ARMENIA'S PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES KARABAKH ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

YEREVAN, September 2. /ARKA/. Armenia's President Serge Sargsian has
congratulated the Karabakhi people on the Independence Day of the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

In his letter of congratulation Sargsian said the past 17 years have
proved that the Karabakhi people made the only right choice that
time. The president called it "a historical, holy and irrefutable
choice".

Sargsian said September 2 is a holiday for Armenians and those who
fought for the independence of their motherland. He assured the
Karabakhi people that Armenia and Armenians will help them overcome
all the difficulties and meet further challenges.

On September 2, the Regional Councils of Nagorno-Karabakh and Shahumyan
adopted the Declaration on the Nagorno-Karabakh Repulbic.

The Karabakh conflict broke out in 1988 when Artsakh, mainly populated
by Armenians, declared its independence from Azerbaijan.

On December 10, 1991, a few days after the collapse of the Soviet
Union, a referendum took place in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the majority
of the population (99.89%) voted for independence from Azerbaijan.

Afterwards, large-scale military operations began, as a result of
which Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven
regions adjacent to it.

On May 12, 1994 after the signing of the Bishkek cease-fire agreement,
the military operations were stopped.

Since 1992, neg otiations over the peaceful settlement of the conflict
have been carried out within the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by the
USA, Russia and France.