Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are celebrating the anniversary of their independence in 1918. In the aftermath of World War I the three countries declared their independence from Russia which was at the time gripped in revolution and civil war. Georgia declared its independence on 26 May,and Armenia and Azerbaijan two days later. Both Armenian and Azerbaijani independence were declared in Tbilisi where leaders of the two nations were gathered.
The independence of the three countries was however shortlived. Although the three countries were recognised by the international community, gathered at the peace conference in Versailles, independence was followed by a period of chaos and confusion. Within a short time, the Red Army that had emerged victorious from Russia's own civil war, working with local communist sympathisers, entered the three countries and they were absorbed within the new Soviet state. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia eventually became three of the fifteen constituent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Statehood was restored when the USSR collapsed in 1991.
The three countries are celebrating the anniversary with military displays , cultural events and with speeches by their leaders.
photo: Georgia's declaration of independence on 26 May 1918.
The co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Process dealing with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict issued a statement on Monday afternoon (23 April) calling on the sides in the conflict to take iommediate steps to reduce tensions.