Between the “Crossroads of Peace” and the Union State

The story of betrayal

Following Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 Artsakh War, and the Armenian government’s concessions under the sham banner of “democracy,” came the “peace” narrative – peace at any cost, even if it meant recognizing Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan and abandoning its population to ethnic cleansing, which has been swiftly followed by the willingness to give away the enclaves (eight villages demanded by Azerbaijan) and the Syunik province.

Prime Minister Pashinyan presents the “Crossroads of Peace” project at the Tbilisi International Forum in October (Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia)

This has now been elevated to new heights by the “crossroads of peace,” a plan for regional interconnectivity that was introduced by the European Union and mimicked by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as if it is the genius invention of his administration. While presenting the project at an international conference in Tbilisi on October 26, PM Pashinyan said it would enhance communication between Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia through infrastructure development.

But what does it really mean? 

The current government has admitted that Azerbaijan’s appetite for more territory was not satisfied by the fall of Artsakh, and a peace agreement might not end Azerbaijani aggression towards Armenia. It also says that Armenia has no security guarantor, as Russia has stopped its role. Instead of offering a substantial policy to fill the security vacuum, Armenia feels it has no choice but to offer the “crossroads of peace” for the sake of the economic wellbeing of the region, which is supposed to bring a hypothetical peace.

Instead, the “crossroads of peace” is an extension of appeasement, a foreign policy of pacifying an aggrieved country through negotiation in order to prevent war. It compels Armenia to submit and concede, to become useful to aggressive neighbors through realism.

The concept of regional connectivity through transit routes is not new, as it has been considered by previous administrations. However, it is unrealistic at this stage, as alternative trade routes already exist that bypass what is offered under the “crossroads of peace” plan. Rather, the project would further benefit Azerbaijan. Through soft power, Azerbaijan would control Syunik and the enclaves and disrupt other infrastructure. The peace agreement that PM Pashinyan is so keen to carry out, even though he does not have the legitimacy to do so, is a pretense for capitulation that would bring further losses and see the creation of Azerbaijani settlements on Armenian territory.

To participate in this project and create a route connecting Armenia and Turkey, the latter would demand that Armenia end claims to historic lands, stop pursuing Armenian Genocide recognition and change the wording of Armenia’s constitution. This is actively being discussed in the ruling Civil Contract party circles and has been mentioned a few times by the Prime Minister. All nationalist, “revanchist” elements of society would be banished, followed by a change in the education system to implement internationalism and globalism as opposed to national values. Armenia would become a society void of any identity, where nationality does not matter and only money and commercial benefits are prioritized.

One must fight for sovereignty, independence and freedom, as was the case during the world wars, after the Armenian Genocide and during the 1990s. A country must build an army that is not afraid to die for liberty and form alliances with powers that can guarantee the strengthening of military capacities.

But is the concept of “peace” realistic in an environment where Armenia is surrounded by aggressive, fascist states that only want to see Armenia’s demise? In such an environment, Armenia could be wiped off the map, as its survival would not be tolerated. 

Moreover, the “crossroads of peace” will not serve the independence and sovereignty of Armenian statehood. The operating license of Armenia would be handed over from Russia to Turkey and Azerbaijan. 

One must fight for sovereignty, independence and freedom, as was the case during the world wars, after the Armenian Genocide and during the 1990s. A country must build an army that is not afraid to die for liberty and form alliances with powers that can guarantee the strengthening of military capacities.

Pashinyan is not capable of creating a sovereign state or strengthening the army. In fact, he has done the opposite and has become a symbol of defeat and capitulation. The bar has been lowered to the point that no red lines remain. 

It has been three years since the end of the 2020 war, and no alternative narrative has been put forward to create an army and foreign policy that will strengthen Armenian statehood. Instead, a defeatist narrative has penetrated the opposition mindset as well. . 

We have heard endless messages about how Armenia is facing an existential danger. However, for three wasted years, Armenia has waited for Russia to come to its rescue while it has repeatedly betrayed Artsakh. We must accept that Russian interests have changed, and while it no longer sees Armenia as a useful slave, it has forged deep alliances with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Russia greenlit the war in 2020, the blockade and the genocide carried out by Azerbaijan in Artsakh. 

Yet, the opposition still has not accepted this reality. It does not openly criticize Russia and still believes that negotiation can win Russia over. The opposition has made several mistakes:

  1. It never openly rejected the November 9, 2020 ceasefire agreement.
  2. It trusted Russia’s promises that it would come to power in the near future, made periodically over the last three years, which gave the opposition a false hope and only cemented Pashinyan’s power.
  3. During the blockade, it never expressed dissatisfaction towards the peacekeepers’ inability to keep the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor unobstructed and avoid the massacres of September 19. It never demanded an international peacekeeping presence.
  4. To this day, it has not demanded answers from Russia regarding why it assisted the genocide and forced displacement of Artsakh’s Armenian population. Artsakh’s Armenians, unlike Pashinyan’s Armenia, stayed loyal to Russia until the end. They entrusted Russians with their safety and returned to Artsakh after the 2020 war, where large billboards were raised featuring Putin’s images.
  5. It did not demand to know why the security and dignity of Artsakh’s Armenians were not protected. Rather, they were subjected to humiliation by the abduction of civilians at Azerbaijan’s checkpoint along the Berdzor Corridor and of Artsakh officials from Stepanakert.

The longevity of statehood is ensured by creating policies and offering solutions to survive in a complex geopolitical environment and evolving world order. It is not ensured by repeating that we are in crisis.

