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Where was the outpouring of empathy when my country was at war?

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#1 Yervant1

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Posted 25 February 2022 - 09:55 AM

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  Feb 24 2022
 
 
Where was the outpouring of empathy when my country was at war?

As an Armenian, I feel our pain was ignored. And my trauma means I’m struggling to empathise as I should with Ukraine today

 
 
War is a strange thing – it makes you both empathetic and cold-hearted.
 

As an Armenian, I experienced two huge wars – the first Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994) and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Now in my 30s, I still live in a country where people are praying every night not to receive word about a new war and casualties in the morning.

Unfortunately, this morning, we received exactly that. This time, the war is not in Armenia, but in Ukraine.

Ukraine is not far from my country, but this doesn’t change my reaction to it. Ukraine could be in Antarctica and I would still feel the same sharp emotion – like my heart is being squeezed and I want to scream ‘stop’.

From empathy into heartlessness

As soon as I got the news, I put myself in the shoes of every Ukrainian. I really felt for them. I imagined young people in love, with big plans for the future or for their wedding day, who will not live to see them happen. It is heartbreaking.

But empathy was just the first reaction I had this morning. It was followed by something different: a pang of what I would describe as heartlessness. I suppose this is a product of trauma.

I remembered being in almost exactly the same situation in Armenia, but with a slight difference. The world was not supporting us. It was just watching our pain in silence.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m genuinely happy to see how the international community is supporting Ukraine, how people in different countries are protesting in the streets, how millions are adding the Ukrainian flag to their profiles on social media. But this unity and empathy feels so different from what I experienced in 2020.

Thousands of young people aged 18 to 20 died in Armenia and Azerbaijan barely two years ago. And I don’t recall much international solidarity happening then.

Please, spare me explanations about the differences between wars. War is war. It’s a tragedy. It means being able to smell death. It’s mourning a parent and a partner. It’s an evil that takes away your sleep and your laughter. It’s an invisible pain in your heart. Let’s not talk about geopolitics here.

What really shocks me is the hypocrisy. How can this be the same world, the same society, the same media? Where were they when people in another part of the world were fighting for 44 days during the pandemic?

I don’t care about politics, land, negotiations, economics – I just want to live in a peaceful country where parents don't have to fear that they will not see their children again

I remember feeling so helpless at the time and trying to throw myself into work. I’m not sure it helped much but at least it alleviated my anger towards the world.

My international friends were silent, too. They didn’t change their profile pictures. Most didn’t text me messages of love and solidarity. There were just two friends (one from Africa and one from Europe) who did so, and I’ll be forever grateful to them. Believe me – when you are in pain, every word of support matters to you. It’s a silver lining. These messages remind you that you are not alone, and can even make you smile.

I want to live in a peaceful country

The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict turned my life upside down. I am not the same anymore.

I might be silent about it, appear happy and back to normal, but every night I think about the more than 4,000 Armenian families who lost their sons in the 2020 war and the 200 families whose sons are still missing in action. I think about Azerbaijani families, too, who also have losses. I’m sure all human beings mourn and love exactly the same way.

For me, it’s all about humanity. I don’t care about politics, land, negotiations, economics – I just want to live in a peaceful country where parents don't have to live in fear that they will not see their children again.

There are times I wish I had not been born in this region, where life is so unstable and fragile, where you don’t have certainty in tomorrow.

I live in constant fear of change – either from ongoing war, an earthquake or political tensions. It’s hard to keep up with it all when you are an ordinary person who doesn’t want to be involved in politics and just wants to live a normal life.

The main lesson I learned from the war is not to expect any help or solidarity from outside. You are alone and you need to live with your permanent wounds as there will always be scars. I guess my scars are too fresh and deep – that’s why there isn’t more room to feel others’ pain.

https://www.opendemo...re-was-empathy/

 
 
 
 

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#2 onjig

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Posted 28 February 2022 - 05:50 PM

It seems as tho we are invisible,,,


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#3 onjig

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Posted 28 February 2022 - 06:56 PM

Tatev.2e16d0ba.fill-200x200.jpgTatev Hovhannisyan

Tatev Hovhannisyan is Europe and Eurasia Editor on openDemocracy’s Tracking the Backlash project. For ten years she has worked in Armenian leading media outlets, six of them as an editor. She is passionate about producing ambitious journalistic pieces and putting women’s rights on the front page. Follow her on Twitter: @tahovhannisyan


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#4 Yervant1

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Posted 07 March 2022 - 09:25 AM

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March 6 2022
 
 
Ukraine Amid Russian Aggression: A View from Armenia
 

Published

 3 hours ago 

on

 March 6, 2022
ukraine-war.jpg
Image source: ndtv.com

Armenia was the sole member of the Council of Europe, which aligned with Russia in voting against the expulsion of Russia from the organization because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, Armenia, along with 35 other countries, chose to abstain in voting during an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on the March 2nd resolution, which denounced Russia’s military invasion into Ukraine.

Armenia’s perplexing support of Russia is unsurprising for the following reasons.

Pro-Russian narratives have been a salient feature of Armenian political discourse during the upheaval in Ukraine. This pattern was particularly demonstrated when the Armenian political leadership hailed the annexation of Crimea as a model exercise of the right to self-determination. Strikinglyformer President Sargsyan went so far as to regard the referendum in Crimea as an exercise of the peoples’ right to self-determination through free _expression_ of will.

The turmoil in Ukraine further reinforced the Armenian political leadership’s fears about the repercussions of defying Russia. Former President Sargsyan even raised the situation in Ukraine as a justification for Armenia’s decision to join the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). By confirming its allegiance to Russia, the Armenian leadership hoped to avoid angering the Kremlin, and prompting it to take punitive measures against its possible “disobedience.” A closer look at Armenian discourse displays a tendency to treat Ukraine’s “outright defiance” of Russia’s strategic interests as the principal rationale behind the devastating crisis. It is unsurprising that the Armenian leadership has condemned the European Union’s “recklessness” and “interference” in the sphere of Russia’s privileged interests. Sargsyan would even attribute hindrances of the EU-backed Eastern Partnership to its anti-Russian nature. By joining the EAEU, Armenia has clarified that it does not support the EU’s destabilization policy, and wants to refrain from exacerbating the situation.

Despite his promises of revising Armenian-Russian inherently asymmetric relations, Sargsyan’s successor, Nikol Pashinyan, was quick to pledge Armenia’s unconcealed allegiance to Russia. Pashinyan repeatedly declared that Armenia is not going anywhere, while the Armenian-Russian “strategic friendship” would continue to deepen and develop.

At his initial meeting with Pashinyan, Putin stressed the necessity of continued cooperation in the international arena, focusing particularly on the UN, where the two nations “have always supported each other.” It is not a surprise that post-revolution Armenia voted against another UN resolution on the de-occupation of Crimea in December 2018. The resolution expressed grave concerns over the accumulation of Russian military forces in Crimea and called on Russia to end its “temporary occupation” of the Ukrainian region.

In addition to the reasons discussed as to why Armenia sides with the Kremlin, is the country’s mounting dependence on Russia in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war.

There has been an ingrained belief among Armenian leadership that Armenia only benefits from Russia’s greater involvement in its “near abroad”. All this comes down to Armenia’s inferiority complex and self-perception as a weak and small state, bound by neighboring Turkish-Azerbaijani hostilities. It is in this context that Russia is broadly perceived as a pivotal security ally in Armenian political thinking and in the public consciousness. 

In the aftermath of the devastation of the 2020 war, Pashinyan stated that it is vital to deepen relations with Russia to ensure Armenia’s security. Moreover, he presented the issue of deploying Russian border guards along its entire border with Azerbaijan.

The Armenian authorities, media, and the intellectual community consistently feed the public with the ensuing narrative; that Russia saved Armenia by deploying peacekeepers across the conflict zone. Thus, the portrayal follows that all Armenians should be grateful to Russia and revere the Armenian-Russian alliance at all costs.

Notably, certain political figures and activists even go as far as fiercely condemning any anti-Russian sentiment, avowing that Russia is the only country that ended the war, while the European Union and the United States, allowed the bloodshed to continue by their inaction. The former Chief of the National Security Service Arthur Vanetsyan stated that there can be no better ally for Armenia than Russia. Several opposition leaders, such as former President Kocharyan and Artur Ghazinyan, a key member of the Armenia Alliance party, contended that considering the war’s ruinous effects on Armenia, it would be a reasonable decision and in the best interests of Armenia’s future, to become a part of Russia and form a united/common state with the Russian Federation.

Overall, there is a broad consensus among the representatives of the Armenian political elite that the acute threats posed to Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey warrant its heavy reliance on Russia. Thus, despite some resentment that Russian policy may generate, Armenia must refrain from “provoking” Russia. Otherwise, the latter will cause Armenia to be ‘hit where it hurts’ by arming Azerbaijan, increasing gas prices, or even mistreating the Armenian community in Russia.

The most conspicuous exception challenging these narratives is the National Democratic Pole, which blamed the devastating state of Armenia on Russia. The party achieved less than two per cent of the vote in the snap parliamentary elections of June 2021.

Furthermore, an immense source of fear for the Armenian economy is the crippling effect of western sanctions against Russia. As a result of heavy economic dependence on Russia – its economic downturn significantly aggravates Armenia’s economic crisis. Notably, Russia is the main external trade partner of Armenia. Not only is Russia the destination for over 27 per cent of Armenian exports, but Russian multinational corporations such as Gazprom Armenia, VTB Armenia and MTS Armenia are some of the principal taxpayers in Armenia. Moreover, in October 2021 Russia pledged to invest $1 billion into Armenia’s economy. Besides, Russia is home to more than 2.5 million Armenian migrants, and as of 2019, 45% of money transfers distributed to Armenia came from Russia.

Meanwhile, the depreciation of the Russian ruble means that the remittances sent from Russia will decrease in value. The ruble’s devaluation will inevitably lead to price increases in Armenian exports to Russia, thus affecting trade volumes. The Central Bank of Armenia confirmed that the depreciation of the ruble will have dreadful consequences on Armenian exports to Russia and payments from Armenian migrant workers. 

It is for these reasons that Western sanctions imposed on Russia send ripples of apprehension into Armenia. Armenia currently remains amongst the minority in the international community that do not outwardly condemn the Kremlin’s coercive policies. The Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Mher Grigoryan even noted that “Russia not only plays a vital role in maintaining peace and stability in our region but also occupies a key place in our country’s economy. Russia is Armenia’s main trade partner.”

