By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
As the situation in Armenia is getting more chaotic on a daily basis, baseless accusations are becoming a common practice. It is no longer possible to distinguish fact from fiction.
Sadly, words like ‘traitor’ and ‘bought by Turks or Azeris’ are being used by Armenians to accuse fellow Armenians without a shred of evidence. We have all heard multiple times that the territories around Artsakh were given up by the former presidents long before the war and that Armenian traitors helped the enemy by disclosing our military secrets or urged soldiers to stop fighting during the war. These accusations have been repeated so often that a lot of Armenians believe them to be true. Never mind that no evidence has been presented, tarnishing the reputations of those they disagree with. If there were so many traitors during the war, how come not one such traitor has been arrested and convicted for treason? Normally, traitors during a war are immediately arrested, convicted and shot by a firing squad.
I do not believe that there are any traitors among us nor are there Armenians who sold their soul to the enemy for a handful of dollars. These are made up stories just because we disagree with each other. Regrettably, most Armenians do not know how to carry out a civilized conversation without insulting those they disagree with.
In this analysis, I will avoid using such terms as traitor and sold out, and stick as much as possible to the facts, no matter how difficult they are to discern.
One issue that keeps coming up is the fact that the presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia seem to prefer Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over the opposition. This does not mean that Pashinyan is a traitor or is working for the interests of Armenia’s enemies. I believe that Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia are siding with Pashinyan for two main reasons:
1) All three realize that Pashinyan, defeated in the Artsakh war and having signed a capitulation document, is in no position to go against the wishes of Azerbaijan and Turkey, and especially Russia. Whereas, as a former member of the opposition, Pashinyan was totally anti-Russian, he changed his tune and supported all Russian initiatives even before the war. After the war, he is completely beholden to Putin and does not dare to deviate one bit from the Russian President’s directives. This became even more so after Pres. Putin repeatedly praised Pashinyan for signing the Nov. 10, 2020 trilateral agreement and abiding by its terms. Azerbaijan and Turkey are also satisfied that, after their defeat of Armenia, there is a leader like Pashinyan who is fully going along with the terms of the agreement.
2) Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia also realize that should Pashinyan’s rule topple, his successor may not be as amenable to comply with the terms of the trilateral agreement. While a defeated country is in no position to contest these imposed terms, the fact that Pashinyan’s opponents are expressing their opposition to that agreement means that Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia may have to deal with a new Armenian leader who will question the terms of the agreement that the three countries consider a fait accompli. So, Aliyev, Erdogan and Putin naturally prefer to deal with Pashinyan based on their own interests rather than because Pashinyan is their ‘agent.’ At best, we can say that Pashinyan is reluctantly going along with these three leaders. At worst, he truly believes that the ceasefire agreement is in the best interest of Armenia, paving the way to the lifting of blockaded transportation routes, thus potentially boosting Armenia’s economy.
We can be on different sides of the above analysis, but one thing is very clear. Pashinyan should not cross any red lines which are totally contrary to Armenia’s national interests. It is one thing to be obligated to go along with your enemies after your defeat, but it is a whole different thing to enthusiastically comply with their wishes, mistakenly believing that the enemy’s imposed actions are in Armenia’s own interest. Aliyev and Erdogan have repeatedly stated that they are willing to allow Armenia to use their transportation routes under certain conditions which were: 1) Return Artsakh territories to Azerbaijan (which has been mostly accomplished through the use of force), 2) Recognize the existing borders of the Republic of Turkey (no more territorial demands from Turkey), and 3) Discontinue the international pursuit of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. More recently, Aliyev added a new demand: signing a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan which means that Armenia will give up claiming Artsakh as an Armenian territory.
In my view, these Azeri and Turkish demands should be rejected by Armenia’s current leaders. These are red lines that no Armenian government should cross, depriving future Armenian generations of their right to pursue the nation’s just demands.
It remains to be seen if Armenia’s next leaders will be able to find a way to minimize the losses from the war. But one thing is certain: Pashinyan must resign immediately allowing a new and more competent leadership trying to manage the catastrophic situation Armenia finds itself in.