By Harut Sassounian,
Not a day passes without Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan making a new blunder.
This is what happens when a yellow journalist becomes the head of government. Most Armenians, blinded by their utter dislike of the former leaders, welcomed him initially with open arms.
Fortunately, Pashinyan’s popularity has plummeted from 80% five years ago to 13% last month. Over the years, various Armenian polls have indicated a steady decline in his ratings. Nevertheless, he remains in power and refuses to resign, especially after his calamitous mismanagement of the 2020 war, resulting in the loss of most of the Republic of Artsakh and the deaths and injury of thousands of Armenian soldiers.
Pashinyan has made so many mistakes that it is hard to mention them all. His biggest blunder was recognizing the Republic of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, thus dishonoring the sacrifices of thousands of dead and wounded Armenian soldiers. He had no right ‘to gift’ Artsakh to Azerbaijan, since the territory of the Republic of Artsakh did not fall under the jurisdiction of Armenia.
Among Pashinyan’s many other blunders are: swinging a hammer in the air during the electoral campaign in 2021, threatening to bash the heads of his political rivals and lay them on the asphalt. He then disparaged Armenians’ long-held devotion to Mt. Ararat and criticized two of Armenia’s most cherished state symbols: the coat of arms and the national anthem.
More recently, Pashinyan complained about the 1990 Declaration of Armenia’s Independence, the initial document that paved the way for the establishment of the Republic of Armenia, after seven decades of Communist rule. He wrongly stated that the Declaration of Independence fomented conflicts with Azerbaijan and Turkey which is at odds with his ‘peace agenda.’
The Declaration of Independence had referred to the 1989 unification act adopted by the legislatures of Soviet Armenia and the autonomous region of Nagorno-Karabagh. It had also declared that the Republic of Armenia supports the “international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” Subsequently, Armenia’s constitution referred to the Declaration of Independence.
Last week, on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Pashinyan stated: “A critical analysis of the text of the Declaration shows that we eventually chose a narrative and content based on the formula that made us part of the Soviet Union; namely, a confrontational narrative with the regional environment that was to keep us in constant conflicts with our neighbors.”
Pashinyan misinterpreted the Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union as being “based on the formula that made us part of the Soviet Union.” His faulty explanation is the exact opposite of what the text actually stated.
Pashinyan went on to push forward his unrealistic and defeatist ‘peace agenda’ to normalize Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. He does not seem to understand that begging for peace does not lead to peace. This is simply a formula for more humiliation and war. While blindly pushing for peace, he contradicted himself by stating that Azerbaijan is committing genocide against Artsakh Armenians. How can genocide and peace coexist?
Pashinyan’s many criticisms indicate that he is opposed to all symbols and values of the independent Republic of Armenia. His eventual goal is to appease Azerbaijan and Turkey by eliminating all references to Artsakh and giving up the pursuit of genocide claims from Turkey.
In the meantime, Pashinyan has completely forgotten the dozens of Armenian prisoners of war who have been detained and tortured in Baku since the 2020 war. Not only he has taken no action to liberate them, but has not even mentioned them. This is the result of his failure to have Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously exchange all their prisoners of war, as stated in their 2020 agreement. Instead, right after the war, Pashinyan released all Azeri prisoners in return for a small number of Armenian prisoners.
Furthermore, after occupying most of Artsakh, Azerbaijan has taken over parts of the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Pashinyan has made no effort to dislodge the enemy. Protecting Armenia’s borders is one of the key responsibilities of the Prime Minister.
Pashinyan’s security agents silence all those who disagree with his defeatist ‘peace plan,’ whether they live in Armenia or the Diaspora. Patriotic Armenians and non-Armenians who support the Armenian Cause are banned from visiting Armenia, while the inhabitants of Armenia are harassed and arrested if they dare to protest or criticize Pashinyan. In the meantime, Turkish denialists and extremist grey wolf members are free to roam Armenia and insult the memory of Armenian Genocide victims at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.
This is the exact opposite of what a democratic country should be, where freedom of expression is the basic right of the people. Regrettably, a man who came to power claiming to establish democracy and democratic freedoms has done the exact opposite. All powers and decision-making authority is concentrated in the hands of one man who consults no one and listens to no one. Neither the Ministers nor the Parliament nor the President nor the courts have any say in Pashinyan’s autocratic decisions.