Generally, Pashinyan, consistent with his predecessor’s actions, continues to support even the most controversial Russian foreign policy actions, particularly by sending its troops to help squelch anti-government protests in Kazakhstan. The Armenian leadership has placed itself in the situation where it has little to no agency to oppose the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda. Therefore, it is foreseeable that Armenia has not officially reacted to Russian aggression in Ukraine, while expressing hopes that Armenia’s “friendly countries” will resolve their conflict through “diplomatic dialogue.” As a result, Armenia is the only South Caucasus country that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has not tweeted about since the outbreak of the Russian invasion. 

https://moderndiplom...w-from-armenia/



#5 Yervant1

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Posted 09 March 2022 - 09:02 AM

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March 8 2022
 
 
Silent and uneasy: Armenia’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
For many, this silence is justified 
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Written byOC Media
Posted 8 March 2022 7:11 GMT
 
 

This article was first published on OC Media. An edited version is republished here under a content partnership agreement.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world seems to be more united against Russian imperialism than ever. However, in Armenia, people have found themselves lost between deep-seated feelings of trauma and apathy, with analysts suggesting that the country suffers from a case of Stockholm syndrome, in which a captive develops positive feelings for the captor.

The recent war over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia’s presence and influence in Armenia, as well as Ukraine’s support of Azerbaijan during the war, have kept Armenians mostly silent on the events that unfolded following Moscow’s recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

For many, this silence is justified.

During the first week of the war in Ukraine, two small demonstrations were held in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, in support of Ukraine. The first, which took place in front of the Russian embassy on the day of the invasion, was organized by the European Party of Armenia, a minor party with no parliamentary members. The second, held on February 27 next to the memorial of Ukrainian poet and political figure Taras Shevchenko, was organized by the Ukrainian Embassy.

The Armenian government and its officials have remained largely mum on Russia’s actions. Its only statement so far confirmed that Yerevan did not plan on recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, and expressed hope that Russia and Ukraine might find a “peaceful solution” to the conflict.

Walking a thin line

On the international stage, Armenia stood alone in supporting its strategic ally and main security guarantor, by voting against suspending Russia's representation in the Council of Europe. But in two more recent votes — to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council and in condemning the invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly — Armenia abstained.

According to Daniel Ioannisyan, a democracy watchdog based in Yerevan, the inconspicuous shift in Armenia’s position in these two cases may be seen as “major progress,” but “only in the context of Amenia’s dependence on Russia.” He continued, “Armenia is in such a sad situation regarding its sovereignty and independence from Russia that this silence is already a good thing.”

Ioannisyan is referring to Armenia’s political dependence on Russia, which includes its membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization, the country’s main economic and security partnerships. The two countries also have a separate strategic partnership agreement that regulates the presence of Russia's military base and troops in Armenia.

This dependence on Russia grew stronger following the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, which ended with Russian mediation and the deployment of over 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the area. Thus, the Armenia-controlled parts of Nagorno-Karabakh appeared to be under de facto control of Russia. In addition, the number of Russian troops in Armenia reached roughly 10,000 with a permanent military base in Gyumri and a military airport in Yerevan, as well as other minor strategic positions. Russian troops are also in control of the Armenia-Turkey border.

“[Armenia has] struggled to maintain a strategic ‘balance’ between its security partnership with Russia and its interest in deepening ties with the EU and the West over the past twenty years,” Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center, a Yerevan-based think tank, told OC Media.

However, Giragosian thinks that Russia will likely start demanding greater support and more open loyalty, in which case, “any sense of diplomatic balance may be lost, threatening to push Armenia into a vulnerable and isolated position on the wrong side of history.” He further explained, “Although Armenia’s position, as the only other country besides Russia to oppose that move [silence on sanctions], dangerously isolates it, there was little choice and even less of an alternative.”

Considering Armenia’s middling position between support and condemnation of Moscow’s actions, there’s a fear that the sanctions set for Russia may fall on (or at least influence) Armenia too — although Ioannsiyan thinks Armenia will be affected not by the sanctions themselves, but rather, by Russia’s expected attempts to use Armenia and other countries to bypass them.

“In this case,” he surmised, “there may be bad consequences for Armenia.” In a hypothesised scenario where Russia emerged the victor in the war, Ioannsiyan warned that Armenia may be forced into the process of forming the “Soviet Union 2.0.”

People, weapons, and propaganda

The response of the Armenian people has not differed much from that of its government. Journalist and pro-peace activist Aram Amirbekyan suggested that the reactions among Armenians were “logical”.

“Unfortunately, many were even happy with what was happening,” Amirbekyan said, explaining that people were justifying their apathy because of Ukraine’s support of Azerbaijan during the 2020 war. “I can’t share this kind of response,” he continued, “as [Russia’s invasion] is aggression that should be condemned — but the ‘enemy-ally’ propaganda was so strong in Armenia that a reality was created where people support Russia. Ukraine, in this context, was perceived as an enemy that sells weapons and white phosphorous to Azerbaijan, but so did Russia. Everyone sells weapons to everyone.”

One allegation surrounding Ukrainian support to Azerbaijan was that Kyiv provided Baku with white phosphorous that was used by Azerbaijan during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Film director Sarik Andreasyan, a former friend of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was one of many to perpetuate such accusations, which Zelenskiy has categorically denied.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia provided over 60 percent of Azerbaijan’s weapons between 2011 and 2020, while Ukraine only sold over 1 percent during the same time (although before 2010, that number was significantly higher).

Citing a survey by the Union of Informed Citizens, Ioannsyan posited that Russian propaganda has also played a significant role in the formation of Armenian public opinion, with over 11 percent of Armenians considering Russian state media outlets trustworthy sources of information. “This, among other things, influences public opinion, and unfortunately, its support of Putin’s actions. And Armenia should work intensively against disinformation campaigns,” he added.

Coming on the heels of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one such “campaign” was the staged draping of a 50-meter banner across one of Yerevan’s largest bridges, the Kyivian, which read, “Russian army.” Though instantly going viral with hundreds of thousands of views, local journalists established that the sign was only hung for nine minutes in order to be filmed before being taken down.

The 2018 revolution and the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War have also changed perceptions in Armenia, Amirbekyan believes. Such recent events made Armenians more “politicized,” he says, “and […] the events in Ukraine are perceived as part of these geopolitical perceptions.” This is also why Amirbekyan called Armenia’s response “logical”: “It’s hard to expect from Armenia […] explicit support for Ukraine, as Russian troops are in Karabakh as the direct guarantor of the security of the people there.”

While he says he would like to “see Armenia in such a geopolitical situation to be able to directly condemn this aggression and colonial-imperial policy,” Amirbekyan says he is “happy that it was able to keep some sort of neutrality.” He also noted, “At the same time, […] we should notice that there’s compassion in Armenia towards the people in Ukraine. After all, there are many Armenians in Ukraine; relations between the countries and people were quite warm. The sight of Kyiv or Lviv shelled is painful for Armenians too.”

Ready to receive refugees

According to estimates, there are almost 400,000 Armenians and people with Armenian roots in Ukraine. Officially, Armenians in Ukraine number around 130,000. Russia, on the other hand, has the largest Armenian population — 1.2 million.

Both Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of the Armenian community of Ukraine, Norik Grigorian, have said there is no exact information on how many of these Armenians living outside the country have fled the war, or how many have re-entered Armenia. However, the ministry has expressed a willingness to not only receive ethnic Armenians and Armenian citizens, but also to accept foreign refugees.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy has established a group to help Armenians, Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians intending to move to Armenia. This includes a simplified procedure for relocating companies registered in those countries to Armenia. Minister Vahan Kerobyan confirmed that about a dozen Russian companies have already relocated to Armenia. He said that the government was trying to make the country a “pleasant environment” for foreigners who may decide to move, part of which entailed the provision of an appropriate business environment.

https://globalvoices...ion-of-ukraine/



#6 Yervant1

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Posted 15 March 2022 - 07:32 AM

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March 14 2022
 
 
OPINION
The world failed to act in 2020 when Azerbaijan attacked Armenia. Now history repeats itself in Ukraine. What’s happening to Ukrainians is similar to what happened to Armenians. These are not mutually exclusive events. The parallels could not be starker.
By Stephan PechdimaldjiUpdated March 14, 2022
 
 
 

A country led by an authoritarian launches an unprovoked war claiming sovereignty over historical lands. Thousands of innocent lives are upended. Fathers leave children behind to defend their country. Churches and hospitals are bombed. War crimes are committed.

Sound familiar? While this might depict events currently unfolding in Ukraine, it also describes what happened to Armenians living in their ancestral homeland of Nagorno-Karabakh when Azerbaijan started a war in the fall of 2020.

But unlike Ukraine, where worldwide condemnation of Russian aggression has been swift and severe, the world stayed mostly silent when Armenians were desperately asking for support and help. For millions of Armenians living around the world, this story is all too familiar. As victims of the first genocide of the 20th century, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were systematically exterminated by the Ottoman Turks, an event Turkey denies to this day, Armenians have come to expect that their suffering and pain is not worthy of comparable attention.

The events taking place in Ukraine and the imbalance of coverage that the Nagorno-Karabakh war received has only crystalized those feelings of frustration and exasperation. Wars are not a competition. And the people of Ukraine deserve all the help and support that the world can give them to stop Vladimir Putin’s quixotic campaign to revive the Soviet Union. But focusing on just one group undermines what other countries have endured in similar conflicts, wars, and wanton acts of violence. It gives despots cover to commit acts of violence at will and without restraint.

Strongmen like Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan share contempt for the rule of law. Had the world acted on behalf of Armenia in 2020 — or, for that matter, during the Armenian genocide in 1915 — then maybe that would have sent a stronger message to autocrats like Putin whose actions demonstrate that they believe they can carry out acts of aggression against other nations with impunity. What’s happening to Ukrainians is similar to what happened to Armenians. These are not mutually exclusive events. The parallels could not be starker.

Taking a page out of Putin’s playbook, President Aliyev used the pretext of historical revisionism to launch his unprovoked war against Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020. Claiming that large parts of Armenia’s territory were Azerbaijan’s “historic lands,” Aliyev defended this belief through incendiary language in numerous speeches leading up to the war and even went so far to say that Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, belonged to Azerbaijan. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is one of the reasons why he has embarked on a campaign to erase Armenia’s history and existence in the region by defacing, vandalizing, and destroying Armenian heritage and cultural sites, including churches and monasteries that have stood for hundreds of years.

Already we are seeing Russian forces try to engage in similar efforts. For instance, Moscow drew international condemnation after an airstrike hit Babyn Yar, a Holocaust memorial site where Nazis killed thousands of Jews during World War II. Whether or not it was intentional, the ultimate message that Russia sent was clear. Similarly, images surfaced during the Nagorno-Karabakh war showing a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide in Shushi being razed by occupying Azeri forces.

Despite these parallels, the world responded much differently to each event. While Russia has rightly been sanctioned economically and labeled a pariah, Azerbaijan didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. FIFA and UEFA, the world’s largest governing body for soccer, banned Russia but rewarded Azerbaijan by allowing it to host the 2020 European Championship games. Those same games were held next door to Azerbaijan Military Trophies Park, which glorifies and extols Azerbaijan’s victory in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War with Armenia, which basically represents a blatant disrespect for human rights as it celebrates its war crimes.

