One year ago, there was an emergency. Armenian National Assembly Majority Leader Lilit Makunts of the My Step coalition desperately needed to speak to US Senator Robert Menendez during her visit to the United States.
The problem was – there was no real emergency. There was an urgency, however – because Makunts wanted a photo opportunity with Senator Menendez. The photo would serve to bolster her growing reputation as one of America’s leading assets in the National Assembly – serving the US State Department’s overarching goal of dividing Armenia from Russia.
Given the heroic role that Senator Menendez would play in December 2019 by securing unanimous passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in the US Senate, Makunts was aware of the necessary optics and who she should be photographed with while in Washington, DC. She was also smart enough to know her handlers at the US Embassy in Yerevan would be encouraged that she was trying to take credit for the adoption of a resolution that she had absolutely nothing to do with. To be frank – she was practicing the dark art of political appropriation – where you take decades of work by Armenian-American activists in New Jersey and around the nation – and make it seem like you were in on the action as well.
Since her election to Armenia’s National Assembly, Makunts – a former Minister of Culture – has slavishly sought to appease American policy goals in Armenia, rather than represent her home constituency. Look no further than her role as the go-to person for America’s failed diplomat in Yerevan – US Ambassador Lynne Tracy.
Days after the catastrophic Artsakh capitulation document was signed by Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and thousands of refugees from Artsakh were swarming in Yerevan, Makunts and Tracy met, and a comical dance ensued on Twitter. Their primary topic of discussion, and cooperation apparently, was “strengthening democracy” in Armenia. This focus on democracy in Armenia completely ignores America’s deep silence on Azerbaijan and Turkish war crimes in Artsakh. It totally ignores America’s failure to provide meaningful aid to tens of thousands of Artsakh refugees. It totally ignores Ambassador Tracy’s leading role in eliminating America’s demining program in Artsakh. It totally ignores the over $150 million in US military assistance to Azerbaijan. No, Makunts and Tracy’s matter of great urgency in this moment is “strengthening democracy.” To read between the lines – the basic political message is – keep Pashinyan in power, at all costs.
For those who believe in the Tracy-Makunts priorities – there is a bridge immediately for sale in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is the comical Twitter colloquy between Tracy and Makunts in the aftermath of the loss of 70-percent of Artsakh’s territory and the resulting humanitarian and refugee crisis throughout Artsakh and Armenia.
Today Ambassador Tracy discussed the current political situation w/@LilitMakunts. Both reaffirmed their joint commitment to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Armenia. “Political violence & intimidation have no place in a democratic society,” said the Ambassador.
— US Embassy, Armenia (@usembarmenia) November 15, 2020
I met with the Ambassador Tracy today. The focus of our conversation were the unacceptable incidents of violence in #Yerevan earlier in the week. We expressed our joint commitment to continue strengthening democracy and rule of law in #Armenia. @usembarmenia
— Lilit Makunts (@LilitMakunts) November 15, 2020
A strong and durable relationship between the United States and Armenia is desirable – when that relationship is based on tangible issues – and not based on America’s one-sided foreign policy goal of dividing Armenia from Russia at the expense of Armenia’s national security.
Over the last 50 days, we have seen the disaster of Turkey smartly taking advantage of an orchestrated divide between Armenia and Russia. What Armenia needs now are leaders who stand for our national interests. Lilit Makunts appears to be standing strong – but not for Armenia.