Armenia and Artsakh face tension, uncertainty in new year

As Armenia enters the new year, it faces a host of national security challenges in the aftermath of the recent Artsakh War that reveal limited prospects for peace under the ceasefire agreement. 

The November 9 trilateral end-of-war agreement, signed by the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia, ended the 44-day-long Artsakh War. Under the agreement, most of the seven outlying territories of Artsakh as well as about a third of the land of Artsakh proper were handed over from Armenia to Azerbaijan. 

The process of demarcating the new borders established by the ceasefire agreement is as of yet incomplete. Regarding the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Soviet-era international boundaries have been revived, without consideration for the new realities on the ground. Borders cleave entire villages and even homes into two, threatening displacement for residents of border villages and separation from farmlands and water sources. The delimitation of boundaries also brings Armenian and Azerbaijani civilian settlements into close proximity unmatched since the Soviet era.  

Security risks have been heightened for the residents of Armenia’s southernmost province of Syunik in particular. Under the ceasefire agreement, the regions of Zangelan and Kubatli were returned to Azerbaijan, creating a new border with Syunik. Parts of the major Goris-Kapan-Meghri highway now pass through Azerbaijani territory as well, prompting fears regarding the security of travel and transportation along the road. 

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan visits Armenian province of Gegharkunik, December 29, 2020

The Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia criticized the placement of a sign stating “Welcome to Azerbaijan” along the road between the village of Vorotan and the town of Goris as a clear attempt to “intimidate and terrorize civilians.” The sign, erected on December 28, includes a map in which settlements in Syunik are represented as part of Azerbaijan. Locals have submitted concerns regarding the violation of their rights to life, property, physical security and inviolability to the Human Rights Defender’s Office. 

During a cabinet session on December 24, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted that the villages of Vorotan and Shournoukh were two sites where the process of border demarcation could result in “painful outcomes” for residents, as their homes or land could end up under Azerbaijani control. The PM reiterated that no land has been conceded from within the internationally recognized borders of Armenia. Three days later during an interview with the Public Television Company of Armenia, he asserted that the government is engaged with the specification of border checkpoints, rather than the delimitation of the entire length of the border. He stated that this process was undertaken to ensure the security of Syunik once it became clear that border disputes could revive another war. 

In Shournoukh, Azerbaijani officials have demanded that residents evacuate twelve homes that now lie east of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the start of January. The regional administration has promised to provide them with monetary compensation in return for the loss of private property. 

Over a month after the signature of the agreement, many families remain uncertain regarding the fate of their relatives who fought in the war. While the exchange of prisoners of war and other detained persons has commenced according to the provisions of the ceasefire agreement, a number of POWs and civilians remain in Azerbaijan. The daily process of identifying and returning POWs and missing persons continues through mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Russian peacekeepers. However Armenian officials continue to resound calls that Azerbaijan artificially protracts this process while condoning inhuman treatment of captured Armenians. 

The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh has published six reports over the past two months regarding the treatment of Armenian prisoners. Most recently the office published an interim report on the cases of killings of civilians by the Azerbaijani armed forces. According to the report, 60 civilians were killed between September 27 and December 22, 2020. Among them 39 were killed by targeted strikes on civilian settlements, including missile strikes, shelling and bombing, while 21 were killed while in captivity through direct means including physical violence, stabbing, beheading and close-range shots. Meanwhile 40 cases of missing civilians have been recorded, some of whom remain in Azerbaijani captivity. The report excludes a number of unverified cases of killings and missing persons. 

The exchange of POWs and detained civilians has taken place several times. On December 14, 44 POWs were transferred to Armenia, among whom were 30 soldiers and 14 civilians. On December 9, three civilians returned to Armenia; a fourth who had been detained alongside them died in Azerbaijani captivity. Meanwhile 1,073 bodies have been found and identified on the battlefield, yet the fate of 1,600 missing persons is still unknown. 

Armenia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan has claimed that Azerbaijan refuses to cooperate with the two mediating bodies and delays the processes of exchanging POWs, providing information about detained persons and offering access to the battlefield with the goals of “creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension in the Armenian society” and disrupting the “mental immunity.” 

