Pashinyan’s Trail of Destruction: First Artsakh, Then Armenia

On April 13, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a very lengthy, rambling speech to the Armenian Parliament on his government’s failures and achievements in 2021.

Ever since the catastrophic 2020 Artsakh War, I have been repeatedly saying that the prime minister is too incompetent to govern Armenia. He caused the loss of most of Artsakh and thousands of young Armenian soldiers. As a defeated and psychologically crushed leader, he is incapable of repairing the damage he caused to the country. With each passing day, the situation is getting worse. Artsakh is mostly gone; Armenia is next.

However, Pashinyan refuses to resign, clinging to his seat and establishing a one-man rule. Ironically, when he took over the government four years ago, he proclaimed that the power belonged to the people!

In his April 13, 2022 speech, Pashinyan stated: “We have had the most serious failures as well as the most serious achievements. I must first talk about the achievements, then focus on the failures, but not so much or not only to record them, but also to use the opportunity of being on the high rostrum of the National Assembly, to confess to the public about the cause and effect of the war and defeat, and talk about possible solutions.”

Various high-ranking government officials have recently announced that Artsakh is no longer a territorial issue, but one of human rights, meaning that Armenia is giving up on its long-standing demand for the independence or self-determination of Artsakh, opting instead to seek to preserve the cultural and religious rights of ethnic Armenians in Artsakh under Azeri rule!

Since Pashinyan’s plan is to turn over the remainder of Artsakh to Azerbaijan, why is he boasting that “from November 2020 to the end of 2021, the [Armenian] government has implemented in Artsakh 136 billion drams [about $272 million] of programs?” Armenia is actually subsidizing Azerbaijan’s infrastructure in Artsakh, since the government of Azerbaijan, in three and a half years or less, will take over that territory.

Pashinyan admitted that the negatives in 2021 outweighed the positives. He stated that “from the beginning I have accepted my guilt and responsibility for both the war and defeat.” But then, he contradicted himself by saying: “I have not accepted, and I do not accept the accusations addressed to me by the opposition after November 9, 2020, accusing me of handing over lands and thus also of treason.” He acknowledged that what he just said is “absurd — admitting your guilt, but not accepting the accusation.”

Making his confession more confusing, Pashinyan added: “In a recent interview, I hinted that if I were to be accused objectively, I should be accused not of handing over land, but of not handing over land. And now, yes, I’m going to admit that I’m probably guilty of it. It is my fault that in 2018, 2019, I did not stand in front of our public and did not speak out that all, I repeat, all distant and close [foreign] friends expect us to hand over the seven well-known regions to Azerbaijan one way or another and lower our bar for the status of Artsakh. It is my fault that I did not tell our people that the international community unequivocally recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, expects that we too recognize it, and also expects that the Azerbaijanis who left Karabakh be fully integrated in the decision-making and governance of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

In the above paragraph, Pashinyan admitted his guilt in losing Artsakh, but strangely, avoided accepting the consequences for his actions. He also repeatedly laid the blame on pressure from the international community. It is not true that the international community demanded that Armenians give up Artsakh, but even if they did, Pashinyan should have been more concerned about Armenia’s national interests than the outsiders’ suggestion. Only a weak leader would buckle under the pressure of third parties and not defend his people’s rights.

Pashinyan confessed: “And not doing this is my real fault, and such a formulation is not an attempt to alleviate the situation at all. On the contrary, I aggravate it, because by handing over [Artsakh’s lands], I might have saved thousands of lives, but by not handing over I actually became the author of decisions that resulted in thousands of victims.” As the Prime Minister of Armenia, he had no right to hand over Artsakh territories that he had no jurisdiction over.

Pashinyan is getting ready to surrender Artsakh completely by announcing that he wants to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan and recognize its territorial integrity. He used the excuse that “the international community clearly tells us that Armenia is the only country in the world that does not recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.” This “is a great danger not only for Artsakh but also for Armenia. Today the international community tells us again, ‘lower your bar on the status of Nagorno Karabakh a little and you will secure greater international consolidation around Armenia and Artsakh.’ Otherwise, says the international community, ‘please do not rely on us, not because we do not want to help you, but because we cannot help you.’”

