Оn 9 November 2020 the Prime Minister of Armenia capitulated against Azerbaijani President Aliyev. Armenia does not guarantee the security of ethnic Armenians of Artsakh anymore (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh). If one remembers the pogroms of Armenians in Azerbaijan over 1988-1990 it is clear that ethnic Armenians forced to live under Azeri rule are in danger again.
The Russian mediated ceasefire is very unfavorable for Armenia. Not only will Armenia be unable to protect ethnic Armenians in Artsak, but also it actually lost sovereignty over its southern provinces neighboring Iran. The Border patrol of Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) will be responsible for secure transit of Azerbaijanis through Armenia from mainland Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan. This means FSB will be controlling southern regions of Armenia bordering Iran. Just days before the start of the war Moscow-based Dossier Center, financed by exiled former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, published an article about how Russia interferes in Armenian internal affairs. After the capitulation of the Armenian Prime Minister, the Russian intelligence community has legal footing in the southern Armenia, next to the border with Iran.
The irony of the situation is that while many Armenians were optimistically expecting that Russia will extend assistance to its strategic ally, Russia’s actions actually substantially benefited Armenia’s adversary Azerbaijan, a country that is member of GUAM, the coalition of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. Three other members of GUAM are Russia’s adversaries. With the exception of Azerbaijan, Russia supported “separatist” territories in all three other GUAM members: Transnistria against Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia against Georgia, and Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk against Ukraine. Out of 4 GUAM members only Azerbaijan received favorable treatment from Russia despite its continuous very hostile attitude towards Armenians, Russia’s “strategic ally” in South Caucasus.
Russia did not extend assistance to Armenia. Meanwhile, in February 2019 Armenia sent 83 medics, demining experts and other military personnel to Syria. Russian Defense Minister Shoygu thanked Armenia for being the first to respond to Russia’s calls for helping the Syrian people. Back in January 2003 Russian President Putin expressed gratitude to Armenia for hosting Russian military expelled from Georgia after Rose Revolution. Thus, like no other country, Armenia was always – under all governments – very responsive to Russia’s calls.
Russian media hints that President Putin punished Pashinyan for his western attitude. However, under Pashinyan Armenia did not question membership in the Russian led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or the Eurasian Economic Union (where Azerbaijan is not a member) and did not break any agreement with Russia. While Putin’s friend Kocharyan whose authoritarian rule lasted from 1998-2008 – and whose birthday Putin congratulated while Kocharyan was in Armenian prison – was promoting “complementary” foreign policy. The National Security Strategy approved by Kocharyan in February 2007 stated that “Strategic relations with Russia, adoption of development in European direction, mutually beneficial cooperation with the USA and Iran, membership in CIS and CSTO, development of cooperation with NATO expand capability to promote complementary policy”. The 2007 National Security Strategy of Armenia also set a goal to develop civil society in Armenia as a means to expand its role in “preparation and supervision of decisions”, in the fight against corruption in general and bribery specifically.
After the 2018 Velvet Revolution, the Armenian prosecution indicted Kocharyan and a few other former high-level officials in charge of attempted toppling of constitutional order and cracking down on the opposition rally following presidential elections in 2008 which saw the killing of ten people on 1 March 2008. Kocharyan faced an additional charge of receiving a large bribe.
The Armenian military did not lose the war Azerbaijan started on 27 September 2020. The Armenian military ran out of personnel that could replace the killed and injured, and of the supply of weapons and ammunition. Azerbaijani President Aliyev was expecting that the Armenian military will run out of weapons and ammunition after two weeks of fighting and on 17 October was wondering “where do so many weapons and hardware come from to poor Armenia?” Strategic failures of Armenian leadership of the last 20 years, corruption and mismanagement left the rear of the Armenian military wide open.
Armenia and Artsakh are landlocked. Indeed, how did Armenians manage to resist the Azeri-Turkish-terrorist coalition for 44 days while the strategic ally did not supply weapons and ammunition. The northern neighbor Georgia did not allow the flight of military cargos to Armenia over its airspace. The southern neighbor Iran was under sanctions itself and could not sell weapons to Armenia. Eastern and western neighbors are eternal enemies that massacred Armenians in several cases in the past in Asia Minor and in South Caucasus. Օver the past decade, Azerbaijan acquired military equipment worth USD 24 billion, while Armenia spent USD 4.7 billion on military hardware over the same period. Turkish-Azerbaijani-terrorist coalition had substantial advantage.
Armenians were alone in their fight against Azerbaijan, Turkey and international terrorists. Armenia was capable of fighting against even well armored Azerbaijan. However, high rank military “advisors” from Turkey and Turkish and Israeli supplied anti-armor drones played a key role. Turkey also transferred Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan (recorded by the UN human rights experts, French President Macron, Pentagon, the head of Russian foreign intelligence Sergey Naryshkin and others) to fight jihad against Armenians. While NATO member Turkey and its satellite Azerbaijan were fighting a 5th generation war, Armenians did not get any support from its strategic ally Russia even when Azerbaijani military was shelling the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Meantime, during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Erdogan’s aggressive rhetoric also led to bloodshed in European cities Nice and Vienna.
Back in 1920 Russia and Turkey tore apart the Treaty of Sevre and divided Armenia between Bolshevik Russia and Kemalist Turkey. 100 years later in 2020 Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan pushed aside the two co-chairs of Minsk Group – the USA and France – and took charge of “solving” Armenian issue. Turkey cannot be an arbiter in any issue in general and in issues related to Armenia and Armenians in particular. The Turkish president repeatedly called Armenians “Leftover of the sword”, unambiguously sided with Azerbaijan in conflict over Artsakh and engaged in the war against Armenians Syrian mercenaries promising them 2000 US dollars per month and 100 dollars for each decapitated Armenian. Azeris beheaded Armenian civilians and soldiers in 2016. In 2012 President Aliyev pardoned the Azerbaijani soldier that axed a sleeping Armenian officer during 2004 NATO exercise in Budapest. Cutting the ears of dead Armenians were recorded during September-November 2020 war, as well as in 2016 and in the past.
