We must keep the memory and dream alive to recover Artsakh and Western Armenia

There is a dispute among those who want to struggle for the recovery of Artsakh and those who say that Artsakh is lost forever and that we should forget about it. The latter, shameful position is promoted by the current regime in Armenia, which is responsible for losing Artsakh and is now doing everything possible to bury its memory.

I would like to share with the readers my decades-long view on the recovery of Western Armenia and its parallels to actions we need to take for Artsakh.

After every lecture I have given around the world on the Armenian Genocide and Western Armenia, some of the attendees immediately ask: what is the point of pursuing such a lost cause, particularly since the powerful Turkish military is occupying our historic lands?

I respond by saying that the worst thing Armenians can do now is to forget about Western Armenia. That is the surest way of losing our Armenian territories forever.

In addition to doing everything possible now, Armenians need to transmit to the next generation our demands for Artsakh and Western Armenia in order to keep the dream alive. If we don’t, our future generations, not knowing anything about our historic lands, will have no idea that they belong to us. Consequently, even if someday the geostrategic situation on the ground changes and an opportunity arises to recover our lost lands, our future generations will not show any interest in them.

April 24 protest at the Turkish Consulate of Boston (Photo: Knar Bedian)

Remember that for over 2,000 years, the Jewish people had lost their homeland and were dispersed throughout the world. The succeeding Jewish generations passed on the knowledge of their homeland to their offspring. For more than 2,000 years, parents transmitted the memory of Jerusalem and Israel to their children, they in turn passed it on to their children, and so on. They did not forget their roots and history while living in exile in Russia, Europe and elsewhere. They repeatedly told their children and grandchildren, ‘next year in Jerusalem!’ Two thousand years later, when the opportunity arose to recover their lands, they took advantage of it and realized their long-held dream. Palestinians, who were and still are forcefully displaced from their lands, are in a similar situation. They too are struggling to keep their dream alive and are proclaiming the right of return to their ancestral homes.

If Jewish people can keep their dream of returning to their homeland for 2,000 years, why can’t Armenians keep their dream of returning to Artsakh and Western Armenia someday? Armenians should tell their children and grandchildren: ‘next year in Shushi’ and ‘next year in Van’.

While we are deprived of our lands due to the actions of our enemies, it is up to us not to lose the memory and dream of someday returning to our lands. Let’s pass on our demands to future generations.

The question is: how can Armenians return to their lands someday if powerful enemies are occupying Artsakh and Western Armenia? We should not forget that nothing remains constant. There is not a single country in the world that has had the same boundaries since the beginning of history. Over the years, some countries have enlarged their borders, while others lost their territories. Some have become large empires, while others have disappeared from the face of the earth. But one thing is clear: No one can claim that today’s boundaries of Azerbaijan and Turkey will remain the same forever. Just 100 years ago, the vast and powerful Ottoman Empire was reduced to the much smaller territory of the Republic of Turkey. Even though it is not possible to predict the exact date when the boundaries of Azerbaijan and Turkey will change, they will certainly not remain the same. How will such changes come about? There are several scenarios, such as regional wars, world war, civil war and nuclear or other types of disasters. Such events have happened in the past and will surely happen again in the future.

When changes on the ground do take place, will future generations of Armenians know and have the memory that Artsakh and Western Armenia are part of their historic homeland, or will they be clueless, having never heard of Shushi and Van? If they are deprived of that knowledge, when opportunities arise in the future, even if an unlikely benevolent Azeri or Turkish leader returns those lands to our grandchildren, they will not be interested in them, since they had never heard of them.

In conclusion, my advice is to keep the dream alive. While we are deprived of our lands due to the actions of our enemies, it is up to us not to lose the memory and dream of someday returning to our lands. Let’s pass on our demands to future generations. The enemy took away our lands, but did not and cannot take away our memory. By forgetting about our historic lands, we ourselves will be helping our enemies put the final stone on the grave of our cause!

Harut Sassounian

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 one billion dollars 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.


  1. Pointless daydreams.

    You forget that there are 85 million Turks in Turkey and 10 million Turks in Azerbaijan.

    Against them are 3 million Armenians.

    3 million are going to defeat 95 million, are they?

    You absolutely need to start living in this World.

    • Robert Whig (if that is your real name), I suggest you read my column once again because you missed its whole meaning. Do you think that I am not aware of the current power discrepancy between Armenia and its enemies? But, as I explained repeatedly, I am not talking about today nor tomorrow morning. I am talking about keeping the dream alive, not going to war. Is that too much to ask? The loss of our land is imposed on us, but not losing our memory is up to us. Let’s not finish the job that our enemies started.

    • Yes, Robert Whig is my real name.

      I don’t see any reason to hide or lie or not show my name.

    • You need to brush up on your math. First of all, of those 85 million Turks in Turkey, a quarter of them are Kurdish and they themselves are under Turkish oppression and what they call their homeland under Turkish occupation. Second of all, there are probably over 10 million plus Armenians living outside Armenia as Diasporan Communities you can not count them out because they do and always have played a major role in both the internal Armenian politics and pro-Armenian Diasporan political movements, directly or indirectly, with massive human and financial resources that has always worried our enemies.