The International Crisis Group, a think tank based in Belgium devoted to conflict prevention and resolution, delineated its proposals on promoting sustainable peace in a briefing titled “Improving Prospects for Peace after the Nagorno-Karabakh War.” According to the briefing, while the future governance of Artsakh remains ambiguous, its status is unlikely to be resolved in the near future through a forced settlement. Rather, actors should address immediate humanitarian concerns and facilitate economic integration in order to create a new order in the South Caucasus conducive to peaceful coexistence. 

The briefing also states that Russia should take the lead in upholding security along newly demarcated borders by ensuring that local civilians have access to water, health care, emergency response and religious and cultural sites. While the future of the OSCE Minsk Group process remains unclear, the OSCE can dispatch diplomats and missions to guarantee delivery of humanitarian aid, hear human rights concerns and possibly work with the joint peacekeeping center in Stepanakert. The ICRC, for its part, can revive past efforts to facilitate dialogue across borders on water-related issues. 

The briefing suggests that the ceasefire provision calling for a new corridor connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan and unblocked transit and trade in the region creates possibilities for the opening of economic relations between Armenia and its neighbors. International donors, whose increased efforts will be critical, should ensure that reconstruction projects support linkages and trade. 

Since the PM’s signature of the trilateral agreement, a coalition of 17 opposition parties called the “Homeland Salvation Movement” has been organizing daily protests in Yerevan demanding his resignation. Dozens of peaceful demonstrators, including members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), were arrested this week outside Armenia’s National Assembly. On December 25 Pashinyan announced that he is prepared to leave the position of prime minister “only by the decision of the people” and invited consultations on holding snap parliamentary elections in 2021. The opposition movement has rejected his proposal for early elections, maintaining its position that Pashinyan must resign immediately and make way for the formation of an interim government of national unity. When asked whether it was possible to reach a compromise after a meeting with the PM, Bright Armenia party leader Edmon Marukyan responded, “The political crisis continues.” 

A young woman getting detained by police during a protest in Armenia, December 25, 2020 (Photo: Armenian Revolutionary Federation/Facebook)
Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies and Armenian Language and Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a human rights journalist and feminist poet. Her first poetry collection, Journey to Tatev, will be published with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.

20 Comments

  1. Sad state of affairs. Pashinyan has no clue. Hes completely lost with the magnitude of what just happened and its clear he cant govern as few will take him seriously. Not blaming him totally. The last 2 Presidents are traitors and thieves in their own right. Armenia needs massive direct resources from the diaspora. There is no other way. Diaspora military units is a must. It seems Armenia proper doesn’t want the diaspora’s direct involvement but seems OK with losing ancient lands and being under useless Russian hegemony or worse, threatened directly by Azeris and Turks. They cry for international community intervention but ignore the 10 million strong diaspora. That’s how insane this situation is.

  2. The blame is entirely and squarely on Pashinian. The prior presidents handed him a good negotiating position where over the years they built up the pressure on Azerbaijan. Pashinian “started the negotiations from his own position.” Meanwhile it remained a mystery what that position was. Recall his obnoxious speech in parliament “inch vor petka etel khosum enk, I.e. we talk about what we want to talk about.” Thugs speak in that manner. What we do have is fact that after their mysterious and failed negotiations Azeris attacked. Now he’s engaging in verbal acrobatics saying he’ll bear the responsibility but not the blame. He’s preparing the grounds to flee, in my opinion. People, wake up, your leader is a populist charlatan who has robbed you of money, your ancestral land and your dignity. Joe- on your Diaspora point. Why would the Diaspora help now? We just sent $170m in charity that got appropriated by the government.

    • I wouldn’t absolve his voters who kept him in power despite his openly communicated agenda and two years of destructive steps. A population that elects a Western sponsored (!) failed (!!) journo (!!!) deserves, on average, what it gets. De kerek.

    • Lucy, I disagree with your comments. Pashinian has been in office for just two years. Instead of rebuilding and modernizing our military, Kocharian and Sargsyan raped Armenia’s coffers. How do you explain these criminals having off shore bank accounts on $50.000.00 yearly salary. They should be in prison as Pashinian tried to do. But they were released by corrupt judges. Joe is right that we need to infuse massive resources, but this time to reinforce our military with modern weapons, like drones. If not, Armenia’s survival is at stake!

