Greece must recognize Artsakh to atone for its envoy’s PR tour of occupied Shushi

Foreign diplomats visit occupied Shushi, July 9, 2021 (Photo: AZERTAC, Azerbaijan State News Agency)

Azerbaijan’s despotic government organized a scandalous propaganda tour of occupied Shushi and Hadrut on July 9-10, 2021 to “proudly” display to foreign ambassadors its barbaric attack on the civilian population of Artsakh and partial destruction of one of its most sacred Armenian cathedrals.

Before I present the list of countries that exposed their hostility to Armenia by participating in this tour, it is important to note that the ambassadors of France, Russia and the United States, who are members of the OSCE Minsk Group, refused to take part in this charade, to the chagrin of the Azeri government. The Minsk Group thus indicated that it had no interest in Azerbaijan’s pompous show. Contrary to the repeated statements of Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the Minsk Group still considers the status of Artsakh not resolved. The absence of these three major countries from this propaganda tour is a slap in the face of the Azeri government.

The 46 countries that shamelessly participated in this scandalous tour of the city of Shushi are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine and Venezuela. There are 63 foreign embassies in Azerbaijan, which means that 17 countries refused to participate in the propaganda tour, including Argentina, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain and India, in addition to France, Russia and the United States.

The countries that took part in the Azeri tour should be severely criticized and condemned by all Armenians, particularly by those who live in these countries. Demonstrations must be organized in front of their embassies as well as in Yerevan and protest letters sent to their governments.

Of course, the most shameful participant in this tour is the ambassador of Greece, a country that is supposed to be a friend of Armenia. In addition to betraying Armenia, Greece violated its own interests and principles by taking part in this scandalous tour. Greek ambassador Nikolaos Piperigos must have forgotten that during the height of the Artsakh War last year, the Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Dendias visited Yerevan to show his country’s solidarity with Armenia. He also forgot the insulting and undiplomatic words Pres. Aliyev used to address him during the presentation of his credentials in Baku.

I am pleased that the Greek media and Armenian community of Greece responded harshly to the Greek ambassador’s disastrous visit to Shushi and called on the Greek Foreign Minister to appear in Parliament to provide an explanation. It is unclear whether Piperigos obtained the approval of his government prior to his tour of Shushi. If he did, that makes it an even bigger scandal. However, if the Greek Ambassador had not secured his country’s approval prior to his visit to Shushi, which is unlikely, then he should be immediately fired!

Rather than showing gratitude to Greece, Azerbaijan disrespected its submissiveness by sending its first parliamentary delegation to the Turkish-occupied so-called Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey. There are reports that Azerbaijan may soon recognize the statehood of Northern Cyprus. If that happens, Greece should immediately dispatch its ambassador in Yerevan to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, and announce its recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. This would be the only way that Greece can atone for its envoy’s indiscretion and deliver a proper response to Azerbaijan’s recognition of Northern Cyprus.

The Armenian National Committee of Greece, as well as the ANCs of Belgium and the Netherlands, filed complaints with their respective governments. Similar protest actions should be taken in other participating countries, particularly the governments of Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, Ukraine and Venezuela.

I am pleased that the Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Artsakh issued statements condemning the visit of the foreign ambassadors in Baku to Shushi: “The Republic of Armenia considers utterly unacceptable the visit of diplomatic representatives accredited in Azerbaijan to the occupied territories of Artsakh, including Hadrut and the historical center of Artsakh—Shushi, regions which were ethnically cleansed and their population was the subject of war crimes and other mass atrocities committed by Azerbaijani armed forces during the recent aggression.” The Armenian Foreign Ministry emphasized that by arranging such events “the Azerbaijani authorities are trying to legitimize the aggression against the people of Artsakh and to strengthen their own claims of having resolved the conflict by force,” handing down a “note verbale,” or a note of protest addressed to the participant countries.  

