Serj Tankian, Dashnaktsutyun and the Continuing Media Blitz Against Armenia - August, 2011

Are some Dashnaktsakan leaders finally coming to their senses and realizing that their glorious party has been at least in part being run by operatives working for foreign intelligence agencies? I certainly hope so because the party has for too long been penetrated by special services of the West. A recent internal matter has revealed some political tension within party ranks. Apparently, while some in the ARF's Armenia branch seem to be smart enough to be seeking a middle-ground in their dealings with the ruling administration there, the party's Hollywood branch in sunny California on the other hand would much rather play Rambo.

The apparent discord between the Armenian and Californian branches of the ARF may be yet another example of how president Serj Sargsyan's diplomatic maneuvering has weakened and discredited Armenia's political opposition. President Sargsyan has also recently managed to outmaneuver and defang Levon Petrosian's gang of criminals and mercenaries by a series of measures. Nevertheless, I truly hope that at least some in the leadership of the ARF are indeed coming to their good senses because the party, at least on paper, holds a lot of potential for Armenia. But knowing how irrational Armenians can be when it comes to politics (and knowing the Cold War era mentalities prevailing within the ranks of the ARF), I'm not holding by breath.

As a matter of fact, the ARF's Western branch in America is actually preparing to boycott president Serj Sargsyan's upcoming visit to the United States.

Instead of attempting to engage Armenia's ruling administration with direct negotiations as any normal truly concerned political party would do - as even Levonakans have done recently - a significant portion of the ARF today is willingly disengaging itself from Armenian politics, thereby further marginalizing itself. At a time when the Armenian nation needs to present a cohesive united front against its numerous enemies, the ARF is not fully there. At a time when Armenia's internal matters need to be discussed by all segments of Armenian society, the ARF refuses to talk. Why are they acting so indignant? Last I checked, Artsakh seemed fully intact. The Armenian Genocide recognition pursuit continues. The dreaded "protocols" have been all but forgotten. President Sargsyan has even opened the door (albeit rhetorically) to liberating Western Armenia... So, what's the ARF's problem now?

This party irrationality and destructive behavior can only be explained by simply admitting that outsiders have been ruining our party. But the ARF isn't the only thing that caught my attention this week.

World famous American-Armenian singer of SOAD was in Armenia recently. Serj Tankian was there to perform a benefit concert for the official opening of a promising new center for technology in Yerevan known as Tumo ( Tankian was also given the honor of meeting with the Armenian president. During his brief visitation, Tankian did and said a lot and for what it was worth, his personal take on the overall situation in Armenia was generally speaking positive... yet CIA operatives working at the Armenian desk of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), their lackeys working in the American-Armenian news press and the Washingtonian "think tank" in Yerevan known as Civilitas - primarily saw Tankian calling for an end to "corruption" in Armenia.

End to corruption!!!

It's that term again.

Well, I would now like to share with you some of my extended thoughts regarding this matter because the issue at hand is much larger than the ARF and Serj Tankian put together. As a matter of fact, the issue in Armenia today is much larger than "corruption" in Armenia.

Foremost, calling for an "end to corruption" is almost like calling for the sun to stop rising in the east. As long as humans inhabit the world, there will be corruption on earth. What is corruption? Primarily - bribery, bid fraud, electoral fraud, organized crime, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, collusion, embezzlement, price manipulation and general lawbreaking. And if a nation has laws curbing monopolistic activities, we can also throw capitalism onto the list of corruption.

Now that we know what corruption is... we now simply need to better understand what an Armenian is.

Here is something for the reader to ponder:

As long as Armenians remain overly ambitious, tribal (clan oriented), shrewd, arrogant and self-centered, corruption in Armenia will never be remedied. In fact, much of the national traits we Armenians take pride in today actually serves to cultivate the culture of corruption in Armenia. Yes folks, no matter how you look at it, corruption is cultural as it is natural and governments are an accurate reflection of the society they rule over.

Looking at Greeks and Armenians on the one hand and looking at Germans and Japanese on the other hand will tell us a lot about national traits and the role culture plays in any given society. But I don't think Armenians are yet ready to comprehend or accept any of this. Nevertheless, the point is, corruption cannot be eliminated, especially in a nation populated by fiercely independent and overly ambitious people. At best, corruption can only be somewhat managed.

But I wouldn't want to unduly come down on Armenians.

Corruption in certain parts of the Western world is much more severe than in Armenia. The fundamental difference is that in the Western world much of the corruption manifests itself in the form of governmental legislation and a lot of it occurs away from the public's view. Corruption in the Western world is reserved for high-level officials, governmental agencies, Wall Street firms, financial institutions, industrialists, multi-national corporations, the press, energy industry, the military, arms industry, pharmaceuticals industry, Zionist entities... to name only a few.

In other words, corruption in the West is simply not for the little guy!

The acquired wealth in the United States for instance is so immense that much of the severe financial and governmental corruption that goes on in the country gets for the most part unnoticed by much of the general public. The acquired wealth in the Western world is so immense that the crumbs that fall off the banquet tables of the Western elite - the 10% percent that owns 90% of the wealth - is enough for the masses of the Western world to live comfortable middle-class lives. 

In stark contrast, corruption in Armenia is petty and primitive - everybody, including their grandmothers do it - and a lot of it is in the public view. Moreover, when an embattled nation stuck in a terrible geopolitical region is small geographically and demographically, and poor in resources, any form of corruption, regardless of degree, will immediately have an adverse impact on the general public.

Anyway, discussing "corruption" is not where I want to go with this commentary because I want to address the psychological operations (psy-ops) being waged against the Armenian spirit.

As a concerned Armenian, Serj Tankian had the birthright to speak up against the culture of corruption in Armenia as well as the importance of properly protecting Armenia's fragile ecology; and I'm very glad he did.

