Pashinyan’s Trail of Destruction: First Artsakh; Then Armenia
By Harut Sassounian
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a very lengthy, rambling speech on April 13, 2022 to the Armenian Parliament on his government’s failures and achievements in 2021.
Ever since the catastrophic 2020 Artsakh war, I have been repeatedly saying that the Prime Minister is too incompetent to govern Armenia. He caused the loss of most of Artsakh and thousands of young Armenian soldiers. As a defeated and psychologically crushed leader, he is incapable of repairing the damage he caused to the country. With each passing day, the situation is getting worse. Artsakh is mostly gone; Armenia is next.
However, Pashinyan refuses to resign, clinging to his seat and establishing a one-man rule. Ironically, when he took over the government four years ago, he proclaimed that the power belonged to the people.
In his April 13, 2022 speech, Pashinyan stated: “we have had the most serious failures as well as the most serious achievements. I must first talk about the achievements, then focus on the failures, but not so much or not only to record them, but also to use the opportunity of being on the high rostrum of the National Assembly, to confess to the public about the cause and effect of the war and defeat, and talk about possible solutions.”
Various high-ranking government officials have recently announced that Artsakh is no longer a territorial issue, but one of human rights, meaning that Armenia is giving up on its long-standing demand for the independence or self-determination of Artsakh, opting instead on seeking to preserve the cultural and religious rights of ethnic Armenians in Artsakh under Azeri rule!
Since Pashinyan’s plan is to turn over the remainder of Artsakh to Azerbaijan, why is he then boasting that “from November 2020 to the end of 2021, the [Armenian] government has implemented in Artsakh 136 billion drams [about $272 million] of programs?” Armenia is actually subsidizing Azerbaijan’s infrastructure in Artsakh, since the government of Azerbaijan, in three and a half years or less, will take over that territory.
Pashinyan admitted that the negatives in 2021 outweighed the positives. He stated that “from the beginning I have accepted my guilt and responsibility for both the war and defeat.” But then, he contradicted himself by saying: “I have not accepted and I do not accept the accusations addressed to me by the opposition after November 9, 2020, accusing me of handing over lands and thus also of treason.” He acknowledged that what he just said is “absurd—admitting your guilt, but not accepting the accusation.”
Making his confession more confusing, Pashinyan added: “In a recent interview, I hinted that if I were to be accused objectively, I should be accused not of handing over land, but of not handing over land. And now, yes, I’m going to admit that I’m probably guilty of it. It is my fault that in 2018, 2019, I did not stand in front of our public and did not speak out that all, I repeat, all distant and close [foreign] friends expect us that we hand over the seven well-known regions to Azerbaijan, one way or another and lower our bar for the status of Artsakh. It is my fault that I did not tell our people that the international community unequivocally recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, expects us that we too recognize it, also expects that the Azerbaijanis who left Karabakh be fully integrated in the decision-making and governance of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
In the above paragraph, Pashinyan admitted his guilt in losing Artsakh, but strangely, avoided accepting the consequences for his actions. He also repeatedly laid the blame on pressure from the international community. It is not true that the international community demanded that Armenians give up Artsakh, but even if they did, Pashinyan should have been more concerned about Armenia’s national interests than the outsiders’ suggestion. Only a weak leader would buckle under the pressure of third parties and not defend his people’s rights.
Pashinyan confessed: “And not doing this is my real fault, and such a formulation is not an attempt to alleviate the situation at all. On the contrary, I aggravate it, because by handing over [Artsakh’s lands], I might have saved thousands of lives, but by not handing over I actually became the author of decisions that resulted in thousands of victims.” As the Prime Minister of Armenia, he had no right to hand over Artsakh territories that he had no jurisdiction over.
Pashinyan is getting ready to surrender Artsakh completely by announcing that he wants to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan and recognize its territorial integrity. He used the excuse that “the international community clearly tells us that Armenia is the only country in the world that does not recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.” This “is a great danger not only for Artsakh but also for Armenia. Today the international community tells us again, ‘lower your bar on the status of Nagorno Karabakh a little and you will secure greater international consolidation around Armenia and Artsakh.’ Otherwise, says the international community, ‘please do not rely on us, not because we do not want to help you, but because we cannot help you.’”
After saying that Armenia has not recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Pashinyan contradicted himself by falsely claiming that in 1992, Armenia had recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. His contention, that the international community warned him that they cannot help Armenia, unless it made concessions on Artsakh, is also a baseless statement. When has the international community lifted a finger to help Armenia? Pashinyan is simply using this excuse to make further concessions to Azerbaijan. He is incapable of protecting Armenia’s borders as we have seen with Azerbaijan’s May 12, 2021 encroachment on Armenia’s border. Furthermore, Pashinyan falsely blamed his political opponents for that Azeri incursion! He also faulted the Russia-led CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) for not coming to Armenia’s defense, even though he is the current CSTO Chairman!
Pashinyan’s defeatist remarks at the Parliament were soundly condemned not only by the political opposition, but also by the usually compliant leaders of Artsakh.
Everything must be done to get rid of Pashinyan as soon as possible since he refuses to resign, favoring his own seat over Armenia’s interests. Otherwise, after Artsakh, Armenia is next to go.