We are drowning in loss.
Loss of a war some of us pretended wasn’t coming. Loss of territory heaving with the blood and memories of those who had fought to reclaim it during the first Karabakh War. Loss of the myths we had meticulously curated that now lie shattered at our feet. Loss of hope and faith in our future and rage at the wretchedness and indifference of the world. And worst of all, loss of an entire generation.
The sense of shame and personal responsibility is staggering. We imagined ourselves to be the generation that helped in some measure to ease the sense of collective victimhood we had carried for decades with our victory in Artsakh. We were the generation that saw the ushering in of independence. We were the generation that worked to create the institutions of statehood regardless of who was in power because we understood and cherished the value of that statehood. We were the generation that promised our children and grandchildren a better, brighter, more secure future.
We are no longer that generation.
We are now a country and a people in despair. We are now a country where thousands are homeless, childless, broken. We have brought out our daggers and are fighting each other with actions that can never be undone, uttering words that can never be unspoken. We are in a dark room searching for light and gasping for air because we have had to bear witness not only to the failure and collapse of our political, diplomatic and military leadership, but to the collapse of our own self-delusion. We are on the precipice.
We are looking for someone to blame, someone to take responsibility. While we can make blanket statements that we’re all to blame (we are), those in positions of power, however, will have to stand before the country, the people and history and take responsibility. They will have to bear the consequences of their actions and inactions. And let us not mince words, for all those who came before them are equally culpable for this situation. This administration inherited their legacy.
They also made promises which will now forever be unfulfilled perhaps because they were never attainable. Their promise of “going to the people” before making any decision that would irrevocably alter the course of Artsakh’s, and ultimately Armenia’s, future was shortsighted and naive populism, especially if it was needed to be made in the middle of a war.
Although there does not seem to be a viable alternative, perhaps even an impending power vacuum making matters worse, this administration will eventually have no choice other than to step down and let the people express their will through new elections. Otherwise, the country may disintegrate into chaos and anarchy.
In the meantime, they must communicate properly with the nation about what went horrifically wrong; they must be transparent about the negotiations taking place as part of the trilateral agreement with regard to the demarcation of borders, deployment of Russian peacekeepers, where Armenian forces will be stationed, what is being done to ensure the immediate return of prisoners of war and civilians in Azerbaijani captivity, the return of bodies and the real numbers of those killed and injured and those still missing in action.
While this administration may have little options left, we the people do have options.
We must work together, shoulder-to-shoulder to help de-escalate tensions in the country. We must refrain from disseminating misinformation, confusion and above all, hatred. We must seek a peaceful transfer of power peacefully. We must unite and recommit to working harder than ever, being better, smarter, more strategic and instead of relying on promises and myths, rely on our real collective strength and potential.
We are now and will forever be indebted to those boys and men who held the borders of our historic lands as long and as hard as they could. If we fail to pick ourselves up and chart a new plan for the future, we will have failed them and their families. That is a choice we do not have.