Sassounian: Commentary on Recent Armenian, Azeri, and Turkish Developments

Here are some thoughts regarding recent noteworthy news items:

— Prominent Los Angeles attorney Mark Geragos, during his appearance on CNN last week, chided the United States for its double standard on the Armenian Genocide. When panelists Christiane Amanpour and Anderson Cooper were criticizing Iran’s denial of the Jewish Holocaust, Geragos reminded them about President Obama’s unkept promise to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. “Our greatest ally in that region is Turkey. Yet, Turkey denies the Armenian Genocide. Obama as a candidate would talk about it, ‘When I am in office, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.’ He has been completely stultified when he is in. So there is a political dynamic here at play that is a little hypocritical,” Geragos asserted.

— During the German elections on Sept. 22, 11 lawmakers of Turkish origin were elected to the German Bundestag, the country’s lower house of parliament, more than doubling their number in the previous legislature. Armenians should not blindly criticize these 11 parliamentarians because some, whether of Turkish or Kurdish origin, may be sympathetic to recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

— The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) fined Turkey over $200,000 for expropriating a Turkish family’s house without paying compensation. The court found that Turkey had violated the family’s property rights. The family had exhausted all appeals to Turkish courts before turning to the ECHR for justice. A reader posted the following ironic observation on the website of the Turkish Daily News: “It seems like the Court of Christian Europe treats Muslim Turkish people with more respect than the Muslim courts in Turkey.”

— Turkish Minister of EU Affairs Egemen Bagish claimed last week that “Turkey will probably never become a member of the European Union because of stiff opposition and prejudiced attitudes from the bloc’s current members.” Bagish is wrong, as usual! Turkey will fail to become an EU member not because of Western prejudice, but because of its refusal to bring its laws up to European standards.

— Thousands of Christians, including Armenians, have been kidnapped, killed, or maimed by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, and yet not a single word of condemnation has been issued by any European or American official. Even worse, Western leaders are supplying lethal weapons to the extremists so they can kill more innocent people. It is time for the public in the Western world to show its outrage through mass protests and harsh rebukes. The U.S. Congress should ban the delivery of weapons to all foreign fighters in Syria. Last week, an Armenian Catholic Church and a Greek Orthodox Church were desecrated and robbed in Rakka, Syria. The jihadists shamefully climbed over the dome of the Armenian Church and replaced the cross with their black flag!

— The dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, regularly and unwittingly assists the Armenian Cause by making hateful announcements that give a negative impression about his country in the international community. Aliyev’s outrageous statements that “Yerevan and Zangezour are Azeri territories” and “the time will come and we will live there” are the raving and ranting of a deranged man with a pathological personality. Aliyev is expected to be elected to an unprecedented third term on Oct. 9, meaning that Armenians will continue benefiting from his “helpful” statements for several more years!

— The war of words escalated at the UN General Assembly last week as the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan made opposing statements. Below are excerpts from Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian’s remarks, accusing Azerbaijan of:

a) “Increasing warmongering and anti-Armenian hate-speech on a daily basis”

b) “Unprecedented accumulation of offensive weaponry in massive scale”

c) “Using mercenaries closely linked to notorious terrorist organizations”

d) “Glorification of an axe-murderer Safarov by Azerbaijani leadership”

Armenia’s foreign minister further stated that “the recognition, condemnation, and prevention of genocide remains a priority for Armenia and we will take necessary actions to prevent new occurrences of the crime of genocide, while keeping high on the agenda the issue of responsibility for the crime against humanity and its denial. … As a nation that has survived the first genocide of the 20th century, Armenia unequivocally welcomes the clear position adopted by the UN member states in precluding any possibility of immunity or pardon for perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. to harut sassounian;
    dear harut;
    can you imagine if we had a person like you in every major countries of the world. this planet would have recognized the genocide long time ago.
    keep up the good work my friend and may God give you the strength to
    continue your quest. how lucky we are to have a publisher such as yourself, you are one of a kind.
    all the very best

