New Countries

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Self-determination, one of the founding principles of the United Nations, and I would argue a fundamental human right, is more often honored by NOT being implemented than truly being respected and put into effect. We’re bearing witness to this farce in Kurdistan and Catalonia.

But there are many more places that are in the same situation. Artsakh is obviously the most salient example for Armenians, but there are countless others. Some, other than Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, are very close to home. The Lezghis, Talyshes, and Tats in Azerbaijan; the Abkhaz, Ajars, and Ossets in Georgia; countless groups in Russia; even Turkey is far from being homogeneously “Turkish”. Then we get to Europe where, other than the Catalans, there are: the Basques in France and Spain; Lapps or Sami in the Scandinavian countries; the Irish, Scots, and Welsh in Great Britain; and various other nationalities which have ended up inside adjacent countries because of ridiculously drawn borders. In the Americas, countless indigenous peoples are repressed, oppressed, or outright exploited, and certainly far from being self-determined. This list is far from complete and its lack of comprehensiveness only betrays the extent of my ignorance.

So what should or can we do? It certainly is in our interest, now for Artsakh, and later for more of our lands and people (think Turkey’s crypto-Armenians, Hamshentzees, Javakhktzees) to have the principle of self-determination become ever more thoroughly and broadly implemented and enshrined in the political mindset of all humanity, and especially the planet’s leadership.

But, because the self-determination of one group implies the loss of authority, power, and/or territory for an existing country, this becomes very delicate. If we advocate the rights of Catalans, Spain, where numerous cities have been recognizing the Armenian Genocide, might become less supportive of our issues. Kurds? Think Iran and Syria with whom we have very good and important relationships. Native Americans? Think of the reaction we would get from the U.S., Argentine, or Canadian governments.

On the other hand, in the post-Soviet era, Bosnia was created, along with Abkhazia and South Sudan. I chose these because they represent the machinations of two opposing poles of power and one case where most everyone was in agreement (Sudan). This is the reality we have to navigate. But we must act. Somehow, we must find a way to say what must be said, advocate what is just, and still defend our interests. For example, while the Republic of Armenia has been silent on the Kurdish and Catalan referenda, Artsakh has spoken supportively. Everyone can understand why this happens. It’s obvious the latter is in the same boat. This is the kind deft politics we must play.

Over fifteen years ago, I read an article in “Foreign Policy” magazine in which the notion presented was that countries will continue to be created and ever smaller groups will achieve independence. We are living though a time of resurgent local/national identity. Those who rule over others that have a different concept of their group belonging would do well to learn from the past. Demands for various types and levels of home rule/autonomy/independence never go away. They reappear periodically unless resolved. Central governments would do well and best if they made some concessions, avoiding tensions and averting bloodshed. This might simply delay the inevitable, but it might also become a permanent solution. Those seeking freedom could claim some gains and “live to fight another day” – though that “day” may not come for a generation or more later.

But just to confuse things, we have, courtesy of Turkey, the situation of Northern Cyprus where the demography has been artificially shifted and skewed through migration of “Turks” from Turkey.

What should we do to create more enabling legal infrastructure to achieve Armenian self-determination goals? Please suggest ideas and approaches.

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5 Comments

  1. Edward Demian said:

    The Armenian church should be more proactive. It should open seminaries in Armenia, Artsackh, Gergia, Abchazia, Krasnodar Krai, US, whererever there are Armenians, Offer free Armenian education to Armenians, be they Orthodox, Catholic , Protestant, Muslim or Godless. Start a chain of drug abuse rehab centers, that deal with drug abuse and behaviour modification. A very profitable industry.

  2. Gaidzag said:

    Great article. I say, as long as UN controlled by two super powers, I can’t think of any legal idea will help us to achieve Armenian self-determination. As you know, US’ interest has created Bosnia and Russia’s interest has created Abkhazia.

  3. Ari said:

    Armenians need to learn from history. Beware of Russians and Western Powers and do not become a victim of their self-serving and Turkish-serving geo-political games. Iran has never been a true-friend either!

    Armenians will be well served most by following the Singapore Government model, i.e. stamp out domestic corruption, invest and promote our human capital, build-up the GDP and make new military alliances with countries like China, India, France, Sweden and alike.

    Armenia needs new partners for a lasting peace and security, not just relying on countries like Russia or the US, who will never lift a finger to go counter to Turkish interests. Kurds’ latest drive for independence in Iraq is a clear demonstration of history-unchanged where Kurds have been used and taken advantage of and yet their demand for self-determination remains all but a dream. Thank you the USA, the EU and Russia – Kurds’ fake allies!

  4. Raffi said:

    UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 should be applied to all countries worldwide.

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