But Tankian also spoke against genetically modified foods. Unknown to the general public, Washingtonian entities such as one of the world's most corrupt organizations, the USAID, have been pushing GMOs on developing nations for many years. Well, how about RFE/RL and their Armenian minions titling their articles - "Armenian rocker wants US to stop exporting genetically modified foods to Armenia." Serj Tankian also said that Armenia has done “pretty well” since gaining independence two decades ago. How about RFE/RL and their Armenian minions titling their articles - "Armenian rocker says despite its many problems Armenia has in fact fared pretty well." Serj Tankian also made an overly simplistic/naive comment about the negatives of business and politics being in the same seat in Armenia, calling it an orgy. How about RFE/RL and their Armenian minions titling their articles - "Armenian rocker foolishly thinks business and politics can ever be separate - anywhere, especially in the West." Serj Tankian also seemed very impressed by the recently opened Tumo center in Yerevan which he described as "an incredible non-profit high-tech venture that brings technical training on animation, web design, film making, etc.. to the youth in Armenia." How about RFE/RL and their Armenian minions titling their articles - "Armenian rocker rocked by Tumo!"

Since the above alternatives more closely reflect the truth about Tankian's visit to Armenia, it has no propaganda/psychological operations warfare value for RFE/RL officials and their many Armenian whores throughout Armenian society. As a result, none of the alternatives in question would have gotten passed the editor's desk at "Radio Liberty".

I guess I wouldn't be able to land a job with them anytime soon. Nevertheless, what I have in effect done here is to reveal how one can easily spin, manipulate or exploit any given situation towards any self-serving purpose.

In fact, political spin is not difficult.

It's actually very easy to manipulate facts and, by extension, people. The difficult part in any strategic propaganda campaign is to first convince the targeted sheeple that the propagandist actually "cares" about them. Once a government or a political entity manages to do exactly that, then everything else becomes much easier for them. Needless to say, since the middle of the twentieth century, since the rise of Nazi Germany and Communism to be exact, fooling the global population into going along with their self-serving political agendas is exactly what Western officials have managed to do. Criminals of the Western alliance have in effect convinced the global community that they are indeed the beacons of freedom and the pillars of democracy and that their lifestyles, their money, their liberty, their multiculturalism, their secularism, their politics, their "pop culture", as well as their language is something that should be emulated and worshiped throughout the world.

Think of it this way:

If we the people of the world want to dress like them, if we want to dance like them, if we want to sing like them, if we want to eat their foods, if we want to purchase their products, if we want to trade in their currency, if we speak their language... then how will we ever think of them as our enemies!?

In fact, recreating the world to their liking is what Globalism is all about and we the people are helping them do it! Therefore, forget their massive nuclear arsenal, their aircraft carriers, their satellite guided bombs, their impenetrable tanks, their invisible stealth fighters, their cruise missiles... their real power rests in the financial and cultural hold they have over the globe.

Through flashy Hollywood movies, pop music, an entire gamut of Non-Governmental Organizations, gay activists, the International Monetary Fund, militant feminists, McDonald's, Wall Street executives, Coca-Cola, CNN, BBC, the almighty Dollar, religious cults, blue jeans, USAID and the catalyst upon which all of the aforementioned travel upon, the English language, they have managed to invade and/or subvert virtually every nation on earth. In virtually all cases the targeted population is totally unaware of this invasion. And when these unconventional weapons-of-mass-destruction fails to enslave a targeted nation, they simply resort to using their vast arsenal of modern conventional weaponry.
Disclaimer: I don't want the reader to confuse western/European culture with the political West or the Western alliance. From the time of the renaissance to the age of enlightenment, European civilization, western culture, has been the very heart and soul of modernity and human civilization. What the political West has been promoting around the world in recent decades has nothing to do with traditional/classical western civilization. What's being spread worldwide is a perversion known as Globalism and American "pop" culture. In fact, the political West is destroying western civilization. Whereas ideological movements of the past directly appealed to the human intellect, what the West represents today appeals only to the simplest folk and to those living on the fringes of human society. Activists that promote Western agendas in their nations tend to be derived from the lowest or the strangest strata within their societies. Simply put, the political West appeals to the animalistic nature found in mankind. Thus, their target is always the ignorant, materialistic and often self-destructive masses of the world. This is why they try to impose the nonsensical notion of democracy, the rule of the ignorant masses, onto targeted nations with the intention of undermining them.
Because of our materialism, because of our self-hate, because of the absence of God in our lives, because of our political ignorance and because of our general indifference towards the world we live in, we the people of the world have in fact enabled them to become the monsters that they are today. In our pursuit of material gains and self-gratification, we have willingly enslaved ourselves to neo-imperialists.

And we are all paying the price today because the politically imposed belief system of the political West known as Globalism (a modern form of Bolshevism in many respects) has made the traditional family all but disappear in the western world; it has destroyed the economies of countless nations around the world; it has bankrupted the United States; it has bankrupted Europe; it has enslaved hundreds of millions in the developing world; it has killed hundreds of thousands in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America; it has turned nationalism into a bad word and it has turned Christianity, in particular apostolic Christianity, into something that needs to be attacked, feared or mocked.

Without God, country and family, we are all nothing but animals. And as animals is how Globalist criminals of the Western alliance are treating the humanity today.

Now, getting closer to home.

What Western psychological operations such as RFE/RL and their Armenian minions are engaging in is anti-Armenia propaganda and their political agenda is very clear to those that understand the destructive agenda of the Western alliance. It concerns me that their political exploitation/manipulation/spin is not being noticed by many Armenians today. As a matter of fact, not only is their political propaganda not noticed by the general public but as a result of their constant psyops against Armenia the terms "corruption" and "Armenia" are now registered as interconnected deep within the public's subconscious.