  2. Mark Geragos is the best! He really knows how to drive his points across and couldn’t agree with him more on this one too. It’s funny, because one time I saw him on CNN in regard to some legal case and he mentioned (just in passing) the Armenian Genocide to further his point as a side example in regard to what they were talking about and the rest of the panelists and host had this dumb, deer in the headlights look on their faces because obviously they are not students of history and you could tell they had no idea of what he was talking about and I was actually embarrassed for them as they displayed their ignorance…

  3. “Turkey will fail to become an EU member not because of Western prejudice, but because of its refusal to bring its laws up to European standards.”
    Turkey’s legal system could far exceed the European standards and still Turkey would not be a member of the EU. Turkey would have to resolve the Cyprus issue. Turkey might not HAVE to recognize the Armenian genocide on paper, but France and others will not allow Turkey’s ascension if it doesn’t. So there’s that. And why? Why do these things so contrary to our national interests? For membership in a club that doesn’t really want us anyway? Not to mention that Turkey’s population will pass Germany’s by 2020- which would give us the largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament- giving Turkey considerable power (more power than the EU would wish Turkey to have). We would finally “conquer” Europe in a sense. Why would the EU want that, even if Turkey’s laws were brought up to standard? The EU for the most part does not want Turkey (I think Romania is the only country where over 50% supported Turkish ascension), which is fine. We don’t really belong. The western provinces could pass as European, but not the rest of the country. Not even close.

  4. Dear Mr. Sassounian,
    Readers of online editions of Armenian Weeklyand Asbarez have come to appreciate your timely reporting of events that are of interest to the Armenian community and especially your knowledgable and in depth analysis of such events. I value your opinions and thank you for your diligent work for our community.

    Recently, the President of the Republic of Armenia unexpectedly announced, in Moscow, after a private meeting with Mr. Putin, that he had decided to join the Russian led Customs Union. This, after four years of negotiating with EU for an Association agreement, and giving every indication that that was the way Armenia had chosen. You would agree that this historic decision will have tremendous impact in the coming decades both on Armenia and Diaspora, as well as on the relationship between the two.
    Unless I missed something, I did not see your analysis of this momentous event, except for your reporting of a closed door meeting with Armenian officials in Yerevan, noting that you were not at liberty to discuss the contents of the meeting. Could you at least give us your thoughts about Mr. Sarkissian’s decision, without divulging any confidential information?

    On another subject, and this is appropriate in view of the commentary in the above article, reported on its website yesterday that the Ministry of Agriculture of Armenia has quietly lifted a ban on the importation of food products from Tukey and Azerbaijan ( you read it right, AZERBAIJAN ! ) that had been in force since 2009.
    It would be interesting to hear your commentary on this bit of ” pleasant ” news as well.
    Thank you.

    Harry B.

  5. Regarding the UN speeches by the Azeri and Armenian foreign ministers … it isironic but no one in the world really cares about what these “nobodies” say, except they themselves. I think these ministers could have saved themselves the airline ticket and just meet in Georgia, take turns to get to the podium, watched by no one by just the other guy, and blame each other of X, Y, Z. I say ironic, because only Armenians listened to our guy, and vice versa … I can imagine each one essentially speaking to an empty room at the UN. And Un, what a total waste of real estate. They passed a few resolutions in 1990s demanding Armenia withdraw from the occupied territories, and nothing has happened for the last 20 years. It is time for us Azeris to shut up, and just do what we have to do, instead of just talking about it. Aliyev must go first. And he will. Sooner or later another power-hungry Azeri oligarch will see an opening for a coup, “Look, folks, he is just running his mouth for 20 years … Now watch me in action.” And then we will call Russia’s bluff in terms of supporting Armenia. Keep in mind: Armenia with or without Karabak will always still be beholden to Russia. So Russia would prefer, but does not have to force, that Karabak be in Armenia. “Putin, dorogoy, what will take for you to turn off your tv news on Caucasus for a few weeks, and let us take care of business. An oil field? Here are two.” Also, keep in mind that Russia will NEVER destabilize Azerbaijan, which would happen if it took part in the war on Armenia’s side … for the fear that Islamists would cease power in Baku, and we are too close to their Moslim south to risk having an unstable extremist state. The next Azeri leader should call Russia’s bluff, and prove to Armenia that they have signed the customs union for no benefit at all.