The park features a display of hundreds of helmets taken from Armenian soldiers killed during the war and wax mannequins of captured soldiers portrayed through exaggerated caricatures based on Armenian stereotypes and tropes like crooked noses and bushy eyebrows. Many of these mannequins are of people shown in their dying moments or chained to jail cells.

War should not be a zero-sum game when it comes to awareness. It is evil and represents the very worst of humanity. That is why all conflicts deserve attention. Human lives should not be measured by the size of a country or the natural resources it may have. In many ways, the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 was a harbinger of Russia’s war in Ukraine. As with the lessons of the Armenian genocide, the world failed to learn from history. Sadly, that history is repeating itself once again.

Stephan Pechdimaldji is a communications strategist who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

https://www.bostongl...itself-ukraine/


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#7 Yervant1

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Posted 16 March 2022 - 07:52 AM

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March 13 2022
 
Media Manipulation: Putin’s Ukraine Invasion Evil but Warring on Israel and Armenia OK
It’s automatic to feel a bond with Italians and — especially — Armenians.
 
 
 
 
 

About my love for Armenians.

I grew up in Brooklyn, in mostly ethnically Jewish neighborhoods. There were kosher restaurants galore; Irv’s Knishery in Canarsie was my favorite. There was Tina’s Bake Shop, who made the best chocolate cream pie ever. In time, I stopped patronizing them as I learned they baked on Shabbat. There was Appy’s Deli. What can I say? I miss Appy’s.

Jews everywhere. On Friday nights, a middle-aged guy down the block would wheel his television outside to his front yard, and a dozen of his buddies would congregate to watch the Yankees game. I never missed it. As soon as Sabbath meal with my Mom and sisters had ended, and we had recited grace, I hurried down the block. The men looked forward to my participating because I knew more baseball lore and data than a “walking encyclopedia.” I would have made a great baseball announcer, synergizing the best of Mel Allen, Tom Hamilton, and Vin Scully. We Orthodox Jews may not engage in employment on Shabbat, but I woulda called ’em for free. Ah, but we also may not engage electricity on the L-rd’s day. So I became a rabbi, an attorney, and a columnist.

I attended yeshiva (Jewish parochial school) for twelve years until college. “Some of my best friends” were Jews. Also all my worst enemies.

I found that I love Italians, too. Their heritage and culture, at least as practiced in America, are so similar to Jewish culture that you almost can’t tell Lucky Luciano from Bugsy Siegel. During the 1940s — think On the Waterfront — Italian unions ran the Manhattan and Jersey City docks, and they helped Jews illegally run guns to the nascent country of Israel when Harry Truman invoked his inner Joe Biden and imposed a full ban on allowing any weapons to the Jews as they were being attacked by seven Arab countries intent on murdering the Jewish country before it even birthed. Ethnic Italians, like ethnic East European Jews, are loud, emotional, hug and kiss, what-you-see-is-what-you-get. We eat starches. We respect Mama. They do the construction stuff in Joyzee — Bada bing! Bada boom! — and we represent them in court and with the IRS. Walk softly and carry a big attaché case.

I have continued expanding my cultural horizons and ethnic fascinations. Probably my best non-rabbinic friend is an American-born attorney of Formosan (Taiwanese) descent who is depressed that his beloved Seahawks suddenly are bereft of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. I try to console him by reminding that, when I followed the NFL until Kaepernick ruined it for me, my team was the Jets. The Jets have been rebuilding since the 1970s. The Biblical Jews got through the Sinai and into the Promised Land sooner. Divide the Red Sea? The Jets can’t even pierce through a four-man defensive front line.

 

My dear friend is unaware how much he has expanded my horizons as we enter the Year of the Tiger. Like all Jews, I love Chinese food. It’s a Jewish thing. Also, it’s equally crazy — if you think about it — as Jackie Mason observed: “No Chinaman ever asks a Jew where he can find a good matzo ball.”

And then there are the Armenians.

 

I have come to value Armenians deeply. As a law professor of twenty years, I have taught more than two thousand students; many of Armenian descent. I love their sense of tradition, family, religious devotion, and overall ethnicity. I cannot eat their foods because of kosher rules, and I have not attended their worship, but I love their devotion to heritage. A particular divorced Armenian lady and her two grown daughters became very close to my family and to my wife, Ellen of blessed memory. Among my law students, I connect warmly with everyone: blacks, whites, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Arabs, Hispanics, Asians, Indians.

Despite my edgy writings and my humor that always risks offending, never once in twenty years and among 2,000 students has anyone ever expressed umbrage. I somehow have side-stepped cancel culture, except for two Jewish rabidly leftist professors who would destroy me if they could because I wrote that Kamala Harris leveraged her immorality to rise in California Democrat circles. Rush Limbaugh read the whole article on his radio show, and it thus got a gazillion hits, made me famous, so those two Jewish leftists tried going after me. The score is:

• For Dov — 2,000 non-Jewish students of every imaginable background.

• Against Dov — 2 whining knee-jerk bleeding-heart Jewish rabidly leftist professors for AOC and Black Lives Matter and against yarmulkas.

(Oh, and by the way: Kamala Harris rose in California Democrat circles immorally.)

In my gaining a deeper appreciation for Armenian Americans and their culture, I learned about the Medz Yeghern, something too close to the Shoah (Holocaust) that Nazi Germany inflicted on Jews. In light of Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s extraordinary anti-Semitism (until last week, as it happens), my affinity towards Armenia only has increased. I always devote time in one of my last Spring Term classes to speak about April 24 and the Medz Yeghern. Armenian American students often have come to me after class or written me, even years later, that they were emotionally touched during those moments when the Orthodox rabbi with the yarmulka spoke about the evil Ataturk perpetrated and how Turkey to this day will not at least admit they sinned grievously a century ago.

It is outrageous that that the world, which now appropriately condemns Putin for disrupting the social order and sympathizes with Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine, never offered sympathy for Armenia as the Artsakh region faced horrific destruction only recently at the hands of Azerbaijan during the 2020 Second War over Nagorno-Karabakh. During the Soviet Union years, the region was deemed an autonomous oblast and was known as Artsakh. It is an enclave geographically within Azerbaijan, but approximately 80 percent Armenian ethnic and religiously Armenian Apostolic. In a 1991 referendum, as the Soviet Union collapsed, the population voted overwhelmingly to unite with Armenia. However, Azerbaijan launched war to assert sovereignty. The thing is, Putin and Iran — very bad players, but Armenia’s main energy suppliers — supported Armenia in the conflict while Turkey backed Azerbaijan. Amid the conflict, the Armenian Apostolic Ghazanchetsots (Holy Savior) Cathedral in Shusha, the main seat of the Artsakh bishopric and a landmark of Shusha and of Armenian cultural and religious identity, was attacked and damaged to the degree that Human Rights Watch declared it a possible war crime. Azerbaijan now has altered its historic construction. It was Azerbaijan who launched war to change the map.

Remember? Neither do most anyone else — because the media decided not to manipulate sympathies on that one. Walter Duranty of the New York Times had manipulated news of Stalin’s 1932-1933 Holodomor mass murders in Ukraine, so they passed unnoticed here. Again, the Times chose mostly to ignore the Shoah, assuring Hitler almost free rein there.

The media pick and choose “good guys” and “bad guys,” then proceed to tug at heart strings to manipulate public opinion. Similarly, they align towards Israel’s haters and therefore present the only country in the world with a Jewish majority dishonestly as “apartheid.” Consider: Jews cannot even set foot in Mecca or Medina. There is no synagogue in all of Saudi Arabia. By contrast, Arab Muslims in Israel engage in all aspects of daily public life, receive the same government benefits Jews do, hold political office, even comprise a critical component of the present governing Israeli political coalition. Arab Muslims are included among Israeli university professors, graduate students awarded government fellowships, high-ranking judges, and even receive monthly government stipends aimed at encouraging large families. When Arab terror groups strike at Israel with murderous rockets, they base launchers on rooftops of residential apartment buildings, on hospital grounds, and in school yards. Then, when Israel strikes defensively to obliterate those rocket-launch sites, the photos look awful, and the media choose not to explain. So no Ben & Jerry’s.

The left media are at war with conservatives. They manipulate others to hate DeSantis, Pence, Cotton, Pompeo, Cruz, Tucker supporters, Trump supporters, populist conservatives, Israel supporters, Armenia supporters.

Like Zelensky, we won’t roll over.

https://spectator.or...and-armenia-ok/



#8 Yervant1

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Posted 03 April 2022 - 07:06 AM

pngO5p1GPkc20.png
March 12 2022
 
 
Opinion: Armenia is stuck between the West and Russia

Armenia is balancing between Russia and the West

Armenia has found itself in a difficult situation stuck between Russia and the West. The Ukrainian crisis has further exacerbated this situation. Taking sides for Armenia is an excessive luxury. Such a step for it, according to most local experts, is deadly. And the authorities of Armenia still prefer to remain neutral.

At the same time, the situation in the region has worsened again. A soldier has been killed on the border of Armenia, and in Nagorno-Karabakh, peaceful settlements are being shelled along the entire perimeter of the line of contact. In addition, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces play a recording in Armenian through loudspeakers, calling on their residents to leave their homes in order to save their lives.

How can events develop, what kind of support can Armenia expect from the West or Russia? Comments by political observer Hakob Badalyan and chairman of the NGO “Free Citizen” Hovsep Khurshudyan.

Hakob Badalyan, political observer: "Between a rock and a hard place" Maintaining neutrality

“Armenia has always found itself in a difficult situation, when the West and Russia entered a regime of tough resistance. Now the main task for Armenia is not to be on anyone’s side in terms of conducting practical politics. It is clear that Armenia is a member of the CSTO military bloc and the EAEU economic union [both operate under the auspices of Russia – JAMnews], that is, by default, it is already on this side.

But we are talking about a practical policy that can be adequately perceived in the West, even if they see some steps towards Russia.

The West understands that Armenia has many problems, including security, so no one is pushing it to take any action that could provoke an aggressive reaction from Russia.

That is why Armenia should strive for active neutrality, but in such a way that its policy is understandable to both Russia and the West.

Moreover, Armenia should work not only with Russia and the West, it should continue the dialogue with Turkey to improve relations, at least maintain the communication that has been formed today. This is important given the increasing political role of Turkey in the Ukrainian issue.

I would especially single out Georgia in this situation, for which, just like for Armenia, a stable situation in the region is very important, and it is very important not to get drawn into this the tension that exists between Russia and the West. And if we combine even the behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts of both countries – Armenia and Georgia – then the neutral policy in the current situation will become even more effective.

From the point of view of economic risks, Armenia should try to intensify work with the Arab countries, offer them projects that are attractive for their capital in order to neutralize the risks that may arise as a result of the sanctions imposed against Russia”.

