With “friends” like this, do we need enemies?

The ceasefire violations by Azerbaijani forces in Artsakh (Karabagh) were more frequent and more daring during the past few months and on April first the Azerbaijani forces initiated a large-scale attack and were pushed back by Artsakh Defence Forces  (ADF). Unfortunately, there were many casualties. Armenians all over the world showed solidarity with their Artsakh brothers and sisters during these unprovoked and deadly attacks. With the Russian initiative, and dictate, a cease-fire was signed in Moscow.

It is no coincidence that the ceasefire was signed in Moscow. Russia is the strategic defense partner with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and the main supplier of armament to both countries more so to Azerbaijan. If this was done during peacetime, it might have been less absurd than is during a war, that these two countries are engaged.

The Prime minister of Russia paid a visit both to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Here is what he said in Baku. “I think that weapons can and must be purchased not only for being used one day but for becoming a factor of deterrent”. It seems absurdity has no limits. He even went further to reassure Azerbaijan that the defense strategic partnership between the two countries remains stronger than ever.

Russian deputy prime minister was even more absurd in ardently defending the arms sale to Azerbaijan at a press conference in Moscow, while the Foreign Minister of Russia, after meeting with his  Azerbaijani and Iranian counterparts in Baku, reassured Azerbaijan of the Russian support.

There was a small anti-Russian demonstration in Yerevan in front of the Russian Embassy. It is about time, and it should have been much larger. I did not hear, or read, about any demonstrations in Russia against the sale of arms to Azerbaijan, and the double-faced politics of the Russian Government either by the Russians, our “friends”, or the large Armenian community in Russia. Well without Russia we………..etc, etc! are self-delusional, to say the least. What matters is the facts.

There were demonstrations in Diaspora in front of the Azerbaijani Embassies as well. It might be more appropriate and maybe even more effective, to demonstrate in front of the Russian and Israeli Embassies against their policies to support, and supply modern and sophisticated arms to Azerbaijan. Needless to say, demonstrating against wrong policies, and harmful acts of a government, should not be considered to be a hostile act against that country and its people.

Iran, our other “friend” is not a great help either. It is an open secret that Iran, Armenia’s only neighbor with whom Armenia has no territorial dispute, is a supporter of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and has supported Azerbaijan in all international forums. Iran’s foreign minister rushed to Baku to reassure Azerbaijan of Iran’s continuous support. (Iran and its ally Syria are the only two countries whose presidents and high-ranking politicians while visiting Armenia did not visit the Armenian genocide monument and pay tribute to Armenian Genocide victims). Well, Iran is our…….etc, etc!. No need to elaborate or repeat myself.

Needless to say, with these kind “friends” Armenia has been between a rock and hard place, for a long time. The current government like its predecessors is doing its best to handle the situation like two melons in one hand. As the deputy president of the Armenian Parliament and the spokesman of the ruling RPA Party put it at a press conference. “There are no ‘good uncles’ in this world, every country has its own interests, we are guided by our own interests in relation with our allies”. It cannot be said any better, but I am tempted to add, that the reality seems to be different, if not contrary to reality.

It is said that politics is the art of possibilities and it is true. Maybe it is time to start looking for other possibilities and start talking about it in an open, public, and credible forums, and thus help the governments of Armenia, and Artsakh, to make difficult but the necessary decisions for the safety of their citizens, and the security of the country.

Let me say that, the only encouraging sign in these deadly confrontations was the success of the ADF to push back the aggressor and inflict heavy casualties on them. The large number of young Armenians volunteering to join the ADF forces for combat duty in Artsakh was very encouraging and comforting as well. Needless to say, the people of Armenia and Artsakh, are our biggest assets especially so, for the brave young members of our arm forces. These young and brave men have earned our admiration and full support.

The general feeling among the Armenians seems to be that, Azerbaijan cannot be trusted to abide by the cease-fire. There seems to be a general consensus also among many Armenians that, if Azerbaijan violets the ceasefire again, the ADF must take decisive action to punish Azerbaijan and inflict heavy damage to its military installations and neutralize its ability to be able to initiate another attack, and this must be done before Russia having the time and the opportunity to intervene and stop us again.

It is also about time to start a serious Pan Armenian movement for the settlement of Artsakh with Armenian people with a permanent and ongoing program. ADF also should start a permanent and ongoing training program for young volunteers to prepare them for combat duties, and be ready when called upon during emergencies. It is also time, to shed our centuries-old political subservient (Ը)ստրկամիտ mentality, and start to act like we own our own destiny. It is long overdue, and the time is now.

In the meantime, we all must continue to support the governments of Armenia and Artsakh, and if  Azerbaijan again violets the cease-fire, the response should be decisive and destructive for Azerbaijan. Maybe here it is appropriate to quote  Artsakh Hero, late Monte Melkonian, who after instructing his fighters to stop shooting during a cease-fire, and was asked what to do if the Azeris start shooting?, he said, “Մայրերը լացուցեք”. (Not exact quote, I have read it in Eastern Armenian).

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

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