Between the years of 1988-2018, I could not imagine any Armenian being interviewed by a news outlet in the center of Yerevan who said that Artsakh is Azerbaijan. Over the course of the 44-day war, by the way, Azerbaijanis were forcing our captured soldiers to say the same thing. But it’s one thing to say something like that when someone is holding a gun to your head, and it’s another thing entirely when that is what our compatriots truly believe, and they express that voluntarily.
The paradox is that these are people who support the leader who said that Artsakh is Armenia and that’s it. (Of course, Pashinyan’s true supporters express the opinions that Artsakh is Azerbaijan or that it is not important, and not people who are paid to participate in ‘support rallies’ or who are brought to the rallies using administrative resources).
Societal degradation, naturally, did not begin in 2018. Ever since May of 1994, our authorities and the political and social elites have failed to instill in the minds of the people the idea that our victory in the war was one of our most important historical achievements over the centuries, and they should be maintained. All other problems should have secondary importance in comparison. In 2018, a government came to power, which, regardless of the aforementioned slogan (‘Artsakh is Armenia’) expressed that ‘degraded’ perception of the homeland and the state.
When it is said that we were not prepared for the war, several reasons are mentioned justifiably. But the main reason, in my opinion, was that society was unprepared; they did not realize that Artsakh is our home and that the people of Artsakh are our brothers and sisters. And now, after our defeat, representatives of different parts of society, in support of the current authorities, publicly say that it’s fine because that was Azerbaijani territory and nothing bad happened. Can you imagine what people from Shushi and Hadrut think of us who were deprived of their homes? Or the people who still live in their native homeland?
But the most essential thing is that people who do not feel pain over the loss of their homeland do not understand that the lack of that pain cannot take place partially; national degradation does not take place partially. In other words, it is impossible to be a ‘proud citizen’ of the Republic of Armenia and believe that Artsakh and its people ‘are not ours.’ That is a path straight to the loss of Armenian statehood and ethnic cleansing. This is not an exaggeration; if we are able to come to terms with the fact that we were pushed out of Artsakh easily, then it will not be an issue for Turks and Azeris to push us out of Armenia, too, in the coming decades. Especially since Aliyev frequently speaks about his ‘right’ to do that.
Perhaps everyone agrees that Turkey’s strategic goal is for there to be no Armenian state and for Armenians to not live in Armenia. In that case, shouldn’t we be concerned about the fact that Turkish leaders are commenting on developments in Armenian domestic politics for the first time in history and expressing their unwavering support for Pashinyan?