BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
It is simply amazing that every time Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan opens his mouth, he makes a new and bigger blunder. To be convinced of this, all one has to do is follow his speeches, press conferences, contradictory statements in the Armenian Parliament, Facebook postings, flawed decisions and unqualified nominations. To make matters worse, he does not seem to learn from his errors. Pashinyan neither realizes nor admits his mistakes. He seems to be incorrigible.
On January 24, 2022, the Prime Minister gave another one of his so-called press conferences. No reporters were present to ask questions and challenge his misstatements. It was a poorly-orchestrated show to mislead the public. A young lady read the questions supposedly sent by the media. When one of the journalists complained later that his question was presented in a garbled manner, the young lady honestly confessed that she had simply read the questions given to her by the Prime Minister’s aides.
Among the Prime Minister’s biggest blunders was his reply to a question about Armenian historical demands from Turkey. Pashinyan stated that “the Republic of Armenia has never conducted a policy of the Armenian Cause. Never.” I seriously doubt that he knows the meaning of “the Armenian Cause.” His comment is no different than what a Turkish official would have said. It is shameful that after the horrendous genocide that was committed against Armenians in 1915-1923, killing 1.5 million innocent men, women and children, and dispossessing them of their historic homeland, the Prime Minister so casually dismisses Armenians’ just demands and acts as if nothing had happened. This is exactly what the Turkish leaders want — that Armenians forget about the past and drop their demands.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister falsely stated that President “Robert Kocharian in 2005 publicly announced that Armenia does not have territorial demands or territorial expectations from Turkey.” I recall reporting about Kocharian’s statement back in April 2005, when a Yerevan State University student asked him about Armenia’s demands for land from Turkey. Kocharian cautiously responded: “This issue would have to be taken up by a future President.” It is clear that at a time when Armenia had its hands full dealing with the conflict with Azerbaijan over Artsakh, it was not in Armenia’s best interest to open a second front with Turkey over Armenian territories. Kocharian did not say that Armenia had no territorial demands from Turkey. He simply said that the resolution of that issue has to be taken up at a later date. It is a shame that Prime Minister Pashinyan repeated what the Turkish media had falsely reported rather than what was actually said by the previous President of Armenia.
Going from one distortion to the next, Pashinyan falsely added that President “Serzh Sarkisian had made a reference to Kocharian’s statement.” I do not recall Sarkisian making such a reference. Pashinyan continued by stating that “Armenia never placed in doubt the Armenia-Turkey border. You will not find a single leader or government of the Armenian Republic who put in doubt the Armenia-Turkey border. We have not resigned from this policy.” In reality, until Pashinyan, no Armenian President or government had accepted the current Armenia-Turkey border nor stated that Armenia did not have territorial demands from Turkey.
Coming to the issue of the Armenian Genocide, Prime Minister Pashinyan wrongly stated: “We must register that the locomotive behind the process of the recognition of the Genocide has always been the Diaspora and Diaspora organizations.” This is exactly what the Turkish government would want the Armenian leader to say. There are several things wrong with the Prime Minister’s statement.
- Pashinyan is once again splitting the Diaspora from Armenia.
- The Armenian Genocide is not exclusively a Diaspora issue. The descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors constitute today over one-third of Armenia’s population. That is why every year on April 24 over one million Armenians march to the Armenian Genocide Monument in Yerevan.
- All previous Armenian governments have pursued the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In fact, Armenia’s Declaration of Independence, issued on August 23, 1990, declared the following: “Aware of its historic responsibility for the destiny of the Armenian people engaged in the realization of the aspirations of all Armenians and the restoration of historical justice,” and “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” Significantly, the Declaration used the words “Western Armenia,” which is now being abandoned by the Prime Minister. Later, Armenia’s Constitution included a link to the Declaration of Independence.
- The pursuit of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a pan Armenian issue which concerns both the Diaspora and Armenia. Therefore, there must be a coordinated division of labor between the Diaspora and the Armenian government. What the Diaspora is able to do is different from what the Armenian government can do and vice versa.
The Prime Minister also made many other misstatements in his over two-hour-long so-called press conference. However, an entire book has to be written, not just an article, to expose all of his misstatements.