It's gotten to such an alarming point that the very word "Armenia" is now synonymous with "corruption" and "oppressive regime" for many if not most American-Armenians. In final analysis, that result, the conditioning of the sheeple's minds and breaking the Armenian spirit is what their campaign has been all about.

There is another troubling aspect to all this.

The RFE/RL produced article about Tankian's visit to Armenia was proudly reproduced in Asbarez (an ARF publication based in California) and in the Armenian Mirror Spectator (yet another Washingtonian mouthpiece in the American-Armenian community). This isn't anything new because the American-Armenian press has been using RFE/RL produced disinformation and anti-Armenian psyops for many years. My criticism here, however, is aimed primarily towards ARF's Asbarez for the simple reason that they are self-proclaimed Armenian patriots. If they are Armenian patriots, why cant staffers at Asbarez use genuine Armenian sources for its news about Armenia? Why is Asbarez using a media source founded by the CIA? Why is Asbarez in the business of regularly featuring negative stories about Armenia and ignoring the positive developments there? The answer to these questions are obvious for those of us who know who and what runs the ARF hierarchy.

The intellectual poverty, psychological imbalance and political irrationality of many American-Armenians today was fully expressed recently by the well known Cold War relic - Edmond Azadian of the Armenian Mirror Spectator. In one recent article he authored, Azadian used objectivity and rational reasoning to defend the Armenian church against organized attacks it has been subjected to lately. But in another recent article, he resorted to viciously attacking the Armenian state, going as far as calling for the need to "kill" those officials suspected of being Armenia's "enemies within".

Really?! Kill?! Had this Azadian character used such threatening public rhetoric against American officials in the land of the free and home of the brave, Homeland Security Agents agents would have escorted him directly to an undisclosed interrogation room... and water-boarded his old ass!
Please see Edmond Azadian's articles at the bottom of this page. For additional perspective on the typical American-Armenian psyche these days, I have posted a piece by Azadian on Russian-Armenian relations as well.

Another vicious anti-Armenia campaigner making noise recently in the United States is Ara Manoogian. Ara Manoogian is the representative of the so-called Shahan Natalie Family Foundation. He is also an ANCA member and a "Senior Fellow" at Policy Forum Armenia, yet another Washington-based group that engages in anti-Armenia disinformation and psy-ops. Ara Manoogian has written an impressive biography about himself; as all of these creeps do to impressed the unsuspecting sheeple. Read it, but don’t allow his lofty rhetoric or perceived benevolence fool any of you. He spends a significant portion of his public time essentially calling for the overthrow of the Armenian government. He has also recently prepared a lengthy essay in which he passionately argues against donating money to the United Armenia Fund.

Ara Manoogian character is clearly one of the sworn enemies of the Armenian state. The following are his websites and the essay in question:
The Truth Must be Told:
Martuni or Bust:
Shahan Natalie Family Foundation:
White Paper on “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund:
This freak reminds me of all those well-spoken Arab low-lives we regularly see on CNN and BBC excusing and encouraging the bombing of their homelands by the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. In fact, these types of filthy traitors and mercenaries in our diasporan communities will perform exactly that duty if one day the Western alliance decides to put Armenia on the chopping block as well. And mark my words folks, that day will come the very next day after Russian troops leave Armenia.
Where do these types of vermin crawl out of?

Well, most of the traitors and mercenaries posing as professors, historians, journalists, political experts or humanitarian activists on television these days get their primary training within various prestigious US universities. Many of them are imported into the United States on scholarships. After graduating, they enter various prestigious Washingtonian institutions where they are trained further by experienced "experts" in their respective fields.

This is how these low-lives become the well-dressed and well-spoken mercenaries we see on CNN. It's basically a large network of well paid whores from around the world. But that's not all. There are also many Washingtonian funds that encourage the establishment of politically driven or inspired Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). Even the name NGO is disinformation. Generally speaking, American NGOs are as non-governmental as the Federal Reserve is federal. Many NGOs, if not most, are in fact connected to or exploited by the Western world's vast political establishment centered in Washington. There are well-funded NGOs today for virtually anything and everything under the sun. There also are so-called political "think tanks" that play the role of adviser and/or analyst in targeted nations. Simply put, what we have is a very well organized, highly interconnected and well funded system/network that is meant to project the political agendas of the Western alliance into targeted nations.

These organizations often look very innocent or even quite benevolent on the outside but the reality is that many of them play subversive roles around the world. We have seen enough of them in places like Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, South America, Central Asia and the Far East to know how they operate. We are currently seeing them at their bloody worst in places like Libya, Syria and Iran. Again, if the day ever comes, it will be these creepy Ara Manoogian types in our communities that will be excusing, explaining and/or encouraging Western aggression against Armenia.

But this begs the question:

Are these "rights advocates", "political activists" and "community leaders" just plain stupid or are they simply carrying out orders from Washington?

I’d hate to think that Armenians knowingly work against their homeland. That is why I'd much rather believe that those amongst us that work for Western political interests in Armenia simply do so because they foolishly think they are doing good for the young republic by promoting a Western political agenda for it. Suffering from hypnosis and ignorance, many of these Democracy Now(!) idiots do not realize that they are actually promoting a destructive political agenda.

