Will May 22, 2023 go down as a black day in Armenian history?
It certainly feels like that right now.
This was the day Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated, “The 86,600 square kilometers of Azerbaijan’s territory includes Nagorno-Karabakh.” Even though we all knew this was the way the Republic of Armenia was leaning, it is still shocking, depressing and maddening to hear this. Of course, there was also a stated condition that the rights of the Armenians in Artsakh be guaranteed.
There were pro-Artsakh protests in Armenia the day before this anticipated announcement. Today, in the diaspora, there was indignation on social media. Aram Suren Hamparian basically summed up in one sentence what most of us are feeling: “Pashinyan lacks the legal right, popular mandate, moral standing, and constitutional authority to sign away the free people of democratic Artsakh to certain genocide at the hands of authoritarian Azerbaijan.”
People were, again, calling Pashinyan a traitor.
Sadly, Armenia and the Armenians have had little negotiation leverage since the horrible 2020 war. Neither Artsakh nor Armenia have a military option. There is no military ally for the Armenians. There is nothing Armenia nor Artsakh could do to break the 160+ day Azeri blockade of Artsakh. We only have diplomacy. I am not sure the Armenians had much choice but to cave in, which we have.
The rest of the world recognizes the territorial integrity (it hurts to type those words) of Azerbaijan that includes Artsakh. To us, it makes zero sense that the rest of the world still honors the lines Stalin drew that gave Nakhichevan and Artsakh to Azerbaijan. It is even more mind boggling that anyone with any authority in this “negotiation” believes that the rights of the Armenians in Artsakh can be guaranteed if they are part of Azerbaijan.
As for Pashinyan, does he have any authority? Well, he is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. Like it or not, whether he is inept or not, he is the head of the Armenian government. To the world and the countries involved in the negotiations, he speaks for Armenia and the Armenians. For all the brilliant scholars, activists and clerics in the Diaspora, not one of us was invited to the negotiating tables. Like it or not, this is the way the world works no matter how infuriating it is to us.
There is a Facebook group: “Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for Nobel Peace Prize.” It has a whopping 92 members.
We could speculate on how another Prime Minister would have fared. Would Serge Sargsyan or Robert Kocharyan have done any better? None of them prepared us for the inevitable second Artsakh war.
How will this all turn out? No one really knows. Will the negotiations result in a signed treaty? If there is a signed treaty, will the parties honor the provisions of the treaty? It is hard for me, and I imagine anyone reading this, to put a positive spin on any of this.