‘We can bring back Hadrut and Shushi through international agreements’

My Step deputy Hovhannes Igityan considers Nikol Pashinyan to have done the right thing by visiting Yerablur. He assured that the Prime Minister, regardless of who that may be, must visit Yerablur. When asked what the applause and the ‘Nikol Prime Minister’ chants that the opposition labeled the ‘Operation to Capture Yerablur’ did for Armenia’s divided society, Igityan responded that people from the “old times” joined and saw that people are united in difficult times, and they announced a veto of contradictions that day. He used the gatherings of Armenians on April 24th as an example. Within this context, Hovhannes Igityan would prefer for days of mourning to be like that as well. “Let’s avoid pointing fingers. Someone said this, and the other said that he shouldn’t have went… If we didn’t find that sense of generosity within ourselves that day, then there would have been a serious issue.”

By the way, Hovhannes Igityan did not go to Yerablur due to his health condition. He is unable to walk long distances.

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Regarding the “Movement to Save Armenia” protests, Hovhannes Igityan said that the nation should not unite around an individual, but an ideology instead. “But this does not mean that I reject the political struggle. I accept that every person and every spiritual leader has the right to political struggle without violence. I want one thing: for our state to operate in accordance with the law. I don’t want our police officers to use inappropriate violence against anyone. But I don’t want to see a few people trying to cause trouble against other people because the police then find themselves in a difficult situation.”

Hovhannes Igityan does not want our main messages to be lost within what he calls “internal political agitation.” And they, according to him, include the following. What happened against Armenia and Artsakh was an injustice, Armenia considers Turkey’s role in this to be unacceptable, we consider this situation to be unacceptable, and there are issues with Armenia’s long-term security. “The security system of any country, especially that of an unrecognized one, is solved not only by the army, but also by the international legal resolutions. The Serbian minority and the Albanian majority in Kosovo feel safe because the world found a model that works for them that doesn’t include an army and peacekeeping forces. The world found a new model that essentially involves semi-recognition, and it works. We should also find an international model that will protect the Armenians in Artsakh, including the people of Hadrut and Shushi. It is not possible to return Hadrut to Artsakh militarily today, but it is possible through resolutions because Shushi and Hadrut were always a part of Artsakh according to all resolutions. And all Armenians who were displaced from those areas must have the right to return.”

Regarding the agreement signed on November 9th, Hovhannes Igityan said, “That document is a very unfair and mandatory document. Everyone agrees, including Russia. But even one of the main points of this unfair document was that refugees should be allowed to return to their homes safely. What, does that only apply to Azerbaijanis? We cannot resolve that issue militarily?” Hovhannes Igityan did not wish to speak about who is to blame for the document. But, he said that we could have defended the Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher villages of Hadrut, which were recently handed over to Azerbaijan, with international agreements. “We saw that even the Russian peacekeeping troops were unable to uphold Armenians’ right to live there. Everyone is trying to find someone to blame; why were those villages handed over as well? We can find someone to blame. I am trying to find reasons and solutions. I dare to say that we could have held onto those villages if the peacekeeping forces arrived sooner.” He is unable to say why the peacekeeping forces did not do so. But he believes that, if all Armenians do everything possible to find a solution for the residents of Hadrut to return, we will be successful.

“Any uniting ideologies become more powerful in cases where society is divided in two, but we do not have any such ideologies,” Hovhannes Igityan said, adding that, if his ideas are not acceptable, then he no longer has any use in politics.

Nelly Grigoryan

The interview took place on December 22nd

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