BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
After the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Yerevan’s top diplomat, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan about the meeting with his U.S. counterpart, as well as the conflict.
Yet from the onset of the segment, it was obvious that the venerable journalist, who is CNN’s chief international anchor, was out to bait Mnatsakanyan and paint a picture of Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Artsakh as somehow being Armenia’s fault.
The segment, which aired on Amanpour’s eponymous program on CNN International, begins with footage of emergency crews and soldiers clearing the wreckage of a bombed building. We all have seen this footage, in its varying forms, as being the Azerbaijani city of Ganja, the site of what official Baku alleges was an Armenian attack directed at civilians. This same footage is also interspersed throughout the segment over Mnatsakanyan’s comments of the toll this aggression is taking on civilians.
The Armenian and Azeri Foreign Ministers met with Mike Pompeo today about the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian Foreign Minister @ZMnatsakanyan tells me “the civilians are dying” and blames Azerbaijan – but is he pushing for unification with Armenia? pic.twitter.com/1pK0jHgN38
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) October 23, 2020
Then Amanpour begins citing various United Nations resolutions adopted in 1993 and 2008—the very documents that Baku has been waving around to disregard the Karabakh conflict settlement efforts of the OSCE Minks Group co-chairs. She then cites Azerbaijan’s repeated claims of “occupied territories,” which have emboldened it to resolve the conflict through military force aided by Turkey and its military and jihadists fighters.
To convince viewers of her approach to this issue, Amanpour calls Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan a “nationalist” and refers to his statement in August, 2019 in Stepanakert that “Artsakh is Armenia,” prodding Mnatsakanyan to address her allegation that Armenian nationalism is somehow behind Azerbaijan’s military aggression. At this point in the interview, Mnatsakanyan tells Amanpour that she is taking statements out of context, after which, of course, the interview was timed out and ended.
At the beginning and the end of the segment, Amanpour announced that an invitation was extended to Mnatsakanyan’s Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov who was unable to commit.
“Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan tells me ‘the civilians are dying’ and blames Azerbaijan – but is he pushing for unification with Armenia?” This is the tagline that Amanpour used to promote her interview with Mnatsakanyan on social media.
Throughout the past couple of decades Amanpour has gained a reputation for being an expert in global affairs due to her “cutting edge” reporting from international conflict zones and “hard-hitting” interviews with global leaders, like the late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Yet on Friday she was not interviewing a world leader under whose reign hundreds of thousands were sent to their deaths. Although, since clearly she was following the Azerbaijani script, perhaps she thought Mnatsakanyan was the second coming of Gaddafi.
For three decades now, the international press has covered Artsakh as an oversimplified territorial conflict, at the center of which are “ethnic Armenians” who are living in “what is Azerbaijan.” A journalist of Amanpour’s caliber should have at least done her research, if not shown an iota of “objectivity.” But when, all along, her approach was to blame Armenia and prop up Azerbaijan, none of the facts on the ground matter.
I am not going to delve deeply into another interview Amanpour conducted Friday with Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO. Daalder warned that “there’s a possibility of an escalation of this conflict that could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey.” In that segment, Amanpour, again using footage from the Azerbaijani defense ministry, paints Armenia as a “servant” to its Russian “master.”
What is the wider importance of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh? Former Ambassador to NATO @IvoHDaalder explains that “there’s a possibility of an escalation of this conflict that could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey.” pic.twitter.com/oK4GcmTR0s
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) October 23, 2020
Incidentally, this is not the first time that Amanpour has ignored Armenians in her coverage of global affairs.
In 2008, CNN premiered a documentary called “Scream Bloody Murder” anchored by Amanpour. There she offers a gripping look at genocide throughout history and those who witnessed and warned a deaf world about such atrocities. However, she neglected to mention the Armenian Genocide as the first such event.
After thousands of Armenians demonstrated in front of the CNN building in Los Angeles this month demanding that the cable news channel provide fair coverage of the current military aggression by Azerbaijan, the channel’s leaders were baffled by the protesters and their demands. Of course they would be if they have entrusted their “fair” coverage to their chief international anchor.