Graphic by Roubina Margossian.
It’s high time to break with defeatism and desolation. How? By putting differences aside and focusing on what’s essential: national security. At what cost? Everyone should be ready to contribute to the bill. For those in power, it’s about growing into the role of a government of national unity; for those in opposition, it’s turning away from civil disobedience. Armenian civil society, for its part, should be ready to take on more responsibility in line with two principles: the values of the Velvet Revolution and transnational solidarity between Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora. Everything else is secondary.
With the disillusion and obstacles being faced, Armenia is sinking into paralysis, as if its destiny was out of its hands and it was being forced into a trap. Armenia has been facing an impasse since the defeat of 2020. Threads are being unwound, everything is being de-institutionalized as if what’s left of the state is evaporating under the strain of the new post-Western world order in which Azerbaijan strives, Iran explores, the West reveals its limitations and the Russo-Turkish alliance shows increasing signs of vitality. This post-imperial world is primarily a Eurasian one, with Russia, Turkey and China at the helm. Armenia suffers, flutters and lives in double denial: Nikol Pashinyan’s government minimizes the effects and consequences of the defeat, the parliamentary opposition and former regime has scored an own-goal by refusing to take responsibility for their role in the country’s current anemia and instead deploying nihilistic political tactics. To accusations of “capitulation” by these forces, the latter respond with calls of “sabotage”.
Armenia used to be a memorial, but has become Kafkaesque and the state is nowhere to be found. Yet as long as Armenia does not emerge from this puerile quarrel, Armenians will harp on the past, suffer the wrath of the Eurasian world led by Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey and will wallow in what looks like a dead end. The best way to get out of this dead end would be to call an end to this inaction. How? By focusing on the one common denominator uniting all Armenians, no matter how little: love for the homeland. Whether one is pro- or anti-Nikol, conservative or progressive, pro- or anti- ancien regime, citizens of Armenia and residents of the Diaspora, voters and abstentionists––there is still a consensus around the need to secure the homeland.
The agenda must contain a single item: national security. According to some informed opinions, Armenia may even suffer from Stockholm Syndrome in the way it seeks peace at any cost, even to the point of considering its enemies’ needs above its own. Does Armenia, for example, really need a Jesus statue overlooking Yerevan? No. Yet this grotesque project approved by the Prime Minister is suspended by the hostility of the public and certain institutions. Does Armenia need to prove its Christian identity? No. What makes Armenia’s tourism potential unique is its religious heritage that goes back to antiquity. The rest is hogwash. Rather than building new churches, the state should concern itself with allocating funds for projects that can address the current priorities: defense and education.
Can Armenia afford to deport foreign nationals of Armenian origin engaged in the defense of Armenian political rights? No. In line with the principles of the rule of law and of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Armenia is a member, it must definitively break with this Soviet process which is in opposition to the values of the Velvet Revolution. Should Armenia do more in the search for peace until it repeats the same mistakes as the previous regimes, namely believing that Azerbaijan and Turkey want peace when everything proves otherwise? No. Peace is mutually agreed upon and is carried out on equal terms, otherwise it becomes a peace of punishment. Can Armenia make the pretense that its economic development is the goal? Yes, if it manages to stabilize its market and reassure investors and not if it abandons the fight against corruption and participates in the destabilization of its economy by not ensuring the protection of its borders. In short, Pashinyan’s Kafkaesque Armenia will not do better than the others if it continues to blind itself, to lose itself in the post-war period believing that conflictuality is behind it and that victory is at the end of the microphone, selfies or social networks.
Before it was Kafkaesque, Armenia was a memorial and its defenders––deprived of the resources of power, think they can cultivate the myth of a victorious Armenia bound to a glorious history by ignoring recent history. Does Armenia need a revanchist war-cult rhetoric based on nothing? No. Armenia needs truth, transparency, order and realistic goals. Can Armenia believe that the ancien regime would do better than the current regime? No––the opposition must recognize its great responsibility in the absence of strong state institutions, in the organization of a sick society dependent on the Yerevan Cartel which squandered the meager resources of the state over decades. Why trust those who sold the country and held back the development of healthy state institutions in favor of private interests where personal ties came before institutional responsibility? Armenia can no longer afford to rely on a false and outrageous discourse by making itself believe that the opposition holds the magic potion to make Putin listen to reason on the real threat of pan-Turkism and liberate Artsakh. The opposition must open their eyes and realize that the Erdogan-Putin partnership is heir to the imperial couple Abdul Hamid II – Nicolas II (1891-1905) and the legitimate son of the Kemal-Lenin revolutionary duo in the 1920s. The first is responsible for the massacres of 250,000 Armenians between 1894 and 1896, and the repression of the revolutionary movement. The second is responsible for the end of the sovereignty of the First Republic of Armenia.
It is time to open our eyes and look at the world as it is, with its threats, its challenges and its new configurations. But above all, let’s stop the injustice of thirty years of Armenian youth having to pay for the incompetence of Armenian leaders, who only qualify as leaders in filling their pockets. It’s time to quickly apply a clamp down on each other’s excesses, and take to the streets to say “no to the current regime, no to the old regime” and to return to the values of the Velvet Revolution to save the state and the foundation of Armenian transnational solidarity.
In 1988, Armenians took to the streets and the diaspora followed, all to forge a nation. In 2018, Armenians took to the streets, the diaspora applauded, all to forge a state. If the political elites prefer bickering, it is up to Armenians to show them the way. As Thomas More said, “when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties…they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” It’s time to come out on top, the holy alliance, the rest will come after.
As the Armenian villages of Aghavno, Berdzor and Sus on the Lachin Corridor were handed over to Azerbaijan on August 25, questions remain about why Yerevan was seemingly excluded from that process.Read more