BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
“In Armenia they constantly fight for peace;. they don’t hand over land on which the blood of our boys has not dried.”
This was the response by Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to the outgoing United States Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills who in a farewell interview published by EVN Report on Tuesday discussed among other things the Karabakh conflict saying that any resolution would require return of some of what he called “occupied territories,” using the same language as Azerbaijan does in referring to Artsakh.
Mills is completing a three-and-a-half-year tour in Armenia.
“The harsh reality is that any settlement is going to require the return of some portion of the occupied territories,” Mills to EVN Report’s Maria Titizian, adding that maintaining the current status quo was not a favorable option for Armenia. He went on to make an odd assessment by blaming the rampant corruption in Armenia by mainly the former ruling elite on the closed borders resulting from Karabakh conflict, saying: “corruption didn’t grow because there are evil people here,” he said. “The ground was pretty fertile for it because you have closed borders and a very small economy, so it’s very easy to control markets.”
“I was surprised when I first got here and found out that most Armenians I met were adamantly opposed to the return of the occupied territories as part of a negotiation settlement,” saying that he believed that the so-called “occupied territories” were part of some kind of “land for peace” deal, emphasizing that return of lands has long been a party of the Madrid Principles that are currently serving as a basis for the negotiation process. It is interesting that Mills only mentioned the “return of territories” provision of the principles and not the ones that actually are designed to ensure security and stability in the region.
His tone deaf statements on Artsakh have caused an uproar from Yerevan to Stepanakert to Washington, Brussels and Los Angeles. Ambassador Mills’ statement became fodder for criticism by not only government officials in Armenia and Artsakh, but also advocates for justice for Artsakh and its right to self-determination.
Artsakh’s presidential spokesperson David Babayan was puzzled by Mills’ statements saying that the people of Artsakh want peace in return for peace, calling Mills’ assessment of “land for peace” ludicrous at best.
Babayan argued that Artsakh would never loosen—or compromise—its security and warned that Mills’ statements are essentially drawing the Armenians to become victims of yet another Genocide.
“There are no ‘occupied territories’ in Artsakh,” declared Babayan.
“Ambassador Mills rounds out his time in Armenia with reckless remarks about Artsakh. Sadly, his was a tenure marked by moving goalposts and missed opportunities. Too many lectures, too little action,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
Mills’ statements on Artsakh were not the only eyebrow raising points in his interview.
“Ultimately, what we want for Armenia is that it follow its own foreign policy based on a very basic principle; Armenia is a sovereign nation, it should make its own decisions based on its own interests and the interests of the Armenian people,” Mills told EVN Report.
Yet it seems his wish for Armenia to have a sovereign foreign policy hinges on whether Armenia advances the United States’ agenda and priorities in the region, because at one point Mills admonishes Armenia for not having done enough to push back Iran, Armenia’s neighbor to the south and a country with which Armenia enjoys economic and friendly relations.
He said if Armenia wants to be taken seriously as a member of the international community it has to speak out when Iran “engages in destructive behavior that violates international law or the norms of behavior.”
“We will be looking to Armenia to join others to speak out,” said Mills directly countering his earlier statement about the U.S. wanting Armenia to “follow its own foreign policy.”
Interestingly Mills makes what I would like to call demands on Armenia after commending Yerevan for partnering with the U.S. on other international initiatives, such as Genocide prevention.
“We’ve worked with Armenia on genocide prevention and Geneva, these are important global issues and we’re happy and pleased that Armenia is playing a role,” said Mills before outlining his—and the United States’—vision of what Armenia should do to have a seat at the table. That’s rich coming from a country that while applauding Armenia on its efforts to prevent genocide, has done everything to not only deny the Armenian Genocide but to work alongside Turkey to promote its own denialist policies, which have paved the way for Ankara to utilize the same tactics on its own people in Turkey.
Ambassador Mills’ incongruent , and often patronizing if not destructive statements, completely diminish and undermine his vocal support for the Velvet Revolution, or the “April/May events” as he calls it, and seem to indicate that the U.S. is encouraged by the people’s movement in Armenia only if it suits its needs.
No thank you Mr. Ambassador and good riddance. We can hope that Lynne Tracy, President Trump’s nominee to replace Mills, will have a different approach on Armenian issues, but I am not holding my breath.