Sometimes it's a distinct psychological/emotional disorder that brings these types of people into Washington's service and sometimes it's the money and the fringe benefits (such as traveling opportunities and Ivy League schools for their children). Sometimes what draws these types of people to Washington's lap is the overall prestige, the feeling of power, that comes along with serving a global empire. Regardless of the reason, however, these men (and women) convince themselves that by serving the devil they are doing something good for themselves and their homeland. In final analysis, however, it does not matter to me whether they do what they do wittingly or unwittingly because the end result of what they do serves to undermine and threaten the fledgling Armenian state. Seeing that many of the Western alliance's Armenian agents are derived from the Armenian diaspora, the American-Armenian community in particular, I must say that the Armenian diaspora is fast becoming a serious liability and a strategic risk for Armenia.

Their information war against Armenia has been relentless.

Armenians are being gradually worn down psychologically through negative media coverage.
It's a multi-pronged attack. The Armenian state is being attacked; the Armenian military is being attacked; Armenia's alliance with Russia is being attacked; even the Armenian church is now not spared. Make no mistake about it, this is a form of warfare. Since they are unable to bomb Armenian cities like they do elsewhere (only due to the strong Russian presence in Armenia), they are bombarding Armenian sensibilities instead.

The hopelessness and despair found within Armenia today is not a result of the nation's gluttonous businessmen or its corrupt officials since all nations on God's earth have them and most of them have it much worst than Armenia. The sociopolitical panic is instead being created by the ubiquitous and relentless media attacks against Armenia by the controlled news press in the West and Washington's numerous lackeys within Armenian society. This situation has seriously infected the general population in Armenia so much so that most Armenians today look at developments in Armenia through a negative prism provided by the nation's so-called opposition and Washington's powerful psychological warfare operations. See the following blog entry for additional information -
As we have seen throughout our history and continue to see today, the worst enemy is the one that is from within. Another example of Western agents in our midst is the Armenian and Iranian desks of the CIA founded operation known as "Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe". A well known ARF member, Mardo Soghom (aka Mardo Soghomonian) was is charge of running the Armenian desk at RFE/RL for many years ( He has recently been entrusted to oversee the Iranian desk. Yes, the Iranian desk! Just imagine the kind of clout this treasonous character has in Washington. This Mardo character was married once to the daughter of one of the ARF party's most well known leaders, Hrach Dasnabedian. As you can see, the Cold War spirit found within the ARF, that which the CIA exploited to its fullest throughout the Cold War years is live and well today.

Anyway, getting back to Serj Tankian. Although it's amusing that people are actually eager to hear what a mere rocker thinks about politics and the world, I, nevertheless, do agree with Tankian's comments - with some reservations of course.

Foremost, all Armenians, including our world-famous Tankian, need to fully comprehend that there is a Washington-based information campaign against Armenia. In military circles, such a campaign would immediately be recognized as psychological warfare operations or psyops. Alarmingly, various different elements within Armenian society are participating in it either for their self-serving interests or simply because they are in fact funded by Washington. As a result of all this, a significant portion of the Armenian people today are psychologically sick. They are deeply infected by the campaign. Armenians today are only able to see Armenia in negative terms. Since all they hear and read about is negative news, they can no longer register positive news in their troubled heads.

For a lot of these people - if Armenia is hell, then any place outside Armenia simply must be paradise.

But please don't misunderstand me. I am not whitewashing or making excuses for the truly bad things that occur in the homeland. Yes, things are bad in the country! Yes, there is corruption there! Yes, there is unemployment! Yes, there is inequality! Yes, there is a stagnant economy! Yes, there is general dissatisfaction! Yes, let's discuss Armenia's problems. Let's protest against Armenia's monopolists. Let's fight for a better society there... But let's also not constantly feed on the poison being provided to us by our enemies and in doing so blow the real situation in Armenia out of proportion.

As bad as it seems, the problems we have today are quite natural for the poor, landlocked and blockaded fledgling nation in the Caucasus. And, relatively speaking, things aren't that bad. As a matter of fact, things in Armenia should have been-could have been much worst. But they are not thanks to Armenian resilience.

Let's just stop comparing our fledgling nation in the Caucasus with the best in the develop world and realize that most nations of the world today (whether Armenians believe it or not, even Georgia!) are in worst shape than Armenia. But whereas other people jealously protect the honor of their nation, way too many Armenians today revel in spreading poison about Armenia. Again, it's the infection, the psychological ailment I referred to above. And all this negativity, the destructive criticism, the poisonous attitudes, the cynicism, the tribalism, the vicious gossip and the political ignorance are only working towards making things worst in the country. It's a vicious circle Armenians are blindly participating in.

Although there are a lot of problems in the homeland, there is a lot more good. Despite the very bad geopolitical neighborhood, despite the double blockade, despite its problems with Georgia, despite the specter of war threatening Iran, despite the constant state-of-war in Artsakh, despite the nation's tiny consumer market, despite its undereducated and inexperienced citizenry, despite the utter destruction of Levon Petrosian years, despite its destructive opposition, despite its negligent diaspora, despite its abundance of gluttonous businessmen and corrupt politicians, despite its severe lack of natural resources.

Despite all its problems - Armenia today is actually doing quite well.

In fact, despite all the nasty stuff I outlined above, Armenia is one of the world’s most stable and most crime free nations.

Against all odds and obstacles, both foreign and domestic, Armenia is gradually moving forward under the very capable leadership of president Serj Sargsyan. With Moscow protecting its back militarily, Armenia is gradually becoming a major political player in the region. And with a new mayor in city hall, Yerevan has simply not been this clean, this orderly and their pretty since the nation's independence some twenty years ago. Looking at the progress in Yerevan, some of our hopeless pessimists say - "That progress is only in Yerevan. What about the rest of the country?" Well, development has to start somewhere and such things normally start in nations' capitols. Besides, for all intents and purposes, Yerevan is about 1/3 the country and it has only been in recent years that has Armenia begun to develop.

All-in-all, I'd say what we have in Armenia today is a pretty good start for an embattled nation stuck in a deeply troubled region of the world.