Rather than visiting the occupied territories of Artsakh, the foreign ambassadors in Baku should have issued a joint statement condemning Azerbaijan for importing Syrian terrorists to fight in the 2020 Artsakh War; committing war crimes, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of Armenian religious and historical monuments; and continuing to hold captive Armenian prisoners of war 10 months after the end of the conflict in violation of international law and the agreement signed by the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on Nov. 9, 2020.

At every opportunity, citizens of Armenia should remind the foreign ambassadors accredited to Yerevan of the unacceptable participation of their colleagues in the Shushi tour. Similarly, Armenians living in the offending ambassadors’ countries should express their displeasure to their governments. By continuing to complain about this visit, Armenians will ensure that these countries and their ambassadors in Azerbaijan will think twice before they agree to participate in other propaganda activities on behalf of Azerbaijan.

The only proper response to Azerbaijan’s PR actions is for the Armenian government to organize a tour of Stepanakert, Artsakh, for the foreign ambassadors accredited to Yerevan. Will the Armenian government dare to make such a move, and would it succeed in carrying it out? However, before embarking on such an initiative, PM Nikol Pashinyan must fill the post of foreign minister, which has been vacant for two months.

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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 Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million 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.

14 Comments

  1. I am deeply ashamed of what our ambassador did supporting the Azeri regime when the Azeri regime is about to recognise occupied Cyprus and supports Erdogan hook, line and sinker. Azerbaijan and Pakistan are threats to Armenia, Cyprus and Greece, and those who willingly collaborate with these enemies when Aliyev made it clear as day who and what he supports, are at best, deluded, or worst, a willing participant!.

    The day will come when the Turks of all nations will regret even spitting on a Armenian or Greek. The actions of the Greek ambassador are akin to those of Chamberlain in 1938 in Czechoslovakia, and we know how well that turned out!

  2. As an American, I am struggling to understand why the author is so filled with vitriol over the ambassadors’ visit (note: Azerbaijan has made some truly gross missteps – I am only focusing on the foreign countries visiting). Armenia itself never “officially” recognized Artsakh! The region was “officially” recognized internationally as Azerbaijan territory. After their victory in the 90’s, Armenia had 30 years to negotiate an “official” status, but chose instead to leave it as an unresolved stalemate. It saddens me that Armenia lost the 2020 war and I really want to see Armenia be prosperous, but I don’t understand how Armenians can blame the international community’s response.

    And yes, I’ve done my research!

    • I agree with you that Armenia mishandled its strategy vis a vis Artsakh. I believe Armenia should have capitalized on its clear victory in the 1990’s and imposed its terms on devastated Azerbaijan. I also agree that Armenia should have recognized Artsakh’s independence long ago or incorporated Artsakh within Armenia. It is not easy to ask other countries to recognize Artsakh when Armenia itself hasn’t done so. My reason for suggesting that Greece recognize Artsakh, as I have explained, is twofold: 1) Greece to atone for its ambassador’s misstep; and 2) Greece to retaliate for Azerbaijan’s anticipated recognition of Northern Cyprus.

    • I’m an American too, who happens to also be of Armenian descent, and I can tell your “research” comes straight out of Azeri and Turk propaganda sources. In other words, you wasted a lot of time on your “research”.

      For example: “Armenia itself never “officially” recognized Artsakh!”. Only Azeris think that is “something sensational” or a “smoking gun”. 1. Armenia was FORCED into such a position in order to “keep peaceful negotiations”. 2. If Armenia did it before any other nation, it would imply “Armenia is an aggressor” and wouldn’t get any support from other nations, and worse, those nations could start actively supporting Azerbaijan to the detriment of Armenia since Armenia is far from being any major power.

      “Armenia had 30 years to negotiate an “official” status”. Azerbaijan lost the first war, and was buying time to start the war again in those 30 years. It was always Azerbaijan which refused peace. Their “deal” was always to not let Artsakh become a free nation, that is the main reason for all that delay.

