Yerevan Should be More Forceful with Clinton

Nalbandian and Clinton during a recent photo-op


In assessing Armenia’s foreign policy accomplishment of last year, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalabandian in January lauded Armenia’s relations with the US as being the best in the 20-year history of the newly independent republic. His conclusion was based on the number of phone calls and meetings the Sarkisian administration had with high-ranking US officials, including a meeting with Obama and the 2010 visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

However, the outcome of those high-level discussions does not reflect the posturing of either official Yerevan or the Obama Administration vis-à-vis U.S.-Armenia relations. The Sarkisian Administration has not forcefully engaged in all matters Armenian and has missed significant opportunities to push back on US policy.

We have written ad nauseam about President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s broken promises regarding the Armenian Genocide and what the Armenian-American community has had to contend with during the Administration. That said, when Secretary Clinton opted to downgrade—or downplay—the Armenian Genocide by calling it a matter of historical debate, didn’t Nalbandian have a responsibility to call her out? The international recognition of the Genocide is part of Armenia’s Constitution, which he is sworn to uphold.

The most recent breach of fundamental diplomacy by the State Department was the categorization of Nagorno-Karabakh as a region controlled by “ethnic Armenian separatists” in Azerbaijan in its annual human rights report. This element is key to the peace process as the OSCE Minsk Group, of which the US is a co-chair, is tasked to determine the final status of Karabakh. The State Department classification runs counter to the letter and spirit of the ongoing peace talks, because it signals that the US has already made up its mind, rendering the talks futile, at best.

Nalbandian was in Chicago to attend the NATO Summit, which was boycotted by Sarkisian due to the language adopted by the gathering regarding the issue of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within the context of the Karabakh peace process. That would have been an appropriate forum for Nalbandian to vociferously demand from the international community—especially the US—to not toy with Armenia’s national security interests and object to random announcements that could have dire repercussions on the final Karabakh peace plan.

The Obama Administration’s financing of the AzerSpace satellite deal with Baku, and green-lighting a sale of advanced helicopter-based sensing equipment to Azerbaijan only provides Armenia’s adversaries in Baku with more ammunition to advance its military rhetoric and stockpile more hardware that could potentially be used against Armenia.

Once again, Nalbandian and the Sarkisian administration did not protest, or if they did, they did not publicize their opposition to this notion of a love affair with the US and the current administration.

Here in the US, the Turkish and Azeri diplomatic corps has been intricately engaged in driving US policy in favor of their denialist agenda and advancing the unacceptable gag-rule they have successfully enforced on the US. Armenia’s inaction and absence, especially during the Genocide resolution processes and efforts to downplay the Sumgait, Kirovabad, Baku and Shahumian pogroms of Armenians, was inexcusable.

If Nalbandian and Sarkisian have chosen to distance themselves from these realities, then they must not also interfere with the efforts of the Armenian-American community that is working hard to advance the national aspirations of all Armenians.

Recently, during a meeting in Yerevan, Nalbandian thanked Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois for supporting Armenian Genocide recognition efforts, despite the fact that he has, in recent years, refused to support the Armenian Genocide Resolution or to call for the recognition of this crime by the Obama Administration.

These missteps by the Sarkisian Administration, especially Nalbandian, are costing Armenia and Armenians significantly. When Clinton arrives in Armenia to praise the “unprecedented friendship” the two countries enjoy, while advancing an agenda that is fraught with concessions for Armenia, the Sarkisian administration should forcefully push back to preserve Armenia’s national security interests and its dignity in the international community.

A phone call or a photo op is neither a sign nor a substitute for a strong friendship!

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  1. Levon said:

    I couldn’t agree more Ara. We are being played as fools again. Sarkisian and Nalbandian need to be more aggressive on the international scene. The treacherous protocols were an excellent example of how we could have lost everything because of a few spineless yes-man in Yerevan. I still can’t believe the male twit pictured above signed those pathetic protocols with a smile. You need to have consumed SIGNIFICANT amounts of whisky to have signed those defeatist protocols.

    • GB said:

      Winston Churchill start drinking Armenian brandy, when he created war between Stalin and Hitler!! Edward should give up on whiskey and start drinking Ararat brandy!!

  2. Tsayt said:

    The same “spineless” leadership is still in charge in Yerevan, so no fundamental change in behaviour or MO should be expected unfortunately. Nalbandian particularly has demonstrated incompetence time and again, which fits perfectly with an incompetent administration. Incompetence has a way of binding like-minded people together.

