Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan -Armenian MP

Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan – Armenian MP

Novoye Vremya, Yerevan
16 Mar 04

The murder of an Armenian officer by an Azeri lieutenant in Budapest
was the result of anti-Armenian “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan, one of
the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun
has said. Vahan Ovanesyan, who is also a deputy speaker of the
Armenian parliament, said that the Azerbaijani authorities and
opposition had competed with one another to be more anti-Armenian in
the recent election campaign. He said that Armenia should fight for
democracy in Azerbaijan, drawing international attention to what is
going on in the Azerbaijani media. The following is an excerpt from
Naira Manucharova’s report in Armenian newspaper Novoye Vremya on 16
March, headlined “It is strange but we should fight for democracy in
Azerbaijan”; subheadings inserted editorially:

Recently our politicians and public figures have been making loud
statements concerning the nationalistic, chauvinistic and racist ideas
being propagated in Armenia. Stemming from these statements,
anti-Azerbaijani passions are being inflamed in the country: a
particular case – the murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest – is
being globalized and the official assessment is casting a “shadow” on
the whole Azerbaijani nation. To what extent are such statements
authorized? The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Vahan
Ovanesyan, comments on this and other problems.

Democratic development hampered by stress on style over substance

[Vahan Ovanesyan] The statements made by some politicians and public
organizations should be assessed in two ways. First, they are trying
to create the impression for the world community (allegedly favourable
for Armenia) that there are very democratic institutions here, whose
activity meets European and Western standards and perceptions of
democratic values, and that they are priorities in public opinion. The
second aspect of these statements is more transparent and is evidence
of an incomplete understanding of such ideas as nationalism,
chauvinism and racism. And here we are coming up to a revision of a
philosophical issue, how correct a form of the fight for democracy has
our society chosen? Unfortunately, the development of democracy on CIS
territory and, in particular, in the South Caucasus region has
proceeded in a crippled way.

Those who teach us democracy, mainly Western and European
organizations, focus on its external display. This applies as much to
Armenia as to Georgia and Azerbaijan. Just superficial displays are
taken into account. For example, they monitor in detail the way in
which ballots are put into ballot boxes… The scrupulous, almost
microscopic, study of the external side of democracy leads to
dissonance. Society starts fighting for the provision of these
external signs, while the substance of democracy goes to the back
burner and is very often forgotten.

For this reason, when, for example, explaining what the free press is,
few people are interested in what this free press is
publishing. Western organizations pay great attention to retention of
political prisoners in Azerbaijani prisons, the breaking up of
opposition demonstrations by the police, but they absolutely ignore
the fact that for many years hatred of the Armenian nation has been
accumulating in Azerbaijani society. What is written in Azerbaijani
newspapers may not be considered a sign of a free society. But this is
not taken into account, this is taken into account only if a newspaper
or TV channel is closed or their rights are violated. Just because of
this dissonance some of our officials think it their duty to make
absurd statements about Armenian chauvinism and racism.

Armenians cannot at present live alongside Azerbaijanis

[Novoye Vremya correspondent] It is known that these statements call
for poli tical restraint as well as refer to the “unacceptable”
statements of the officials of the country and members of the
governing coalition…

[Ovanesyan] As for the official assessment of the incident in
Budapest, I am absolutely sure that in their statements Armen
Rustamyan and Galust Saakyan, as well as the president of the country,
refer to the incident’s very serious political consequences. All of us
were speaking of this and the president spoke out in the most precise
way: “What happened in Budapest shows that in the foreseeable future
there can be no talk of Armenians and Azeris living side by side.”
That is, we are making political conclusions, speaking about the
substance of democracy. Let us imagine that there was no conflict in
1988 and refugees from both sides remained in their places. Let us
imagine for a moment that Armenians remained in Sumgait [Sumqayit] and
Baku and participated in the presidential elections of 2003. If the
Azerbaijani police were beating their compatriots so severely, what
would happen to the Armenians if they tried to express their own
viewpoint, which differed from the “central” one, or if they had their
own candidate for president? It is evident that we would be
annihilated, not as political opponents but as an ethnic group, not by
means of batons but axes.

>From the pseudo-democratic statements of some domestic functionaries
an ill-wisher may make a direct and very dangerous conclusion for
Armenia: if we do not complain about the behaviour of Azeris, ordinary
people or the elite, in that case there are no factors to prevent
Karabakh being within Azerbaijan. Armenian civil society seems to
support that idea. But who returns Karabakh? If not the people, in
that case the authorities. In fact by means of such statements [former
President Levon] Ter-Petrosyan’s idea about the party of war that
allegedly came to power in Armenia, is supported. But there is still
danger: as it is impossible to imagine that somebody in Karabakh
shares this viewpoint, but the viewpoint exists in Armenia, in that
case one more wedge is driven between Armenia and Karabakh.