Society is in a free float

“The authorities are behaving optimally so far, which cannot be said about the public, which, due to the lack of institutional leaders, elites, is subjected to both external and internal manipulations. Various rallies held in the country are proof of this. Moreover, manipulations are carried out both in support of Russia and in support of Ukraine.

But both pro-Russian and anti-Russian manifestos are dangerous for Armenia.

I doubt that this is being done at the behest of the Kremlin or the West. I see no reason to think that someone wants to drag Armenia into the Ukrainian crisis. These provocations come, most likely, from different groups from the same Russia, as well as from Russian satellites in Armenia, who are interested in selling their manipulations to political actors. And, unfortunately, our society is vulnerable in this regard – they succumb to these manipulations, they spread them on social media”.

In negotiations with Turkey, Russia usually concedes something

“Against the backdrop of a large-scale war in Ukraine, the situation in the Caucasus can become a tool for Russia. It can “play” with the situation in the Caucasus region if any political projects from the West are used against it. On the other hand, this situation may become a tool in the hands of others to put pressure on Russia itself.

Russia absolutely does not need instability in the Caucasus today because of its own serious problems in connection with Ukraine.

Russia does not need to get another instability behind its back and be forced to deal with it. Therefore, any instability can be viewed as a means of putting pressure on Moscow by those who have influence on Azerbaijan, who are able to force Azerbaijan to escalate by encouraging it to resolve some issues.

It should be noted that the situation in the region is escalating in parallel with the activation of Turkey in the Ukrainian issue. For a long time, Russia tried to reject Turkish offers of mediation, hoping for direct negotiations with the United States. But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, America does not want to talk to Moscow, instead increasing the mediating role of Turkey.

It is possible that the aggravation of the situation in Artsakh is the very tool in the hands of Turkey to put pressure on Moscow in order to obtain a mediation mission in the Ukrainian issue. When Russia sits down with Turkey at the negotiating table, as a rule, it concedes something. For us, this is a very disturbing signal. That is why we must continue to work not only with Russia and the West, but also directly with the Turks, so that once again we do not become the subject of trade and be more flexible”.

Turkey disturbs France too

“The meeting between Nikol Pashinyan and Macron [took place on March 9, the French President invited the Armenian Prime Minister to Paris to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations] is not accidental. Any activity of Turkey puts strain on France as well.

France is already concerned about the whole situation in terms of the role of Europe and its sovereignty in the context of the Ukrainian war. France is concerned about the increasing role of Turkey in one of the key areas for Europe.

Against this background, Armenia, with all its problems, becomes a political tool for France to contain Turkey.

But Macron wants to solve his own problem at the same time. During the pre-election period, the Armenian community is an important factor for the President of France. The Armenians of France are too integrated into French life, the Armenian community has a high rating, and so much so that it can affect the position of the French themselves”.

What can the West give the Armenians, what Russia is not ready for

“Now we see what the West can give Ukraine. It provides weapons that Ukraine resists more strongly, but these weapons do not solve all problems. Ukraine asks to close the sky, but the West does not agree to this, so as not to enter into a direct confrontation with Moscow.

The significance of Armenia and the significance of Ukraine or the Ukrainian game as a whole for the West are incomparable. Therefore, in the event of a new war in Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia, significant assistance from Western countries, in particular, the closure of the sky, can not be expected.

Talking about the inclusion of Russia in this case is completely pointless.

Russia does not have the resources to fight a war on two fronts, in addition, there is no desire to enter the war against Turkey.”

Russia is an ally on paper, but in reality it is not and never will be.

We do not have an alternative security ally, and there is also no possibility of acquiring one. In our case, war is the most undesirable development for Armenia, which can instantly turn into one ruin.”

Hovsep Khurshudyan, Chairman of the NGO "Free Citizen": "The Kremlin's plans for Armenia, how will the West respond" Kremlin plans

“In terms of civilization, Armenia is Europe. It was enough just 3 years of democratic development after the Velvet Revolution of 2018, as in all international rankings, Armenia began to catch up, and in many positions even surpass the countries of the Eastern Partnership associated with the European Union in 2013.

Another thing is that the constant existential threat of 30 times the population and resources of Turkey and Azerbaijan and the zero military presence of the West led to the fact that Armenia has long linked its security with Russia.

April war in 2016 and 44 day war 2020 in NK showed that the Kremlin’s kleptocratic elite can not only betray, but simply sell any, even the closest ally.

Now the people of Armenia, even in terms of security, have less and less hope with Russia and more and more with the West.

But the question here is not only that Armenia is between the West and Russia. Much more dangerous is the Kremlin’s strategic plans for Armenia.

It is clear that before attacking Ukraine, Putin intended to create something like the USSR-2. Without Ukraine, such a project was obviously doomed. But if the Kremlin’s adventure in Ukraine had succeeded, there can be no doubt that Armenia would have been the next victim.

Moreover, Putin would act in close cooperation with Aliyev: Azerbaijan would attack Armenia, and Russia would begin to “save” it. As a result, we would lose another part of our territory, the return of which, of course, Russia would not provide. But as a “salvation” from the genocide, the rest would demand to join a new alliance, and with the worst conditions.

Therefore, Ukrainians are now fighting not only for their independence and the right to self-determination, but also for Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.”

Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian war, Baku took an aggressive stance
“Aliyev is again acting in cooperation with Putin, as was the case in 2020 during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in May 2021, when the Azerbaijani armed forces invaded the territory of Armenia and occupied, according to my estimates and information, about 100 square kilometers territory [the Armenian authorities announced the figure of 41 square kilometers].

Russia and the CSTO [a military bloc under the auspices of Russia, of which Armenia is a member] not only did not stand up for their military and economic ally, but did not even condemn the Azerbaijani provocation and invasion, as did France and the United States.

The Kremlin put pressure on the leadership of Armenia not to boldly turn to the UN Security Council.

Despite the fact that French President Macron openly stated that he was ready to submit a special resolution to the UN Security Council if Armenia turned to it with this issue.

Therefore, the containment of Aliyev from further provocations can be effectively organized only with the help of the West.

On March 9, we saw the almost unanimous (with 635 votes in favor, 2 against and 42 abstentions) adoption of the resolution of the European Parliament “On the destruction of cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The resolution condemns the anti-Armenian policy of Azerbaijan and emphasizes that the elimination of traces of the Armenian cultural heritage is carried out not only with the intention of harming, but also with the aim of falsifying history and erasing the traces of Armenianness.

Everything goes to the fact that the West is inclined to decide the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh according to the Kosovo scenario.”

The West has something to offer Armenia

“Pashinyan’s meeting with Macron during this period is not at all accidental. He invited Nikol Pashinyan to a meeting in Paris before the latter is due to meet with Vladimir Putin [the meeting with Putin is scheduled for early April].

So the French President clearly makes it clear that the West has something to offer Armenia, including in terms of security.

The West today is more consolidated than ever and has the greatest power to solve many regional problems. Especially after the failure of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, and also after the achievement of a nuclear agreement with Iran, which I do not doubt for a minute, the West will have much more influence both on Turkey and Azerbaijan, and on the South Caucasus and the Middle East regions as a whole.” .

https://jam-news.net...est-and-russia/



#9 Yervant1

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Posted 06 May 2022 - 08:28 AM

Panorama
Armenia - May 5 2022
 
 
Expert: Ukraine cannot have any expectations from Armenia in legal and moral terms
 
 

The Defense Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has accused Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan of negotiating with Moscow over the re-export of Russian products to international markets.

“The supply is planned to be made in the form of Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani products and export them to third countries,” the Defense Intelligence said on May 1.

Panorama.am has spoken with military expert and reserve colonel Hayk Nahapetyan over the matter as well as the legal and moral aspects of Ukraine's expectations from Armenia in the process of imposing sanctions on Russia.

Hayk Nahapetyan: We should look at things from the legal perspective. Ukraine is complaining that individual entrepreneurs or legal entities engaged in economic activities have opened such enterprises in Armenia under domestic laws, isn’t it? That is, what law has been violated? No law has been broken. It is no coincidence that such a statement was issued by the Defense Intelligence. Because if the Armenian side had undertaken some commitments and had violated them, the Ukrainian diplomatic corps and political institutions would have reacted somehow apart from the intelligence office. But Armenia has not violated any agreement. Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili has also demanded explanations from the Ukrainian authorities over the country’s accusations, asking it to provide evidence. If the Ukrainian side had substantiated evidence, I believe it would have used it first for propaganda instead of just making a statement.

The world has seen such precedents when the intelligence provided inaccurate information to the military and political leadership, as a result of which an entire country and its people suffered, with hundreds of thousands of casualties. Take, for example, the display of a small bottle by first black U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell when Iraq was actually invaded by NATO, and then it turned out that Colin Powell and the U.S. military and political leadership had been provided with inaccurate information about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by intelligence. That is, intelligence reports cannot serve as a basis and are not enough. But there is a moral aspect of the issue. From the legal terms, they can't substantiate that Armenia or Georgia have violated any verbal or contractual commitments.

The moral aspect is that Ukraine dares to interfere in the internal affairs of our country. It is for Armenia to decide what kind of relations to establish with a specific country in accordance with the agreements Armenia signed about 30 years ago.

Ukraine, no less, is laying out demands for Armenia, when Armenia has not made such a commitment. Armenia and Georgia did not join the sanctions [against Russia] and it is up to the authorities of the two countries to decide on the matter.

Ukraine would be better off dealing with its internal problems, rather than pointing fingers at who and why did not join the sanctions. As if the planet Earth now moves around Ukraine, and they believe that any state that does not help them, at the very least, is not their friend, if not an enemy.

In essence, I understand that the rule of the Nazi authorities in Ukraine is coming to an end, it is not far off and they are already in agony. They are blaming everyone, including NATO, the U.S., EU countries, and now some allegations are made against the three South Caucasus countries. This state of mind makes them look for others to blame for their own woes and defeats. I understand their feelings; we Armenians are also living through such times. Instead of acknowledging their mistakes and correcting them, our authorities are looking for the guilty outside the country. This is also the case in Ukraine.

Panorama.am: Against the background of the position on the Artsakh issue expressed by Ukraine for decades and especially during the 44-day war, does Ukraine have any moral right to expect Armenia to take a position in its favor? Moreover, after all this the Armenian authorities seem to have taken a neutral stance on the conflict.

Hayk Nahapetyan: Ukraine’s military and political leadership, law enforcement authorities and Security Council still stick to their position. When Azerbaijan occupied certain heights on Karaghlukh and Khramort, the Ukrainian top leadership was excited by the fact that Azerbaijan was about to start military operations against Artsakh, which would entail military actions against Russia, because the guarantor of the Artsakh people’s security is the Russian peacekeeping mission. They hoped that if such operations began, they could escalate into an Armenian-Azerbaijani war, thus a second front would open for Russia. They were extremely enthusiastic and made statements at the level of the heads of security agencies as well as members of the Rada.

