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Pashinyan’s damage control, extremist response, as Armenians burn their houses and leave Azerbaijan

By | Rachel Brooks

November 14, 2020 

Above image was shared via social media by Karabakh Daily. Fair use.

As the Nagorno-Karabakh region was returned to Azerbaijan, the Armenians who occupied the area on state sponsorship returned to the Armenian republic. Yet, the bitter effects of the war left its strongest rhetoric still seething. Those who left the scene set fire to their homes before they departed. Locals claim that they did so to prevent Azerbaijani citizens, who will soon be moving back into the long-forsaken territory, from living in these habitats. Many of the structures in the Armenia and Azerbaijan border region were funded by the sponsorship of the Armenian republic or by foreign funding campaigns such as Armenia Fund’s Artsakh Strong. 

The Associated Press reported this from skyview, showing how many structures were set on fire as Armenians left the territory which had been occupied for 27 years. Flames shot from wireframe windows. A fire was seen billowing from a roof in the local area called Karvachar in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

Tearing down what was once the Armenian vision of Artsakh signals the grave unrest in Armenia following the Russian-mitigated end of hostilities in the region. The deep unrest in Armenia stems from public opinion that the progressive Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, risen to power from the weight of the Velvet Revolution, has failed the nation entirely. Protests against the terms of the truce had been ongoing for three days as of November 12, further citing the Associated Press. 

The Washington Post reported that thousands called for Pashinyan’s resignation as he failed to deliver on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict campaign. Radio Free Europe reported that thousands of Armenians were “defying’ martial law to demand the resignation of Pashinyan. 

Pashinyan continued to behave as though all was well. Via his Twitter, he released a statement regarding his conversation with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron regarding the terms of the ceasefire and Armenian “Artsakh” interests moving forward. Artsakh was the name that the Armenians have given to the western Azerbaijani territory, which is legally recognized under the U.N. charter as part of the Azerbaijani territory. 

“I spoke to @EmmanuelMacron yesterday re Nov.10 joint statement & the current situation in the region. President Macron expressed satisfaction over ceasefire & underscored his readiness to contribute to a lasting solution in #Artsakh acceptable to all parties,” tweeted Pashinyan. 

Communication between Pashinyan and Macron has received some backlash. Azerbaijani stresses that France, as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, must enforce international law and not be biased toward the rhetoric of Greater Armenia. The behavior of France was perceived as a stout bias and drew criticism from members of the Minsk Group for favoritism of sides. 

On November 12, as the protests continued, Pashinyan attempted damage control within his nation, publishing a press release that criticized the ceasefire document. 

“Armenia and the Armenian people are facing crucial days. There is sorrow in the hearts of all of us, tears in the eyes of all of us, pain in the souls of all of us. An end to the war that started on September 27 with the signing of a document such as the joint statement issued by the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on November 10 caused public despair and raised many questions, and I am supposed to answer all these questions. 

Why was such an unfavorable document signed for Armenia? It happened in the conditions when the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia kept reporting that every minute mattered, and the war had to be stopped as soon as possible. And the President of Artsakh warned that if the hostilities failed to stop, we could lose Stepanakert in a couple of days, and under some scenarios, even within a few hours.

Many can say that if we had already lost Hadrut, Shushi, we could have lost Stepanakert as well, and not much would change. The reality, however, is a little different, because if we had lost Stepanakert, which as Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan already confirmed in his public remarks, was by and large defenseless at that time, then Askeran and Martakert would have been predictably and inevitably lost just because these cities were in the rear at the time the war started as they were located far enough from the front line and lacked defensive structures and fortifications. Nor were there so many fighting forces that could actually defend these cities.

 

And what would happen after the fall of these cities? The second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh defenses of the Defense Army would be under siege by the enemy, which means that more than 20,000 Armenian troops and officers could find themselves surrounded by enemy troops, inevitably facing the prospect of being killed or captured. Under these conditions, of course, the fall of Karvachar and Kashatagh regions would be inevitable, leading to a complete catastrophe.”

 

The press release began on a note that credited the ceasefire agreement to a tactical withdraw by the Armenian forces but confirmed what the international community looking onward analyzed would be the eventual outcome. Armenian rhetoric is likely to incite continued attempts at reviving the Greater Armenian vision for seizing the land in question. 

