Armenia’s Leaders Take Strong Positions Against US and Azerbaijan

The most noteworthy Armenian foreign policy development of the week was supposed to be the first negotiating session between Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev over the Artsakh conflict. But since there was no breakthrough in these negotiations, we shall focus our attention on important related issues.

On March 28, 2019, while addressing the Armenian Parliament, Prime Minister Pashinyan criticized the US government’s lack of reaction to last year’s democratic changes in Armenia, dubbed as the “Velvet Revolution.”

This is the first time in a year that Pashinyan has used such strong language in referring to the United States. “The U.S. has long been acting as the most ardent defender of democracy in the entire world,” Pashinyan stated. “I want to ask all of us a question: how did the U.S. react to the unprecedented democratic change in Armenia? It was a profoundly and quintessentially democratic change and nobody can doubt this. I, for example, have told America’s representatives that I believe that they basically came up with zero reaction. Why?”

Pashinyan then went on to defend Armenia’s independent political line regardless of the pressures exerted on Yerevan by major powers. “When we say that our country’s sovereignty is of paramount importance to us, we don’t mean that we need to replace dependence on point A [Russia] by dependence on point B [the United States]. We take our sovereignty very seriously and I want to assure you … that our government is strongly committed to protecting our country’s and people’s sovereignty in all directions.”

Pres. Trump’s administration has so far paid only lip service to the dramatic and peaceful changes in Armenia. Pres. Trump sent a congratulatory message to Pashinyan last September praising the “Velvet Revolution” and expressing readiness to help the new government implement sweeping reforms. Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saluted the “remarkable changes” in Armenia. However, these beautiful words have remained on paper. No concrete steps were taken to assist Armenia. That is partly due to the fact that the Trump administration couldn’t care less about democratic developments in foreign countries and Pres. Trump is self-absorbed with his own ego and personal interests!

Pashinyan’s declaration is a positive development for Armenia’s foreign policy and a sharp departure from the positions of previous Armenian leaders. So far, most of the pressure on Armenia has come from Russia. This is an inevitable fact given Armenia’s economic, political and military reliance on Russia. The new development is that Armenia’s leaders are no longer willing to blindly succumb to Russia’s desires and orders trampling upon their country’s sovereignty. When Armenia’s interests are in question, Pashinyan has neither shied away from criticizing the European Union nor reasserting Armenia’s sovereignty in his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If the United States wants to win over Armenia, it has to offer a carrot instead of a stick. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

On March 29, RA Minister of Defense Davit Tonoyan met with representatives of the Armenian community of New York.

The second most astounding development last week was the declaration of Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan during his visit to the US. “As the minister of defense, I state we have reformulated the ‘territories in exchange for peace’ approach to ‘new war in exchange for new territories’ approach,” Tonoyan announced on March 29 in New York at a meeting with members of the Armenian community. “We will get rid of the trenches and persistent defensive stance. We will increase the number of military units capable of transferring military operations to the territory of the adversary,” Tonoyan stated. “We will not give up anything.”

While some may interpret the Armenian Defense Minister’s words as war-mongering, in reality, Tonoyan is responding in kind to the thousands of threats issued over the years by Pres. Aliyev to conquer Meghri and even Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. It is time that Armenia’s leaders speak from a position of strength, not weakness.

Clearly, Aliyev is not ready for war. Otherwise, he would have already attacked. His threats should not be taken seriously. It is proper to silence him through counter-threats, and if need be, preemptive attacks!

Armenia’s defense minister is sending a clear message to Azerbaijan’s president not to embark on a foolish adventure. Otherwise, his pipelines and oil wells will come under attack, devastating the country’s economy and toppling his regime. It is significant that such a hard-hitting message is being sent to Azerbaijan while Armenia’s defense minister is on US soil.

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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 United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

6 Comments

  1. Mr. Sassounian,

    I think you are being mislead and fooled by political displays mean to appease public sentiments. Foremost, if Nikol thought Western powers would take “democracy in Armenia” seriously, that to me proves beyond any doubt that Nikol is a moron and has no business being the head of any country, let along one that is in the middle of a major geopolitical tug of war. Even a dimwit knows that Western powers could careless about “democracy”. Moreover, despite what Nikol is saying when on a public podium, his George Soros funded cohorts throughout government are busy preparing Armenian society for “peace” and “coexistence” with Azerbaijan – as Azerbaijan builds up its forces on the line of contact. Lastly, let me remind you that you can also catch a Bear with honey. The Bear can be more useful for us than a bunch of flies. I think this is where you and others today are wasting the opportunity…

  2. Totally agree with the author on this one. Some say Trump foreign policy is pragmatic, I think it’s just irresponsible and messy. For Bolton to go all the way to Yerevan and give Armenia’s new administration lectures in how it is necessary to improve relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, was almost insulting. My only concern is that Bolton might have made weapons sale offers in Baku, similar to the ones he did in Yerevan. Now that Armenia is planning to purchase modern Russian fighters, Azerbaijan might try to use this to acquire modern fighters from Europe or US. Would really like to know if Trump administration can organize this kind of weapons sale to Azerbaijan without congressional approval.

  3. For sure US and EU understand that Armenia Simi independent country can not have own foreign policy without Russia influence therefore these nation will avoid Armenia and take direct action with Russia. As Armenia reject EU integration and her policy line up with Russia national interest

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