Ukraine adheres to the following principle: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Obviously, during the 44-day war and up to present Ukraine is trying to support Azerbaijan. Incidentally, before the well-known events of February 24, the Azeri president visited Kyiv and held a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky. A memorandum was signed, according to which Azerbaijan and Ukraine, to a certain extent, mutually undertook obligations to each other in case of violation of the territorial integrity of the two countries. They recognized each other's territorial integrity when they joined the UN. Azerbaijan also recognized Crimea as a part of Ukraine in principle, let alone Donetsk and Luhansk. In the same way, Ukraine recognized the Republic of Artsakh as a part of Azerbaijan. An agreement was also signed on military and technical cooperation. They are allies and have common handlers in the person of Turkey, UK and the United States. Naturally, Ukraine’s stance on the self-determination of the Artsakh Armenians and the independence of Artsakh is extremely negative.

Panorama.am: Some reports suggest that Ukraine also provided Azerbaijan with banned weapons which were used in the 44-day war. How would you comment on it?

Hayk Nahapetyan: I can neither confirm nor deny the reports that the cluster phosphorus weapons were supplied [to Azerbaijan] by Ukraine, but it has not been disproved. It is a fact that after Ukraine declared its independence in 1991 it inherited the lion's share of the military-industrial complex of the USSR. It was clearly in its interest to arm a state that was at least in unfriendly relations with Russia. Such military and technical assistance has been provided for years.

Military and technical cooperation is not prohibited by law, but the problem lies with weapons of mass destruction, phosphorus and cluster munitions banned by several international conventions, while the countries using them could face sanctions, just as Iraq was accused of developing chemical weapons and punished by NATO.

Here we have to look at whether such prohibited weapons that Ukraine had were sold to Azerbaijan. Some say that the phosphorus munitions were provided [to Azerbaijan] by Ukraine. At least there is no production of these weapons in Azerbaijan, otherwise other sources would have spoken about it.

Interview by A. Vardanyan

 

https://www.panorama...Armenia/2676536



#10 Yervant1

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 08:16 AM

There was no outcry before, there is no outcry now! Azeri oil will silence all, undemocratic and so called democratic countries alike. Shame on you all!

 

Eighty million Turkey along with ten million Azerbaijan attacks three million Armenia and the world is silent, including my country Canada. :(


Edited by Yervant1, 15 September 2022 - 08:21 AM.


#11 Yervant1

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 08:37 AM

E-International Relations
Sept 15 2022
 
 
Corroding Western Democracy: The Disparity Between Azerbaijan and Russia

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed how public faith is faltering, not only in the established leadership in the Western democracy, but in the concept of democracy itself. A major contributing factor to this erosion is the failure of decision makers to uphold the values they extol, being fundamental for our democracies, especially regarding human rights. This aspect is not only true domestically, but perhaps even more on the international arena where the collective community is supposed to uphold the enshrined democratic values guiding our decision-making globally. One such example among many is how both the US and the EU have addressed the democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan and Russia in light of the wars in Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine respectively. The disparity has even increased due to the Ukraine War as the 2022 energy crisis in Europe has propelled Azerbaijan, an outspoken autocracy, to be heralded as a “strategic partner for the EU.” This article examines how the perceived double standard of Western Institutions, such as the EU, towards Russia and Azerbaijan have emboldened an autocratic Baku, whilst risking undermining emerging democracy in Armenia.

“Us First” in an Age of Universal Values: Realpolitik Reigns Supreme

Despite the advancement of our democratic systems and its core values concerning the universality of justice and human rights, decision-making still follows a strict power-centered “us first” policy. This is hardly surprising as we tend to first and foremost look after our own interests, individually, nationally and internationally. However, this selfishness has a price which grows exponentially when applied collectively and has a perilous effect on our democratic systems, which in the modern world are indeed based on universal equal rights. Such an inwardness corrodes and hollows out the backbone of democracy, namely the public’s faith in the system itself. This corrosion does not only pertain to domestic politics but is highly valid, as it grows in proportion with the globalization of our world, interlinking us much tighter to each other in every aspect: political, financial, climate, health, etc.

Thus, the pursuit of realpolitik at the expense of democratic values and human rights causes tangible contradictions within the very cornerstones of our functioning democracies, which in turn undermine people’s belief in them. One such example is how the victory of an autocratic Azerbaijan in the 2020 War over the Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh actually risks undermining the emerging democracies in Armenia and Georgia. Turning a blind eye to how an outspoken autocratic regime in Azerbaijan could not only run over the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also willfully threaten Armenia, has made many Armenians to question the double-standards of the Western world, especially in the light of the response to the war in Ukraine. The approach by the Western states to Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh are, however, only one of many examples in a list that is too long to mention exhaustively: Turkey’s assault in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, abandoning Afghanistan’s people to the Taliban, etc.

None of this is new though in the past recorded three millennia of our civilization, we tend to care for ourselves first, sometimes even when it means disregarding our principles. That fact notwithstanding, there are two major changes affecting our perception: the enshrining of human rights in international laws as guiding beacon for our policymaking (at least seemingly) and the IT revolution and the information availability, providing almost instant information about ongoing encroachments and wrongdoings around the world, allowing us to compare them and their consequences with our own realities. The latter has a clear impact on the former as we have concrete references to how politicians, nationally and internationally, make promises and extol the importance of democratic values only to neglect or abandon them if they do not converge with their interests.

Defend or Sacrifice Democracy: Ukraine/Russia vs Armenia/Azerbaijan

A striking example of this disparity and perceived hypocrisy is how the USA and EU, mainly in regard to the role they have in the OSCE Minsk Group as a mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, have dealt with the 2020 Armenia/Azerbaijan War and its aftermath, compared with the Russia/Ukraine war in 2022. Reading the news and the statements by US and EU officials, there is a roaring emphasis on the assault by an autocratic Russia on a young and developing democracy in Ukraine and the pledge to collectively defend the universal rights of the Ukrainian people, a highly commending stance by the international community. The response is of course not solely in regard to democratic values alone, but certainly about the EU’s perceived threat by Russia. Although Azerbaijan does not pose a threat to EU as Russia currently does physically, its encroachment of democratic values, human rights, security and peace as a member of the European community, EU’s Eastern Partnership Program and OSCE cause reason for concern. However, while the democratic dimension was not only almost entirely absent in the Armenian/Azerbaijani war of 2020, it has actually become even more conspicuous since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. From the appraisal by NATO’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, to EU’s gas deal with Azerbaijan, and all media reporting in-between (with few criticizing exceptions) have noticeably ignored the state of affairs in an outspoken autocratic Azerbaijan and what it entails for the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The disparity between addressing Russia and Azerbaijan becomes even more salient once we look at the reports on the state of democracy in each respective country. Russia scores 19/100 on an overall democracy index, making it a “moderate autocracy” while Azerbaijan, scoring only 9/100, is labelled a “hard autocracy” according to Freedom House. Reporters Without Borders places Russia on the bottom segment of its list, on place 155/180 just after Azerbaijan on place 154. To compare, Ukraine scores 61/100 on democracy index and places 106/180 for media freedom, while Armenia scores 55/100 on democracy index and places rather high, 51/180 in media freedom.

The lack of media freedom as a reflection of the level of democracy and the criticism thereof has been especially tangible in this regard. The criticism against Russia and how Moscow has restricted press freedom officially, even penalizing damning reports about the war in Ukraine, has been reported in media, acting as a solid basis for political criticism and condemnation of the war. The same has hardly been done in regard to Azerbaijan. While Yerevan introduced official amendments to curtail negative official reports about the ongoing war, drawing justified criticism, the access for foreign journalists and independent media was seemingly unrestricted. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, severely limited the access of foreign press and, in the rare cases where they were allowed into the country, they were often assigned “minders” who would accompany their movements and reporting. This resulted in a heavily regime-controlled media reporting from the Azerbaijani side, almost entirely channeling the regime narrative. This manipulation has continued in the aftermath of the war, where, as part of the Azerbaijan’s infamous “Caviar Diplomacy,” Baku has continued to disseminate its narrative by arranging all-exclusive trips for foreign journalists.

The criticism of Europe’s posture towards Azerbaijan is nothing new and is mainly ascribable to its significance as an energy resource. Although Azerbaijan’s reserves of natural gas are not among the largest in the world, the pace of its extraction and their geopolitical positioning make Azerbaijan an important alternative to Russia as energy supplier. This is an insight which has hardly escaped the regime in Baku. As Europe’s dependency on Russian gas has become painfully evident in the ongoing energy crisis in 2022, the cost of turning to alternative sources has become less important, especially if the costs pertain to “abstract” notions such as human rights and democratic values. This is where the EU’s approach to Azerbaijan becomes even more troublesome because Baku’s leveraging of its energy resources to subjugate democratic values can be thought of as a parallel to that of Moscow’s policy throughout the ongoing war in Ukraine. Yet, the response to respective policy is almost diametrical, as Europe’s condemnation of Moscow’s policy also implies finding substitutes, among which Azerbaijan is viewed to be well-positioned. The immediate pressing needs of national security in form of soaring energy costs and the prospects of a freezing winter in Europe seem to eclipse any notion of criticism of the lack of democratic values in Azerbaijan, factors which go hand in hand when chastising Russia for using gas “as an instrument of blackmail,” to quote European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

 

Setting a Price Tag on Democracy and Human Rights

Once these aspects are factored in, it becomes quite difficult to avoid the perceived deliberate erasure of the flagrant democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan, whilst every article and statement in regard to Russia makes sure to mention them. The lack of similar criticism of Azerbaijan has almost a self-reinforcing effect, as it paves the way for politicians to unimpededly praise and portray the regime in Baku as a strategic partner. In a sense, the EU is signaling that autocracy and disregard of democratic values can indeed pay off if the price is right. This aspect becomes even more disturbing as the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh is facing an imminent threat of total ethnic cleansing under the watchful eyes of OSCE and EU. While one-third of the enclave has already been ethnically cleansed in the wake of the 2020 war, Baku continues to insist on abolishing any “special rights” for the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. In a recent statement, President Aliyev made this issue clear adding that “Just as the rights of Azerbaijani citizens are protected, so are theirs.” Given the abovementioned facts about the appalling state of democracy in Azerbaijan, ranking it the second worst autocracy (after Belarus) in Europe, makes Aliyev’s statement as an outright punishment and a dim insight into a dark future awaiting the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yet, Western states, institutions and media continue to turn a blind eye to the obvious. While “Defending Ukraine means defending democracy” and the war is used to demand for long-term democracy support policies, the faltering state of democracy in Azerbaijan is conspicuous by its absence on the political arena. This policy is flagrant when it comes to experts and analysts discussing the path forward for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which by no means has been resolved. The issue of democracy, or rather the total lack of it, lies at the core of this discussion. There are quite many articles arguing for a way forward based on either regional autonomy or the guarantees for the right of the Armenian population as peers to the rest of the Azerbaijan’s population. These approaches have, however, one obvious flaw, namely that they demonstratively avoid the elephant in the room, the lack of the very democracy which is supposed to guarantee these rights. In reality, this leaves us with one concrete choice, namely the remedial secession of Nagorno-Karabakh through the exercise of their right for self-determination. It should be noted that even subsequent articles dismissing the argued right for self-determination not only continue to avoid the question of democracy, as in the case of the work of Vasif Huseynov, but much like the rhetoric of an autocratic Baku, outright argue that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, as a marginal part of the population, should have no rights at all, as with the published thoughts of M. Hakan Yavuz.

