Pashinyan made yet another gaffe, implying that Shushi was an Azeri city

After ruling Armenia as Prime Minister for almost three years, and most importantly during the country’s recent disastrous defeat in the Artsakh War, Nikol Pashinyan keeps making mistake after mistake and misstatement after misstatement.

As I have written before, regrettably Pashinyan is not competent to lead Armenia. He is more of a protester and a critic who does not possess the necessary skills and experience to be the head of state. The Artsakh War made the situation in the country even worse and exposed Pashinyan’s inability to manage the plethora of Armenia’s problems.

Armenians around the world had high hopes that, after getting rid of the previous regime, Pashinyan would be able to lead Armenia into prosperity and a degree of normalcy. The overwhelming majority of Armenians supported him due to their complete hostility to the former government.

Unfortunately, it turned out that Pashinyan was all talk and no action. In addition to his lack of experience, he surrounded himself with advisors and ministers who knew even less than he did. As a result, neither he nor his government had the slightest chance to be successful. The Artsakh War made matters worse. As the Commander-in-Chief, he made error after error leading Armenia and Artsakh into an indescribable disaster from which we will not recover for decades, if ever. Pashinyan now insists that he should remain in power to correct the grave problems of the country. One would be extremely naïve to believe in such a promise. A leader who is incompetent to lead in peace time and utterly fails during the war is in no position to correct anything. He has made matters worse with his misstatements and erroneous policies.

Several weeks ago, while addressing the Parliament, Pashinyan angered many Armenians by describing the historic Armenian city of Shushi in Artsakh as “unfortunate and pale.” There was no reason to use such negative adjectives to describe a city which is the pride of all Armenians.

More recently, during another appearance in Parliament, in response to a question from a deputy about Shushi, Pashinyan made matters worse for himself when he said: “Shushi before the conflict and the liberation [in 1992], had an Azeri population of 90 and more percent. In other words, you mean to say that the city of Shushi with an Azeri population of 90 and more percent is Armenian with that status?”

A huge outcry erupted among Armenians around the world after Pashinyan’s unfortunate words. This was yet another self-inflicted wound. A few days later during Pashinyan’s visit to Yerablur, when a journalist questioned him about his statement in Parliament on Shushi, he said that he would give an answer if the reporter put her question in writing. The following day, the journalist wrote Pashinyan’s words on a large placard and read them aloud, while standing in front of the Prime Minister’s building. Even though one of Pashinyan’s supporters attacked the journalist and tore up her placard, the Prime Minister kept his word and on his Facebook page addressed the controversy during a live video.

In his response, Pashinyan first accused the media of manipulating his words. He repeated that in the early 1990s Azeris consisted of over 90-percent or rather 96-percent of Shushi residents. He went on to state: “How Shushi could be considered under Armenian control by its status when 96-percent of the population was Azerbaijani?” Pashinyan then mentioned the offer by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on October 19, 2020, several weeks before the end of the war, to accept Armenia’s demand for a ceasefire on condition that Armenians allow the return of the former Azeri residents to Shushi, under Armenian rule.

Pashinyan made several errors in his original statement and subsequent failed attempt to set the record straight. Actually, he had no reason to go into such a convoluted and false argument. He just had to say that he rejected Aliyev’s offer because allowing Azeris to return to Shushi under Armenian control was unacceptable to him and most Armenians. In fact, that’s exactly what Pashinyan told Russian President Vladimir Putin when the latter relayed to him Aliyev’s offer. Had Pashinyan limited his remarks to that fact, there would have been no outcry in the Armenian world. There was no reason to say that Shushi was mostly populated by Azeris prior to 1992, causing such a controversy at a time when his power is waning and he is criticized by a lot of Armenians, including many of his former supporters.

By mentioning the high percentage of Azeris living in Shushi in the past, Pashinyan made several mistakes:

First of all, regardless of the number of Azeris who lived in Shushi, it is a well-known fact that it has been an Armenian city for centuries long before Azerbaijan existed. In 1920, after Azeris massacred thousands of Armenians in Shushi and pursued a policy to depopulate the city’s Armenians, their numbers were diminished considerably. But Pashinyan provided no such background in his misleading statement.