      In those 30 years, Russia lied to us, and betrayed our trust, as every time in history. That is the real reason we lost this war.

      For 30 years Armenia was forced to “negotiate” a return to property over a war that the enemy had started. No where and no one on this planet would ever think that is anything “reasonable”. And because Azerbaijan couldn’t go it alone, finally Turkey and Russia worked behind the scenes to help Azerbaijan achieve its goal after 30 years of continuously arming Azerbaijan. Turkey and Azerbaijan are enemies of Armenia, that much is obvious. But Russia, the supposed “protector” of Armenia and a close “ally” was the ultimate betrayal.

      Just as Russia preached to Armenia not to start any war in those 30 years, they could have easily done the same to Azerbaijan, but didn’t because Putin and Co. are part of the corrupt mafia running Russia with close connections to Azerbaijan. That’s why Azerbaijan was always confident in never recognizing Artsakh as a nation to start the negotiation process of returning some territories, they always knew they could get Russia on their side based on Russia’s corruption, and Armenia simply doesn’t have any politicians smart enough to counter all that deception and betrayal.

  3. Yes, but our Greek allies did send “chocolate bars” to Armenian troops in Artsakh during the war. So, they do care… We Armenians are so out of touch with reality that if you ask our people “what nations in the world are closest to Armenia?” most would still say France and Greece… Had it not been for Russia, there would not be a single Armenian would be left in Artsakh, and at the very least Zangezur would be annexed to Azerbaijan and/or Turkey. Now watch, as our professional Russophobes foam at the mouth…

    • Same old tired argument over and over.

      When you say “watch, as our professional Russophobes foam at the mouth”, it means you actually KNOW you are an anti-Armenia propagandist for your nation, Russia. Strict obedience to “Mother Russia”, without questions, requests or demands? Yep that about sums up your message, and exactly how a rogue, cruel and totalitarian regime operates.

      The Russia-Armenia relationship is thus: you beat someone to a pulp and then call the ambulance. Then tell the world “I saved him by calling the ambulance, aren’t I wonderful?”. That is pretty much your argument in EVERY post.

      Why didn’t your “Mother Russia” let Artsakh finish the war in 1994 and impose a peace treaty if “Mother Russia” cares about Armenians so much? Apparatchiks: *crickets*.

    • Oh you mean the same Russia that gave away those lands to a newly created, Zionist banking funded, Asian invading, Turkish gas station outpost? Yet refuses to even acknowledge that in any negotiations? Same country that watched as Azeri’s raped and murdered Armenians in major Azeri cities? Same useless “ally” that watched while Turks were directly involved in murdering and raping Armenians off their ancient homelands to supposedly now “come to the rescue”? Sorry you are referring to the #1 Armenian ally? Russia can care less about Armenia or Armenians. Its ONLY Concern is not having Turks completely surround its underbelly. And no I don’t think America or France is any help either. One is Zionist outpost puppet and the other only provides lip service for the influential Armenian diaspora. THE ANSWER IS UNITY OF ALL ARMENIANS AND COMPETENT LEADERSHIP. 2 things that have lacked horribly in our history.

  4. @ Concerned Armenian,

    I agree. Greeks do care enough for Armenians to send some candy. Thank God Pashinyan’s regime was around during the war. They sent volunteers to fight in Artsakh, but without battle plans, maps, officers, helmets and flack jackets, but I don’t want to nitpick. But seriously imagine what would have happened if we totally relied on our “friends and allies” in America, France and Greece. If Russians didn’t intervene we would have had genocide II on our hands. Yes the anti-Russian circus will come out soon.

    • What do you mean “totally relied on our “friends and allies” in America, France and Greece”? Since when was that EVER on the table????