This blatant ignoring of the facts about the state of democracy in Azerbaijan is, sadly enough, only one example of how the politicians and decision-makers corrode the notion of democracy as we know it. A recent report from Freedom House compiles a rather troubling image of how democracies, both existing and emerging, are faltering. The report concludes that: “The liberal international order will only be as strong as the democracies that defend it. Unfortunately, too many democracies or would-be democracies in the Nations in Transit region have been weakened by the corrupt and illiberal practices that characterize governance in hybrid regimes. Committed democrats can no longer allow these practices to go unchallenged.” The latter observation is equally applicable to the international community and how the approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by international organisations, e.g. NATO and The EU, is emboldening an autocracy in Azerbaijan whilst potentially harming emerging democracy in Armenia.

 

Corroding Western Democracy: Choosing Whose Rights to Defend

Given the replete facts about the state of democracy in Azerbaijan, one is justified in questioning whether decision makers would have been equally at ease in praising an autocratic Azerbaijan had media reports been more critical and substantial, as we have seen in the case of Russia versus Ukraine. A lack of nuance and critically reporting on Baku’s narrative has not only contributed to glossing over the democratic shortcomings of Azerbaijan, but it has helped aid the marginalization Armenians’ rights in Nagorno-Karabakh. In such a manner, an uncritical media has contributed to such policymaking via its “bothsidesism” or “constrained objectivity”. This leads to a media that has fallen into an all to well-known trap which journalists are warned about: “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the window and find out which is true.” Unfortunately, media broadly has done little to scrutinize the deeper, more substantial factors in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, instead engaging in citing Baku’s narrative in an easy “while one side claims this, the other side says that.”

That said, the state of affairs in Azerbaijan, as illustrated in the abovementioned NGO reports, are well-known and substantiated. Yet, they seem to be ignored all together. Donny Miller has said “In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.” Unfortunately, that is exactly the choice politicians have been making when realpolitik considerations collide with democratic values and human rights. Our civilization has come a long way during the past century by enshrining democratic and human rights into international law and the principles governing our lives. Sadly enough, the policymaking and the interests of “us first” continue to reign supreme in choosing whose and which rights to defend while ignoring others for the sake of our own gains, corroding public trust in what Western democracy represents and stands for.

 


#12 Yervant1

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 08:56 AM

Jerusalem Post
Sept 15 2022
 
 
 
How did Armenia become a victim of Turkey’s and Russia’s cynical wars? - analysis The Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict is flaring up again. How did the geopolitics of the region affect it, and what is the role of Russia and Turkey in it?
 
Published: SEPTEMBER 15, 2022 20:08
 

This week Armenia was subjected to bombardment by the forces of Azerbaijan. The attacks along the border, which Baku says were provoked by Armenia, witnessed the worst fighting since a 2020 war when Azerbaijan defeated Armenian fighters in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has said it is merely re-asserting its rights to its territory and that Armenia is intransigent.

 

However, these conflicts would not be taking place without the key role of Turkey and Ankara’s leading AKP party. Ankara has prodded Azerbaijan to fight Armenia.

 
Russia's vested interests in the Caucasus 

Russia, which supposedly has backed Armenia in the past, is now weaker than it was and prefers to talk up ceasefires, while not doing much to guarantee peace. This is because Moscow is not good at brokering peace, having invaded Ukraine and fueled a number of simmering conflicts.

 

Moscow prefers to foment endless conflicts, such as it did in Georgia, by creating breakaway separatist statelets that then require states to depend on Moscow. For instance, Belarus depends on Moscow; Transnistria depends on Moscow; Syria depends on Moscow. Any country that is stuck in Moscow’s orbit will naturally be poorer and have fewer prospects of real peace and prosperity. But these Moscow rules benefit the Kremlin.  

 
Ethnic Armenian soldiers stand in a trench at their position near Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 8, 2016. (credit: REUTERS)

Since Moscow cannot guarantee Armenia’s security, Yerevan becomes a victim. Armenians suffered genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman empire and extremist Turkish officials. Later, what was left of the Armenian population was concentrated in a Soviet state and in the diaspora.

 
The roots of the Nagorno-Karabach conflict

Had Armenia had more of a chance to escape the Soviet orbit it might have become a successful small country, like Israel. Instead, it became a backwater and in the 1990s it was plunged into post-Soviet chaos.

 

Armenians living in an area of Nagorno-Karabakh found that their land had become part of Azerbaijan; one of these numerous post-imperial or post-Soviet situations where a large minority is inside another country. This is the same situation Kurds and other groups have found themselves in. For Armenia though, there was a temporary victory over Azerbaijan. Backed by Russia Armenia took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and a simmering unresolved conflict remained.

 

This continued percolating along until the last decade. Baku has become wealthy through the management of its energy resources and close alliance with Turkey, as well as in trade with Israel and the West. But Baku wasn’t ready to launch a conflict with Armenia. It was Ankara that encouraged the 2020 conflict. This was clear when Turkey’s pro-government media began spreading misinformation about the presence of “terrorists” in Armenian areas. This was the key needed to begin the conflict.  

 
 

At the same time, Armenia was hampered by not seeing the winds of change. Armenians have been through many protests and political changes since the 1990s. Nikol Pashinyan, the current prime minister, came to power in 2018 and ostensibly he, like some of his predecessors, wanted an Armenia that would be close to the West.

 

However, Armenia largely failed to arrange closer ties with the US and EU because Russia under Putin was scheming to keep Armenia dependent and isolated. Moscow prefers Armenia to be more like Belarus. Just as Moscow punished Georgia for trying to ally with the West, it was ready to punish Yerevan.

 
Turkey pushes for war

Back in the early 2000s, there might have been a chance for reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey and also with Azerbaijan. But by 2020 Ankara was pushing for war.

 

Ankara knew that the Trump administration was about to leave office and it understood that countries that wanted to invade neighbors or settle old disputes should do it before the new Biden team took office.

 

This is why Ankara had taken advantage of the Trump administration to invade Afrin in Syria and attack US Kurdish partners in 2019. Ankara was also angling for an alliance with Iran and Russia; buying S-400s from Moscow and working with Iran on Syria talks. 

 

This led to the 2020 conflict which revealed that Azerbaijan’s military had been totally modernized since the 1990s, with new drones and weapon systems. Armenia had stagnated, like every Russian partner.

 

It lost in 2020. But Turkey was not done. This week, as the conflict over the border escalated, Ankara put out statements backing Baku. It pushed its pro-government media to talk about Armenia’s “provocations” and has sent high-level ministers to support Azerbaijan. For instance, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar wished “God’s grace on the fallen soldiers and a speedy recovery to the wounded” praising Azerbaijan and Turkey as “one nation, two states.”

 
 

Armenia has no real choice in this issue. It has already given up parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. Now the conflict appears to be over parts of Armenia itself. This is no longer about “disputed” territory, it is about more concessions. The conflict unfolded as Turkey was about to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to cement ties with Russia, Iran and China. Armenia and Azerbaijan were also supposed to attend. Turkey likely wanted to show that it could weaken Armenia and perhaps topple Pashinyan’s government.

 

The conflict also unfolded as Russia was losing ground in Ukraine. It’s worth noting that some observers see Armenia as a partner of Russia and Iran; and since Russia and Iran are growing closer and Iran is giving Russia drones, then the Ukraine conflict has a context here.

 

This puts Armenia on the wrong side of the Ukraine war, backing Russia. Therefore, countries that back Russia can be attacked, because they are seen as part of the problem. But Armenia’s situation is that it has a choice in the matter.

 
The wider geopolitical situation

Geographically it is between Iran and Russia; and Turkey and Azerbaijan. Its powerful neighbors oppose Armenia. But Iran is not a capable partner and Russia uses Armenia to keep it weak and isolated. For instance, Armenia’s military lacks heavy weapons because Russia starves it of equipment. The US and western powers don’t supply Armenia.

 

Even though Pashinyan has reached out to the US and France, as his predecessors also did, he is not able to change the geopolitics. The last US administration didn’t care about Armenia, and some powerful voices close to the White House were fanatically pro-Turkey. On the other hand, Israel is a close partner of Azerbaijan, which doesn’t help Armenia’s efforts either.

 

The Biden administration has put out statements to try and end the fighting. But it is hampered by the fact that Russia, Turkey and Iran all want the US to be isolated in the region.

 

Turkey wants the US to leave Syria and has threatened to invade more parts of Syria. Iran opposes the US, Russia opposes the US. The US is focused on Ukraine and simply doesn’t have the influence it once had in the Caucasus. Everyone knows that Georgia and other states that tried to grow closer to the US have suffered from Russia’s machinations. In Central Asia, where the SCO is meeting, the US has also lost influence. The US left Afghanistan, and the fact is that Russia and China, with Turkey and Iran, are partitioning the area into spheres of influence or outright control.  

 

As if those problems were not enough. Armenia, is a victim of energy politics. Europe is trying to reduce energy reliance on Russia, which means relying more on Turkey and Azerbaijan.

 

All the energy projects bypass Armenia. Thus the conflict in Ukraine reduces Armenia’s profile even more. It is only saved by the fact it has friends in the West, including the diaspora and those with a keen knowledge of history. Congressman Brad Sherman has been outspoken in demanding the US do more.  

 

Russia’s goal is a ceasefire so it can play the role of the broker. Turkey’s goal is to humiliate and weaken Armenia’s prime minister and cause chaos in Yerevan. The end result will be a more isolated Armenia than ever before.  

 

This matters because it gives Turkey a potential win. NATO was formed as a defensive alliance, but NATO-member Turkey often uses its membership in NATO to cause crises and war. It has done this in Syria and in threatening Greece.

 

Not long ago Ankara was hosting Hamas leaders, but it has now tried to patch things up with Israel. There are other potential repercussions. A weakened Armenia may be exploited by Russia or Iran, and in general, Armenians deserve better than always being used by larger regional powers every time Ankara wants to fan the flames of nationalism for an election.

 

A decade ago Ankara sought out “zero problems” with its neighbors and some believed it could play a role in peacemaking in the region. There was a time, before 2009, when Ankara even seemed likely to mediate between Israel and Syria. Today the ruling party in Turkey has jettisoned most of these policies. It views diplomacy as a way to threaten others and try to make them appease Ankara.

 

It’s not clear that Armenia, by appeasing Ankara, will bring itself peace, because it appears to be a victim of cynical politics that links Russia, Turkey and other countries to conflict.  