For ambassador mills to have any serious consideration he shouldn’t be lecturing about tiny armenia not condemning violations of international norms by Iran by tiny when the USA is afraid to call the events of 1915 genocide and works closely with turkey in advancing their campaign of denial. Shame shame shame. I hope he will at least be more honest in his next job.
The fact of the matter is all three presidents have talked about returning land for peace. In effect, Mills hasn’t said anything that Armenian presidents have not said before. Madrid Principals, to which Armenia is a signatory state, is all about land for peace. Now, based upon these realities what has Mills said to cause such nervy reaction by Mr. Khatchatourian. Drama for drama’s sake?
The entire Armenian and Artsakh population is and was against any such deals and compromises right from the start. The very reason, other than corruption and Mob mentality, that at least two of the three former Armenian leaders were kicked out of office was because of trying to do what the population was against. When a government single-handedly decides what is good for its people without consulting with them and getting their consent, we can safely assume all agreements and treaties, non-binding at that, are NULL and VOID!
what a POS.
I agree with you, What a POS.
right- when the turks and azeris leave our occupied lands-about 1 third or so of what they occupy now for their empires-we may consider peace with them- look at the ottoman history-dirt and creeps-genocide and sodomy to all that did not fit their frame- never will we leave-they are dwelling on our homelands
Armenians already returned some of the land during the April war.
I don’t think so. In any major skirmishes the borders on the line of contact can shift but this was no giving up lands at all. This was the 2nd major Azerbaijani defeat since the last war of liberation. The April 2016 events showed that Azerbaijanis are the same incompetent cowards as they were back then. They were humiliated once again. After investing twenty billion petrodollars in five years purchasing deadly weapons from Russia, Ukraine and Israel, hiring foreign mercenaries as they did back in the 1990s and this time including ISIS criminals, getting military aid and consultations from terrorist Turkish generals, they were still unable to accomplish anything tangible. They took a dirt hill to show off their fake and artificial flag and just for that they paid a heavy price. They lost close to a thousand of their special forces with several times that number in casualties, not to mention destruction in hundreds of millions of petrodollars in military hardware and massive collateral damages.
You would think that an artificial state whose coward leader constantly keeps talking about war and destruction with belligerent anti-Armenian racist rhetoric that given a chance he would put his money where his mouth is and instead begs for a ceasefire within 48 hours with massive casualties shows that he is an insignificant desperate man who will do anything to hang onto power with no regard to all the losses he suffered. He learned that when push comes to shove the Armenians will always make him look like a little insignificant cockroach that he is!
Ignore his comments. It goes to show you cant trust the USA..These comments are very reminiscent of Mathew Bryza who was paid by Azerbaijan and eventually married an Azeri women. Mills and the new incoming US Ambassador, needs to be told that the Madrid principles are dead and never were agreed upon and should be considered a non starter. As for Iran, its only real “crime” is that they don’t adhere to the Zionist new world order and the USA is its enforcer lap dog apologist, talk about ripe for corruption…The USA doesn’t even acknowledge the Armenian Genocide because of these same reasons and same actors controlling all foreign policy.The USA never acknowledges the Azeri cease fire agreement breaches that costs Armenian lives let alone the “corruption” and gross human right violations that are pandemic in Azerbaijan. I can almost guarantee you that Bolton, the USA security advisor, soon to visit, will be similar in tone especially regarding Iran. He is another tool for the Zionists pretending. These are no friends of Armenians AND NEVER WILL BE..Armenia doesn’t have to please the USA or anyone. Build up the Army. Start including diaspora military units. Always prepare for war with the eye on destruction of anything Turkish. Especially the Azeri oil pipe lines if necessary.Start a clandestine nuclear program. Start talking comprehensively about a permanent free Artsakh in all negotiations. Including Artsakh in all negotiations is a must. Make clear that these are rightfully ancient Armenian lands stolen via the illegal Treaty of Kars and that there is nothing to give back as there is no “occupation”, just liberation. Also demand the rights for all Armenians refugees who were expelled from Azerbaijan with nothing. Again goes to show the USA in reality is no friend of Armenia and no beacon of justice. Ignore all of this but expect the same from the next useless install..
