Armenians worldwide had many reasons to celebrate the month of September, as they observed the 20th anniversary of the twin Republics of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh).
Two decades ago, Armenians did not have a single independent republic. Now they have two, and look forward to the day when the two republics are joined by a third—Western Armenia—to form the Republic of United Armenia.
On Sept. 19-20, the Diaspora Ministry organized a Pan-Armenian Conference in Yerevan that drew over 500 participants from 50 countries, along with political and religious leaders from Armenia and Artsakh. It was a reunion of the Who’s Who of the Armenian world.
The conference had four main themes: language and education, youth, commemorating the centennial of the genocide, and strengthening Armenia-diaspora relations. Some speakers took the opportunity to point out the serious shortcomings that continue to plague Armenia 20 years after independence.
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, singled out emigration from Armenia as the greatest national crisis. “Our enemies wished to see an Armenia devoid of Armenians,” he stated. “Today, we are emptying Armenia with our own hands!” His Holiness also condemned the prevalent corruption in the country that protects “a prosperous minority.”
Armenian Revolutionary Federation leader Hrant Markarian chided government officials for the persistence of poverty, joblessness, a stagnant economy, social insecurity, injustice, criminal behavior, corruption, and emigration. He also criticized them for not withdrawing their signature from the “infamous Armenia-Turkey protocols.”
During the panel on the Armenian Genocide—I was one of the moderators—participants suggested training a new generation of genocide scholars, Ottoman language specialists, Turkologists, and international law experts. They emphasized that the time had come to demand reparations from Turkey rather than mere genocide recognition, and urged filing lawsuits against Turkey in international and national courts.
While in Armenia, I experienced many exhilarating moments as well as a few disappointing ones. The military parade on Independence Day was the highlight for all Armenians worldwide—either watching it live at Yerevan’s Republic Square or on television. The goose-step march of highly disciplined soldiers and the display of sophisticated tanks, missiles, warplanes, and helicopter gunships filled every Armenian with pride and a sense of security from menacing neighbors. Later that evening, hundreds of thousands of spectators were captivated by a special high-tech laser show that projected scenes from Armenian history on the facade of buildings overlooking Republic Square.
The four locally manufactured Armenian drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), displayed for the first time during this year’s military parade, drew the most attention, especially since the Artsakh forces had just downed a Azeri drone purchased from Israel. The parade held yet another surprise: a contingent of women soldiers with machine guns who had volunteered to join the exclusively male Armenian armed forces! Also marching was a contingent of military chaplains in clerical garb.
Two other developments added a special luster to the celebrations of independence. The Mesrob Mashdots Madenataran in Yerevan, the depository of ancient manuscripts, unveiled a massive new wing, funded mostly by Russian-Armenian entrepreneur Sergei Hampartsoumian. On this occasion, Mihran Minassian, a humble man of limited means from Aleppo, Syria, donated to the Madenataran over 10,000 priceless manuscripts and fragments he had collected through life-long efforts. A second momentous event in September was the opening of a state-of-the-art terminal at Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport. The new complex can serve up to 3.5 million passengers annually, doubling the airport’s capacity. This important project was brought to fruition by industrialist Eduardo Eurnekian of Argentina, who controls “Armenia International Airports,” the concessional management firm overseeing the airport.
Two sour notes: Some of the Independence Day t-shirts handed out to participants of the Pan-Armenian Conference carried a surprising “Made in Turkey” label! The t-shirts were embossed with the following slogan, in Armenian: “2011: Armenia Is You!” Embarrassed officials explained that the t-shirts were donated by a local businessman.
More embarrassing was the no-show of the two former presidents of Armenia at any of the Independence Day celebrations. Regardless of the reasons for their absence, this was a serious mistake by the two heads of state who led the Republic of Armenia for 17 of its 20 years of independence.
Despite these shortcomings, all Armenians fervently embraced their homeland with a solemn pledge to defend and protect it, and to do their utmost to secure the well-being and prosperity of their compatriots in Armenia and Artsakh.
Independece Day Armenia Military Parade 2011
Mr. Sassounian continues to be one of the few sane voices in our diaspora.
Mr. Sassounian continues to inspire us all with his timely reporting – both on good and bad news.
well done Harut
Thank you again Mr. Sassounian.
