Trip to Yerevan (part 2)

In the previous article, I have already touched on the reasons for which I decided to go to Armenia.

The opportunity to be acquainted with the public opinion of the country with which we are in a state of war is difficult to overestimate. I repeat that it was not easy to get the consent of the authorities in Baku, and then in Yerevan, and, in total, it took many months for all approvals.

I would like to thank the official structures of both countries for this opportunity. Special thanks to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, which accredited the Azerbaijani journalist. This step caused a flurry of criticism and accusations in Armenia and, probably, will not stop for a long time. A lot of criticism is heard in Azerbaijan, where the fact of the trip was perceived by some as an act of surrender or betrayal.

However, let us come back to the journalist. Personally, I, and probably, many in Azerbaijan were primarily interested in the question: what has changed in Armenia after the change of power, what are the people's moods, is there any hope that it will be possible to agree with the Pashinyan team.

This interest was openly declared to all our interlocutors, and I asked everyone how they assess the mood of their society. From the interviews already published, the answer to this question is obvious. If to summarize the statements and assessments of the interlocutors, they are approximately as follows:

1) We (Armenians) do not trust you;

2) You must take the first steps and prove that you will no longer fight;

3) Karabakh and the areas around it will not be returned, and in general, this issue is not for us, but for Karabakh;

4) We are not afraid of war, and you will not achieve anything by force.

Here is an approximate set of standard answers, which, apparently, are mandatory for official and unofficial persons, and few people in Armenia can say otherwise. I am not sure that everyone in Armenia thinks that way, but the number of other opinions hardly exceeds 5-10%.

It seemed to me that the "velvet revolution" and the coming to power of the Pashinyan team rather radicalized Armenian society in the issue of the Karabakh conflict. These sentiments can be described something like this: the corrupt regime of Serge Sargsyan was ready to surrender the regions around Karabakh in order to retain power. However, after the overthrow of a corrupt government and the establishment of democracy, the people will not allow this.

The euphoria from the fact that the hated regime was able to shift and all other issues can now be resolved is felt everywhere. Pashinyan has great support, despite the fact that no one has formulated his tactics and strategy in domestic and foreign policy. All assessments boiled down to the fact that the government is preparing a program for economic breakthrough, protection of national interests and preservation of continuity in foreign policy.

The approach of the new government to the conflict has so far expressed itself in a proposal to speak directly with Karabakh. It is difficult to guess what Mnatsakanyan and Mamedyarov are talking about behind closed doors, but officially, each of the parties is in the same position. Therefore, the overall ratings, if not pessimistic, are neutral.

My interlocutors (politicians and experts) for some reason were unanimous in the opinion that Baku should take the first steps. What prevents Yerevan from making its gesture or step? Such a question came across a misunderstanding, and even surprise. He said that we make heroes of the murderers, what to talk about after April 2016, and ban the communication of civil societies at the state level, and force Armenophobia.

Tevan Poghosyan, Advisor to the President of Armenia, said, "Every time you reset the level of our relations, instead of going forward. A few years ago we had contacts, meetings and discussions of various issues, today there is nothing."

The impressions of meetings and conversations with Armenian politicians aggravated by the severity of the problem of Armenian-Turkish relations, which are extrapolated to Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

"The recognition of the tragedy of 1915, the recognition of the genocide will open the way for the promotion of cooperation between Armenia and Turkey; but there is another way. All previous governments of Armenia, including the current one, consider it possible to establish relations with Turkey without preliminary conditions: opening borders, creating diplomatic relations. Reconciliation, of course, can come after the recognition of the genocide. Over time, Turkish society will come to the need for such recognition," Tevan Poghosyan believes.

The famous speech of the President Erdogan on the 100th anniversary of the events of 1915 in Yerevan is called "insincere" and is considered a conjunctive one. "Until that day, the same Turkey signed the protocols on the normalization of relations with Armenia, but did not ratify them. What prevented Erdogan from doing this if he sincerely wanted reconciliation? Turkey had its own calculations, and this step (appeal to the Armenians) was aimed at reducing tension and influencing opinions in some countries," the adviser to the Armenian President said.

My other interlocutors also consider the events of 1915 not to be doubted and do not hide the fact that the current borders between the countries are considered illegal, such as Kiro Manoyan, one of the leaders of the oldest party in Armenia, Dashnaktsutyun. This party was an active participant in the events of 1915. According to a large number of historical documents recognized by Western historians, Dashnaks were the main political force, seeking secession of the eastern regions of Turkey and the creation of an Armenian state there.

"The Young Turks in 1914 urged us to persuade Russian Armenians not to fight against Turkey. We advocated that the Armenian citizens of each country should serve their state. As a result, Russian Armenians fought against Turkey, and Turkish Armenians were simply killed," says Manoyan. To the clarifying question: whether the killed Turkish Armenians fought against the Turkish government, Manoyan gives a positive answer.

Should the government defend itself if insurrection is on its territory? Mr. Manoyan replied that there was no rebellion throughout Turkey, and the authorities simply had a goal to kill civilians.

He agrees that the great powers used the Armenians to weaken the Ottoman Empire, but the Turkish authorities, represented by the Young Turks, took advantage of the situation to clear the territory of Armenians and other Christians - Bulgarians and Greeks and turn Turkey into an Islamic state.

The co-chairman of the European party Tigran Khzmalyan formulated the philosophy of this issue: "The main driving force of Armenian solidarity is to prevent the repetition of similar events in the future. This is the link of society. " Although this problem is connected with another state of Turkey, in the public consciousness it is inseparable from the Karabakh conflict.

Referring to the historical aspect of those events, Khzmalyan expressed a rather unusual version that behind the sufferings of the Armenians in 1915 there was the German idea of ​​access to the Baghdad and Baku oil.

To get there, Germany wanted to implement the Berlin-Baghdad railway project through the territory of the Ottoman Empire. It was necessary to build a railway to the oil fields. It was necessary to have 150 thousand workers to build a branch from Kayseri to Baghdad (modern Syria), and this could only be done by "Armenians who have earthworks skills". The idea was developed by the German General Staff in 1903, and the Turkish authorities agreed to resettle 150 thousand Armenians (800 thousand with family members) from Eastern Anatolia to this building and their lists were drawn up in advance.

However, the First World War began, the Ottoman Empire began to lose territory, and the British helped raise Arab uprisings against the Turks, and deported the Armenians. Against this background, they suffered. "Our fault is that we know how to work, and the oil turned out to be heavier than our blood. But we will never allow this to happen again," noted Khzmalyan.

If you try to sum up some results, it is difficult to say that the current situation is favorable for finding solutions. It may be objected: why did you have to go there at all, what was new they said there, and so everything was clear.

However, it is necessary to begin the process of communication once and the role of civil society in this is great. Contacts and communication are necessary even during war. The recent meetings of the leaders of the two countries are another confirmation of this. Speaking of the war, there was a conversation with an Armenian military man called the commander of the first sabotage and reconnaissance battalion. We will tell about this in the next article.

(To be continued)


Trip to Yerevan (Part One)

Levon Zurabyan: We Must Be Ready for Mutual Concessions

Armenia is under Russian occupation - Tigran Khzmalyan

Tevan Poghosyan: We have been waiting for 70 years to return Karabakh

Kiro Manoyan: We are for unification of Armenia and Karabakh


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