While I do see progress and hope in Armenia, I do not have unrealistic expectations or illusions. The economic situation of the small, poor, blockaded and landlocked republic stuck in perhaps the worst geopolitical environment in the world will be a tough one to properly remedy. Our neighbors are not the French or the Germans. Heck, we don't even have Russians as neighbors. Our neighbors are Turks, Kurds, Iranians, Azeris and, the worst of the bunch, Georgians. Let's face it, in final analysis, it's Hayk Nahapet's fault as well as the fault of every single Armenian monarch that did not have the foresight to expand Armenia's borders to the sea. Armenia's economy will not reach its full potential even if Armenia's "oligarchs" miraculously transformed into pretty angels overnight simply because Armenia is a victim of its geographic location.

As with all normal nations, Armenia will have growing pains. Due to Armenia's many predicaments, this growing pain may be severe at times. But there are measures being implemented that will help the nation's economy benefit from the large Russian market. Closer integration to the Russian market can fix a lot of Armenia's economic woes especially after Georgia gets fixed and Artsakh gets settled. Having said that, as long as Armenia remains landlocked, as long as Armenia does not share a common border with Russia, Armenia will struggle to survive.

Echoing president Sargsyan's wise words, I'd like to say that the current generation gained Armenia's independence and went on to liberated a significant portion of historic Armenia. The remaining occupied portions of our historic and geostrategically vital homelands in Georgia and Turkey needs to be liberated by future generations. But the planning for this can start today.

Regarding our president, even some political oppositionists are now admitting that president Serj Sargsyan's administration has been a marked improvement over previous two administrations in Armenia. That folks is what I call - progress!

But our history teaches us that good Armenian leaders were never truly appreciated by the Armenian people. Seeing first-hand the utter irrationality, selfishness and political illiteracy of many Armenians these days, I have no reason to believe that the situation would be any different today or in the near future. As a result, I really don’t expect Armenians to wake-up from their blinding political ignorance and free themselves from their overpowering egos any time soon to partake in true nation-building. Sadly, as it has been in the past, the task of nation building in Armenia will be left to a very small number of clear-thinking and selfless individuals, its Golden-Core as I call it, and for obvious geopolitical reasons nation building in Armenia will also be entrusted to Moscow.

Constant attacks against the fledgling state... constant attacks against the embattled nation's military... constant attacks against the newly revived national church... This all may be masterminded by Washington but as noted above the operation in question is for the most part being carried out by Armenians. As in times past, Armenians are yet again trying to dismantle the Armenian state one brick at a time.

It would have been nice to see our big-talking-under-performing diaspora take Armenia under its wing, but the last twenty years has taught me not to place any hope in the diaspora. I'm an not talking about a superhuman effort such as raising a million man diasporan army. Nor am I talking about large numbers of diasporans repatriating to the homeland. Nor am I talking about diasporans donating large amounts of money to the homeland. I'm simply talking about diasporans establishing or maintaining a physical connection to the Armenian homeland. Even if only ten percent of the Armenian diasapora spent their vacations exclusively in Armenia, Armenia would revert back into being the paradise it was during biblical times. But our "proud" diasporans would much rather spend their vacations in places like Hawaii, Cancun, Bahamas, Paris, Beirut or - Istanbul!!!

It would also have been nice see some constructive criticism and positive or objective outlooks from our people for a change, but most of our self-destructive peasantry today would much rather engage in vicious gossip, fear-mongering and predicting doom and gloom. Instead of trying to be productive and proactive in their nation, many of our nation's citizens would much rather recite the Armenian republic's new slogan - երկիրը երկիր չի - and they seek greener pastures to graze upon. With all this negativity, with all this vicious gossip, with all this poison... no wonder Armenians are no longer able to see hope in the country. But if Russians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Israelis, Serbians, Turks, Kurds or Iranians can see hope in their country and fight to stay in their countries - so can Armenians.

The bottom line is this: Armenia needs political evolution - not a Western funded or inspired revolution! We know what the political West really wants in the Caucasus (hint: it ain't freedom, democracy or gay rights). Today, we have the luxury of experiencing first-hand the true character of the political West. We have seen Washington and friends operate in places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria... We simply don't need their bloodletting to happen in Armenia. Being politically stupid during the Cold War was in a way excusable simply because there seemed to be a greater threat on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Being politically stupid today, however, in this age of egregious Western crimes against humanity, is totally inexcusable.

When Armenians decide to open their eyes they will see that the social and political evolution I speak of has already begun in the homeland, albeit slowly. But we all know that Rome wasn't built in a single day, so wasn't the United States for that matter. When it comes to matters concerning Armenia, Armenians need to be socially and politically proactive, Armenians need to be objective, Armenians need to learn selflessness, Armenians need to be farsighted, Armenians need to engage in constructive criticism, Armenians need to seek ways to work with the current government and not against it, Armenians need to be positive and, more importantly, Armenians need to be patient.

August, 2011


Dashnak Leadership Criticizes Party Branch In U.S.

In a rare manifestation of discord within its ranks, the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) criticized on Friday its largest branch in the United States for deciding to boycott an upcoming event in Los Angeles to be attended by President Serzh Sarkisian. Sarkisian is expected to visit the U.S. in late September to address the UN General Assembly in New York and meet with representatives of the influential Armenian-American community. He will attend an official banquet organized by the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence.

Dashnaktsutyun’s organization in the western U.S. announced late on Thursday that its representatives will not take part in the celebration, in protest against Sarkisian’s track record in office. It said his presence there will “cast a shadow on the idea of independence and denigrate the struggle of our people for the restoration of justice.” In an unusually strongly worded statement issued late on Thursday, the pan-Armenian party’s chapter described the Armenian president as a “discredited” individual who “tramples democracy and democratic values underfoot” in order to ensure “the reproduction of the criminal regime.”