I understand that the two former presidents had been invited to attend the ceremonies, but they chose not to show up.
How on earth could they not have foreseen the highly negative impact that their striking absence would have on their own personal prestige and political cause rather than that of anybody else?
Unfortunately, our political leaders are not yet politically grown up individuals.
re: ‘More embarrassing was the no-show of the two former presidents of Armenia at any of the Independence Day celebrations.’
Mr. Sassounian is being kind by saying ‘embarrassing’. This was outrageous behaviour on the part of Messrs Ter-Petrossian and Kocharian. Childish behaviour really.
They would not have been there to honor any one person: they would have been there for the Nation of Armenia.
Unless they were in a hospital or some similar emergency, their no-show clearly demonstrated what little men they have now become, after serving their people in time of need.
It would have been as strong a message to the world as the marching troops: Armenians are One, when it concerns the welfare and survival of Armenia. All personal feelings get pushed aside.
One of the most wonderful things in the US is that when there is an official function that concerns the Nation, all living former Presidents attend and stand should-to-shoulder.
They will routinely insult each other in public when politicking , but when the Nation calls – they put it all aside: One Nation Under God, Indivisible.
These two little men dishonored themselves by insulting the Republic of Armenia on her most important day.
Hopefully both men will now disappear from public life, and go and tend their private gardens in obscurity.
Not childish,they both are very grown ups…it is something else that is commonplace in both Homeland and Diaspora.Some do not dare say it.I do and have said it many a times over.We armenians have TWO bad traits.We are over jealous,as a lot and non-cooperative. I have lately come to add yet the third one,that of each of us-in general,i.e.-when having attained some fame or whatever, in whateverfield of profession, -we feel like ISHKHAN -ISHKHANHOUHI, Prince pricess.Whether you like or admit it or not this is the case ,ask e an d I shall give examples.though you already have pointed at two of them above in your post.
No they are not childish at all ,quite the contrary, very mature and rather active to yet MAKE A COMEBACK as ….
Time is fast flying on we need to UNGERAYNANAL..a n invented word by self rather VERB…SOCIETIZATION .wHICH AFTER 33 YRS I HAVE FOUND OUT ONLY VENUE IS THROUGH CLASSIFICATION INTO WORK TYPE GROUPS ,like i have ppointed out various times ,Health/medical, Engineers& _Sci., etc., wherein we get to UNGERAYNANAL respect ea other have tolerance.
It is not Only in U.s. same is France, England etyc., the outgoing Prime Ministre or Pres. GRACEFUULY BOWS OUT AND SHAKES HANDS WITH incoming one…
We still have a long way to go,Let us begin with Toelrance and mutual respect,Ishkhanaganutyun will by and by disappear then…
Thje man is a journalist a reporter an activist but has come up quite high and is centrestage.You praise him or her and by and by that person or another who has come up as an activist will have ISHKHANAGANNN AIRS(hOVER,IN ARMENIAN) AND WILL NOT DEIGN TO EVEN ANSWER YOUR PRAISES OF HIM HER…
SO ,i ASK YOU NOT TO THINK those two ex pres. are childish…IT IS IN THE ARMENIAN GENES..
WE MUST ROOT THEM OUT. TO BEGIN WITHG BE COURTEOUS TO EA OTHER EVEN ON FORUMS LIKE THIS HERE.RESPECT EVEN ODARS WHO MAY HAVE SOMETHIGN AFFIRMATIVE-AMONST MANY NEGATIVE, NOT CORRECT ONES- AND ACCEPT IT CORDIALLY OR AT LEAST HAVE TOLERANCE
LTP probably did not show up because he was told it is not just a local gathering and since the whole world was going to be be watching it, it is probably a good idea not to smoke a cigarette while in attendance. (especially through a pipe). And because he knew he can’t do it, he decided not to attend.
And Robik did not attend probably because he did not have enough bodyguards.
Keep up your objective reporting Mr. Sassounian during these historic period of Our Republic.
Here is a 3 minutes review of the Armenian Army – it is quite an accomplishment! Keep in mind nothing could be accomplished without safe borders.
Most Armenians were just as proud of the Russian Federation Army as they were proud with the Armenian Army.