After saying that Armenia has not recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Pashinyan contradicted himself by falsely claiming that in 1992, Armenia had recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. His contention, that the international community warned him that they cannot help Armenia unless it made concessions on Artsakh, is also a baseless statement. When has the international community lifted a finger to help Armenia? Pashinyan is simply using this excuse to make further concessions to Azerbaijan. He is incapable of protecting Armenia’s borders as we have seen with Azerbaijan’s May 12, 2021 encroachment on Armenia’s border. Furthermore, Pashinyan falsely blamed his political opponents for that Azeri incursion! He also faulted the Russia-led CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) for not coming to Armenia’s defense, even though he is the current CSTO chairman!

Pashinyan’s defeatist remarks at the Parliament were soundly condemned, not only by the political opposition, but also by the usually compliant leaders of Artsakh.

Everything must be done to get rid of Pashinyan as soon as possible since he refuses to resign, favoring his own seat over Armenia’s interests. Otherwise, after Artsakh, Armenia is next to go.

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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.

15 Comments

  1. Dear Harut, let’s imagine Pashinyan who won the elections held over 7 months after the 2020 war is gone. Then what do we do? Will Pashinyan’s departure give us secure borders and a stronger Army? Will it give Aliyev pause in further escalating the tension on the borders and killing Armenians in Artsakh and Armenia? Or will Pashinyan’s departure given Aliyev added opportunity to attack? Regardless of Pashinyan’s failures, it is this infighting especially in the context of a more free state (unlike the first 30 years of independence) that has kept Armenians weak for centuries and still does so today. Uniting is the only way forward.

    • I agree. Pashinyan caused such great damage to Artsakh and Armenia that even if the most competent leader succeeds him, it will be very difficult to completely undo the damage. However, the new leader would at least prevent the situation from getting worse which would be an improvement over what we have now.

    • Never would have happened in the first place. The man was put in power by US backed coup, which is part of the wider pressure campaign on Russia. These efforts have failed everywhere they were attempted, from Belarus to Kazakhstan, and even Lebanon so far. But not in Armenia. Armenia has been so used to being so insignificant geopolitically that it was never important enough to become a proxy in great power rivalry. The US just left it alone, basically. Now in order to weaken Russia, and also Iran, Armenia is used as a tool. So what does Armenia get? It alienates it’s only real friends in the region, Russia and Iran. And what a region it is, you’re next to a surging Neo-ottoman mad man who wants to wipe you out. That’s what’s going to happen if Armenia continues down this path. All of this was easily predictable from 2018 because everyone who knows anything said exactly this is what would happen. Did anyone’s lives improve since the clown came to power? Party which barely got 8% of the vote in previous elections took over the whole country in the blink of an eye and we call this “democracy?” What a joke. Nikol isn’t in charge, he takes orders from the US ambassador sent there from her previous post in Russia. She has quite the reputation by the way. What was surprising to me is just how easily the Armenian population was manipulated but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because like I said the major outside powers have largely left Armenia alone for a long time now.

    • “The man was put in power by US backed coup, which is part of the wider pressure campaign on Russia.”

      If this was even true, Russian troops would be occupying Armenia right now as a hostile force. If the clown show of Pashinyan and his band of sheep were put in place by the USA to harm Russia, then why is he doing everything Russia ever wanted, and like his predecessors just continuing Russia’s policies in the region? In fact, Pashinyan acts even more pro-Russia than the one before him. Here is a clue: Armenia never had an Armenian policy against Azerbaijan. Armenia always had a Russian policy. And that has come to fruition with a fake war in 2020, pre-arranged and agreed upon by the Turks/Azeris, Russians and TRAITOR Armenians, in a feeble attempt to convince the Armenian public that “we lost the war therefore we must give up our claims on Artsakh”.