 



#13 Yervant1

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 09:05 AM

IPS Journal
Sept 15 2022
 
 
Armenia is under attack
International pressure seems to be the only leverage that could restrain Baku from grabbing chunks of Armenia
FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY 15.09.2022 Narek Sukiasyan

At midnight on Tuesday Azerbaijan launched the largest attack on the Republic of Armenia (unrelated to the line of contact of Nagorno Karabakh) in the entire history of the conflict between these two countries. Few Armenian cities and more than a dozen villages came under heavy artillery fire and UAVs, causing, as of midday, 49 deaths, heavy injuries, and tens of destroyed houses and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani special forces attacked military positions on the ground and occupied new posts inside Armenia granting them better oversight if not total control over Armenia’s strategic communications connecting to the southern part of the country - Karabakh and Iran. 3 civilians were heavily injured, an ambulance has been targeted and schools in bordering regions have been shut down.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Azerbaijan’s international backers  

Thus far international reactions have been limited. Armenia has triggered security guarantees from Russia as well as the CSTO. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced a reached truce to be implemented by 9 am, and yet the Azerbaijani offensive continues with infantry incursions and artillery shelling. The CSTO failed to respond adequately, and its intervention will be limited to sending a fact-finding mission and establishing of a monitoring working group. France will take the issue to the UN Security Council. US State Secretary Anthony Blinken has urged Ilham Aliyev in a phone call to cease hostilities, while the Indian MFA ‘call[ed] upon the aggressor side to immediately cease hostilities’.

Russia’s failure on the Kharkiv front frees Baku from concerns over Russian involvement, since Moscow struggles with its own supplies, personnel, and planning.

Just two weeks ago, the leaders of the countries met in Brussels to discuss the normalisation of relations mediated by the President of the EU Council Charles Michele. Though agreed to speed up negotiations on a peace agreement, the Azerbaijani demands appear deep inside Armenia’s red lines – complete withdrawal of demands for the security of Armenians in Karabakh (let alone status), disarmament of Armenian local forces in Karabakh and provision of sovereign corridors to its exclave Nakhichevan through Armenia’s territory (in fact a direct land connection with Turkey). This offensive aims to blackmail Armenia to accept Baku’s terms, as the tactic of coercive bargaining proved successful in the past, forcing Yerevan to choose between vital concessions or large-scale war.

An offensive of this scale became possible due to a number of external leverages. First, Baku enjoys Turkey’s unequivocal alliance, who is encouraging its regional dominance through military means and through supporting Azerbaijan’s actions during this offensive. Ilham Aliyev is also backed by Brussel who is facing a fossil fuel shortage which resulted in a dependency on Azerbaijan’s supplies. According to the President of the EU Commission, Aliyev is ‘a reliable and trustworthy partner’, regardless of his country’s behaviour or what distinguishes him from other dictators that Europe claims to resist. Lastly, Russia’s failure on the Kharkiv front frees Baku from concerns over Russian involvement, since Moscow struggles with its own supplies, personnel, and planning. Internally, Aliyev might also be motivated by the need to deflect public attention in the face of growing inflation, anti-democratic reforms, and the backdrop of the waning effect of the euphoria of the 2020 victory — rallying around the flag has worked magic for the regime in the past.

How the West can help Armenia  

With Armenia’s army still recovering from the blows of the 2020 war, international pressure seems to be the only leverage that could restrain Ilham Aliyev from grabbing chunks of Armenia every few months and diminishing Armenia’s national security pillars by coercing it into endless concessions.

Armenian authorities, since the end of the 2020 war and their pre-election campaign, have announced a peace era agenda, which for many read as defeatist and was criticised for its readiness to concede to Turkish and Azerbaijani demands.

Today, addressing the Parliament, Prime Minister Pashinyan admitted that this policy has not yielded results. Previously when addressing the nation on the anniversary of the country’s independence referendum, the PM said there is no progress in the processes of normalisation with Turkey and Azerbaijan ‘because they demand too much from us, or they think that we are demanding too much from them’. Unable to deflect those demands politically due to a lack of international support or the ability to withstand militarily, Armenia can only plan in the short term to prevent or delay the war.

While Europe might be tempted with an alternative dictatorship with a very questionable energy supplies, though its lack of action, Brussels is siding with the global rise of authoritarianism that belies a ‘rules-based world order’.

The trajectory of processes in previous months and this unprecedented attack on Armenia’s territorial integrity shows that the window of opportunity which could address at least some of the security issues in the region and make a step closer to peace is closing. Since the driving force of the security processes between Armenia and Azerbaijan (and by extension Turkey) has been coercive bargaining or straightforward blackmailing, that policy has proven extremely rewarding for Baku and bared 0 costs in form of sanctions, warnings, legal actions, or even condemnations, one can confidently expect it to continue.

Some Azerbaijani media is trying to push a narrative for Western audiences that Azerbaijan is opening up another front against Russia, to gain their support or silence criticism. One should not forget though, that Ilham Aliyev was in Moscow just the day before 24 February to sign a strategic partnership with Vladimir Putin. While Europe might be tempted with an alternative dictatorship with a very questionable energy supplies, through its lack of action, Brussels is siding with the global rise of authoritarianism that belies a ‘rules-based world order’.

Practically, Brussels can restrain Baku by exercising diplomatic consequences for unleashing an unprovoked war by freezing the negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan strategic partnership, banning military or dual-purpose goods and technologies export to Azerbaijan and Turkey, freezing Aliyev’s dynasty’s European assets, suspending the membership of Azerbaijan in the Eastern Partnership and linking energy cooperation to its relations with Armenia and human rights record. But, as of yet, none of these consequences have followed.

 


#14 Yervant1

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 09:15 AM

The National Interest
Sept 15 2022
 
 
Defending Armenia from Turkic Aggression

Similar to defending Ukraine, Washington should take steps to prevent Turkic aggression against a sovereign state and strategic partner.

 
 
President Joe Biden’s decision on April 24, 2021, to recognize the murder and expulsion of up to 1.5 million Armenians from Turkey as “genocide” was welcome and overdue. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a gift to Turkey’s brethren in Azerbaijan forty-eight hours later, issuing a national security waiver to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. Section 907 bans direct U.S. aid to the Azerbaijani government because of its aggression against Armenians.
 

Biden and Blinken should have known better; appeasement does not work.

 

Turkey and Azerbaijan have once again launched an unprovoked attack against Armenia. The New York Times noted, “For the first time in 30 years of a largely frozen conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts, Azerbaijan attacked Armenian air defense and artillery systems based inside Armenia.” Heavy fire was reported inside Armenia, targeting civilian homes and infrastructure, despite Turkish and Azerbaijani denials and attempts to shift blame.

This kind of behavior is not new for Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, who has launched cross-border operations to establish a zone of Turkish influence in former Ottoman territories. Erdogan has pursued a neo-Ottoman agenda by targeting Kurds in Syria and Iraq, deploying troops to Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, and using Azerbaijan as a proxy for the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 

The United States has reacted by suspending Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program. However, Washington did not implement the sanctions required through the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSA), a 2017 U.S. federal law that overwhelmingly passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 419-3. Instead of suspending its purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia, Turkey doubled down and bought more missiles from Moscow.

Additionally, Turkey broke with NATO by refusing to impose sanctions on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. Turkey helps Russian oligarchs avoid U.S. and EU sanctions. The Biden administration turns a blind eye to Turkey’s domestic human rights abuses and warmongering, hoping that Turkey can play a constructive mediation role.

Azerbaijan is a Turkic country that treats Turkey, its “big brother,” with fealty. In 2020, Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh (“Artsakh” in Armenian) and committed crimes—including mistreating prisoners of war in ways that violate the Geneva Conventions—and cultural genocide, targeting Armenian Orthodox churches and religious icons.

The international community subcontracted peace operations to Russia and, in so doing, undermined prospects for peace itself. America’s laisser-faire approach also undermines the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is tasked with mediating the conflict. The recent appointment of Philip Reeker, a seasoned diplomat, as U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group, is a good move that could revitalize international mediation.

The United States criticized Azerbaijan’s recent attacks on Armenia proper, but words mean little to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. With Turkey’s backing and Turkish weapons, Aliyev believes he can aggress against Armenians without consequence.

In fact, the United States has rewarded Azerbaijan’s aggression. The West has turned to Azerbaijan, Venezuela, and Iran to fill the gap in energy supplies from Russia’s decision to shut down the Nordstream II pipeline. Ukraine is Biden’s top priority, trumping other concerns including human rights.

Azerbaijan must pay a price for attacking a sovereign state in violation of international law. The Biden administration can get Aliyev’s attention by rescinding its waiver of Section 907.

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues condemns Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attacks on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire.” It also requires ending all assistance to Azerbaijan whose aggression is an attempt to eliminate the centuries-old Christian presence of Armenians in the Caucasus. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will travel to Armenia this weekend to show support.

Objective observers of the region are bewildered by the Biden administration’s mixed messages on Turkey and Azerbaijan.  No doubt Armenian Americans will vent their displeasure during the midterm elections unless Biden takes meaningful steps in reacting to Azerbaijan’s aggression.

A robust response starts with rescinding the waiver of Section 907 and significantly increasing U.S. aid and presence in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to protect democratic Armenia. Similar to defending Ukraine, Washington should take steps to prevent Turkic aggression against a sovereign state and strategic partner.  

David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

https://nationalinte...gression-204822

 
 
 


#15 Yervant1

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Posted 21 September 2022 - 09:08 AM

pngxeo8WQe0P8.png
Sept 19 2022
 
 
Letter to the Editor: Will we stand with Armenia?
 
September 19, 2022
 

Letter-to-the-Editor-Thumb-150.jpg~Submitted by Robert Kalantari

The United States and the rest of the civilized world stood solidly behind Ukraine when this sovereign country was attacked by its neighbor Russia. Will the world do the same for Armenia?

Like we stood by Ukraine, and rightfully so, we need to stand by Armenia right now. Most people may not know what is going on, the media is focused on other issues, as if the Armenian blood is not red enough. This small country of 3M Christian people is currently under attack by its hostile neighbor Azerbaijan, with full military support from Turkey, our so called “NATO ally.”

Less than two years ago, the same happened, Armenia and the small independent region known as Nagorno Karabakh was attacked by Azerbaijan, with full support from Turkey, with drones and military aide, and support from ISIS fighters imported to the region, and sadly, support from Israel with military aide in the form of supplying killer drones to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan officially thanked Israel for their support. Just google and find out why. Here is one link I found.

https://gvwire.com/2...with-armenia-2/

By the time the war stopped, over 6500 soldiers and civilians were murdered by this dictator leader, Aliyev. Unfortunately, history once again repeated itself, the 1915 genocide of killing 1.5 million innocent Armenians by the Ottoman Empire was repeated once again, something the world said it would never happen again.

I urge our fellow Bedford citizens and more importantly, our country, our president, and our media to take immediate action and condemn this aggression and killing of the innocent people of this small nation. We need to stand by Armenia and the world needs to do the same, like we did for Ukraine.

https://www.thebedfo...d-with-armenia/



#16 Yervant1

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 07:48 AM

FP - Foreign Policy
Oct 4 2022
 
 
Azerbaijan’s Aggression Has Forced Armenia Into Russia’s Arms Western leaders must realize that the threat to democracy in Yerevan isn’t the Kremlin; it’s Baku’s belligerent expansionism.
By Alex Galitsky, program director of the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington.

For decades, Azerbaijan has been positioned as a Western bulwark against Iran and Russia, often at the expense of Armenia. The result has been the abandonment of one of the region’s only democracies to the whim of one of the most belligerent authoritarian regimes on Earth—forcing Armenia to become more dependent on Russia.

Despite Robert Cutler’s assessment in his recent Foreign Policy piece “Putin Is Turning Armenia Into a Russian Outpost,” the greatest threat to Armenia’s “liberal project” isn’t its alliance of necessity with Russia—it’s an expansionist Azerbaijan, which continues to use military force to consolidate territorial gains and circumvent multilateral diplomacy.

Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has faced a constant threat to its security. The Nagorno-Karabakh war in the early 1990s left the fledgling state locked in an intractable conflict for decades while Azerbaijan and its patron Turkey imposed a blockade against 80 percent of Armenia’s land borders. Over the course of the next decade, Azerbaijan—with considerable economic support from the United States and Europe—would begin consolidating regional pipeline networks that deliberately sought to bypass and isolate Armenia.

Facing unilateral economic blockades, a volatile security environment, and an ambivalent West, Armenia was forced into a position of dependence on Russia.

Facing unilateral economic blockades, a volatile security environment, and an ambivalent West, Armenia was forced into a position of dependence on Russia. This deepening reliance on Russia, however, was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy due to U.S. foreign policy toward the region. Extensive energy investments by the West in Azerbaijan and Turkey accentuated Armenia’s economic isolation as well as the security threats it faced by emboldening Baku. This, in turn, forced Armenia deeper into the orbit of Russia’s regional security architecture—as Russia is the only force capable of projecting military power in the region. In short, Armenia has been treated as collateral damage in the West’s attempted containment of Russia and Iran.
 

But with Russia preoccupied with its invasion of Ukraine and its considerable military losses, Azerbaijan has grown even more emboldened and has shown it is willing to test the red line of Russia’s peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh (known as Artsakh by its indigenous Armenian population) as well as that of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Armenia is a member. Although Russia’s largely symbolic peacekeeping presence in Nagorno-Karabakh undoubtedly prevented the wholesale ethnic cleansing of the region at the conclusion of the 2020 war, Baku’s brazen assault on sovereign Armenian territory from Sept. 12-14, in the southern regions of Vayots Dzor and Syunik, has exposed the limits of Russia’s capacity to fulfill the role of Armenia’s security guarantor.

Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attack on civilian populations well within the undisputed borders of Armenia—including the town of Martuni, just 42 miles  from the capital, Yerevan—is in many ways a direct byproduct of the impunity Baku has enjoyed in the West, reflecting both an inability and unwillingness on the part of the U.S. government to hold its despotic partners in check. To this day, Azerbaijan has yet to be held responsible for the perpetration of major human rights abuses and war crimes—including the deliberate targeting of civilian populations with prohibited weapons, the destruction of Armenian cultural heritage sites, and the prolonged detention and torture of Armenian prisoners of war.

In fact, not only has Azerbaijan not faced any material consequences for its aggression, but it has been rewarded by the international community. Between fiscal year 2018 and 2019, the United States allocated over more than $100 million in military aid to Azerbaijan. Despite condemning this allocation on the campaign trail, U.S. President Joe Biden has since twice waived restrictions on military aid to Azerbaijan as stipulated under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. And in early 2022, the European Union provided Baku with a $1.96 billion investment geared toward energy security and later vowing to increase its gas imports from Azerbaijan amid concerns that Russia would cut off Europe’s gas supply. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen even went so far as to describe Azerbaijan as a “trustworthy” partner.

Yet if the purpose of the West’s containment strategy is to push back against the type of authoritarian expansionism Russia is undertaking against Ukraine, it’s hard to imagine how investing in a state like Azerbaijan—a corrupt, authoritarian regime that outcompetes Russia and Iran in the race to the bottom on human rights—projects a message of democratic solidarity, particularly when it comes at the expense of a fledgling democracy like Armenia.

Armenia has consistently demonstrated its capacity to maintain an independent domestic and foreign policy, even in the face of considerable pressure.

Cutler’s argument also conveniently eschews the deep political and economic ties that exist between Azerbaijan and Russia. On the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, signed an allied partnership agreement, which vowed to increase cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the sphere of energy.

In fact, the agreement came just days after Russia’s state-owned oil company Lukoil spent $1.5 billion to increase its stake in Azerbaijan’s largest gas field, bringing its ownership to 20 percent. Lukoil also holds a 10 percent stake in the South Caucasus Pipeline—as does the National Iranian Oil Company—which is a central node in the European Commission’s Southern Gas Corridor project designed to bypass Europe’s reliance on Russian energy. Azerbaijan has also used its extensive international money laundering networks to funnel millions of dollars into Russian government-linked arms exporters as well as U.S.-sanctioned Iranian companies.

Despite the claim that Armenia’s dependence on Russia makes it vulnerable to Moscow’s influence, Armenia has consistently demonstrated its capacity to maintain an independent domestic and foreign policy, even in the face of considerable pressure. Despite the observable pattern of Russia’s authoritarian diffusion in the post-Soviet world, Armenia has been able to develop and consolidate democratic institutions. Despite its security reliance on Russia, Armenia has participated in NATO-led peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And in spite of its economic dependence on Russia, Armenia has pursued deepening ties with the European Union—ratifying a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement in 2017 and expanding economic ties that have made the EU one of Armenia’s primary trade partners.

On the diplomatic front, Armenia has also recently sought to draw a clear line between itself and Russia in the context of the invasion of Ukraine. Yerevan sent a clear message to Moscow by refusing to fall in line on United Nations General Assembly votes condemning Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine, choosing to abstain. Azerbaijan, which has considerably less to lose and has routinely sought to position itself in the pro-Western camp, has consistently chosen to be absent on those votes.

 

This comes as no surprise. Azerbaijan’s recent invasion of Armenia’s sovereign territory is indistinguishable in form and substance from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As of this week, Azerbaijan now occupies around 3.9 square miles of Armenia’s internationally recognized territory, where it controls strategic road networks and transport corridors, inhibiting freedom of movement throughout the country. Armenia’s Human Rights Defender reported that during the assault, Azerbaijan deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and forcibly displaced thousands of civilians. Over a dozen prisoners of war have been taken captive by Azerbaijan, with horrific videos surfacing of the abuse, torture, and summary execution of Armenian captives.

Azerbaijan’s actions demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the fundamental precepts of international law and a commitment to undermining international conflict mediation efforts. While paying lip service to peace talks, Azerbaijan has continued to use military force to pressure Armenia into additional concessions. Immediately before its assault on Armenia’s sovereign territory, it took control of the Lachin corridor—the main artery linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. In doing so, it displaced hundreds of families and placed at risk vital humanitarian supply lines by leaving Armenia with little more than a dirt road to access Nagorno-Karabakh’s increasingly at-risk Armenian population.

The continued use of military force against the indigenous Armenian inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia itself does not reflect a sincere commitment to peace on the part of Azerbaijan. Having seen force as an effective means of extracting concessions, the regime in Baku is determined to continue using acts of aggression to enforce its maximalist objectives.

This has primarily come in the form of Azerbaijan’s pursuit of the so-called Zangezur passage, referenced by Cutler. Under the Russia-brokered deal that ended the 2020 war, Armenia agreed to open economic links between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan—an Azerbaijani exclave bordering Turkey and southwest Armenia. For Azerbaijan, however, this corridor has taken on an explicitly expansionist dimension, with the government now making further territorial claims over Armenia’s southern province of Syunik. Azerbaijan’s apparent attempt to establish a sovereign corridor through Armenian territory by force stands diametrically opposed to both the 2020 cease-fire agreement and mediation efforts.

The only material difference between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia has been the response of the international community.

The only material difference between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia has been the response of the international community. But with the recent visit to Armenia by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—along with Reps. Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and Frank Pallone—it appears there has been a shift in the West’s assessment of Azerbaijan’s role as a belligerent actor, reflected in the framing of the conflict as a struggle for the existence of an independent, democratic Armenian state.

Prior to Azerbaijan’s brazen assault on Armenia’s sovereign territory, the international community appeared willing to ignore Azerbaijan’s aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh to secure its assistance in the containment of Russia by way of energy supply. But since Azerbaijan’s incursion into Armenia, it has been increasingly difficult for the international community to hide behind the ambiguous line between the right to self-determination of the Armenian people and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

By violating Armenia’s sovereignty, Baku has demonstrated that this conflict was never truly about the principle of territorial integrity for Azerbaijan. After all, if Azerbaijan’s objectives were limited to territorial control, there would not have been systematic destruction of Armenian cultural heritage sites, the deliberate targeting of civilians, and exceedingly inflammatory rhetoric from the regime in Baku seeking to erase the very existence of the Armenian people.

 

This becomes even more pertinent in the context of the unified global response to Russia’s authoritarian expansionism. What message does it send if the international community stands united behind Ukraine amid a corrupt, despotic regime’s barbaric assault on its territorial integrity but then ignores when Azerbaijan uses aggression against Armenia. By signaling that its response to authoritarianism is conditional, the West risks emboldening other expansionist regimes—particularly those like Turkey, which, in addition to its overt material support for Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia, continues to operate with impunity against Kurdish populations in Iraq and Syria and positions itself aggressively against Greece in the East Mediterranean.

With separate resolutions now introduced by Speier and Rep. Adam Schiff as well as Sens. Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio calling for the immediate cessation of U.S. military assistance to Azerbaijan and an investigation into Azerbaijani human rights abuses—and talks currently underway about the provision of U.S. military assistance to Armenia—momentum is building toward positive U.S. reengagement in a region where Washington has hemorrhaged influence for decades by granting Baku carte blanche and allowing Moscow and Ankara to consolidate their positions at the West’s expense.

If Washington wants to demonstrate consistency in its response to authoritarian expansionism, that must begin with an immediate halt to all military assistance to Azerbaijan, robust support for Armenia, and a commitment to multilateral diplomacy in finding a long-term solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh that respects the Armenian people’s right to self-determination. Anything less would not only signal to Azerbaijan that its actions are permissible but demonstrate the limits of the West’s ability to rein in its so-called partners—something that is sure to reverberate beyond the South Caucasus.

 
 

Alex Galitsky is program director of the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington, the largest Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the United States

 
 
 
 





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