The 102nd Russian military base in Armenia has some 5,000 combat ready troops with joint command with the Armenian Army. In addition, there are four more detachments of Russian frontier troops numbering 4,700 servicemen, on the defense of Armenian borders – three of them patrol the Turkish border, and one – the Iranian.
In case some of you forget, in 1993 during the Artzakh war, Turkey mobilized its tanks on the frontiers with Armenia. Rest assured if an opportunity presents itself, Turkey will roll its tanks over Armenia without any hesitation, and the hostile-US-State-Department with spineless-Europe will justify Turkey’s aggression as a self-defense measure.
It’s a simple equation – no Russia in the Caucasus = no Armenia in the Caucasus.
God bless our Hayrenik, God bless Mother Russia, long live the centuries old Russian-Armenian alliance: the last front against American imperialism, NATO expansionism, Globalism, Islamic fanaticism, Zionism and pan-Turkism!
Well said Avetis.
To Berge, The only thing stopping Turkey from rolling its tanks over Armenia is the “fond” memories of the battle of Sardarabad. They lost over 190,000 men fighting 40,000 resilient Armenians. Their noses still bleeding.
During the 8th to 10th centuries, one fundamental point of Byzantine diplomacy emerged very clearly, that on no account could the Kingdom of Armenia be allowed to fall into rival Arab or Persian hands. Armenia’s independence was so essential to preserve regardless of the difficulties in dealing with it were.
Medieval Armenia was bounded on the west by the Byzantine Empire, on the south by the Arabs Caliphate of Baghdad, and to the east by the Persian Empire.
Armenia’s foreign policy conduct was complimentarian to the three neighboring superpowers of the era. In the interest of achieving peace – a state alien to Armenians – Armenia carefully balanced the influences of its rival neighbors. This foreign policy resulted in the golden age; Armenia’s capital city Ani flourished; Armenia became a populous and prosperous nation, exerting political and economic influence over surrounding states and nations.
Its existence depended on these rival empires desiring an independent Kingdom of Armenia as a buffer state, and Armenia itself being strong enough to maintain this status.
Fast forward to the 21st century, replace the Arab Caliphate of Baghdad with the Russian Federation; replace the Byzantine Empire with the West (US State Department and EU); and the Persian Empire with the modern state of Iran.
When Armenia’s relations with the Russian Federation reach a new height, the West (US & EU) acts alarmed and seek to increase ties with Armenia via NATO and EU associations. When that happens, Armenia sways few degrees towards the West, Iran in turn is alarmed and seeks to deepen relations with Armenia via trade and mutually beneficial energy projects.
Armenia’s foreign policy remains central (neutral) and sways only few degrees in any one direction, then returns back to its central neutral position. No sides! – Armenia cannot and will not chose any sides; Armenia’s foreign policy is complimentarian.
Armenia is about to enter a new level of cooperation with NATO (binding agreements), Iran will soon approach Armenia and seek mutually beneficial agreements on trade and energy projects. Russia will return with greater enticement to pull Armenia again towards its sphere of influence with security related agreements beneficial to both countries.
One thing for certain that has not changed for centuries are the Turkish and Azeri lethal threat to Annihilate Armenia. The threats are real. It is all driven by the West’s thirst for Central Asia/Caspian Basin oil and gas reserves. It is all about access route and control of the world’s largest oil & gas reserves.
I PREFER bERGE JOLOLIAN´s analysis to the point and well described.Though I would wish to add my bit as rgds our-Armenia´s -not knowing to act a bit more like a REAL NEUTRAL entity,say like Switzerland,thus positioning itself on a higher cost pedestal,so to say.
I do not agree at all with Avetis, that we should praise ONLY mother Russia-more about that further down.
As an example to both, when we fought very valiently alongside the Allied armies during WWII-especially in huge numbers in Red Army- I do not think or believe that mother Russia really appreciated that. Want proof?
