By Dr. Arshavir Gundjian C.M.
Special to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator/Abaka
It is high time for Armenians across the globe to engage in serious analysis of the present geopolitical status of Armenia and Artsakh in order to try to make a realistic projection of the short- and long-term future.
A bird’s eye view of the last few years’ startling developments must begin with the fateful 44-day war that led to a disastrous conclusion, followed by an overwhelming political whirlwind that appears to have taken hold of our country. The unprecedented intensity of challenges encountered during the following months have created an environment where gradually the general population, and even the elite, appear to have become politically desensitized and ready to accept any future, short of the sad alternative of physically leaving the homeland in search of greener pastures in distant lands.
A dispassionate Armenian observer would necessarily admit that based on the information currently accessible to the general public, it is impossible to rationally identify any path that is currently being followed that would lead to a promising, let alone optimal, future for Armenia. On the contrary, Armenia and Artsakh face a realistic threat to their very existence.
If this is the case, then we must admit that the current situation is potentially catastrophic. Yet we must realize that it is not impossible nor too late for preventive steps to be taken, and, therefore, such steps must be taken as soon as possible.
Armenians, both within and outside Armenia, better wake up! No conscientious Armenian has the right to remain in a bliss of indifference when our multimillennial nation is at such a fateful critical juncture.
Before continuing, it is imperative to demonstrate that this article is sounding a legitimate alarm rather than initiating an unjustified panic.
Admittedly, most casual visitors today to Armenia return overly impressed and even overwhelmed by the apparently vibrant life they witness in Yerevan. Nightlife is glittering and restaurants are overbooked. Modern new buildings rise everywhere, while the economy is said to have grown at an unprecedented rate. Several international technology and trade conventions are being held in Yerevan, and finally, the recent Global Armenia meeting brought together some 600 Armenian individuals from all over the world, all ostensibly full of ideas and good intentions to serve Armenia.
On the political scene, feverish and often illogical activity at the highest levels is taking place, with Armenia’s representatives meeting with important international leaders of both Western countries and Eastern neighbors in such incompatible political nerve centers as Moscow, Brussels, Sochi, Paris and Washington, one after the other in a relatively short period of time.
While Armenia seems to be at the center of such intense international political attention, aggressive Azerbaijani incursions are unceasing at the borders of Armenia and Artsakh. In fact, the tone of Azerbaijani rhetoric, with consistent support by Turkey, is at its highest level of belligerence, nothing short of where it stood just before the 44-day war. For some unexplained reason, Azerbaijanis are not intimidated by even the most direct high-level messages of condemnation from the US, France or the European Union. As for the normally expected deterrent of “our ally Russian peace-keeping forces,” it is effectively inexistant. The latter have conveniently and consistently adopted the treacherous technique of openly “looking the other way.”
Given this overview, Armenian authorities should certainly continue to pursue all the diplomatic avenues at their disposal, no matter how effective or ineffective the outcomes. However, when it comes down to the question of whether Armenia can be protected against a sudden and brutal Azerbaijani invasion, certainly neither our authorities nor any Armenian individual should be under the illusion that when Aliyev’s forces cross Armenia’s or Artsakh’s borders, equipped with the most advanced lethal arms they continuously buy with the support of their generous military budget, either Russian guns or Western or NATO forces will stop them before they reach the heart of Yerevan, which Aliyev has shamelessly and repeatedly claimed to belong to Azerbaijan.
Is this darkest yet realistic perspective not enough yet for Armenia to wake up and immediately engage in the overdue intense national effort of building its own independent defense system with the highest quality equipment and greatest numbers possible? This must take unconditional precedence over any other activities.
This implies Armenia and Armenians, wherever they live, must confront a formidable and highly taxing challenge for an unpredictably great number of years. The good news, however, is that there is at least one example as a precedent of a nation which has met an almost identical challenge in the past, and brilliantly succeeded in overcoming it, right after it achieved its independence. And it certainly has not been easy for it either!
You must have guessed it. Israel was in a much more precarious position in 1948 at the wake of its independence. And yet, we all know where it is now. I would certainly not suggest that we repeat their feat. On the other hand, we have all the reasons to expect and demand that Armenia tries to emulate and become at the very least a mini-Israel, provided of course, that Armenians truly and seriously commit to pursue their own nation-saving effort with a resolve similar to that of what has been the case of young Israel and the international Jewish community in and after 1948. This resolve still remains almost the same, some 75 years later.
Fellow Armenians around the world, we better realize that no nation on this planet ever receives a pass for a free meal.
The current leader of Armenia himself, PM Nikol Pashinyan, just like Ben Gurion in 1948, has no choice but to put this issue at the top of his agenda. Ben Gurion is said to have gathered in 1948 a team of some dozen or more Jewish leaders in a secluded location in Israel’s mostly desert countryside, and bluntly informed them that he will not let them go before they come up with a plan to build a secure nation called Israel. Pashinyan must do the same – and he is in a much better position today than Ben Gurion in 1948.
The Global Armenia meeting was a great show. However, it is certainly not where such an effort can originate.
The brain power and knowhow certainly exists in Armenia proper and in the diaspora. The task to scan the database and discreetly put together a national strategy agency must be headed by no other than Pashinyan himself, with the help of a small core of key personalities, irrespective of their political orientation, in order to underline the vital national importance of this task. This must be planned even better than his trips to Moscow, Paris and Washington. We would like to believe that Pashinyan is able to undertake this task, in which case the great majority of the Armenian nation will certainly back him, irrespective of today’s often tasteless and disgraceful public manifestations. If, on the other hand, he shies away from this admittedly difficult yet nation-saving challenge, he cannot blame those who will rightfully hold him responsible for our nation’s bleak and seriously fatal future perspectives.
If, on the other hand, such a nonpartisan nation-saving leadership emerges in the very near future, all major Armenian organizations, including the Church, all political, cultural, charitable or other organizations of all tendencies will be under tremendous moral pressure to put aside any reluctance towards this cause lest they lose all public support.
This true mini-Israel model for what I like to qualify as a “proud and secure Armenia” will lack neither brain power nor expertise in all the needed fields, nor any funds that are needed to build a respectable national firewall against any foolish Azerbaijani or Turkish attempt at aggression. Ben Gurion was also the one who launched the extremely successful Israel Bonds that provide Israel to this day with funds contributed not only by Jews but anyone else, including possibly some of the readers of this article.
I will repeat what I have expressed on several past occasions: Pashinyan and others in his government must not hesitate to launch Armenia Bonds. Unfortunately, Karen Zakaryan, executive director of Armenia’s Financial Market Members Association (FINARM), revealed in a recent recent 1in.am TV interview that this hesitation is in fact happening right now. If launched in the kind of positive environment prescribed above, Armenia reconstruction bonds, as I had suggested in an unanswered open letter to Pashinyan back in October 2020, will become a continuous source of funds for the implementation of the aforementioned vital effort. That effort must follow a reliable plan directed by the current prime minister and headed by a nonpartisan National Strategy Agency of the highest professionalism. It will work to build a prosperous “proud and secure Armenia.”
It is only then that no neighboring adversaries will dare to disturb Armenia.
Only then Armenia will be able to build its industry, economy and quality of life, in an atmosphere of security, and legitimately become a beacon for all Armenians around the world.