    • Hi Lucy, I agree just sending money isn’t the answer. Diaspora Armenians have been sending money for decades. The system is corrupt and the leaders are in a vacuum of self preservation with useless self centered governance. Their resources are scarce and therefore they are fighting amongst themselves. So along with that money the diaspora needs direct intervention to make sure its going into the proper channels and to make sure the resources are utilized efficiently. Starting with diaspora military trained units to foreign policy decisions to domestic education along with direct promotion of business endeavors, basically all aspects of Armenia’s future. Its the only answer. Relying upon anything or anyone else hasn’t worked and will never work. Utilizing the 10 million strong diaspora will work. But Armenian leadership themselves must agree to this too. So far historically they haven’t..

  3. Joe says :….Is it translated and posted in Armenian newspapers .Are Armenians enough informed about the situation?
    They should understand and appreciate the help from the diaspora. They need some lectures and informations .
    They have ears to Soros…….? Soros was a preemptive step from the opponents.

  4. This man was a plant and his mission was to destroy Armenia. Mission accomplished. Armenians failed the youth by allowing them to not learn from history and other “color revolutions”. We have seen the same playbook carried out throughout the world and yet we fell for the same trap.

    How Ironic is it that the old regime who albeit was corrupt stepped down to protests and harassment from Pashinyan to avoid internal conflict yet the “man of the people” refuses to accept his faith and brought us to the brink of civil war while allowing the country to be handed over to genocidal maniacs. Corrupt or not this would never have happened to the old regimes who had their flaws yet still protected their homeland and people.

  5. The latest Artsakh debacle has uncovered the total bankruptcy of the entire Armenian political class from Armenia’s independence to the current regime. It is truly sad to see our nation governed by either corrupt oligarchs or incompetent buffoons. The present leader,Pashinian,is a pathetic demagogue and a self-absorbed charlatan. Were it not for Russia the Azeri army would have overrun all of Artsakh and even Armenia itself.
    My recommendation for the Armenian leadership would be to consider an official union with Russia. The time has come to admit that we as a nation are incapable of producing
    true world-class statesmen. To compare someone like Pashinian with the likes of Putin and Erdogan is beyond absurd. Even the Azeri leader Aliev speaks and acts with far more statesmanship and acumen than the clown Nikol. Any comparison between our current leader in Yerevan and the other actors in that region would bring about torrents of laughter.
    Armenia is a creation of Russia. Imperial Russia conquered what we call Artsakh today from the Persian empire in 1813,and as for the regions of Yerevan and Nakhichevan they were conquered by the Russians from Persia in 1828-29 and incorporated into the Russian Empire by the treaty of Turkmenchai in 1829.Moreover, the young Armenian Republic of 1918-20 was salvaged from total destruction in 1920 by the Russian Red Army. Were it not for the Russians the Turkish army under Kazem Karabekir was at the gates of Yerevan ready to occupy the Armenian capital in November 1920.It is quite ironic that the Turks started their 1920 campaign on Sept.28 of that year, while the Azeris with Turkish collusion attacked Artsakh in 2020 on Sept.27.In November 1920 the capital of Armenia Yerevan was about to fall,while in November 2020 the capital of Artsakh Stepanakert was near collapse. Both times Russian intervention saved the day for our people.
    We need to draw the necessary conclusions from our tragic history:Armenia is not a viable entity in that region without unconditional Russian protection. If there is one thing worse than the barbarity of our enemies it is the sheer incompetence and treachery of our so-called leaders. Pashinyan had the nerve to complain about the theft of his bottle of perfume right after the ceasefire in November with Armenians suffering nearly 3000 dead martyrs.Nikol Pashinyan would not qualify to be a clown in a circus, let alone the prime minister of Armenia.As for the previous leaders, their notorious corruption can only be matched by the current leader’s pathetic incompetence.In a normal society all these leaders would be put on trial for endangering the national security of the homeland while engaging in self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement.
    The Armenian people deserve better than this tragic routine. The nation can no longer be entrusted to such ignorant,corrupt demagogues any more than a family’s finances can be entrusted to an alcoholic gambler. Let Russia take over and provide a sorely needed peace. During the Soviet era Armenia prospered without the need to spend precious resources on worthless outdated armaments and without the spectacle of pathetic buffoons pretending to be the leaders of a nation. Let us admit that Armenia’s so-called independence is a pretense. Without the Russian shield the Turkish and Azeri armies would overrun all of Armenia within a couple of hours.We need to be clear-eyed and rid ourselves from the myth of national sovereignty. Let Putin appoint his governor for Armenia and put an end to this sick cycle of incompetent, corrupt leaders.In the end,the physical well-being and survival of our nation trumps all other considerations.

