By Harut Sassounian
Throughout their long history, Armenians have always expected that some foreign power would rescue them from their enemies. Over the centuries, they hoped for assistance from the Romans, Byzantines, Russians, French, Americans, and now Iranians. But, no one has ever come to save them. One would think that after such a long string of disappointments, Armenians would finally learn the lesson that no one will rescue them. They need to save themselves.
Given such unrealistic expectations, Armenians keep going from one potential rescuer to another, attempting to find anyone that would assist them. No one helped save the Armenians when Ottoman Turkey was committing genocide against them; no one saved them when the survivors returned to Cilicia only to be attacked and killed by Ataturk’s armies; no one helped them in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Azeris were massacring Armenians in Artsakh; and no one helped Armenians when Azeris with the support of Jihadist terrorists, Israel and Turkey conquered most of Artsakh, killing and maiming thousands of Armenian soldiers and civilians.
After all of these disappointing experiences, Armenians were hoping that Russia would step in and save Artsakh. When that didn’t happen, Armenians loudly complained that Russia had betrayed them. Armenians kept demanding that the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) protect Armenia from repeated Azeri encroachments on its borders.
Armenians don’t seem to understand that each nation’s priority is to defend its own national interest, not that of Armenia. No one is obliged to help Armenia, even when a treaty of mutual defense is signed, which is viewed as a mere “piece of paper.” Rather than abandoning their unrealistic expectations, Armenians have now turned to France and the United States hoping they would come to their rescue!
It is encouraging that in recent months Armenia signed contracts with India to purchase a large number of missiles and artillery. Finally, the Armenian Government is realizing that it needs to defend the country rather than rely on the mercy of others.
Last week, Armenians around the world were elated that the French Senate adopted a pro-Armenian resolution. However, Armenians should neither exaggerate nor minimize the significance of this resolution. The French Armenian community has carried out commendable lobbying activities for many years to create such a sympathetic atmosphere about Armenians and Armenia. That is the main reason why this resolution was adopted by the French Senate with a near-unanimous vote of 295 in favor and one against.
The comprehensive French resolution strongly condemned Azerbaijan’s invasion of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and demanded:
— The immediate withdrawal of Azeri forces from Armenia;
— The release of all Armenian prisoners of war held by Baku since the 2020 war;
— The preservation of Armenian cultural and religious monuments;
— That the French government with the United Nations Security Council refer Azerbaijan’s aggression to the International Criminal Court;
— That France sanction Azerbaijan, seize the assets of its leaders, and place an embargo on the importation of Azeri oil and gas;
— The establishment of a French humanitarian office in Artsakh;
— The strengthening of the defense capability of Armenia;
— The deployment of an interposition force under the aegis of the international community;
— The recognition of the Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) Republic;
— That France ensure Azerbaijan engages in peaceful negotiation with Armenia to establish a lasting peace.
Azerbaijan reacted harshly and condemned the French Senate for adopting this resolution. By taking counter-measures, Azerbaijan risks disrupting its diplomatic and economic relations with France. However, for this non-binding resolution to have any effect, it must be adopted by the French National Assembly and backed by the President and Government of France.
Armenians need to have a cool-headed assessment of the French Senate resolution. They should not expect France to save Artsakh or Armenia. They need to continue developing Armenia’s military so they can defend the country’s borders, while welcoming the assistance of any country, without having any unrealistic expectations. Remember that the French Senate and Parliament adopted resolutions after the 2020 war, urging the French government to recognize the Artsakh Republic, which did not materialize. This is not surprising as Armenia itself does not recognize the independence of Artsakh. To avoid further disappointments, Armenians need to view the French Senate resolution as an important moral and diplomatic support, but not a military one.
Another message of support for Armenia and Artsakh came this week when 120 prominent celebrities and intellectuals issued a joint statement in the French “Le Figaro Magazine,” including Claudia Cardinale, Gerard Chaliand, Costa-Gavras, Alain Delon, Bernard-Henri Levy, Yves Ternon, etc. They wrote: “More than a century after the perpetration of the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman leaders in 1915, the same people are once again victims of two authoritarian regimes which, in Baku as in Ankara, provoke inter-ethnic hatred to endow their unchallenged power with a bloody new trophy….”
It is now up to the Armenian Government and Armenians around the world to see to it that the French Senate resolution and the statement of the 120 celebrities are used to provide additional support for Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh.