Armenian paper points to growing racism in society

Armenian paper points to growing racism in society

Aravot, Yerevan
12 Mar 04

Text of unattributed report by Armenian newspaper Aravot on 12 March
headlined “Official racism”

“The increase in anti-Armenian sentiments in Azerbaijan and its
consequences cannot be an excuse for spreading racist and chauvinistic
ideas that are characteristic of our society,” the Civic Society
Institute, the Yerevan Press Club, the Helsinki Committee and the
Caucasus Centre for Peaceful Initiatives said in a joint statement
published in the press yesterday. The authors of the statement are
anxious about “irresponsible statements by some Armenian politicians
and public figures” who make unacceptable generalizations with regard
to the whole Azerbaijani people.

The chairman of the foreign relations committee of the National
Assembly, Armen Rustamyan, and the leader of the Republican Party’s
parliamentary faction, Galust Saakyan, are these “irresponsible
figures”. The authors of the statement think that statements by
officials who have such a high political level and represent the
ruling coalition are more than unacceptable because they may be
understood to be the official position of our country. In turn, this
will create new obstacles for a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh
issue. It is natural that the statement by these four public
organizations will meet with resistance from our nationalistic
circles: how can racism and chauvinism be to blame if we have to live
in an atmosphere of permanent hatred, hostility and revenge in order
to preserve our national originality?

The president of our country has expressed almost the same
idea. According to him, the Budapest incident [the killing of an
Armenian officer] testifies to the fact that Armenophobia has reached
a physiological level in Azerbaijan. If the country’s president
expresses such ideas and if he in fact says during a meeting with
students that the Azerbaijanis have innate pathological Armenophobia,
which makes them reach for an axe when they meet an Armenian, there is
no need to complain about Rustamyan and Saakyan. The authors of the
joint statement are wrong as racist and chauvinistic ideas have been
an ordinary thing in our society for a long time. They are being
stimulated by the official ideology and propaganda.

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