Due to the logic of the time, many may ask the question: why was I so anxious about the safety of our soldiers at the time of signing the document and why was I not so worried before that? In operational terms, the point is that any commander has a key function, namely to set combat tasks that have a specific tactical or strategic goal, and the commander should set such tasks, realizing that their implementation could result in the killing of his soldiers. In my capacity as the Commander-in-Chief, I actually set such tasks before the army and the armed forces from the first day of the war. In a situation arises where the soldier cannot influence the further course of events, it is no longer the soldier that must perish for the sake of the homeland, but the homeland needs to make sacrifices for the sake of the soldier; the commander should not issue such orders as could imply the killing of his soldiers.

 

With this in mind, I signed the notorious document, and when I signed that document, I realized that I was facing the threat of my personal death, not only in a political but also in a physical sense. But the lives of 25,000 soldiers were more important, I think, for you too. Under threat were the lives of our soldiers who had rendered full service to the homeland. Moreover, these soldiers had no chance to influence the situation in the rear, there were no more fighting forces in the rear that could exercise a realistic influence on the situation, and therefore, it was time for the commander to risk his own life for the sake of these soldiers, both physically and politically. It was time for the homeland to make sacrifices for those soldiers who spared nothing for the sake of the homeland, and I signed that document with this in mind.

Moreover, in this situation and under these conditions, the issue was no longer in the realm of days and weeks, where we could maneuver: we had to make a decision. A decision had to be made within hours, otherwise, a process could have begun that could have ended in the killing or captivity of some 10,000, 20,000, 25,000 Armenian soldiers.

Many people are asking the following question: Why did I not resign before signing that paper? Because it would mean desertion, it would mean shaking off my share of responsibility and putting it on someone else’s shoulders, hoping that later people would say that Prime Minister Pashinyan was so patriotic as not to sign that humiliating document. And also because, as I said, decisions had to be made within hours, otherwise the wheel could spin, which could no longer be stopped in any way.

The next question that is being asked is as follows. Why did I not consult with the nation before signing that document? For a very simple reason. When talking to the people, I would have presented the objective situation, which meant providing the enemy with detailed information about the situation, moreover, presenting a detailed plan to block our 25,000 soldiers for hours, with all the ensuing consequences.

Besides, I have promised to discuss with the people the options for the settlement of the Karabakh issue, and this document does not envisage a substantive solution to the issue: it only implies the cessation of hostilities. The Karabakh issue was not resolved before the signing of the aforementioned statement, nor has it been settled after it. There is still much to be done in this respect.

The next question that is understandable and naturally arises is the following: Why even in such conditions was it not possible to reach a ceasefire in the first days of the war, or maybe a little later? There were two reasons for this. First, we had to hand over seven districts, including Shushi, without fighting, and second, the military situation instilled the hope that by involving new resources, we would be able to defy the challenge with superhuman efforts. That was the reason why the President of Artsakh and I kept making calls for people to enlist for the defense of the homeland, but we also tried to ensure that our message could not discourage the soldier fighting on the frontline, would not set despair and give the enemy unnecessary details about our problems.

We, the President of Artsakh, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Commander of the Defense Army, I myself and the Government of Armenia, the representatives of our political team and, of course, first and foremost our soldiers, volunteers, officers, and generals did everything to defend every inch of our land. Our army fought heroically. Our troops were fighting not to surrender, but to keep what we had; they fought not to lose, but to win. And they practically fought against three armies. But, unfortunately, as the President of Artsakh mentioned in his message yesterday, we were unable to provide the army with sufficient backing.

Indeed, with its many heroic manifestations, the volunteer and mobilization movement was not strong enough to cope with the challenge as we were faced up with a reality from which there was simply no other way out.

As for the content of the document itself, it is really bad for us, but we should not make it worse than it is in reality. In particular, there are rumors about handing over Meghri, which is absolute nonsense. It is only a matter of unblocking the transport routes in the region, including from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan, but this means that the transport routes from Yerevan to Nakhichevan through Syunik should be unblocked, including the railway communication between Armenia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which can boost our country’s economic development.