Instead, some of the opposition members have come up with the defeatist solution of joining  the union state with Russia. The so-called nationalists prefer to forsake sovereignty and join a union that is not accepted by the world for the sake of saving what we have left.

Some of the opposition is prepared to offer a shrunken country to Russia rather than keeping the current territories intact. It provides parallels to 1920, when Armenia became Sovietized to deter more bloodshed. However, Russia is not the same as it was then. The Soviet Union and the Cold War no longer exist. Russia is weak, rejected by the world, isolated and in a deep strategic cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. One cannot trust the security guarantees that Russia offers but is incapable of or willing to implement.

Our current political elite has presented two scenarios: to submit to Azerbaijan, concede to their demands and end up with a Yerevan city-state with no national identity, or join the union state. Both are equally flawed and equally dangerous for the survival of Armenian statehood. 

What are some alternatives?

Although we have lost precious time and territories with the loss of Artsakh and the war, national values can be reinvigorated by contributing our global nation’s collective resources to create the ideal state. The time to act is now. We cannot wait until the traitorous “peace” agreement is signed. We did not resist when Berdzor was handed over without a fight, which was followed by the blockade and depopulation of Artsakh. We must organize to stop the shrinking of our land bit by bit and uphold our territorial integrity. We must rebuild the army and form alliances that will strengthen our security. We must reach a consensus for a national agenda that will protect our statehood and reject the two remedies that do not serve national interests. All the concerned and caring groups who want to see an independent state must unite to determine what we want as a nation.

Armenians made the impossible, possible after the Armenian Genocide, when we had no state institutions and no external help. We achieved this once again in the 1990s, when we created an independent state based on the ideology of Artsakh’s independence, with no army or assistance. History demonstrates that when Armenians unite in times of adverse danger, they create victorious resistance movements.

This is not an easy task. It requires leadership with the right mindset, dedication, sacrifice, conviction and determination to succeed. If we do not fight for our survival, no one else will do it for us. We will only gain our integrity and respect from the international community when we stand for our just cause. If we don’t, we deserve to be stateless. After all, romanticism brought us victories, not realism.

Annette Moskofian

Annette Moskofian

Annette Moskofian was born in Tehran and grew up in London. She has a masters in international relations and democratic politics. Annette is the chair of the Armenian National Committee of the United Kingdom.
Annette Moskofian

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  1. I agree in principle with your sentiments about Armenians fighting to maintain their country and freedom. Fighting takes many forms. The key question is how to do it. The first step is to seriously engage the diaspora and its resources because I simply do not see how Armenia is going to survive with under 3 million people, against Turkey and Azerbaijan. But engaging the diaspora also means repairing our broken politics. Each country in the diaspora should elect a leadership council that represents the Armenians of that country. This is going to be harder than it looks, because communities are siloed and no one wants to give up their turf, even though the “turf “ is shrinking every year through assimilation. The elected councils of each country then meet at a World Armenian Congress(WAC) to evaluate the Armenian diaspora’s assets, capabilities and weaknesses. For example, the WAC can commit to raising $ 500 MM /year ( I consider this a minimum in order to have an impact ) for capital projects in Armenia( defense, roads, hospitals , schools) and facilitate people to people exchange programs ( i.e increase Birthright Armenia program so that many more Armenian young people spend time in Armenia) . It is possible that the Armenian government may at first resist diaspora involvement as they have in the past, but hopefully they will see the benefits as they get used to western ways of education and business. The Armenian government in turn needs to be much more transparent, less corrupt and inclusive and make the diaspora a true partner. The 5 million or so Armenians in diaspora can get engaged with dual citizenship and healthy back and forth for business, tech transfer , startups, education, youth programs and tourism. I do not believe that a peace agreement with Azerbaijan means anything, as long as there is a military and economic imbalance. The goal of Armenia should be a) strengthen its army to resist Azerbaijan, b) increase it GDP from current $ 20 Bn to at least $ 60 bn ( Lithuania’s GDP with comparable population) and c) increase its population to at least 4 million. These are the real foundations of security.

    • A good article as the saying goes nothing like the sour taste of defeat and the reality check to bring back to sense. The extraordinary faith some Armenians had for Russia is that of an infatuation and the consequent delusional thinking. Be realistic about Russia the series of betrayals no Berlin airlift for Arktash… Russia wants a helpless Armenia so it can control it and help and save it as the munificent benefactor. No sense of stronger together at all from Moscow to Yerevan!
      Also take note of the great losses that Russia is bearing in Ukraine and the reputation of the Russian military equipment training etc carefully cultivated by Putin and acolytes being exposed somewhat hence the popular notion that had Armenia been in full harmony with Russia then they would have been able sweep away Azeri ( Turkish and Israeli) munitions this was shown to be false when Russian columns were destroyed by the same type of TB2 drones in Ukrainian service. As for Armenia being bamboozled by Turkey over the genocide and expulsions. Israel which has found the Holocaust most useful to its cause, however as wiser Jews say regarding Israel it won’t save us forever despite Germany flagellating grovelling it’s becoming harder and harder to justify actions in Israel and the Palestinians on the grounds of what the teutons did to our ancestors in Europe in the 1940s and the 7 October attack which showed national weakness the indifference in Europe who aren’t willing to be guilt tripped as before after all it’s 80 years ago and hostility by newcomers to Europe from Africa and Asia who can’t be guilt tripped over ww2 goings on.
      Mistakes were made over the 1994 victory which was only a ceasefire on favourable terms legacy long before Pashinyan took office and a complacent attitude had set in and recent events have destroyed its legacy, although as the saying goes success is never final

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