  2. As long as Pashinyan is in power Armenia continues to degenerate. The country is bankrupt and borrows 200 million dollars every month just to pay salaries to government workers and police. If not, the police force alone will overthrow him.

  3. Regardless of what one thinks of Pashinyan, keeping him in power is existentially dangerous for the Republic of Armenia. Arguably there is no other country in the world that would allow its leaders to stay in power after losing a catastrophically mismanaged war. What message does that send to future PMs? That it is okay to lose thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of aces of land?

    At best Pashinyan is incompetent and at worst he is a traitor. Either way, if he stays in power, it will only embolden future PMs to pass the buck and blame their failures on outside forces. When the next PM comes along and we lose Syunik, he will blame everyone else. And the next PM after will blame so and so for losing parts of Sevan. And the next PM will blame Putin or whoever for losing Tavush.

    The only solution is to have a PM that understands the responsibilities of leadership. And the primary responsibility of the PM of Armenia is to protect its people and its borders. Pashinyan has proven without a doubt that he can not (or will not) do that. Not only does he need to be replaced, but he needs to be severely punished so that future PMs will understand the true cost of failure.

  4. Tigran,

    Please respect the free and democratic will of the Armenian people. They re-elected Mr. Pashinyan in what amounted to an internationally monitored and recognized fair and free post-war elections. The Armenian people understand that the loss stemmed not from the newcomer Pashinyan, but from the long-standing military, technological, and economic disparity between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan (and Turkey) that developed over the course of 20 years. A chasm between Azerbaijan and Armenia which didn’t exist in 94, but slowly grew and grew until it was a massive abyss come the latter half of the Serj admin.

    The extent of Turkish involvement in determining the 2020 Azeri victory, from general command to Bayraktars drones to Air Force F-16 deployment, is the view that is shared by most independent analysts, including some affiliated with the U.S. military. In fact, it seems Mr. Sassounian has completely forgotten about his earlier piece where he then correctly assigned the cause of the devastating outcome of the war to the various forms and extent of Turkish involvement, such that it was ultimately Turkey’s war and Turkey’s victory.

    But for political clout, it’s far easier blaming one man as a scapegoat than acknowledging the other causes and conditions, the factors beyond our immediate control.

    It is the chief and primary responsibility of the Armenian military to protect the people and borders, and most of the highest ranking personnel of the military have served/carried over across numerous Armenian admins. The military leadership has learned from the 2020 but there are key reforms that need to be made to modernize the armed forces. It’s the government’s job to make sure the military is properly funded and that those generals who failed to perform optimally or sufficiently are re-assigned elsewhere and replaced with suitable candidates who are more familiar with contemporary combat scenarios. And to that regard, Pashinyan’s admin has significantly increased defense spending, which when measured as a % of GDP, actually experienced stark and neglectful periods of decline under Kocharyans and Sargsyan’s administrations. This data is freely available at the world bank website. Why wasn’t there any outrage in the diaspora back then when military spending was cut by the nakhgins and their political allies?

    You, I, Pashinyan, or anyone else can vocally express a will to protect the rights and lives of the Armenian people, alongside Armenia’s sovereignty. But without adequate funding that is properly appropriated, that sentiment is nothing but empty talk so to speak, a fever dream. The important factor is that defense funding is increasing under Pashinyan’s admin, more so than any Armenian admin before, but there still remains a 20 billion dollar gap between Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s total military expenditures. Unless, you have a plan on how to fundraise 20 billion, I highly suggest you take a refined look at the issue.

    As it stands, Azerbaijan’s civil and military leadership have made numerous territorial claims on de jure Armenia and have threatened to ethnically cleanse the entire southern Caucasus region of Armenians. One of envoy sent by Baku to Germany once even compared Armenians to Jewish people and Azerbaijan to Nazi Germany. Little did the Azeri diplomat know that Germany is not proud of the anti-Semitic Nazi past and doesn’t celebrate that dark period of history. It should not come to a surprise to anyone that armenophobic and racist Azerbaijani politicians seek to compare their nation to Nazi Germany.