They bestowed plenty of metal medals on the breasts of our veterans -even quite lately-soviet Russian style and our meek veterans were thus pampered…the Govt. also felt HBART…BOLD!!! showing off to the world that we fought and gave martyr to the Hairenagan Baderazmin(Patriotic War) Patria? the Stalin/Lenin imaginary one? it plummeted…..there is no such thing as that. Our Patria-Hairenik, later our Paremids, not to say Barzamids, later found out that the Azeri is azeri,the Gerogian ,only their own benefits ,greatr Turkey still pursuing the Turanism etc.,
Russia, even now should be handled more to pAY UP, cough up, if you will.You know what dear Avetis.Armenia owed some 120 million dollars to Mother Russia after the collapse of the soviet union and they…instead of ¨¨marel¨¨ write that off…or at the very least ,instead of taking over factoreis for that dzebt in RA, they should transform the factories in the name of the VETERANS in Armenia and help geet them going again and distributing shares of the factories(within a corp like structure or a Sociedad Anonima) to the Veternas if alive and/or their heirs…
For the blood that the other martyrs shed coming up first to the walls of Berlin were real people and willing to sacrifice-like they did-their lives. MEDALS>???? ask someone,like X to scrap them up and sell to neighbouring countries,like they did wholesale aforementioned factories´machinary…..
Whi si to kid with us .We are no more th Ermeni Raya for the Turk or the Armyashka for the Tovarish Russsian.
We expect Justice and real appraisals not medals…this much for Russia!!!
As to teh West, they are also to be asked or told off ,like this…
Why did you BY- pass Armenian when Oil pipeline was to be laid . to BTJ BAku Tbilisi Jeyhan…WAS NOT THE SHORTES ROUTE ARMENIA?
The pay 1.6 billion to great Turkey-this is old agreement ,I don´t know if they have increased that lately,per annum.Half of that should be `paid to Armenia RETROACTIVE.This to apprecait e not for shorter route only , that was by passed but also for Armenian efforts in WWII on the sides of the British, the Americans and the french alike, as good trustworty allies….
SO WHO DO YOU KID?????
from now on please my dear compatriots be non committal do not budge and give in to any OF THOSE ACTING FOR THEIR BENEFITS.wE MUST ASK FOR OUR SHARES UPFRONT. eVEN THOSE THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN EXECUTED,AS ABOVE explained.
Enough odara-MOLUTYUN. Independently acting like even Georgia knows better and does. Sahakashvilli , probably well mentored by Schevardnadzze his elder talked W.Bush into giving one billion dollaars straight,lumpsome to Georgia only a few yrs ago, when Armenians each year ,after reqeusting knockin on the doors in D.C. receive some 70 , or 80 million…
Think about it willya????
Do please forgivve me for very bad erroneous post above.I was in a very agitated mood.
Meanwhile as of yesterday I´m very much hopefull.
As I watched on Armenian H1 T.V. pres.Sarkozy pronounce Genocide both in French and ….Armenian…Tseghasbanutyun!!!!
I began to hope even more ,when he gave an ultimatum to great Turkey, that and I quote¨ till end of current year,if Turkey does not recognize the Armenian Genocide, we shall pass the Law (pending at French Senate) penalizing those who deny it.
This is a reminder coming from the 5th Major power,not a small state.Bear in mind please that knows full well that some(X) support the Turkish state and is now doing her best to have latter come to grips and accept facts officially.
Last leg of his trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia also has some significance, a call perhaps to them that neighbouring Armenia is an ally of France as well…
I agree with your statement above Berge. If we were in Europe instead of our location amidst wolves like Turkey and Azerbaijian; life would have been easier for us but as it stands, it isn’t (with Turkey and her pan turanism dreams). On the other hand, Russia may be there protecting us, but let’s not be totally naive guys, to each his/her own. Russia though is there for us, but she is really after herself more than you know it. Russia need us too; but I am not happy that almost 3 Million of our men and families migrated to Russia and stayed there. In time they’ll marry Russian girls and be assymilated, if they haven’t already. If we only had Western Armenia to us again and our diasporan Armenians migrated making Armenia stronger and richer, then we can get back to our older days during the 8th and the 10th centuries as Berge has reminded us. One thing for sure, we surely cannot rely solely on the Russians, nor on the neocon west, nor on Iran. We do have to play our politics and be a little bit giving to Russia, a little bit giving to the west, the US and the neocon west and a little bit to Iran. Not wholly or entirely depending on anyone of them. Depend solely upon yourself Armenia and Armenians. Not one country will go backward for you excepting yourself. No one will love you like you will love yourself and your prosperity.