Secondly, Pashinyan was wrong to judge whether an area is Armenian or not by its population at a particular time. For example, there are hardly any Armenians now living in Nakhichevan or Western Armenia, but Armenians still consider these territories as part of historic Armenia.

Thirdly, it is understandable that accepting Aliyev’s offer to allow former Azeri residents to return to Shushi under Armenian control was a hard pill to swallow for Pashinyan and most Armenians; there is an important issue to consider. How many Azeris would have returned to Shushi to live under Armenian rule? Very few, if any. Pashinyan’s implication that thousands of Azeris would have returned to Shushi, making the city’s population 96-percent Azeri again was totally unrealistic. No Azeri would have wanted to live in Shushi under Armenian rule, just like no Armenian would risk living in territories controlled by Azerbaijan.

Finally, Pashinyan’s refusal to accept Aliyev’s offer on October 19, 2020, meant that the war was prolonged until November 9, 2020, causing the loss of more Armenian territories to Azerbaijan. Furthermore, Azeris took over Shushi completely and many more young Armenian soldiers were killed or wounded. The consequences of Pashinyan’s faulty decisions during the war were far worse than his misstatement in Parliament and his subsequent lame effort to correct himself.

The Prime Minister should realize that the longer he clings to power, the more he destabilizes the country. A defeated and incompetent leader cannot improve this tragic situation. The sooner he leaves, the faster a new government can take over and try to reduce the damages suffered by Armenia and Artsakh.

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. May be this imbecile Prime minister Pashinyan of Armenia playing in the Hands of NEO-COMMUNIST Russia’s President Putin,

    • LOL, Putin is as capitalist as they come, there is nothing communist about him. Second of all, supporters of Pashinyan are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they never criticized their dear leader when it mattered, and now we are in this mess. You Russophobes put him in office, but still maintain that it must be Putin’s fault. Hold Pashinyan accountable for once.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Pashinyan is forever labeled the loser of all Armenians. What a disappointment he is. This war was horribly mismanaged with equal incompetence and lies till the end, leading to defeat and massive casualties. His war actions border on treasonous. Yet he attacks any domestic criticism and runs to Russia begging for security of what is left of Artsakh and the security of Armenia’s borders, bringing more Russian hegemony. Even the President Armen Sargysian is in agreement that the PM should step down as hes not capable of making good decisions for anyone. His government clearly is in disarray. The next leaders need to make clear Armenia/Artskh’s long term intentions of retaking their historical lands and that this war isn’t over. The Diaspora collectively should also pressure him to step down. Unification through competent leadership is our only long term answer. The PM is divisive and incompetent: a dangerous combination for Armenia’s future..

    • Joe, your ideas are good in theory, but the reality we in is something else entirely. Contrary to what our apparatchiks and naive “journalists” claim (see for example the article “How Armenia Underestimated Regional Geopolitics”), that Pashinyan is a “sorosakan” and therefore Putin taught him a lesson, I am actually convinced that is what they want everyone to believe so that the despicable behavior of Russia gets some kind of “excuse” and “acceptance”. Pashinyan is in fact Putin’s lapdog which has learned a lot of Russian tricks to play on the Armenian population both in and out of Armenia. If we had a real country, Pashinyan would either be hiding outside Armenia someplace or be six feet under inside of Armenia. The facts are, Russia has been planning the total domination of Armenia to reacquire it from day one of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The biggest simpleton would realize that the Russian policy of “Armenia and its enemy are both our partners” means Armenia has NO CHANCE and we are fooling ourselves if we believe that we as Armenians can make any kind of “decisions”.

      Our gullible, naive, self-centered simpleton leaders of the past century have never understood, nor learned the politics of Russia. And I don’t believe that we will ever learn. Russia has decided that Turks and Azeris are much more valuable and profitable than a band of ridiculous thieves running a racketeering scheme inside some Russian oblast called “Armenia”. And Armenians have done absolutely nothing to counter that, and that remains the bottom line. Until the former Soviet Thief class and mindset is eliminated from Armenia, absolutely no progress can be made towards anything. And it has never been that “we had a great leader and he got deposed by an incompetent one therefore we have a lot of losses”. From day one until today, as far as government and leadership was and is concerned, one incompetent thief goes another incompetent thief comes in. Nothing has changed in the past century for us: Russia tricks, Armenia loses, Turks win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.