Normalization at the Expense of National Interest, 7 April 2020

In an intereview with, Director of the National Academy’s Institute of History Ashot Melkonyan shared his comments on the proposed “normalization” with Turkey, expresssing concern over the Armenian authorities’ “defeatist approaches” threatening a sacrfice of the national interest.

“When your neighbor is not willing to accept the guilt and atrocity of his  predecessors, it is ready to repeat the crime committed by its ancestors, and is thereby considered  a genocide perpetrator country which is not willing to normalize its relations with us. If that is what the authorities understand as a “normalization”, it will be only and exclusively at the expense of the Armenian national interest – instead of Turkey’s confrontation with its historical past,” he said, ruling out any positive scenario promising normal interstate relations after a revision of attittudes.

The historian said he believes that Turkey could have easily opened the interstate highway connecting  Armenia with Russia through Ghazakh (Azerbaijan) before moving to unblock the Meghri corridor, “a pan-Turkist route in essence”. “Why don’t they open the roadway leading to Russia from Ijevan (Tavush region) via Ghazakh? That too, is a border with Armenia. Turkey could have been kind enough to oepn the Kars-Gyumri railway. Those are things that practically stem from our interests, opening our gateway to Europe on the one hand and to Russia on the other. Whereas Turkey has now clung to that project of restoring the 47km railway passing through Meghri in our cuontry’s south. And that virtually means that we are not going to have any gains in essence. Economically, we will not benefit from that railway while the politico-military aftermaths may be catastrophic indeed, as Turkey and Azerbaijan will be mutually connnected to transport practically anything, including military supplies and troops. Furthermore, the Armenian side will have no chances at all to oversee the operation of that route. And it is not limited only to the railway. The November 9 ill-fated agreement [the Russia-brokered deal ending the war in Karabakh] makes reference to communications, i.e. – routes which presuppose at least two motorways for them – one probably through Sisian [Syunik region] and the other through Meghri [Vayots Dzor],” he said.

Asked to comment on the Armenian authorities’ errors and guilts that led to the defeat in the second Karabakh war, Melkonyan said he now very hardly comes to terms with what is being defined as “capitulation”.

“That means an unconditional self-sacrifice … which was only pshycologically a capitulation for us,” he said, considering the halt in the negotiation process the Armenian authorities’ major error that eventually escalated the situation into a war.

“The end to the negotiation process itself caused the Azerbaijani side to reject the OSCE Minsk Group format, declaring it non-viable and opting for a military solution instead. And they did actually succeed in the propaganda domain, convincing the world that they had no choice but to wage a war. It was our error. The authorities must accept their guilt; they must accept that they failed to avert the process of tense relations in time, which logically led to a war,” he added.

Melkonyan also blamed the Armenian authorities for a failure to react to the Azerbaijani leader’s menacing remarks declaring Zangezur, Yerevan and Sevan as historical parts of his country. “The Armenian side did not absolutely react to that for quite ununderstandable reasons. Many now ask why our strategic partner [Russia] was silent when Armenia’s territory was already at issue. I have my answer to that: before complaining of the strategic ally’s inaction, they could have been kind enough to react to themselves with the necessary dignity and only later call the strategic partner’s attention to Azerbaijan’s territorial encroachments, calling for reaction by the strategic ally and member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. But if we do not react to the enemy’s encroachments, what can we possibly demand from friends?” he asked.


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