  6. I think Armenia’s decision to join Russia’s Customs Union was smart and the right one when you put things in context. I think we Armenians mistakenly put too much stock on the European Union (EU). The NATO alliance is mostly and primarily composed of countries in the EU with one, and the only Muslim member country, called Turkey. This country illegally formed in 1923 on the 90% of Armenian homeland was also, less than a hundred years ago, responsible for exterminating and uprooting the Armenians from their ancient homeland of thousands of years. Armenia is and has been in a state of undeclared war with this country for the last twenty years due to this country’s decision to close borders with Armenia, on the surface in solidarity with an aggressor and artificial country, called Azerbaijan but in reality for cheap Azerbaijani oil and due to reawakening of post-Soviet Armenia and many successes and victories on the worldwide Armenian Genocide recognition front by the many million strong, wealthy and politically established and mature Armenian Diaspora.

    Turkey, as well as the Turkish outpost Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus, considers the Armenian Diaspora to be the biggest threat to their continued denial and falsification of the Armenian Genocide and the occupation of the Armenian homeland. So much so, that the Turkish Prime Minister recently categorized the Armenians into three groups: He considered the Turkish Armenians to be the “good” Armenians obviously because they have NO voice in Turkey. He considered the Armenians in Armenia “indifferent” naturally, and contrary to his false belief, because they are busy building a new Armenia after seventy years of Soviet occupation. He considered the Diaspora Armenians as the “bad” Armenians obviously because they won’t allow Turkey get away with genocide. Ilham Aliyev, the fake president of the artificial state of Azerbaijan walking in Erdogan’s footsteps, also blames all the problems he is facing under the sun on the Armenian Diaspora instead of his own delusional, anti-Armenian, narcissistic and incompetent self.

    Turkey, using its NATO member status and geopolitical importance in the region, has throughout the years warned, bribed and blackmailed the EU as well as the US against the Armenian Genocide resolutions not because it is not guilty of this crime but because it stands to lose quite a bit, from factually being labeled a genocidal country to financial loss in billions in the form of reparations to loss of Armenian territory. Due to its proximity to the troubled region, its geopolitical importance and a decade-old two US-led NATO wars and Global Terrorism, Turkey regards its NATO member status a blessing and a pass to continue with its policy of Armenian Genocide denial and finds it less costly to rewrite history than to come clean with its criminal past. As you can see, in many ways the NATO alliance, the EU countries included, willingly or otherwise, is the enabler for Turkey to continue on this path of denial.

    Given the EU’s impotent toward Turkey and given the blockade of Armenia on both sides by this NATO member country and its outpost Azerbaijan, why should Armenia jeopardize the country’s security by getting close to the EU and away from Russia when, given the EU’s track record on Armenia, it is not going to lift a finger to help Armenia against these two Turkish and pseudo-Turkish enemies? In a situation such as this, Armenia has nothing to gain getting closer to EU when it is in a state of undeclared war with the illegal state of Turkey and a quasi-state of war with the artificial state of Azerbaijan, both of which are the beneficiaries of the EU policies, with Turkey being a military ally and Azerbaijan being an energy supplier hub to the EU.

