AYF-ER Central Executive cautions Amb. Makunts: No more “reckless concessions”

Members of the AYF-ER Central Executive pictured left to right: Sipan Ohannesian, Alex Manoukian, Vrej Dawli, Sosy Bouroujian and Aram Balian

WASHINGTON, DC—Members of the Armenian Youth Federation-Eastern Region (AYF-ER) Central Executive (CE) have formally expressed their grave concerns about the fate of the Armenian nation in a private meeting with Armenian Ambassador to the United States Lilit Makunts.

The group of young activists led by chairman Vrej Dawli (Chicago “Ararat” Chapter), Alex Manoukian (Washington, DC “Ani” Chapter), Aram Balian (Washington, DC “Ani” Chapter), Sipan Ohannesian (Washington, DC “Ani” Chapter) and Sosy Bouroujian (Washington, DC “Ani” Chapter) arranged the Friday afternoon meeting with the newly-installed Armenian envoy ahead of yet another trilateral agreement between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia rumored to take place sometime next week—one year after PM Nikol Pashinyan’s signing of the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2020 Artsakh War. Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Eastern Region (ARF-ER) Central Committee member Ani Tchaghlasian accompanied the AYF members as the ARF liaison to the Embassy.

“The Armenian nation is against additional reckless concessions,” stressed the CE during the closed-door meeting conducted in Armenian, “We are against the current negotiations that will create a corridor isolating our homeland.” 

One of the AYF’s many concerns is centered on the dangers of open borders and normalizing relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. At issue, for example, is Azerbaijan’s long-standing plan of restoring foreign transport and communication channels with its Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic via a so-called “Zangezur Corridor” through the Armenian region of Syunik. 

“The trilateral agreement did not establish peace, but rather provoked the enemy’s expansionist appetite,” warned the CE of the anticipated concessions, “We will not remain idle in the face of the destruction of our nation and will move against the current administration’s divisive and destructive policies, which are anti-Armenian and lead the future of our youth to the abyss.”

Makunts, who previously served as the head of the ruling My Step faction in the National Assembly and took on a brief stint as the Minister of Culture, was appointed to her current role in Washington by PM Pashinyan back in August. Criticized for her unseasoned background in diplomacy and politics, Makunts has since been promoting her one-on-one meetings with top Congressional leaders and their discussions about democratic reforms in Armenia and the strengthening of US-Armenia ties. 

In a Facebook Live broadcast outside the Armenian Embassy on R Street, Dawli provided a brief update on the AYF’s meeting. “We shared our views face to face to underscore the depth of our concerns and the commitment of Armenian youth worldwide to the security and survival of the Armenian nation,” explained Dawli, flanked by fellow members of the AYF-ER CE. “We will neither accept nor allow the abandonment of Artsakh, the surrender of any Armenian land, the establishment of foreign corridors across Armenian territory or the compromise of Armenian security,” he emphasized.

The AYF-ER has publicly expressed its disappointment with Makunts’ placement in DC. Last month, a small group of AYF members staged a peaceful protest outside the Armenian Embassy in DC, as Makunts was hosting a party for the 30th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. That was no cause for celebration for the group of activists, who were criticizing the Armenian government’s failure to prioritize instead the release of hundreds of Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan. The AYF-ER reported that the Secret Service was summoned to disperse its lawful demonstration.

The unconditional return of Armenian POWs is one of several demands of the AYF-ER’s protests planned for November 9. As part of its participation in the pan-Armenian youth resistance movement initiated by the ARF Bureau Office of Youth Affairs in Armenia, the AYF-ER is inviting Diasporans in the eastern region to unite in New York, Chicago or Washington, DC next week and raise their voices in this existential fight for the homeland.

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the former assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She is a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.

1 Comment

  1. Armenia cannot cede its border with Iran. To do so will be a death knell, for it will consign itself to the mercies of Turkey and Azerbaijan (arch enemies), and handouts from Russia. Armenia is landlocked, and cannot allow itself to boxed in any further. It needs the North South Transport corridor to pass through its territory, and its Political and Economic survival hinge on Iran, and to a lesser extent, India. Iran by virtue of its special geographic location, its highly educated people, and abundant resources, is the most prized Nation in the Middle East. It has many options. Armenia’s options are few. Neither the West, nor Russia, will guarantee Armenia’s independence. Hence, current negotiations are critical to the Nation State, and no matter what the world thinks of Iran, it is the Ace in your hands. Don’t discard it!

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