    We are witnessing the results of a legacy brought about by Levon Ter Peterossian, perfected by Kocharian, championed by Sarkissian.

  3. MK said:

    Sadly, we have in Nalbandian and Serzh Sarkissian two sold out cronies of foreign powers,until these two jokers are gone Armenia and Artsakh will be in danger.

  4. Christo said:

    The photo speaks volumes. The distance that Clinton is extending her arm versus Nalbandians. I couldn’t agree more with you Ara, however, for whatever the reason, Armenia is not negotiating from a more confident position. Afterall, Clinton wants us to forget the Genocide and go on with our lives, however, that is a very high price to dictate to us.

  5. Christo said:

    Clinton, shouldn’t have slapped Bill, she should have had the historians decide what happened between her husband and monica.

  6. kevo said:

    That would be vodka….. lets leave the whiskey out of this one.

  7. Armanen said:

    Perhaps Armenian-Americans should realize that the money and time spent on Genocide recognition in the US would be better spent on developing Armenia. If the US is already cozy with turkey and azerbaijan, why would they recognize the AG? The only country that must recognize the Genocide is turkey, and no, American recognition will not make turkey recognize as well, at best it will be a little more pressure on them to do so.

  8. John Ahmaranian said:

    Dear Mrs. Clinton,
    Nagorno Kharabagh is not a land of “ethnic Armenian Separatists” from Azerbayjan.Your are like other Americans who are distorting history. In 1915, New York Times called the massacres of the Armenians by name, now, the same newspaper is adding “alleged genocide”.
    The Armenians of Kharabagh had corrected a mistake done by the Communists at that time. The Americans were not “separatists” when they rejected the British rulers. The Armenians were not separatists when they retook their own land from the Azeri hords.

  9. Alex Postallian said:

    obummer and clinton,two stooges of turkey,(a back pocket deal)$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. ENOUGH SAID.

  10. bigmoustache said:

    theyre an embarrasement to all armenians. we are losing the pr war because of these idiots and theyre endagering our country with their passivity.
    they want the US to legitimize their postition and thats it!
    we have played ball with the US many times before but if these fools had a backbone, they would demand either of the following:
    1. official recognition of AG
    2. official recognition of artsakh and security guarantees, military aid etc.
    azerbaijan is getting a satellite, what are we doing about it? nothing. at least try to get it cancelled, or try to get a satellite of your own.

    furthermore i think its completly shorsighted to rely on foreign military aid alone, simple things that run out, (like bullets, explosives, ammo, mortars, artillary shells etc) could be produced in armenia, by armenia. creating jobs and guaranteeing that we never run short of these essentials. we cant rely on georgia to help us get supplys from russia, we cant rely on anyone but ourselves!

    • bigmoustache said:

      we need to create a military industry of our own that creates jobs for armenians and ensures a steady supply of weaponry

  11. George said:

    Mrs. Clintons happy face shows how she is Scr..wng the Armenian people and d..mb Mr. Nalbandian is playing the game without any objection, get live Mr. Nalbandian, these pictures will be used against Armenians by showing to Turkey and Azerbaijan that they have full control on Armenia, and that Armenian government will act like a puppet on any issue any time that they decide.

  12. George said:

    It’s not Mrs. Clinton’s fault, she is in the business of selling Armenian Blood For Less, if Armenian government follows the game of failed Turkey-Armenia Protocols, than it is not her fault it is Armenians fault, she is in “Busness as Usual¨ mode.

  13. Tigran said:

    basically USA policies re Armenia could be considered as enemy moves. Armenian gov needs to make that clear, there cannot be any talk about friendly relations, everything USA does in the region is directly hurting our interests. Armenia should also make it clear that it will start cooperating with Iran in military sphere if this continues. enough pushing us around, we don’t deserve this from USA. azeri, jewish military deal is a cover, USA approves this if not directly pushing.

  14. facts said:

    Bush and Clinton clans are determining US foreign policy for the last 40 years- like it is the case with the ruling clans in many Arabic states (including Aliey clan in Baku). Denial Turkish state owes a lot to Clinton clan!

    For the first time in the US history former US president B. Clinton jointly with Israel President Shimon Peeress made it for a foreign government – this is criminal Turkish state- an easy task and habit how to force US congress to kill the Armenia bills- this is to demand form acting US President to prevent US congress to vote on Armenian Genocide bills by accepting Turkish blackmails-

  15. steve said:

    Sadly sitting here in yerevan I sense the government still does not appreciate their ability to capitalize upon its nation’s standing despite its somewhat feudalistic tendencies it is still the most western leaning, stable and democratiic amongst the region. Naldbandian and sargsyan must this time ask more from clinton than simply using her visit to establish their electoral legitimacy. Indeed this visit agenda must be to demand armenia’s legitimacy and its territorial rights to karabakh. Anything less will delegitimize sargsyan.

  16. Kimberly Adjemian said:

    I disagree with your opinion. Let the Armenians in Armenia carve there own destiny. Ninety percent of Armenia’s borders are surrounded by fanatic Muslims, and it is not fair for member of diaspora living comfortably in California to dictate life in Armenia.
    Do not under estimate Armenians in Armenia. Armenian’s living in Armenia are very smart and they know exactly how to survive current politics in the region.

  17. Tsoghig said:

    I strongly agree with your editorial. We have to stop getting star struck by Clinton or Obama and we have to start playing hardball. If the Obama administration is going to continue to turn its back on Armenia and Armenian Americans we need to start getting angry and call them out just like you wrote Ara. Adam Schiff, great guy, but he got reamed at that hearing by Clinton and the opposite should have happened! Next time Clinton goes to testify in front of Congres she and Obama need to hear how upset the Armenian American community is…i would love to see someone with real balls like Maxine Waters or Bob Filner go up against the admin…we need an Armenian American in Congress, becuase no one else cares enough to get as angry as we are. Unfortunately it seems like the land of the free is really the home for the deepest pockets.

    • Alex Postallian said:

      You finally got the answer,MORE ARMENIANS in politics.

  18. Albert said:

    The Obama administration is unwise to think that punishing Armenia for signing the renewal of the Russian base in Armenia and it’s continued membership in the CSTO will bring about any changes in Armenian policy. Turkey is providing financial support to Obama’s re-election campaign and this is what happens.

  19. Peter said:

    Nalbandian should resign and the Armenian government should select a truly capable diplomat to be foreign minister from the diaspora such as Dr. Richard Dekmejian of USC who has an excellent understanding of US foreign policy . He could enhance the friendship between the US and Armenia .

  20. josef biciste said:

    I think that Armenia should show some distance from USA because armenian-iranian and armenian-russian relations are more important for Armenia. Simply, Iran is your neighbour, very important neigbour and Armenia sould say no war in Iran, very resolutely.

  21. Parsik said:

    what a disgraceful times for current Armenian government, no matter if they are selfpocketing busy cons or lame ducks out of helplessness or maybe more to the reality tightly tied up motionless Russian puppets, no matter what they are they are taking Armenia down to a deadend road that we have seen likes of it many times before throughout Armenian history, in the same day that Killary Clinton in Yerevan to demand forcefully more returns for their thrifty handouts to the Armenia and asking more leanancy toward Turks their hibrid bastard brothers shelling an Armenian border post in Chinari killing 3 Armenian lads and injuring three more, how long this situatuation and line of killing of young conscripts should go on untill somebody in peaceful and happy and joyful Yereven decides to to something, either give a blunt and powerful jawdropping answer to the Azerbaijan right a way or for God’s and our young lads sake give their land back and bend over and make peace!

  22. Krikor said:


  23. levon sanosyan said:

    Do not trust Clinton. Final. This woman is an evil.


    both USA/FRANCE are countries that are using our national issues as a volley ball game tp please turkey….and change the tune slightly to please Armenia just to keep us silent without making any concrete statements….untill when should armenians tolerate this nonsenses indeed it’s time to tell these countries stop this stupidity to firm up our stance i think KOTCHARIAN WITH PUTTIN COULD MAKE YHIS HAPPEN LTP FAILED IN HIS SOFT LINE AND SARGESSYAN FAILED IN HIS FLEXCIBLE LINE IN THE FOREIGNE POLICIES SPELLING UOT ALL THE CORRECT TUNES …UNFORTUNATE…

  25. Alex Postallian said:

    Two faces of evil..the clintons….he for desecrated the office of President,for defiant sexual deviations…she.staying with the BUM,to further her poorly inadequate career,of a stumbling politico,with poor results.