The statement went on to accuse the Sarkisian government, of which Dashnaktsutyun was a part until April 2009, of committing “blatant human rights violations,” controlling the judiciary and sponsoring “oligarchs that continue to relentlessly plunder our people” in Armenia. It also condemned the government’s conciliatory policies towards Azerbaijan and Turkey. Dashnaktsutyun’s supreme decision-making body based in Yerevan, the Bureau, made clear the next day that it disapproves of the boycott.

“Obviously, there are numerous unsolved problems accumulated in the Republic of Armenia,” Giro Manoyan, the Bureau’s foreign and pan-Armenian affairs spokesman, said in written comments to media. “But the 20-year [independence] anniversary testifies to our common victory and achievements.”

“We have no right to be guided by personalized relationships and emotional steps in this kind of events,” Manoyan said. “Instead, we must use this occasion to express our unity and consolidation with such events, while remaining faithful to our principles.”

Manoyan did not clarify whether the Bureau agrees with the harsh assessment of Sarkisian made by one of the party’s most important Diaspora branches. Dashnaktsutyun leaders in Armenia have been more cautious in criticizing the current authorities in Yerevan.

The verbal attacks from the Armenian-American political structure are more in tune with characterizations of Sarkisian regularly made by the Armenian National Congress (HAK), a more radical opposition force at odds with Dashnaktsutyun. They are the clearest indication yet that some Dashnaktsutyun structures and individual members disagree with the party leadership’s cautious stance.

Opening a Dashnaktsutyun congress in Yerevan in late June, Hrant Markarian, the de facto head of the Bureau, called for a “systemic regime change” in Armenia but avoided personal attacks on Sarkisian. He made clear that Dashnaktsutyun will not seek to topple the president with sustained street demonstrations and other radical actions. A declaration adopted by the congress likewise stopped short of demanding Sarkisian’s resignation. Dashnaktsutyun quit Armenia’s governing coalition in 2009 in protest against Sarkisian’s controversial policy of rapprochement with Turkey, rather than his human rights or socioeconomic records.

The nationalist party had joined the coalition after recognizing Sarkisian’s hotly disputed victory in the February 2008 presidential election and essentially endorsing the deadly suppression of post-election demonstrations organized by HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian. The crackdown was ordered by Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian, whom Dashnaktsutyun supported throughout is decade-long rule.

Ter-Petrosian and his associates accuse Dashnaktsutyun of continuing to maintain close ties with Sarkisian. The Dashnaktsutyun leadership dismisses these claims, saying that the HAK itself exposed its readiness to cut secret deals with the Armenian authorities when it embarked on a dialogue with them last month.


ARF-D of West America Against Serzh Sargsyan

ARF-D Central Committee of West America congratulated the Armenian people on the 20th anniversary of independence. In the statement the ARF-D CC welcomes the efforts of the Armenian Consulate General to Los Angeles which organizes a series of events to mark the holiday. A solemn reception in honor of President Serzh Sargsyan will be organized at the Beverley Hills Hotel. In this connection, the CC noted the presence of Serzh Sargsyan, as well as the reception organized in his honor, may discredit the idea of independence and play down the struggle of our people for justice.

The Independence Day cannot be a reason to honor a disreputable president `thanks to' whose policy independent Armenia is getting bogged deeper and deeper for the sake of the reproduction of the regime. Gross violations of human rights, lack of justice and independence of the judicial system and an unhealthy climate have annihilated the belief of the Armenian people in justice and independence. The oligarchs who have taken in their hands the economic system based on monopolies and the leverages of the parliament and government continue to oppress people. The level of social injustice and poverty cause the citizens of Armenia to emigrate, seeking their future elsewhere,' the statement runs.

We cannot honor a president who surrendered in the issue of Artsakh and announced ready to hand over the territories set down in the NKR Constitution. We cannot honor a president who has led Armenia along the humiliating and defeatist path for normalization of relations with Turkey, the ARF-D CC of West America announced. Hence, the CC declared to boycott the reception `in honor of Serzh Sargsyan'.


Tankian Calls for End to Corruption in Armenia

Serj Tankian, the world-famous Armenian-American musician, on Monday called for boosting the rule of law and combating corruption in Armenia, saying that is key to addressing the country’s fundamental problems. Speaking after his latest solo concert in Yerevan, the lead singer of the California-based band System of a Down also criticized a controversial mining project fiercely opposed by local environment protection groups.

He at the same time emphasized his belief that Armenia has done “pretty well” since gaining independence two decades ago. “I think we need to establish the rule of law in this country,” Tankian told a public discussion organized by the Civilitas Foundation, a Yerevan think-tank, and the local office of Counterpart International, a U.S. civic development agency.

“I think having a rule of law in the country from top to bottom will alleviate a lot of concerns, whether it’s traffic tickets or taxes or wages or how many hours someone should work. It’s all connected to this one thing of enforcing the rule of law,” he said. “And the efficiencies created by the lowering of corruption will actually really spur productivity in this country … and that will make it easier for foreign and local investment.”

Tankian drew rapturous applause from the audience when he singled out the need for a strict separation between business and politics. “In Armenia we have business and politics in the same seat,” he stated. “So one of them has got to get off the seat. You know, they can’t be sitting in the same space. Otherwise, it looks like an orgy.”

The rock star, who has mainly performed as a solo artist in recent years, addressed more than 200 civil society members at the end of a nearly weeklong visit to the country of his ancestors. The main highlight of his trip was an open-air concert late on Sunday dedicated to the inauguration in Yerevan of an information technology education center set up by a U.S. businessman of Armenian origin.