    The security of Armenia is paramount when faced with this situation and Russia, as a military ally to Armenia, has both the influence and the ability to provide Armenia with that security just as NATO provided security for the illegal and fascist state of Turkey against the Soviet Union for seventy years. When was the last time the EU guaranteed security for Armenia that Armenia refused? Never! Instead it always caved in to Turkey’s demands and blackmail. The EU is no reliable ally when Armenia needs one the most. Besides, the relationship Armenia has with Russia and the EU don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Armenia can benefit from Russia’s military alliance, while being in the Russia’s Customs Union, and still have some economic relations with the EU. We Armenians must be smart and use both Russia and the EU to our complete advantage to the absolute detriment of our genocidal enemies on both sides.

  7. Ararat, I smiled when I read you referring to Azb as a Turkish outpost. Clearly, you have seen this phrase used in reference to Armenian vis-à-vis Russia, and try to “reverse the insult”. But the thing is, well here it is:
    1. Armenia has given the control of its borders to Russia (not so with Azeri-Turkish relations)
    2. Russia has a 50 year military base lease with Armenia (nothing like that with us and Turks)
    3. Russia controls your gas (we control Turkish gas)
    4. Russia controls your railroads, and other infrastructure (Azerbaijan is a net investor in Turkish infrastructure).
    5. Russia now controls your foreign trade policy (no such thing with us and Turks; if anything we control their trade policy by pressuring them to keep the Armenia border closed, with our oil as the tool)

    Is the above clear? Regardless, what is more important for you to realize is that you have essentially acknowledged with your comments above that the only way for Armenia to survive is to survive as a Russian outpost. And that is the real story here, as one of the commenters above pointed out aptly (i.e., why are Armenians talking about nonsensical “news” at the UN, whereas the real news is the customs-union deal. And has the Diaspora signed a gentleman’s agreement with Sarkissian not to make a big deal out of it, to keep the news quite so that the US does not notice this MAJOR development in Armenia’s geopolitical orientation towards US rivals?) That, my friend, is the real story. You can keep calling Azerbaijan fake etc in every single sentence of yours as much as you wish … Fake or not, we are a REALLY independent country. Your independence, on the other hand, is fake. I’d rather be a real country now and here, than be a have-been from 2500 years ago.

    I am not to going to pretend I care deeply about Armenia. But if I were an Armenian, I would really be worried about Armenia’s de facto loss of independence. And would even wonder: are we paying too high of a price for a lack of compromise with Azerbaijan, having sold ourselves to Russia for protection? But as long as Armenia is ruled by the Karabak clan like Sarkissian, Armenian will never get to consider this question in earnest.

    • Karim,

      It is quite clear to me that you read from my remarks what you wanted to read and misinterpreted my remarks to suit your agenda. If you think Armenia is a Russian outpost because Armenia has a long term military alliance with Russia and there is a Russian base in Armenia then, using your own logic, Azerbaijan’s closest ally Turkey is an outpost for the United States and NATO because they have military bases in eastern Turkey. For as long as the Soviet Union existed and even 22 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union these bases continue to exist in Turkey. Wouldn’t Turkey, a self-proclaimed spokesperson and the savior of the so-called the Muslim World, not only distance itself but remove these bases from its soil when according to the Muslim World itself the United States and NATO are their biggest and perceived number one enemies?

      You can’t just make statements in a vacuum and you have got to put things in context. Armenia, other than being a republic in its modern history, has existed as a nation state as a kingdom for well over a millennia until the politics of the region began to change and the invasions of Mongols and Turkish tribes, such as the Seljuks and then the Ottomans, from Mongolia and Central Asia into the Armenian homeland became commonplace. Then came the formation of the Russian empire and now the alliance between them and the Armenians. You see, Armenia as an ancient tenacious nation with small population and faced with foreign invaders has made alliances over the centuries for its survival. It is because of Armenia’s strong character, its will to survive and its wisdom that Armenia is one of the few former kingdoms and of different millennia, unlike the ancient kingdom of Assyria for instance, that it exists to this day despite what it has faced throughout its tumultuous past.