You say “Armenia cannot and will not chose any sides; Armenia’s foreign policy is complementary.” But, dear friend, the country has already chosen sides. You sound like Kocharian’s spineless foreign minister. How can Armenia’s foreign policy be “complementary”, if chief attributes of her statehood—defense, national security, banking system, energy sector, communications, etc.—are in Russia’s hands? In your view, Armenia complements heavy Russian presence with what other country’s influence (exclude Iran, this country is in the Russian geopolitical and economic orbit)? Other than that, who else has a say in Armenia’s domestic politics? I don’t necessarily criticize Armenia’s being a strategic ally for Russia, although the degree of alliance could, without doubt, be lesser and more balanced. But I criticize using Oskanian’s linguistic creation in a situation where no other country is allowed to complement Armenia’s domestic, defense, and foreign policies.
Armenia is not in a position to take sides. In its foreign policy Armenia will continue to be conciliatory to the Russian Federation. This pro-Russian tilt is the usual and most popular policy – and it is exactly where Armenia needs to be – for now. The European Union too must be humored, in the interest of maintaining stability and peace – Armenia has an on-going good working relationship with NATO, and that cooperation is increasing with more binding military arrangements and security agreements. Iran as well has interests in the region (the US is not the only country in the Universe that has interests) and it too needs to be humored.
Energy-thirsty Europe continues to depend on Russian energy supplies (oil & gas) for about 40% of its needs. Central Asia (Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) near the Caspian Sea basin contain the largest oil and gas reserves in the World, which the West would like to have an access route and full control.
The Russian Federation is surrounded by NATO countries on its Western frontiers, from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the North, down to Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey to the South. If the Russian Federation had allowed Georgia to join NATO, it would have spelled disaster to the Russian Federation. Russia would have been effectively surrounded by NATO; the West would have then had its unfettered access route to Central Asia, thus, bypassing Russia, and lifting Europe’s dependencies on it. Russian influence, leverage, clout and revenues would have vastly diminished; and then the US SD would move in to dismember the Federation and reduce Russia to a much smaller nation.
The only viable access route to Central Asia’s energy that bypasses the Russian Federation is either across Armenia or Georgia. Turkey serves as a corridor/conduit between Europe and Central Asia. However, Turkey is a semi-dead-end corridor to Central Asia if the pipelines cannot traverse Armenia. Georgia is unreliable and unstable to risk Europe’s energy supplies. On August 8, 2008, the Russian Federation army entered Georgia under the pretext of Ossetia and Abkhazia; in reality it was a shot across the bow – warning the US SD and Europe – that under no circumstance would the Russian Federation allow the West unfettered access to central Asian energy supplies; threatening the prototype BTC pipeline (it only provides less than 1% of Europe’s energy needs).
One can learn from Georgia’s costly mistakes of siding 100% with the US State Department and 0% with the Russian Federation. One year later, the US SD sponsored the infamous Protocols with the aim of opening the borders between Turkey and Armenia – for the sake of energy pipeline routes.
Why should Armenia tilt its foreign policy orientation to favor the European Union and the US State Department?
What has the West collectively offered Armenia? How much has the West collectively invested in Armenia? The US alone offers Georgia US $2 billion per year versus US “aid” of $40 million to Armenia.
For two decade, the US State Department acted in the most counter intuitive and self-destructive manner in its foreign policy toward Armenia. The routine goes something like this: Turkey blockades Armenia for 20 years, the US State Department puts additional pressure on Armenia to capitulate.
The International Association of Genocide Scholars repeatedly calls on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, the US State Department fires its ambassador to Armenia for uttering the word genocide.
The International Monetary Fund evaluated Armenia’s loses due to Turkey’s hostile border closure at the tune of US $1 billion per year, the US State Department lowerd US “aid” to Armenia each year to its current meager $40 million.
According to the warped logic of the US State Department foreign policy, if country A (Turkey) closes its borders with country B (Armenia), Protocols are needed to apply pressure on Armenia to accept open borders.
