agreement was signed according to which the provinces of Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, Alexandropol, Daralagyaz, Kazakh, Borchalu and New Bayzet were declared parts of Armenia. The newly independent Armenia according to that agreement was formed on the territory comprising 11 thousand square kilometers. On the basis of the Armenian National Council the first parliament was established. On August 1, 1918 ceremonial opening of the Armenian parliament took place in the Yerevan city hall and the Armenian three color flag was raised in front of the building. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Presidium was elected Avetiq Sahakyan (Father Abrahham). Hovhannes Kajaznuni was appointed as the Prime Minister.
If the Armenian First Republic did not exist neither the second nor the third republics of Armenia would have existed. On this territory for 900 years Armenia did not have a statehood. 900 years later the restoration of the statehood had a huge importance for the Armenian people. And it was the very First Armenian Republic that laid the foundations of the Armenians state thinking, preservation of identity and nation-building. Perhaps like other ancient nations the Armenians would have disappeared, but on May 28 our fate was changed and we were presented an opportunity to grow up in our own country and to form our own statehood…