Ovanesyan proud of Karabakh victory

But if we put aside the political prism and try to assess this from
the human and civilian point of view, in that case people who let
themselves make such statements, make us ashamed of our victory. But I
cannot and do not want to be ashamed of it. I am proud that in 1915 my
people resisted the Turks and Kurds, who were carrying out genocide,
and while dying took such a big number of enemies with them that till
today they say that representatives of their peoples were also
killed. I am proud of those Dashnak teams which in 1918 in Baku did
not let another genocide be carried out. I am proud that the Dashnaks
are still hated and feared in Azerbaijan. I am proud of those refugees
who were leaving Baku fighting and resisting. I have a relative who
defended himself by shooting and in this way managed to take his
mother to Georgia.

[Correspondent] In that case you are a nationalist…?

[Ovanesyan] Of course I am. I am proud that in the Karabakh war we
killed 25,000 Azeris and only 5,000 Armenians were killed. I am proud
that my friends and I took part in that war. And my son is also proud
of this. And if they again start the war, they should know that the
score will be the same. And I am not proud of this secretly at night,
I am openly proud of this. I think there is nothing shameful in it. It
is in this way that any nation is educated. There is already no time
when they could kill us unarmed and defenceless.

[Passage omitted: Azeris still try to kill Armenians when they are

No racism in Armenian society

[Correspondent] To what extent does the definition of “Armenian
racism” correspond to the generally accepted definition?

[Ovanesyan] Racism has never existed in Armenian society, in the same
way that it did not exist in our neighbouring countries – Byzantium
and the Arab caliphate. Racism is a later idea.

[Passage omitted: Ovanesyan expounds on racism]

Armenians do not consider the Azeris and even the Turks as
racists. They understand very well, and it is historically proved,
that if a little Azerbaijani or Turk is educated in a healthy and
normal society, in that case he will not hate Armenians. There is not
an Armenophobe gene. Armenophobia is not a gene but upbringing. And
Armen Rustamyan and Galust Saakyan and I are fighting for an Armenian
not to be presented in Turkish and Azerbaijani society as an enemy and
a potential subject for outrage. When they stop considering us in this
way, then our attitude will also change. But one cannot demand that we
be the first to change our attitude. Whoever committed a crime should
always make the first step to reconciliation.

[Passage omitted: Armenians do not hate Turkic nations; they have good
relations with the Middle East, Muslim nations.]

Budapest murder result of “brain-washing” in Azerbaijan

[Correspondent] Why has this mood worsened during [Azerbaijani
President] Ilham Aliyev’s tenure?

[Ovanesyan] I was predicting this. When the election campaign started
in Azerbaijan, the authorities and opposition started competing with
each other in anti-Armenian moods. At that time the “level” of
anti-Armenian military expressions raised sharply. Neither the
authorities nor the opposition could boast of anything else…

[Correspondent] The oil pipeline and its goods lie in the future.

[Ovanesyan] The fight against corruption is in the lacklustre
distance. An elementary problem: they talk about one million refugees
(in reality there are fewer, but their number is big). If they settled
those refugees in flats taken from Armenians, the problem would be
settled. But as those flats were mainly good ones, the Azerbaijani
elite occupied them, not only Aliyev’s elite but also [late President
Abulfaz Elcibay] Elchibey’s, which is in opposition today. That is,
the Azerbaijani elite inherited what they took away from the Armenians
and did not share this with these unfortunate people. But they have to
say something to these people. For this reason during an election
campaign anti-Armenian slogans and hysteria become the core of any
political speech. The brutal killing in Budapest was the result of
this intensive propaganda and brain-washing. But this is one
display. Imagine how many people in Azerbaijan have such hatred. In
this sense Ilham would not be allowed to behave in any other way, even
if he inherited a little of the wisdom of his father, who managed to
find the will within himself to stop the bloodshed and not to start it
for 10 years. The bitterness of society and the increasing severity of
the official position are obvious. We should take this into account
and not make ill-considered statements which may be used against us.

Armenia must prepare for diplomatic war

[Correspondent] What is your prediction in this context?

[Ovanesyan] We should act in two areas. First is a symmetrical answer
to Azerbaijan. When our neighbours speak about 20 per cent of their
territory and one million refugees, we must show what those
territories are. We can answer this at the legal, judicial and moral
level, common to all mankind. Moreover, we should fight for the
democratization of Azerbaijan. It is strange, but this is our task. We
should always draw the world’s attention to what is taking place in
Azerbaijani propaganda, the press. This is a task for our public,
human rights organizations, but not a “witch-hunt” in their native

In fact, two societies existing in different time layers, have
clashed. Of course Armenia is not yet in the 21 century, but it is at
least in the 20 century. In Azerbaijan a tribal society exists,
whereas Armenian society, though with difficulty, is trying to
integrate into Europe. In this sense we are at different stages of
development. In this situation it is impossible to live in brotherly
unity. Nobody has ever tried to force societies that are at different
levels of civilization to live together.

I think it is not likely that in the near future Azerbaijan will go
for a direct military conflict. Though no scenario should be ruled
out. We should prepare seriously for new diplomatic fights. They are
really inevitable.