Just a few days ago, the Centennial of the first Armenian Republic, the first Armenian state in 543 years, was grandly celebrated right where its founding was secured, at Sardarabad, along with Gharakiliseh and Bash Aparan… supposedly.
Based on people’s accounts, while pomp and circumstance abounded, they was somewhat misdirected. Music—mostly Russian, with the focus not on 1918 but Armenian achievements during WWII and the Artsakh liberation struggle. Plus, it seems things were a bit disorganized, with people having to walk for a couple of kilometers after abandoning their cars along the road to arrive at the festivities.
But why, how could this happen when preparations have been going on for the past year? Is it attributable to the government change just three weeks before? Is it something far more insidious? Or is it just plain incompetence.
I’m going to dispense with the first and third options.
It seems that the allergies certain sectors of Armenian society have to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) render it more important to disrespect and denigrate the 1918 republic, given the two are inextricably intertwined. Never mind that its birth was the highest expression of Armenians’ will to survive, come together, fend off the attacking Ittihadists-cum-Kemalists, and start building the state which served as the basis for what we have today.
By celebrating the centennial without properly celebrating the republic, without properly recognizing the role of the ARF in its formation, current political considerations/calculations were deemed more important that affirming to the world, and more importantly the Armenians, the importance of that time a century ago in getting us to where we are today. To give credit where credit is due, Nikol Pashinyan was the only one who gave due credit to the first republic and the ARF, in his very brief remarks.
But the fact that this problem was not noticed and condemned by the bulk of the country’s population is what’s really worrisome. I have to wonder if, like the people of Turkey, our compatriots also have a memory hole. It has been said that for most “Turks” their country’s history “starts” in 1923. There is a blissful ignorance/unawareness of what happened before that date. Is there a similar ignorance of the 1918-1921 period among the people of the Republic of Armenia?
This is a real problem. We must move towards a collective, national, state of mind that recognizes historical realities, even if they may seem inconvenient in the current political context.
Let’s break this partisan induced revisionism. Please.