Tankian met with President Serzh Sarkisian at the sprawling TUMO Center for Creative Technologies ahead of the concert attended by some 10,000 fans. He received a medal of honor from Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian at a separate meeting on Friday. An Armenian government statement cited Tigran Sarkisian as praising his vocal campaign for official U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. It said the premier, himself a rock fan, also pointed out that Tankian’s visits are important for promoting rock music in Armenia.

Tankian said on Monday that he discussed with Tigran Sarkisian plans by an Armenian mining company to develop Teghut, a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region covered by a 357-hectare forest. The Teghut project, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s.

Tankian heaped praise on Armenian environmentalists campaigning against the project. “I think they are doing a great job,” he said. “I fully and firmly agree with their stance. “I think open-pit mining is very dangerous in this country and everywhere else. I think we’ll be poisoning our lives by opening up that mine in the Teghut forest.”

The outspoken singer revered by Armenians around the world went on to advocate Armenia’s transformation into “a lot more self-sufficient” country because of its geographic location and uneasy relations with neighbors. He called, among other things, for more government subsidies to farmers and a strict ban on genetically modified agricultural products.

Tankian, who will turn 44 next Sunday, cautioned, however, that Armenians should be “patient” in expecting positive changes in their country. “We are a 20-year-old country and in retrospect, if you look at the whole situation, I think we are doing pretty well, despite everything that we talked about,” he said. “It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people. There is a lot of potential, there is a lot of energy.”

Tankian was also “really excited” by the ecstatic and mostly young crowd that turned up for his concert broadcast live by an Armenian TV channel. “It was something I’d never experienced before … It was a level of high that I’d never had before,” he said.


Echmiadzin Under Attack
Armenians seem to have been cursed with a self-destructive gene, which will never allow them to achieve their aspirations. Mind you, the largest and only Armenian Empire was built by Tigranes the Great. That empire was destroyed by the Romans, whose army was led by Lucullus. He had the support of Tigranes’ son, who helped the Roman army to overthrow his father and destroy his empire. In the year 1045, when the Bagraturni dynasty was in decline, one of the Armenian princes, named Vest Sarkis, handed the keys of the capital city of Ani to the Byzantine rulers, thus ending the history of another Armenian dynasty.

In more recent times, by the end of World War I, General Antranik was holding the fortress of Erzerum, with the help of ammunitions and supplies leftover by the retreating Russian Army. Most of the Eastern Armenian soldiers defected, announcing that the area was not their homeland. Thus we lost valuable pieces of historic Armenian territory, perhaps unfortunately, for good.

These days that self-destructive gene has been bugging some people in the Armenian media and in positions of power, to undermine, or to destroy the foundations of the Holy See of Echmiadzin, under the most appealing slogans of “democracy” or “free speech” or defense of “human rights,” without pausing to ponder the long-term damage they can cause.

Echmiadzin has been under Soviet rule for 70 years and is still recovering from the damage of that oppressive regime. Many Armenians, mindful of the historic role of the Mother See, have been supporting and helping the supreme spiritual center to overcome its challenges. Others, however, within and without Armenia, have unleashed an unholy war, based on manufactured gossip and self-serving causes.

This ugly campaign began with some trial balloons in the ARF media, proposing to create a diaspora structure, with Catholicos Aram I of Cilicia, as its titular head. Then the disease spread through the opposition papers in Armenia, namely Hayakan Jamanak and Chorrord Ishkahanutioun, with marching orders coming from the former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who insulted the Catholicos for not joining the political street rallies, which he organized to “dismantle” the “kleptocracy.”

Another tabloid named Hraparak, which seems to be willing to publish any article containing character assassination, for a fee, joined the chorus. Recently, a more influential paper, Aravot, has taken up the campaign, using an illegally-taped conversation between His Holiness Karekin II and the Georgian Patriarch Illya II, showing the Armenian Pontiff in an unfavorable light. That doctored tape was placed on Facebook by Georgians to embarrass the Catholicos. Aravot’s editor, Aram Abrahamian, portrayed the Catholicos in his lead article as “ignorant” and a “mafia figure.” It turns out that Mr. Abrahamian’s TV program was recently removed from “Shoghakat” television chanel, sponsored by Echmiadzin. So much for morality in media in Armenia.

These attacks have not been spontaneous; some quarters must be orchestrating them. We cannot blame all of these attacks on the Catholicosate of Cilicia, however, as much as it may serve the cause of that see. When you have ill will, you can turn upside down any positive initiative or project and criticize, if that is your main purpose.

Thus, the Catholicos develops a program to meet the perennial problem of clergy shortage in the Armenian Church and generates the resources to send 30-40 young aspiring clergyman to the centers of higher learning or major seminaries overseas, some accuse His Holiness of trying to “take over” the diaspora or planning to place his “people” in positions of power. The Catholic Church is strong and unified because the Pope assigns cardinals in different dioceses and no one attempts to play the “democracy” charade. For a long time, in the absence of educated clergy, Armenians have been used to having the services of many pedestrian spiritual leaders, who would be displeased to be replaced by younger and more educated clerics.

Another point of criticism is that a certain monastery has not been renovated. Recently, the issue was around Sanahin (which by the way is being renovated by the Ministry of Culture), ignoring the fact that a dozen other monasteries or churches have been renovated by Echmiadzin.

Armenians have been lackadaisical in their comfortable positions of local feudal lords and they get upset as the church strives to get organized as a unified — and unifying — entity. The cases in point are in Europe, especially in Switzerland and Nice, France, where troublemakers are trying to challenge the church hierarchy, always with the lofty slogans of “democracy” and “free will” of the people.