      That’s a typical cope response after seeing our “ally and protector Mother Russia” hand us the ultimate betrayal after preaching for 30 years not to start a war and then continuously arm Azerbaijan at the same time, and finally do nothing when Turkey, jihadists, and Azerbaijan launch a full scale invasion. I know, the hurt is big, and it must be very confusing, it’s like having mother watch with a smile as the neighbor’s kid beats you up.

    • Then why did France and the USA not intervene, Zartir? They are part of the Minsk Group and had over a month to do something, yet NATO and the EU distanced themselves from the conflict, the USA was engaged in a circus of an election, and France only talked about it at the end of the war.
      You’re the one coping.

    • K, there are a lot of reasons. For one, they didn’t intervene for the same reason that Russia will never be able to intervene if anything ever goes in a place like Mexico, no one wants WWIII, especially given Armenia’s status in the world.

      Also, France and USA never purported to be “Armenia’s ally” or “protector”. They are in it for diplomacy and to persuade parties to keep the peace. It’s true, the South Caucasus is “Russia’s domain”, and that is precisely the problem. What did Russia do to keep the peace for its “ally”? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Like I said before, Russia only needed to do one thing and that would have rendered Turkey and jihadists irrelevant: simply announce that it will recognize Artsakh if it gets invaded. What we see over and over again at the hands of Russia is: “Russian rules” apply to Armenians but they do not apply to Turks.

      What is Russia doing about Turkey and jihadists getting involved and killing Armenians? Nothing. What are the consequences for Azerbaijan? Nothing. Never mind consequences, actually they are now GETTING REWARDED with the “help” of Russia, drafting moronic documents to once again violate Armenian sovereignty, same as always in history. You want proof? Look at the ridiculous map. With which superpower did the deplorable checkered map of Armenia happen, the USA and France? Or our real enemy dressed up as a “friend and ally”?

  5. Russia was the ONLY country on earth that actually helped Armenia during the conflict. There was a massive airlift of weapons and ammunition between July 2020 through the end of the war in November. How such aid was used, whether it was used is on us. But, apparently – and ironically – our professional Russophobes want Russians to spoon feed us Armenians. Besides, let’s recall that Russia was never fully on our side over NKR. NKR was our fight, not Russia’s. We knew we could not rely on direct Russian military support in NKR from day one. We therefore proved shortsighted, rigid, weak and incompetent. The end result was Russians saving our butt in the end. So, Russians actually did nothing wrong in NKR. If Russians allowed the Turkish and/or Azerbaijani military to invade Armenia proper, then the anti-Russian circus in our society would have had a point about Russia not taking its alliance with Armenia seriously. The fact however is that Armenia remains standing today because of the Russian troop presence in Armenia. Anyone that thinks Armenia can resist Turks and Azeris without Russia is out of his or her mind. Anyone that thinks Armenia can rely on Western powers is out of his or her mind. The situation on the border with Azerbaijan, which was never officially demarcated after the fall of the Soviet Union, will be resolved soon and the new border will be based on soviet maps. That is the price we will pay for our political illiteracy, delusions of grandeur, cognitive dissonance and of course our Russophobia and love of all things western…

    • Never dismiss the importance of your American allies like Schiff and Menendez. The guy has it in for Erdogan and to some extent Turks. He even married an Armenian named Arslanian (half Turk?)…

      They are making things difficult for us Turks. Nothing to write home about but still better then Putins men. You got Biden now too. Macron is also anti-Erdogan. We just have Mama Merkel, our Hungarian and Bulgarian cousins, Spain?, Macedonia, etc on our side. You can call in YPG help to piss Turks off but never forget that they eventually want the lands you want… YPG treats Assyrians like trash already. If you don’t have ‘Kurdi’ in your name you don’t matter to them.

  6. Why armenians are looking for aly? Wouldnt be cleaver to make direct connections with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Especially azeri people and armenians are almost the same, music, behaviour, food etc. Exactly the same. Why it is so hard for armenians to accept the situation. Azerbaijan lost 1st karabakh war, and armenians the second one. So maybe it is time for a new beginning!?

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