    • I agree for the most part. But the fact that you write “Armenia is a creation of Russia” and mention it being taken from the Persian Empire without writing the roots of these lands being Armenian shows me you are a barskahye brainwashed Armenian Iranian.

      Armenia was conquered and subjugated by Turks, Russians, and yes, also Persians among others. When Armenia lost this war, the Iranian leaders cheered and sent congratulations to Aliyev in public. However, all these lands from the west to the east, north and south, currently occupied by foreigners, are Armenian lands. The Persians were nomadic colonizers like the Turkic people. Like how the Natives are indigenous to the Americas, Armenians are indigenous to the region with various tribes and are not an offshoot of Persians. So spare me your “Persian Empire.”

      Iranian nationalists consider Armenia and the Caucasus part of Iran, similar to Kurds (who are Iranian), think Western Armenia is their homeland. This is the problem with nomadic people. While Armenia and Iran are friendly due to mutual interests, it is not an ally and never will be, and all Armenians best to be wise to the situation.

      Sad state of affairs for Armenia being literally surrounded by enemies and Turks eying to occupy Armenia this century, so for this point I would agree it would be in the interest of Armenia to be part of Russia for protection and prosperity, like how it has dozens of multi ethnic republics part of the federation, as long as the Armenian language, culture, religion, demographics, etc are not affected like the Soviet era policies. Armenia was like the silicon valley during the USSR and Russia could benefit a lot from such a relationship again.

  6. Mercy on Pashinyan ! He is caught up in a whirl of local, national, regional and international politics ! Anger at him is better directed at the aggressors, manipulators and profiteers responsible for this horrendous state of affairs.

    • @Joe: we do have someone from diaspora in charge of diaspora relations, Zareh. Totally useless. Diaspora should be contacting him and demanding accountability for the appropriated $170m.

      You act as those diaspora is one monolithic institution that can be deployed with a push of some buttons. Your theoretical and lofty goals vs real and urgent daily catastrophe of chipping away at Armenian lands are a distraction. One of the largest resources bases, taxpayers and employers of Armenia just got handed to Azeris without so much as a public discourse or explanation. It’s never coming back. The person in charge is incapable of protecting the interests of the country. Every one of us in diaspora should be up in arms and speaking up loudly now!

    • @ Lucy, Whats your suggestion? In this case Armenia was fighting Turkey and the useless “ally” Russia did nothing until Armenia capitulated ancient lands and then stuck its nose as a peace keeper. Its perfectly clear that relying on Russia is useless for any long term Armenian interests. Also no one doubts Pashinyan is largely to blame for his incompetence in both political and military matters. And so yes he needs to go but again what is your suggestion? Mine is a world unity where the Armenian diaspora, the same one that is 10 million strong where a truly vested interest in Armenia’s well being and prosperity, plays a significant role. If the diaspora representative is useless then we need to start by changing that. BTW it is a monolith as all diaspora put down their differences and donated 170 million without any questions. Further we need to make it perfectly clear to all 17 useless tribal political factions in Armenia, what a joke, of the need for unity. Their current suggestion is to reinstall old Russian corrupt Vasgen Manukyan..That is going backwards. We need new young forward thinking, aggressive militarily politically savvy individuals that promote democracy and unity. No one like that is coming from Armenian. Time to use the diaspora resources directly and no not just with money. DIRECT INVOLVEMENT.

