Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, Minister of Defence, visits Iraq
"The morale and psychological atmosphere is excellent and our guys are ready to continue their mission. They realize that by participating in the multi-national coalition force they represent their country and its armed forces."
Armenia, a small, landlocked country in the southern Caucacus region is bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. It just celebrated its 15th anniversary as a free Republic, after being part of the occupied block of the Soviet Union. Armenia has a population of 3.2 million and is officially a Christian country, governed by a parliamentary system.
Excerpts from the Armenian Embassy site:
Underlying the very nature of US-Armenian relations was Armenia's unconditional support for the United States in its campaign against the international terrorism on the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Immediately upon the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom the Armenian Government granted blanket clearance to fly over Armenia's territory, as well as refueling and landing for coalition aircraft. medical treatment was offered for US troops in Armenia's hospitals... The Armenia government provided expert and legal assistance to relevant US agencies and shared information. (This information proved to be relevant and important.)
In the period from September 2001 the US-led coalition aircraft performed more than 600 flights over Armenia, sparing the dangerous task of refueling in mid-air on the return from Afghanistan. "The airplanes were coming out of Turkey and dropping all the foodstuffs to different groups of Afghan people."
The reaction of the people of Armenia to the tragedy of September 11 was great. From churches and NGO's, from the legislature and political groups came a unanimous condemnation of the perpetrators and expression of solidarity with the American people. About 360 Armenian nationals volunteered to fight against the Taliban regime immediately following the attack. The small town of Ararat unveiled a moving memorial to the victims of the September 11 tragedy.
Today, Armenian soldiers are fighting side-by-side with the US in Iraq. They serve in many capacities, including truck drivers, medics and sappers. In November, Lt. Gevorg Nalbandian was wounded while returning from a mission to defuse mines in the town of Al Kut in Wasit province. He lost his foot in this attack. We will be keeping him in our prayers as this hero heals.
Like so many newly free countries, Armenia has a strong belief in freedom an justice. Armenia was subjected to a great Holocaust by the Ottoman empire at a cost of over 1 million lives. These are people who are willing to stand up against terrorism.
I am proud to call the Armenians allies and I thank them for their dedication to the cause of freedom. We could learn much from them and their dedication to freedom and justice.
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