Although Armenians are unequal and different in everyday life, Turks don’t differentiate between poor or wealthy, tall or short, skinny or obese, conservative or liberal, clever or stupid, honest or dishonest, … All Armenians are equal in front of the Turkish sword.
At the same time while Turkey, the country with the second biggest army in NATO was actually fighting against Armenians in Azerbaijan, Armenian Armed Forces were helping NATO to assure peace in Kosovo (since 2004) and Afghanistan (2009). NATO did not help Armenia anyhow and did not try to restrain imperial ambitions of its member.
Back in 1975 the participants of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Helsinki declared “their determination to respect and put into practice, each of them in its relations with all other participating States, irrespective of their political, economic or social systems as well as of their size, geographical location or level of economic development”, 10 principles, which all are of primary significance, guiding their mutual relations. Refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity of States, peaceful settlement of disputes, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples were four of the 10 principals.
Over the years Erdogan and Aliyev continuously threatened Armenians and kept Armenia and Artsakh in blockade. Erdogan and Aliyev did not commit to a peaceful settlement of the dispute and reverted to brutal force. For more than a century Turkey and for about 30 years Azerbaijan deprived Armenians of Asia Minor and South Caucasus of the right of self-determination, and exterminated and expelled Armenians.
The 9 November 2020 capitulation of the Armenian Prime Minister is an absolute failure of the Helsinki Final Act. Turkey and Azerbaijan actually squashed at least 3 out of 10 principles, namely: refraining from the threat or use of force, peaceful settlement of disputes, equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
In case of conflict with Armenians Turkey and Azerbaijan demand territorial integrity based on the borders drawn by Stalin. While in many other cases international community is critical of Stalin’s legacy, in the case of Armenians international leaders are ready to accept Stalin’s heritage and leave the people used to live in democracy under the rule of a hostile autocrat that subdued his own people. Armenians are not surprised that oppressive Turkey does not care about territorial integrity in other cases, e.g. in the case of Cyprus. However, Armenians don’t understand how tolerant Europeans and the Americans can be when Turkey selectively promotes different principles in different cases ignoring the interests of smaller and weaker countries.
During 44 days of war we have seen a picture of beheaded Armenian on the web, cutting ears off dead Armenians (also recorded during clashes in 2016), videos of Armenian prisoners of war being shot with their hands behind their backs, refuge of 90000 Armenians, three ceasefires mediated by Russia, France and the US broken by Azerbaijan (Armenian side needed the ceasefire and thus did not have motivation to break it), use of white phosphorus by Azerbaijan to burn forests so that Armenian population and military will not have a place to hide, use of cluster munition by Azerbaijan against Armenian population documented by BBC and Human Rights Watch, shelling of a maternity hospital by Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani president Aliyev shamelessly lying to international media (was not able to look at interviewer and was hiding his eyes most of the time during the interview) and calling all these internationally witnessed evidences “fake news”.
Over the years, Azerbaijani President Aliyev made aggressive claims against Armenians including that Azeris are going to capture the Armenian capital Yerevan. Turks exterminated Armenians on parts of their homeland in Asia Minor during massacres of the XIX century and the Genocide of 1915, and in the XXI century they continue the policy of extermination of Armenians from the historical homeland in South Caucasus.
According to Erdogan “Civilization comes with conquest”. Turkish-Azerbaijani-terrorist coalition did not conquer Artsakh. Armenians landlocked and blockaded by Turkish-Azery coalition ran out of all reserves necessary to fight.
“After the war in Karabakh, not only the region but also the world will change. It is already changing. Everyone has seen our strength, we will be reckoned with at a higher level. The role of Azerbaijan in regional issues will grow even more. The Turkish-Azerbaijani union will strengthen even more, it is vital for both Azerbaijan and Turkey.” This is what Azerbaijani Prezident Aliyev told the Turkish TV Channel Haber Turk.
There are two very important words in the above statement. Strength: this is the vision of the President Aliyev (and of his brother Erdogan), a member of the Council of Europe. Change: a word so dear to western civilization and especially Obama supporters. Biden promised “Nothing would fundamentally change”. It is not clear what it means in the Armenian context.
This is crash of civilization. In the Turkish-Azerbaijani universe, authoritarian rulers whose countries outnumber the manpower of their neighbors, who can create stockpiles of modern weapons are allowed to conquer and subdue their neighbors. Erdogan and Aliyev showed the world that in the XXI century on the outskirts of Europe a dispute can be solved by brutal force.
The most difficult thing for many Armenians to comprehend, the one thing that many Armenians could not expect, is that during these 44 days of war the “civilized world” was silent. With the exception of couple of references by Macron and couple of populist announcements during US elections that were intended to please Armenian ears (“Look at Armenia, they are incredible people, they‘re fighting like hell” President Trump, “We’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the Azerbaijanis are doing” Secretary Pompeo), the EU, the majority of EU members, the US did not strongly condemn the Turkish-Azeri-terrorist aggression and did not extend any material support to Armenia to defend itself against aggressors. As 100 years ago Armenians were left alone against two tyrants.
This is not the end. Armenian ears clearly heard the silence of our “friends”. We understand that in order to be able to hear we should not allow Turks and Azeris to cut our ears and heads.