I’m in total agreement with you Joe. A state of the art strong army is all we need. Nothing has changed over millennia.( Իրաւունքը միշտ զորաւորին է ) justice and rights belong to the strong.
Unfortunately you are right: ” justice and rights belong to the strong”
What a shame he could not leave his post with a dignified exit. Good riddance!
Ambassador Mills should go back to history and find out the truth. This is like saying that US should give back New Mexico
Is he on drugs?
This guy sounds so out of touch with reality that makes you wonder how he was appointed to be the US ambassador to Armenia with his biased anti-Armenian views. After reading the interview you get the feeling that he talks more like an Azerbaijani agent representing their interests than he does like an ambassador. I wonder if he has any stocks in Azerbaijani oil industry or is getting kickbacks from the terrorist leader of artificial Azerbaijan, like some former US politicians lobbying for them, or he is projecting his anti-Russian views on the Armenians due to close relations between the two.
The funny thing is that all the while he wishes Armenia would have her own independent foreign policy the entire foreign policy of his own government in the region, in the Middle East in particular, has been hijacked and is dictated by foreign agents who have long infiltrated the US government. Not only that but they use the US army as their expeditionary force in the region and the US treasury as their ATM machines. He needs a major reality check. Then again what more can you expect from such hypocrites whose government engages in provocative occupational wars around the globe, once every decade or so, thousands of miles away from the US shores yet he thinks that Armenians with 90% of their ancestral homeland still under Turkish and Azerbaijani occupation need to compromise, by giving up liberated Armenian lands, with a dictator and a chicken-hawk of a fake Azerbaijani president who not only has been amassing deadly weapons in tens of billions of petrodollars but that he is an ardent anti-Armenian racist psychopath with genocidal intentions who has been banging on the drums of war for years threatening not just the peaceful Artsakh population but Armenia’s as well.
Somebody should have educated the ambassador about the recent Armenian history because he sure seems to be clueless with his remarks AND someone should also have reminded him that the border with Armenia and Turkey was deliberately closed by Turkey, the only Muslim Turkish terrorist state in the NATO alliance headed by US, and with no provocations from Armenia in order to force Armenia into submission in favor of their Azerbaijani criminal co-conspirators. I say good riddance to him but too bad he was not shamed and kicked out long before his ambassadorial term was over!
He clearly does not understand Armenia and Armenian people. No one has moral right to tell Armenia who went through Genocide, lost 40% of her population and 90% of her homeland to give back even more – while the entire world stood and watched how our women and children were being raped and killed.
Mr. ambassador, we know very well our rights, and we know how to deal with our enemy without your advice. My advice to you, read our history.
If closed borders created fertil3 ground for Armenia’s corruption then what created fertile ground for Azerbaijan’s corruption?
I guess he is woking towards US interests is trying to play on behalf of Turkey, which despite all the tariff wars with the US, is a NATO ally. Turkey is behind most political and military pressure on Armenia.
This is not a friendly message.
Great article. How about including a return of Historical (western) Hayastan for de-escalation of warfare and moving toward peace. Thx for the strong, well articulated message, Dr. K.
Այս մարդը կ՚երեւայ որ մաղձով տրամադրուած է հայերուն նկատմամբ չնայած որ տարիներ դեսպան եղած է Հայաստանի մէջ։
Նախ եւ առաջ յիշենք որ ան կողմ էր Ամուլսարի հանքին որ ոչ ինչ է, ..բայց կործանարար մեր երկրին։ երկրորդ ան կոչեց Սասնա Ծռերուն որպէս ահաբեկչական խումբ։ երրորդ ան յորդորեց Նիկոլ Փաշինեանին որ կողմ կանգնի Սերժի ստեղծած նոր սահմանադրութեան, Չորրորդ ահա կը խօսի հողեր վերադարձնելու մասին։ ինչ լկտիութիւն!
Ambassadors dont give personal opinions. If they do they get fired like a previous US ambassador who acknowledged the genocide. If you’re not happy with what this man has said you should take it up with the US establishment.
For those pushing a pro-Western cause for Armenia you only have yourselves to blame for empowering this snake and the government he represents to stick their nose into Armenia’s affairs. Stop whining and educate yourselves as to who our enemies really are.