      Last but not least, as much as I hate to give you this example, there is only around 10 million Jews living in Israel and they are surrounded by over 300 million angry Arabs and hundreds of millions of non-Arab Muslim anti-Israeli populations around the world and nuclear-capable Israel has managed to not only keep them at bay but it has also been able to make them think twice before making any threats against Israel. In our worst day, we can take care of pseudo-Turkish militarily incompetent Azerbaijanis in their best day in absence of Turkey and other terrorist paid-mercenaries as proven by wealthy oil-rich Azerbaijan’s inability to have even put a dent in our Armenian resolve in three decades. Azerbaijanis are the least threat to us. Terrorist Turkey with the current AKP regime under the leadership of the Islamo-fascist Neo-Ottoman Erdogan should be our main concern who is behind all that is happening in the region. Even then, Turkey on its own without its NATO membership becomes far less of a threat because that’s where they get their weapons from. Have you ever noticed how warmongering and belligerent the Turkish leaders become when they are dealing with far weaker nations and how the same leaders are so careful, cautious and conciliatory when dealing with nations equal in strength or much more powerful than them? In reality, they are opportunist hyenas with very little power without the the advanced weapons they get from their NATO masters.

      They led the 2020 invasion of the Armenian liberated territories on incompetent Azerbaijan’s behalf but they have not lift a finger to do anything against Israel, with nearly 30,000 Palestinian civilian dead, after all the name calling and all the insults and threats Erdogan has hurled at them! That is the TRUE Turkish character for you! We must become nuclear-capable state and then you will see the Turks singing a different tune with us.

  2. Jews *didn’t* have a homeland for centuries, which is why they had to keep the dream alive. And to their credit, a great number went to Israel when the opportunity arose.
    Armenians *already have* a country / homeland, and it is clearly under continued threat. Yet markedly few of the millions of diaspora have returned, even after 2020. Even after Artsakh fell. Outside of the recent (temporary?) influx of Russians, wasn’t there still a net outflow of Armenians to other countries year after year?

    Rather than dreaming of “returned lands” from your comfortable home and life in America, why aren’t you and your descendants moving to Armenia now? To populate, strengthen, invest, and protect what remains of it?

  3. The Diaspora loves Armenia so much that they’ll do anything and everything for Armenia except actually live there.

    Armenians in America really do need to keep quiet. They live in a country where 99.99% of Americans cannot find Armenia on a map. The idea that the Americans will ever come to Armenia’s rescue is just ludicrous.

    And yet Armenia is not weak. Armenia can tell Israel to stop supplying Azerbaijan with arms and recognise the Armenian genocide or Armenia will start funding and training the Palestinians.

    But for that to happen, Armenia must be ruled by men of steel not cowards and traitors like Pashinyan.

    • @ Robert Whig, the fact that Armenia doesn’t recognise Palestine officially is remarkable and perhaps as part the indecisive policies Yerevan has engaged in post independence such as it’s failure to get meaningful international support over Arktash and achieved a settlement in the 1990s instead of shilly shally negotiations until Azerbaijan 26 years later had clearly gained the advantage. Anyhow it should be time to acknowledge Armenia has been hiding to nothing and appeasing with regard to Israel who seems to have it in for Armenia and especially as Israel best made in the south Caucasus, Azerbaijan recognised Palestine Armenia has nothing to loose by recognising Palestine . Armenia ability to dictate to Israel is doubtful over issues such it’s opposition to the Armenian genocide which it legally only considers state sponsored killings and it’s policy of extensive arms sales to Azerbaijan based on its contention with Iran although Azerbaijan doesn’t use them against Iran but Armenia. As for funding and training the Palestinians there is the schlerotic Palestinian authority in the west bank and the proscribed Hamas movement, Armenia is rather short of money and has it’s own displaced from Arktash to accommodate first. Recognise Palestine by all means there is nothing to loose by doing this.

  4. To repeat the successful path of the Jews, you need to have the same financial, intellectual and political resources. The Armenian people do not have the same resources as the Jews, so following the example of the Jews is a bad option.

    • Despite effort by the UK and USA via the UN to establish boundaries as irrevocable there is nothing to say this will last forever however in such a circumstance there would be no protocol in a Hobbesian world for Turkey and Azerbaijan to conquer Armenia. Sometimes going for greater ends up loosing more. Such as Germany over it’s WW1 territorial losses which it deemed onerous only to temporarily reverse to loose rather more after WW2 … For now safeguard what Armenia has left dreams of reconquest can verge on vain delusions. As for Israel and the Arabs it’s a story of the massive support Israel enjoys and the incompetence of the Arabs in the relative sense shooting the sky in celebration and wondering why they don’t have bullets for the next encounter..The Turks are a rather more dour and methodical people than the Arabs who are rather inclined to rhetoric. Keep it as a dream but focus on the present reality otherwise one will just be very despondent

  5. Armenia needs a Churchill not a Chamberlain to inspire and put steel in the back of the Armenian people. Instead we have pathetic weak appeaser; it is clear that Armenia will not respond to any of the many deaths of Armenian soldiers, and the loss of territory. Enough is enough. Pashinyan must step aside. The country and diaspora must be mobilized with only one priority – defend and protect the homeland. The current Pashnyan government has abdicated that role. Of course the memory of Artsakh and Western Armenia must be kept alive, otherwise Armenian will just become materialistic consumers and move to LA.

  6. Some diasporans are constantly busy claiming new territories from their fancy LA residences while the Republic of Armenia itself is in shambles.
    I don’t see any Californian Armenians moving to Syunik. I don’t see French Armenians starting businesses in Gyumri. What will be any different for Artsakh and Western Armenia? Only more of the empty fields and deserted buildings we see in Armenia today. What’s the point then?
    I invite Mr Sassounian to answer the following questions:
    1) Why has he not moved to Armenia yet? There’s more than enough room there for any Armenian who wants to settle and contribute to his nation.
    2) What is he planning to do with millions of Muslims living in what he calls Western Armenia?
    3) Is he aware that he is playing into Aliev’s and Erdoğan’s hands by openly voicing Armenian territorial ambitions?

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