  7. — Los que somos primera generacion nacidos en la diaspora ( 1942 Rca Argentina ) y que hemos estado en contacto directo con los protagonistas de las masacres y genocidios ( entre ellos mis padres ) , desde pequeños y creciendo protagonicamente dentro de la colectividad , hace 30 años atras ya nos planteabamos lo dificil que hiba a ser gobernar la Rca luego de su soltura del soguzgamiento durante 69 años por los rusos sovieticos , perdiendo las tradiciones , el idioma , la cultura , etc. ; Hoy sabemos que hemos llegado con estas politicas ( 17 partidos integrados por rusos armenios y sus 1500000 pobladores ) y particularmente con el ineficiente gobierno actual a solicitar durante los recientes enfrentamientos y ahora mismo desesperadamente el manto putinista y tambien sabemos que estamos a corta distancia de nuevas fronteras y perder la rca. ; Nuevamente la millonaria sangre derramada desde 1892 / 2020 no sirvio para nada ; Solo sabemos que seguiremos existiendo en la diaspora las generaciones nacidas de turcos armenios , rusos armenios , israelies armenios , iranies armenios , irakies armenios , americanos armenios , centroamericanos armenios , sudamericanos armenios , etc. etc. etc. … Miguel Angel Nalpatian (1942), Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Rca Argentina .-

  8. 2 January 2021
    Despite 30 years of rather unstable vigilance, negotiations within the OSCE context were almost invariably giving advantage to no capitulation, no massacres, no inhuman treatment, no massive loss of the Armenian pearl and yet within two years with almost blind outlook, 30 years of negotiating efforts and even through exaggerated irregularities by the previous regime, the grounds for war had been established indirectly by the new regime through poor diplomacy or perhaps with unplanned intention without properly evaluating the magnitude of the damage should the enemy decide to grab the opportunity the grounds of which were created in the interview with Saccours’s ‘Hard Talk’ on the BBC channel and the ‘friendly’ meetings with Aliyev in particular and which will never be atoned for. Everything the previous regime did was black and yet their promise to hand over the demanded lands were white!! Pashinian’s effort now is to create a rather light grey feature as an unsuccessful leader. A virtually unstable situation within Armenia, Artsakh and the diaspora with its absolute majority, as it stands now, will never be tolerated by the Armenians. Pashinian and his followers should resign with failed dignity.

    • Amen. Detractors like Hagop Koushakjian are apologists for the failed state that Armenia quickly descended into. The corruption of prior governments is not an excuse for and is a small problem in comparison to the catastrophe of being forced off your ancestral lands and 100,000 people turning into homeless refugees overnight. This is a colossal loss that no money can wash off. There is plenty of corruption and nepotism now too. That’s not even the point. Watching Pashinian in the interviews made me cringe, he had no gravitas, no leadership, he sounded like an unhinged madman, eyes darting every which way. Even interviewers ran him off the road; no world leader was going to take him seriously. Just get rid of him, people. And only then face your real problems.

  9. When East and West fight Armenia suffers the most. This is a fact that we Armenians must come to a sober understanding, that only our unity and strong political leadership will save little Armenia. Surrounding hostile neighborhoods is not beneficial for Armenia, where the country has no natural resources is not an attractive place for investors either. Geopolitically only Russia is interested in South Caucasus. This is a fact after the latest war against Azereither. We need to stop finger-pointing and help our young generation and our government to get the best governing system, improve knowledge and education within the young generation, improve the agricultural system for farmers with better income, improve people standard of living, create a democratic state, free of corruption something better than neighboring Georgia, and freedom of speech. Diaspora Armenian must invest in Armenia and trust our governing and political system and way of life, promote tourism with more modern buildings and hotels and housing. Armenia has huge potential, for its natural beauties to become a fantastic place for visitors.