If the US State Department does not succeed in convincing Turkey to stop its billions of trade with Iran; then the US State Department flexes its muscles to arm-twist Armenia to stop its economic survival-dependent trade with Iran; instead of sympathizing with the plight of Armenians leaving the country to seek economic survival elsewhere.
Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department on the importance of integrating Armenia in the regional economies to ensure stability in the region; the US State Department responds by isolating Armenia and funding the Baku-Tibilis-Ceyhan pipeline by-passing Armenia.
Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department not to fund the construction of Kars-Tblisi railroad; instead use the existing Kars-Gumri-Tblisi railroad; the US State Department ignores Armenia.
Armenian-Americans advise the US State Department not to lift section 907 preventing shipment of US weapons to Azerbaijan; the US State Department does the opposite, bolstering Azerbaijan war threats in the region.
Armenia is grateful to the Russian Federation for its investments in Armenia; and is appreciative for the protection of Armenia’s borders with Turkey. Armenia is most appreciative to the Islamic Republic of Iran for its steadfast support throughout the years and for the energy projects it invested in Armenia (gas, oil, hydro-power stations, railroad and highway, trade imports/exports).
What has the US State Department done to influence Armenia towards the West? (Besides genocide denial, TARC and Protocols)
France’s President Sarkozy finally made a feeble attempt to sway Armenia towards Europe – he offered the possibility of France building a Nuclear Power Plant (worth US $5 billion) to replace the aging Medzamor, thus making Armenia energy sufficient; he offered European investments in Armenia; and he pressured Turkey to acknowledge its crime of genocide using the legal term GENOCIDE.
You can dislike any Armenian politician all you want and dislike any terminology they use – at the end of the day Armenia’s foreign policy is complementary.
The geopolitical realities that you took time to reiterate are understood and taken in the most part, but I’m afraid you failed to show that Armenia’s foreign policy is actually complementary. To say that Armenia is not in a position to take sides, but face the reality that the country does take sides are two different things. You contradict yourself when you state that Armenia is not in a position to take sides but immediately agree that the pro-Russian tilt is exactly where Armenia needs to be. I don’t necessarily argue against the tilt–although one may question the extent and implications of it on Armenia’s independent statehood—but I do disagree with using elusive terminology à la oskanian in a situation when one can simply say: “yes, Armenia’s interests at present require being conciliatory towards Russia.” Who are we fooling by the phony term “complementary foreign policy” when in reality we know it is not? And no, Berge, Armenia’s pro-Russian tilt cannot be “the usual and most popular policy.” First of all, it’s not just a tilt; it’s a heavy reliance, however understandable it may be from defense and national security perspectives. Second, rigid alliance of a smaller country with a mightier one cannot be seen as “usual and most popular”; it resembles metropolis-periphery or patron-client relationship, which have never been “usual and most popular” for any smaller nation-state because such relationship grossly undermines a smaller country’s independent posture. I’d equally be critical if Armenia entered such alliance with any other country, be it the U.S. or Burundi. Armenia’s cooperation with the EU, NATO, and Iran that you’ve presented as complementary, are in reality not complementary for one simple reason: NONE of these defense, economic, or foreign policy initiatives could have happened without Russia’s approval. In Armenia’s case, balance of power, which would be truly usual and most popular policy for an independent state, is clearly upset, and there’s no need to camouflage this upset balance with cooked-up terms as “complementary.”
Very good overview and analysis of geopolitical landscape around Armenia Berge.
However what is your source of this: ‘Central Asia (Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) near the Caspian Sea basin contain the largest oil and gas reserves in the World,’
According to public information:
Turkmenistanis #4 on the list of proven Gas reserves.
Kazakhstan is #16 on the list of proven Gas reserves.
(Russia #1,Iran #2)
Kazakhstan is #11 on the list of proven Oil reserves.
Turkmenistan has no proven Oil reserves.
What is your source for this statement: “…the US SD sponsored the infamous Protocols with the aim of opening the borders between Turkey and Armenia – for the sake of energy pipeline routes”? As all of us could see, both Russia and the EU were as well urging Armenia to sign the defeatist protocols. If the US SD was the only party that sponsored the protocols, why would high-ranking representatives of Russia and the EU join it and stand behind Nalbandian and Davutoghlu’s backs at the signing ceremony?