BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Every time Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attempts to rationalize or justify his decision to sign the November 9 agreement he digs himself—and the entire Armenian Nation—deeper into a hole, emerging from which becomes more and more difficult, if not impossible.
His insincere mea culpas are often followed by baffling statements that seem to indicate his inability to grasp the gravity of the losses and consequences that the country, and the nation, must grapple with since the signing of the November 9 agreement.
On several occasions, when responding to lawmakers’ questions in parliament about the surrender of Shushi, Pashinyan has demonstrated that he does not comprehend the vital and strategic importance of Shushi, not only historically, but in the present day.
Pashinyan made the most egregious statement about Shushi on Wednesday, again in response to a lawmaker’s question, when said that essentially was not an Armenian city.
“I would like to bring to you attention the fact that before its liberation more than 90 percent of Shushi’s population were Azerbaijanis. Are you trying to say that, with more than 90 percent of its population being Azerbaijani, the city of Shushi was Armenian with that status?,” said Pashinyan.
The operative word in that statement is “liberation,” which signals that the city was being occupied by Azerbaijanis, thus requiring its liberation, which our heroes did in the 1990s Karabakh war.
Pashinyan’s ignorant statement shows a disdain for the Artsakh Liberation Movement, and specifically the liberation of Shushi, without which Armenians would not have been able to achieve victory in the war. The Shushi Liberation of May 9, 1992 cemented Artsakh’s victory over Azerbaijan and allowed us, as a nation, to reclaim our historic lands from occupiers, who were using Shushi to rain down rockets and bullets on innocent civilians in Stepanakert and elsewhere.
Pashinyan’s remarks on Wednesday only add credence to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s false declaration that Shushi will become a critical Islamic and Turkic cultural hub.
Back in November, Pashinyan also said that Shushi was a bleak, dark and dreary city, adding that if Shushi were so important why weren’t more steps taken to revitalize it.
Pashinyan not only does not comprehend Shushi’s historic importance as a centuries-old Armenian capital and cultural center, but he also fails to understand that by agreeing to surrender Shushi, he has given up a critical strategic territory for the security of Artsakh.
Pashinyan has adopted this deferential attitude toward the concessions he agreed to on November 9 in order to deflect blame and responsibility for the fact that by signing the document he, essentially, signed away our homeland.
This attitude was also at display on January 11 when Pashinyan signed another agreement, this time to open Azerbaijan’s borders and allow the free-flow of transportation by Azerbaijan through Armenia’s Syunik Province.
Of course, for Pashinyan, the silver lining was the economic benefits that Armenia would allegedly gain by this measure, despite the fact that Aliyev didn’t waste a moment to hail the decision as a means for Turkey to have unabated access to the region and to Armenia.
On several occasions, since November 9, Pashinyan has insisted that the Karabakh conflict settlement is far from over, stressing, among other things, the issue of Artsakh’s status, which he says still needs to be determined and has urged the international community to engage in that process.
How are international mediators supposed to negotiate Karabakh’s status and advance the issue of self-determination for the people of Artsakh, when Armenia’s leader continues to make callous and dangerous statements that not only jeopardize the security of Artsakh but call into question Armenia’s official commitment to that process.
Aram Hamparian, the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, accurately framed the situation in an email exchange with me on Friday.
“The already hard work of truth-telling in the international arena—against the flood of lies coming from Turkish and Azerbaijani lobbyists—is made all the more difficult when Armenia’s prime minister cites twisted stats and makes false claims about Shushi, Syunik, Artsakh’s survival and Armenia’s sovereignty,” Hamparian told me.
Since November 9, we have witnessed that lay citizens of Armenia and Artsakh have been forced to bear the brunt of Pashinyan’s decision on daily basis, while he has taken every opportunity to accuse and discredit those who have questioned his actions, and continues to make compromises and concessions in the name of our homeland.