  10. @Joe. There is only ONE suggestion that can be made now. Get rid of the government incapable of advancing the country’s interests at this crucial time. On the one hand we have them in charge. One the other hand there is a very aggressive adversary making continuous and new demands on Armenia. Pashinian is dishonest and hides the concessions he’s slowly making to Azerbajan. The population finds out little by little by facing the facts. By the time you cobble up your armed diasporan militia, there won’t be anything left to defend. Secondly, Vazgen Manoukyan is not corrupt. He is capable of building consensus and has high integrity, which is why all these political forces have been able to cast aside their differences and hone in on him. He’s not after power. Thirdly, throwing money at the problem is the easiest thing. Armenia needs to rebuild from within, yes, with the help of Diaspora. And lastly, suggestions that don’t focus on the urgent problem TODAY are in reality perpetuating the status quo. They are simply a diversion tactic by the supporters of the unfortunate government, who are embarrassed to openly show their support in light of the facts. You don’t have Armenian people’s best interests at heart.

    • @ Lucy. YES Pashinyan needs to go and no one is arguing that. The sooner the better. He is impotent and has become a real threat to Armenia’s future and its sovereignty and is secretive to the concession he is unilaterally making. Say Vasgen Manukyan is installed, Whats he going to do? Say no to the concessions? Say no to the horrific agreement that Pashinyan made on his own? Basically damage control and hopefully unification as a race is all anyone can do at this point. The war with ancient Armenian lands capitulated needed to be put in context of losing the battle but not the war and will be fought for again.. Its clear had we won the war it would have been different. Military might is the real future answer as that is the very basic core of protecting Armenia’s sovereignty and standing and catalyst of being the masters of our destiny. I believe our fragmentation comes from centuries of Turkish and then Russian hegemony, as some Armenians still argue on whom do we run too.. How crazy? We were historically destroyed as a race as we continually ran to whom ever we pinned hopes on protecting us. Armenian UNITY is the ONLY real answer. Not Russian or Western unity and yes I know, real politics requires both. Armenian Unity, Diaspora included, is the only answer TODAY!

  11. dear compatriots,

    please do not fight and argue with one another. please control your emotions, and please lets be all together. these are tough times, and pointing fingers and finding the one person who is guilty will not solve the problem. if we do not share the guilt, all of us together, than we will never walk towards better days. putting the guilt on one person or two or three relieves us from any sense of guilt, when reality is that Armenians not Pashinyan, Sargsyan, Kocharyan or Petrosyan lost. it is we who lost, not them. they are mere our “representatives”, whether they are good or bad or corrupt it is a different story, but the fact doesn’t change that we in one way or another allowed them to be our representatives.

    there is a lot to do, and there is a lot we, the ordinary Armenians, can do. lets concentrate on what we can do now instead of blaming this or that person. if we concentrate on nationhood, work on creating a movement of self-discovery, it will lead us towards better representatives, we will discover them, they will come within such a movement and will speak the language we all share. if we start skirmishes, fight, argue then the next representative will be exactly like that.

    one thing that we, in the Diaspora, need to understand is that Armenia’s path towards west is rather grim. first of all, there are the Russian soldiers in Armenia, they defend our borders. if we move towards the west, what is going to happen to them and who is going to defend Artsakh or even Armenia? more abstractly, how does one, in general, get rid of Russian soldiers? one can study history and learn what happens when one tries getting rid of them and the question then is whether we want or even can go through something like that. the way Russia and the west are posed at the moment suggests that we simply cannot keep the Russian soldiers in Armenia but lean towards the west, what does it even mean that we become pro-Western but keep Russian soldiers.

    then the next two big problems are oil and gas (or just energy). we are getting gas from Iran and Russia and oil from Russia. at the moment we have a good discount from Russia. if say we move towards the west, how is this going to affect our energy situation? finally, our enormous and powerful Russian diaspora will never agree with full integration with western institutions. Pashinyan has never been a truly westward looking but he has been the fuel of a powerful anti Armenian propaganda, sometimes even initiated by the Armenian Russians.

    regretfully, we in the west, have to stop pulling Armenia towards the west. this is tearing Armenia into two halves. maybe in the early 90s we could have become western, but that door has been closed and this latest war has simply made it extremely difficult (see the above). the grimmest hope exists only through Georgia, by creating a strong union with them, but who is the one who can initiate this? and who can predict how that will affect the Artsakh problem, our relationship with Turkey and our relationship with Azerbaijan. will Turkey and Azerbaijan even let this happen? at what cost to us? maybe one can try to find out what the cost of the Georgia-Armenia union will be, but i think it will be way too high for us. we might be forced to give up both Artsakh and Meghri, and also never be allowed to speak about Genocide (Georgia-Armenia union cannot happen without a strong Armenia-Turkey relations, in fact it probably will have to be a union between Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Given the current atmosphere, how do you do this? at what cost to us?).