      As a matter of fact and Like I have said many times before, the artificial state of Azerbaijan was created in 1918 by the Turks as a Turkish outpost in the South Caucasus for two reasons: To have, as part of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Turanism, a stronghold in the Caucasus to finish off Armenia after the Armenian Genocide and the depopulation of Armenians from Western Armenia, and to have control over the Baku oil fields. Contrary to your claims, if Azerbaijan is not a Turkish outpost then why is it that Turkey is the guarantor of the security of the Nakhichevan exclave, an ancient Armenian province now depopulated of its indigenous Armenians and under Azerbaijani occupation? If Azerbaijan is not a Turkish outpost then why would the Turks refer to Azerbaijan as an “extension” of Turkey and claim the Turks and Azerbaijanis are “two states, one nation?” When was the last time the Azerbaijanis took to the streets and let the Turks know they are neither Turkish extension nor two states and one nation but an independent state free from Turkish influence? Never!

      You yourself, contrary to your distrust and dislike of the Turks, combined the Turks and the Azerbaijanis, including Northwestern Iranians, into some 90 million Turkish-Azerbaijani union against a mere 3 million Armenians yet here you are criticizing Armenia taking steps to secure itself against such union. When will Armenia not be considered a Russian outpost to Azerbaijanis and the Turks alike I wonder, when it throws caution to the wind with its 3 million population and faces this so-called 90 million Turkish-Azerbaijani union, while being blockaded by them on both sides and while Ilham Aliyev, the draft-dodging anti-Armenian chicken-hawk racist turned oil sheikh and autocrat to whom Armenians must have fell off the sky and landed on their artificial lands? Obviously, this belligerent Azerbaijani baseless attack on Armenia is out of bitterness because Armenia, by joining the Russia’s Customs Union, has once again dealt a major blow to Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian adventures.

    • Azerbaboon, in a few short years your really going to like your oil becsuse we’re going to make you drink it! The only thing your going to be discissing in term of land is how much more of our lands your going to return.The only land that belongs to you is in your Uger homeland.

    • Karim Khan, your short sighted comments is good for Turkic world’s consumption…your beloved Turkey has 24 US and NATO military bases including one Incirlik Air-Base. This air base land occupied by Mongol-Turks during Armenian Genocide..I wonder sometimes why one Russian base, where most servicemen are Armenian descents makes Turkic world population nervous and depressed!!Russia’s military base is good for defensive purposes against Turkish invading desire toward Armenia, but has nothing to do Axerbaijani oil Sheikhdom…Artskhi professional army don’t need Russia’s help, their brave soldiers can clean Sultan’s land and capture entire Azerbaijani oil fields in few days time as they did in 1994! I am sure the oil Sheikhdom Sultan knows by heart, but he likes barking, like the rest of his paid brain washed puppets!!

  8. “But if I were an Armenian, I would really be worried about Armenia’s de facto loss of independence. And would even wonder: are we paying too high of a price for a lack of compromise with Azerbaijan, having sold ourselves to Russia for protection?”

    Armenia’s problem with Axerbaijan is not only Artsakh. You claim all of Armenia (including Yerevan), thus forcing us to liberate Artsakh and keep it as strategical region whether we like it or not. Also, Axerbaijan denies the AG of 1915 which furthermore points to your goals of annihilation of what is left of Armenia.

    You Turks and Azeris FORCE us Armenians to liberate our lands. Also Turkey should leave Cyprus which is legally.. well, Cyprus. Agree?

  9. Latest News today that may interest Armenians, is with respect to TWO issues that are indirectly important for Armenia and Armenians at large.
    1.Egypt has formally asked Turkish Ambassador to leave Egypt, in reprisal of some inadequate utterances of PM Recep Erdogan –
    2.Powers to be in Geneva,CH have finally agreed that Iran proceed with development Nuclear research for peaceful purposes and decided to lift up the Sanctions imposed on Iran .Looks like the tides are changing!!!!

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