Armenia under diplomatic siege

Armenia under diplomatic siege

Mirror Spectator Editorial

Critical or desperate situations are not new for Armenia, and today we are in
one of those situations. To sound more patriotic we may claim that against
all odds Armenia will survive and Armenians are destined to live to the end of
history and contribute to the world civilizations. But history has prevalence
over patriotic rhetoric; the historic truth is that after the fall of the
Cilician Kingdom in 1375 AD, Armenia was not able to survive as a sovereign
and fell under Seljuk and Ottoman rules for six centuries.

Also, the first Republic in early 20th Century did not survive for more than
two years, and it was soon absorbed into the Soviet Empire until its second
independence in 1991. In both instances the genesis of an Armenian Republic was
more of a geo-strategic fallout from the regional new political formations,
rather than any specific design by any Armenian entity. Of course in both cases
Armenians hung on the opportunity and they revived their sovereignty, albeit
in a decimated portion of their historic territory.

Today, the world is being reshaped, especially in the Caucasus region, and
the fallout may spell danger to the very existence of the fledgling Armenian

Any prudent policy may not save the country from extinction, if the
powers-to-be so decide, but an imprudent act may exacerbate the situation and
contribute to the demise of a sovereign state.

Armenia’s foreign policy is not defined by anyone’s whims; it is derived from
its urgent needs. In order survive: Armenia needs Iran as its trading
partner, and Russia, both for trade and for defense against real Turkish danger.
Unfortunately, those ties are at best tenuous for strategic reasons, over which
Armenia has no control.

Armenia has been vying for the lifting of the Turkish blockade and resumption
of diplomatic relations with that country, which has become an international
player with Armenia on the bottom of its priority list. Georgia’s “friendship”
is at best treacherous, given the actual facts on the ground. On top of all
these complexities the U.S. has grand designs over the region, strengthening
Armenia’s enemies, not necessarily out of any specific animosity against
Armenia. The U.S. Ambassador to Baku is vocally advocating the lifting of
Section 907
of the U.S. Freedom Support Act, which will further embolden bellicose
parties in Baku.

The diplomatic world is crumbling over Armenia, and yet some armchair
politicians â~@~S in Armenia and the Diaspora â~@~S are engaged in their petty
oblivious of the rising tide. No one can say that Armenia is curbing the freedom
the press after reading the nihilistic and insane statements in that press.
Unfortunately, that irresponsible diatribe is making its way into the Diaspora
press as well.

The diplomatic salvo began with the Azeri initiative to place the Karabagh
issue on the UN General Assembly agenda as a case of ethnic cleansing. Armenian
diplomacy, aided by OSCE group, was successful in deflecting the assault, only
temporarily. Then came the statement by retiring U.S. Assistant Secretary
Elizabeth Jones, accusing the Karabagh leaders as “criminal elements”; along
all the secessionist movements in the former Soviet territory. That was
certainly not a slip of the tongue, as Ms. Jones clarified to Foreign Minister
Oskanian, in view of overall U.S. policy in the region.

Then came the next tide of the diplomatic pressure, when Parliamentary
Assembly of the European Council (PACE), headed by David Atkinson (UK) and Mats
Einarsson (Sweden) formulated and passed a very unfavorable resolution, which
states that “considerable parts of territory of Azerbaijan are still occupied by
Armenian forces” and that “separatist forces are still in control of
Nagorno-Karabagh”. The only saving grace in the resolution is that it recommends
the Baku government negotiate directly with the Nagorno-Karabagh leadership.

There were also references to so-called “ethnic cleansing” by Armenians
against Azeris, just reversing the roles.

Deputy Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament, Vahan Hovanissian, deplored the
Atkinson resolution characterizing that “it smells petroleum”, while Armenia’s
representative at PACE, Tigran Torossian, lamented Russian inaction in view of
this dangerous turn of events, saying that Russia is Armenia’s ally, but also
interests in Azerbaijan. That was a most revealing position on Moscow’s part,
and it raises a very serious question: whether Russia will be willing to
defend Armenia militarily if a conflict arises, when it is reluctant to defend

Some setbacks have also been recorded on the European front when the EU
decided to place the Armenian Genocide issue on the back burner. An earlier
resolution adopted in 1987 no longer is in force, and European leaders are not
embarrassed to state that genocide recognition is no longer a pre-condition for
Turkey’s admission into the EU. That shift of position has helped transfer the
diplomatic initiative to Ankara, whose unrepentant leaders have been pressuring
Yerevan to declare its position on 1921 Kars Agreement, which had sealed
Armenia’s border with Turkey. Aggressive Turkish policy is being pushed one step
further by asking Armenia to drop all claims on its historic territories and to
table the genocide issue from its foreign policy agenda.

To aggravate the situation further the U.S. has turned the heat up on Iran.
Condoleezza Rice, the face of U.S. war machine, declared during her
confirmation hearing, that Washington couldn’t allow an Iranian regime that
Israel to survive. Of course no one dared to ask if Iran threatened the U.S. in
any way.

It seems that Iran’s conciliatory gestures in supporting the U.S. invasion of
Afghanistan and Iraq has not been sufficient to assuage or convince any
leader in Washington. Any overt or covert attack in Iran will only strengthen
Azerbaijan, which has become a staging base for such an attack. Iran’s
dismemberment or containment will embolden the ruthless rulers in Baku and
damage Armenia’s economic sustenance.

Armenia’s leadership may not be the best, and many groups have grievances,
especially since the last elections. But thus far it has been able to navigate
safely through perilous waters. Besides, none of the critics have demonstrated
the proven ability to conduct a better diplomacy, nor have they come up with
an alternative. Should a calamity take place and the present administration is
toppled or replaced, it is doubtful that the new leaders will be less corrupt
and smarter statesmen.

Einstein’s theory of relativity not only applies to science, but also to
diplomacy. Armenia has inherited and has been experiencing all the problems of
fallen Soviet Empire, and yet it is faring much better economically and
diplomatically than most of the other republics. One has to keep in mind the
perspective relativity in assessing the situation in Armenia. Nothing happens in
political vacuum. Everything is relative and calls for the overthrow of the
current regime must be accompanied with far better recommendations and
demonstrable viability.

As Armenia is under intense diplomatic siege, even from the viewpoint of the
fierce critics, the current administration seems to be the “necessary evil”. A
stable Armenia can fare much safer under current conditions than one going
through political experiments.