As for Nagorno-Karabakh, or rather the part under the control of the Artsakh authorities, the Lachin corridor from Goris to Stepanakert will see uninterrupted functioning after the deployment of Russian peacekeepers. Communication between Stepanakert and Yerevan must be reliable. The peacekeepers will also ensure the security of the border in this part of Artsakh, so the residents of the settlements within the perimeter of the peacekeepers’ deployment need to return to their homes as soon as possible. The governments of Armenia and Artsakh will do everything possible to eliminate the impact of destruction as soon as possible and provide all the necessary conditions.

The final settlement of the Karabakh issue and the status of Artsakh is of fundamental importance. In this regard, our task has not changed: the international recognition of the Artsakh Republic is becoming an absolute priority, and in fact, there are now more weighty arguments for the international recognition of Artsakh.

Now, I would like to touch upon our further activities in the Republic of Armenia. Our priority is to restore the atmosphere of stability and security in the country, which is the only guarantee of the people’s power.

We must ensure first of all that people fully enjoy their inalienable right to form a government and exercise their power. The government will not give in to the provocations of rebel groups sponsored by the former authorities. The organizers of the riots and many of the active participants have been arrested, many are hiding, but they will definitely be found and brought to justice.

I call on all our compatriots not to give in to provocations and to unite around a government that is determined to live up to the task of getting the country out of this situation while guaranteeing that no one can usurp the people’s legitimate power against plundering the country and returning it to a whirlpool of corruption.

We are reaping the bitter fruits of robbery and corruption when for many decades the country’s wealth and income used to go into the pockets of well-known individuals and not to the development of the army.

Dear people,

Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,

Proud citizens of the Artsakh Republic,

Proud Armenians of the Diaspora,

Our country does have a future, and we must do everything to make this difficult junction an important milestone on the way to that future. And we must learn lessons from our collective mistakes.

 

Many may whether we can talk about a good future after such a disastrous war. Yes, because today there are countries that have suffered the most severe capitulations in the 20th century, but today are among the most powerful nations in the world. They did so after a brutal defeat, with an emphasis on the development of education, science, industry, and democracy, and this should be our next step. And I urge all of us to focus on what we can do to strengthen our country. This will be our best service to the memory of our martyrs, our wounded and disabled servicemen, their relatives, families, mothers, fathers, wives, and children.

The relatives of our martyrs may ask the question of why their loved ones died after all. The answer to this question is one, first of all, to save the people of Artsakh from genocide, to protect our people’s right to survival.

By reviving and developing the country, we will value the blood they shed for the sake of the homeland, the future of their children, their unwavering devotion. Our homage implies daily creative work and education that should improve our country.

And therefore,

Long live freedom!

Long live the Republic of Armenia!

Long live the Artsakh Republic!

And long live our children who will live in a free and happy Armenia!

We bow to our martyrs’ memory!

Despite his appeal to power, the western press and his own people appear to have turned on Pashinyan, see The Guardian News. He refuses to concede to those who oppose him as the rabble over the cessation agreement continues. A call for Pashinyan to resign likewise comes from the west as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of the Western United States likewise calls for his resignation. The ARF has “denounced” the “dangerous tripatriate agreement” made between Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan to end the conflict. In this statement, ARF clearly lays out that it took part in mustering the defense of the Artsakh vision.

 

“In its turn, The Armenian Revolutionary Federation in the Western Region, through its many chapters, youth and sister organizations, brought the full measure of its force to aid in this effort. Our mission being to serve and defend the rights of the Armenian People.

For 45 days the Armenian Nation stood alone in the face of an enemy hellbent on eradicating us. The silence of the world and super powers was deafening and unforgivable. But the resolve of our people knew no bounds. We committed every resource in our disposal to ensure our survival and that the blood of the Armenian soldier was not spilled in vein. We believed in our people, and we believed in our leaders.” wrote ARF, as was published in this Armenian media outlet. 

The ARF is the modern chapter of the Dashnaks, an Armenian terror group, see documentation. The outrage from extremist groups calls on action from their networks, and increases the likelihood of potential escalations of Armenian extremist violence if no interference is mitigated.