Armenia’s High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan just concluded a so-called “working visit” to meet Armenian-American representatives in Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, New York City, northern New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The press releases issued by his erstwhile public relations machine back in Yerevan have broadly reported a successful trip detailing meetings and visits to local points of interest, along with photos of the High Commissioner with a handful or fewer of community members in each location smiling for the camera.
It is unclear why and for what purpose Sinanyan parachuted into the US eastern region to take a tour of our communities. The focus of the government of Armenia should be on the current situation in our homeland. Armenia is under red alert as Azerbaijan steadily chips away at Armenian territory along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and kills Armenian civilians living in those border areas to convey a chilling message of more and worse to come. Meanwhile, the Republic of Artsakh’s 120,000 Armenian men, women and children have been locked in what is left of their country under the Aliyev region’s months-long blockade, which is really a campaign of ethnic cleansing occurring in broad daylight.
It is also unknown why the High Commissioner thought the timing of his visit to eastern region Armenian Diasporan communities would be welcome at a time when our focus has been on advocating and protesting for the safety and security of the people of Artsakh and the survival of Armenia in the face of the current existential crisis facing both nations.
For Sinanyan’s winter 2023 visit to our communities, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) local representatives decided to be in the rooms where Sinanyan planned to meet with Diasporan representatives. We were curious to know why this Armenian government representative was in town, and we wanted to hear his responses to our pointed questions about the Armenian government’s efforts to address current threats to the very existence of Armenia and Artsakh.
The exchanges that occurred in Sinanyan’s meetings do not resemble the staged press reported by his office. While it was quickly apparent that Sinanyan wanted to promote his office’s repatriation, and especially, youth programs, his answers to questions posed by ARF representatives in the meetings were revealing.
For example, Sinanyan admitted that the Pashinyan government had multiple failures during the 44-day Artsakh war, openly stating that he knew within the first two weeks of the war that Armenia and Artsakh were literally engaged in a losing battle due to Armenian government incompetence. He specifically disparaged the Armenian government’s ability to get critical supplies to the Artsakh frontlines of the war due to strategic and communication gaps. Regarding the recent dismissal of former Artsakh state minister Ruben Vardanyan, Sinanyan claimed that he had no information about Armenian government involvement to have Vardanyan dismissed from office and did not connect Artsakh’s survival to Armenia’s continued existence as a nation.
Sinanyan opined that Russia is no friend to Armenia and has been pushing for the realization of the so-called “Zangezur” corridor desired by Azerbaijan. He also offered that someone from his office should be detailed to each of Armenia’s embassies around the world because diplomats currently devote more attention to Diasporan community matters rather than their diplomatic duties.
In his post-trip press releases, Sinanyan claims he “discussed the need for cooperation among Armenian-American elected officials in order to effectively advocate for the Armenian cause” and “discussed the need for unity and cooperation within the Diaspora in order to effectively utilize the Diaspora’s resources in support of Armenia and Artsakh.”
Thanks for conveying these “revelations,” Zareh Sinanyan. We suggest that you save the Republic of Armenia much-needed dram and stop your junkets to our communities to extend platitudes and orchestrate photo ops. Our informed and engaged Diasporan communities have been working 24/7 to save Armenia and Artsakh. What have you and the government you represent done lately?