    to me, the best strategy to pursue right now is to help Armenia integrate with Russia while also working towards creating western institutions that, while currently do not interfere with Armenia’s inner politics, are ready to pull Armenia into the western zone of influence as soon as another regional catastrophe happens and Russia loses its power. it is not completely clear to me exactly what these institutions should be, but i am sure we can work this out.

    after realizing this, probably our biggest problem to solve is our shrinking population. the country needs to initiate social programs that encourage families to have more children. most advanced European countries are using some sort of financial reward programs, and we need to either copy them or come up with another creative solution. part of this solution has to be jobs.

    this is where we need to go to Russia and tell them that we can produce X, Y and Z in return for a lower electricity costs. perhaps some solution can be worked out. perhaps we can even start producing cars for Russia.

    we also need to think more about east, which we Armenians traditionally do not do. we need to do everything we can to become an ally of China. create educational exchange programs, teach mandarin in Armenia, i don’t know, form a group of 10 creative people and asked them to study China and to come up with 10 things we can propose to them. this is of utmost importance, because the world is becoming more about west vs China than west vs Russia, and Turkey, with its dream of pan-Turkism, is becoming west’s weapon against China (it used to be the weapon against Russia). we need to figure this Chinese puzzle out.

    parallel to China business, we need to find common grounds with India. we already have some relationship with them, and so we need to work on strengthening it.

    the next biggest thing to do is to start investing in education in a much more serious manner than we have done before. there has been a lot of talk about following Israel. lets be frank about things. during the Soviet Union, we were Israel. we had powerful scientists and mathematicians all over the country, many of the most beloved artists were from Armenia (Djigarkhanyan, Babajanyan, and etc..), we in many ways had the ears of official Moscow and were able to influence the brain of the country. at the same time, we had factories and jobs. if the world consisted of only the Soviet Union then we along with Georgians would be considered perhaps the most affluent nation in the world, more so than Russia. we simply need to repeat that by attracting Russian, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, European and Diaspora investments. by selling our country to Russia, we need to get better energy deals from them so that we can become a more interesting option for factories.

    at the core of this lies education, we need to invest in our universities, and perhaps the biggest help, we the diaspora, can do is here. our universities, our brain factories, are all dead. we are not producing great minds in Armenia, we give birth to them, but somebody else, Russia, the US, France and etc, makes them great. we need to find ways of re-directing the brain power we now have in diaspora back to Armenia so that they can raise the next generation in Armenia. this needs to be done in a way that the generation that is raised in Armenia has access to the most advanced western as well as eastern societies, so that we can have brilliant brains all over influencing public thought. having a powerful universities will attract people from all over the world to come to Armenia to study, and this is one way we can become attractive to the east.

    some may say that i am dreaming, but i am not. we have many mathematicians, scientists, musicians and etc all over the world, who hold prestigious positions in many universities. we just need to unite them into one group, and allow them to teach in Armenian universities, perhaps via online classes or summer classes or even just simply creating funds that allow us to hire them for a semester to teach in Armenia. all of this can be done, and it is not that hard.

    what we should definitely not do is fight amongst us, call each other traitors and etc. we have be beaten up by a well-organized corrupt political system, we all have been beaten up. we need to now find strength in us to stand up, unite, and work towards building a new Armenia, based on very different ideas and on a different concept of being Armenia.

    • Stopped reading when it said let’s share the guilt. The only thing I am guilty of is transferring several hundred thousand GBP to Armenia over the last few years. Meanwhile what the Armenian mob is guilty of is electing a Western sponsored failed journo into power and tolerating his utterly embarrassing actions.
      So take your guilt and share it between you but leave me alone, please. If the past is any indicator you are thoroughly unable to fix anything but I wish you luck. Until Armenia is a stable autocracy (like the one in Azerbaijan), I am checking out. Don’t feel like wasting my time with having to accept either a crook or incompetent person in government and the uneducated people that elect and tolerate these people.

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