    But in any case, what determines national defense and the prevention of such evil atrocities is hardware and funding. Not talk. That’s why I find these types of articles to be unfruitful at best, and a distraction at worst.

    Carville once said, “It’s the economy, stupid” and one would be wise to heed Carville’s words instead of half of the scapegoating that is contained in the article above.

    Azerbaijan first became a regional economic power prior to modernizing their military and enacting the 2020 invasion. Armenia can follow, if it adopts the right plan. Each Armenian can contribute to this instead of engaging in empty talk.

    • Danny,

      Its amazing that still after major catastrophic losses as a direct result of this incompetent traitors inability to govern that people like you make excuses of a bright future that some how this loser will guide Armenia to salvation. Hes a loser. That has been proven over and over again. Azerbaijan didn’t just recently acquire major money and military resources. They have had them for decades. So ask yourself why now? Its no coincidence as the answer is clear: The useless incompetent traitor is the very reason the Turks felt now was the right time to implement this catastrophic war. They knew that if the past thieves, yet patriots, were still in charge, that a mighty and potent defense was the rule, Instead we saw a clown who purposely didn’t mobilize the army, who turned volunteers away, who disbanded skilled trained military leadership to install more useless incompetents just like him. The result was clear: disaster yet blames the international community, the past and now all Armenians didn’t do their job? HE IS TO BLAME. That is clear. He is incompetent with a treasonous streak. Not me not you or the diaspora. Its so funny how you say “Each Armenian can contribute to this instead of engaging in empty talk”. The contribution is the absolute need to rid this traitor clown immediately and install a competent patriot that UNITES ALL OF US. Tough to be united with a proven loser. That is Pashinyan.

    • Pretty long post, Danny. Too bad I didn’t read it all. I stopped reading after “Please respect the free and democratic will of the Armenian people. They re-elected Mr. Pashinyan…”.

      Nothing can be further from the truth.

    • Danny is engaging is charlatanism just like his slave-master Pashinyan. He is wrong telling me what to say!
      First of all, As a journalist and US citizen I have the right to express my opinion and criticize Pashinyan even if 100% of the population had voted for him.
      Second, less than 50% of the registered voters went to the polls, and around half of them voted for Pashinyan’s party candidates which means that his partisans were elected by merely 25% of the registered voters. This is just to set you straight when you misrepresented the 25% of the voters as the entirety of “the Armenian people.”
      Third, it is the patriotic thing to do pointing out the grave situation Armenia is in because of the incompetence of one man, Pashinyan. Seeing your homeland is on the verge of destruction, after the loss of most of Artsakh, is being unpatriotic.
      Fourth, four years after Pashinyan came to power, Danny is still singing the worn out song, blaming the former leaders. They are no longer in charge. Pashinyan is. I am afraid, if God forbid, Pashinyan stays in power for forty years, he will continue to blame all his mistakes on the former leaders. When will he realize that, rightly or wrongly, he has been in charge now for four years. He has no one to blame but himself.
      Fifth, Danny talks about Azerbaijan being much more powerful than Armenia in 2020, as opposed to 1994. I understand that in 1994 Danny was a baby, so he has no idea what he is talking about. Back in 1994, even though Armenian had no army and no weapons, won the war. It is called being brave, nationalistic, and believing in your just cause. Danny, as a blind supporter of unpatriotic Pashinyan, has no idea about any of these things.
      Sixth, after shifting the blame for the defeat on the former leaders, Danny then turns around and blames the Armenian military. Here is another lesson for Danny boy. It is not the military’s fault. It’s uniquely the fault of Pashinyan, the so-called Commender-in-Chief, who knows nothing about the military. He avoided the draft and did not serve a single day in the military. Prior to the war, he dismissed the experienced generals replacing them with his cronies who knew nothing about the military. Furthermore. Pashinyan did not send the Armenian army to Artsakh, and he did allow volunteers to go and fight. And you are blaming the previous leaders for losing the war? You must be kidding!
      Seventh, since the war, Pashinyan has not reformed the military and has not purchased any new weapons. The Armenian military is weaker now than it was before the war. He even got rid of the remaining military commanders. That is why he keeps capitulating. This is what happens when you have a loser’s mentality and don’t know what you are doing.
      Eighth, you want me to be in charge of the military? I guess you admit that we don’t have a Commander-in-Chief. As long as we have losers like you who support the Loser-in-Chief, there is no hope neither for Artsakh nor Armenia.
      Don’t you dare to tell me or anyone else, you have no right to express your opinion. We don’t live in Turkey!

  5. Democracy assumes an educated and literate population that has a good understanding of nation building processes and geopolitics. Armenians in Armenia are largely ignorant of these things. Like Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average man in the street”.
    The established powers in the world understand this so they build up national institutions to protect the nation against the ignorant population while they mimic a democratic model. The established powers also understand that fledgling new nations have not yet built these protection mechanisms and they therefore weaponize the concepts of democracy, human rights, etc and pour millions into NGOs in those countries to capitalise on the ignorant masses who, if left to their own accord, will be self destructive. Case in point the last elections in 2021 Armenia and the 2018 velvet revolution. Asking ignorant people on how the future of a nation should be is equivalent to national suicide.
    The Armenian masses have made their democratic choice and we’ll be dealing with the horrific consequences for decades to come. You reap what you sow.

    • At first you made some valid points as to how governments operate in western nations and the make-believe democracies they flaunt, but your later argument about “velvet revolutions” and such are just basic Russian psy-ops.

      True, western nations have poured in with their spy networks they call NGOs, but from where I’m standing, after Russia showed its true colors in 2020, those NGOs are too few in Armenia, and they need to step up their game. For me, Armenia can’t stab Turk-loving traitorous fake ally Russia in the back soon enough.

      Since independence, there is but one nation that has blatantly violated Armenia’s sovereignty over and over and step by step: Russia. No one is going to argue otherwise.

    • Although I read an article stating that immediately after losing the war and learning their lesson, the Armenian govt quickly ordered the production of Armenia made drones. That is a good thing, but the efficacy and quality of those drones remain to be seen. And another article pointed out that there were plans to modernize the military with the help of Russia, of course. Now I don’t know if they’ve already gone through with it. Knowing Armenian politicians, I wouldn’t be surprised to see their legs crossed over a desk while holding a cigar in one hand and sipping Ararat brandy with the other.

  6. All I can do is cry about the situation in Armenia and pray we don’t lose the homeland. I don’t understand why this incompetent leader Pashinyan is allowed to stay in office. He is Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia’s puppet. He’s being manipulated or maybe he’s a willing participant. Soon Turks will be buying land in Armenia and running our businesses. Only a matter of time. As a Armenian American whose grandparents were genocide survivors, I’m afraid what is coming. It’s like a train wreck you see coming but can’t stop.

  7. The battle of Sushi should have lasted years not mere days! It is not easy taking over urban city with a resistance …..just ask the Russians ….who was in charge of defending sushi? The Azeris marched in without tanks,, on foot and within 2 days the city was in their hands! Where were our snipers? The Azeris shouldn’t have been able to even get close to the gates let alone enter the city! That should have been our Stalingrad! It should have been a mass grave for the invading forces! Who gave the order not to defend the city? None of the territories gifted to the Azeris would be conquered even after years of fighting! They still cannot clear the minefields! Everyday the enemy blows up and cannot travel over this gifted land! Seems to me the traitor is not only pashinyan but the whole command structure of the army and defense worked hand in hand with the enemy to put on a show of Defence that did anything but defend artsagh. Mobilize the people give every man an ak47 and send them to the border with Azerbaijan ….we can push back the Azeris in one day! And move on to liberate artsagh! We don’t need the international community …..use iskander missiles to strike the pipeline of the enemy and the gathered forces and command centers …..full mobilization and a war for the survival of the nation is the only option we have. Every current politician…is a traitor. Every last one of them

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