Following the Genocide and the deportations, Armenians settled in many European countries. Surviving the initial cultural shock, they settled into a more or less harmonious community life. Almost all the churches were local parishes without the framework of a diocese to make them a unified entity.

The new influx of immigrants has changed the scene entirely. Massive migrations from Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Armenia have created an explosive situation, because each group was coming up with a different set of social and political baggage of values. This situation called for local leadership with foresight that could put to best use these differences. Unfortunately, polarization developed in Southern France between Armenians from Turkey and Armenia, and somewhat from Lebanon, reaching a critical situation, especially in Nice.

A crisis developed also in the Swiss-Armenian community, for entirely different reasons. The origins and the development of the Swiss crisis have been amply explained for anyone who has taken an interest to listen, but it has been exploited by some for their own selfish agendas.

The Geneva parish priest, Abel Oghloukian (Manoukian), otherwise an erudite clergy, with a rebellious nature, fomented trouble. Being an articulate person, he was able to enlist to his cause a few local leaders. Oghloukian, rather than using his education and religious training for constructive causes, created problems wherever he was assigned, first Vienna and then Geneva.

He broke his vow of celibacy and got married, contrary to church canons, and Echmiadzin was lenient considering his religious knowledge. In 1992, His Holiness Vasken I had began to form a diocese for the growing Swiss-Armenian community. After his demise, Catholicos Karekin I continued the project, with little success.

And now the situation exploded in the face of Catholicos Karekin II who simply tried to continue the task initiated by his predecessors. It looks like Oghloukian and his ilk rather prefer to keep the Swiss-Armenian community in small parishes, than in unifying into a diocese, where the rebellious priest would remain under the jurisdiction of a Primate.

He challenged Echmiadzin’s plans and was defrocked. In all these local conflicts, certainly no party is blameless. The onus is on the local leadership and particularly outside armchair pundits, who run to the rescue of a rebellious clergy in the name of “democracy,” “right to criticize authority” and so on.

Any freedom, not balanced with constructive responsibility, is reckless anarchy. Yet we find people with a great zeal to criticize without any constructive contribution. The most vocal opposition to Echmiadzin, and for that matter to Armenia, comes from an online publication called Keghart, co-edited by Dr. Dikran Abarahamian. Each issue has an orgy of anti-Armenia diatribes, putting to shame the Turkish and Azeri media. Keghart ran a petition against Echmiadzin “deploring patriarchal order” and in support of the rebellious clergy, rather than criticizing the indignant behavior of the defrocked priest.

Along with a number of insulting articles, we also find an editorial with a headline: “Hands off the Diaspora,” with a further comment that “the scandalous incidents in Nice and Switzerland are not isolated events. They seem to be part-andparcel of a plan to subjugate diaspora communities to the will of disgraceful rulers in Yerevan.” We have heard this same mantra for 70 years in the ARF press. It looks like the anti-Armenia crusade has changed hands and is being taken over by a more virulent group.

Any Armenian, with minimal sanity, would think what’s wrong if Armenia and the diaspora work hand in hand, even under “the rulers in Yerevan?” Why espouse the cause of our enemies, pitting the diaspora against Armenia? Don’t we have enough divisions imposed on us by our enemies and unfortunate turns of history? Keghart seems to be the gathering place of former Communists, fellow travelers and anarchists willing to inject any amount of poison to further alienate the diaspora from Armenia.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence with tremendous problems inherited from the past; a sagging economy, brain drain, many colorful religious sects infiltrating the society fabric and enemies in Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi bent on Armenia’s destruction. Armenia’s leadership has been marked by many failures; Echmiadzin is reeling from its 70-year slumber; Armenia’s population is abandoning the historic homeland in droves, after dreaming of independence for six centuries.
Where is the cure? Spewing poison or trying to place one stone over the other so that the much-dreamed of homeland will survive for posterity?


Where Is The Enemy?
When Alexander the Great — who was not yet great at the time — inherited the throne from his father, Phillip II, the first thing that he did was to distribute his entire wealth to the people. When he was asked what was left to him after that act of generosity, he answered with one word: “hope.” And that hope gave him enough vision and strength to conquer the old world.

This brings us to the days when Armenia gained independence 20 years ago. There was no power, no water, no bread, no heat, but the population was full of anticipation, because there was hope. And hope propelled the Armenians to win the Karabagh war and liberate Shushi.

Today the situation is almost reversed: the country enjoys 24 hours of electricity a day; only some rural areas complain about the scarcity of water; there is an abundance of bread, if one can afford to buy it and Yerevan has become a bustling city alive with cafes, nightclubs and casinos. Yet people are leaving in droves. Why? Because there is no hope. It is almost ironic that people were ready and willing to endure the hardships and continue holding on to the land, yet today, in relative comfort, they are leaving the homeland, which we had dreamed of for centuries. And if we dare to ask the emigrants why they have decided to leave Armenia, the cynical answer is ready: “We held on to the land and we suffered too much to preserve the homeland for you. Now it’s your turn to come and keep the country alive.”

The value system has turned upside down. During the Soviet period, people were sent to Siberia as punishment, while today the Russian government is inviting Armenian families to settle in Siberia as a reward, by providing homes, jobs and citizenship. During the Genocide, honorable Armenian women jumped to their deaths in the Euphrates River, to avoid being raped by Turks. Today, young Armenian women are crossing the same river into Turkey for prostitution.

Recently, Prof. Gerard Libaridian published an in-depth article in the Armenian press, sounding an alarm over the population decrease in Armenia. It was titled “Appeal: Critical Moment in Armenian History.” It is no secret to anyone where Libaridian stands in the administration-opposition equation. Hopefully, his alarm will not be viewed within that context, because his voice comes from the very depth of our history. His theory is that Armenians can survive dictatorships, genocide, earthquake, war and any other calamity, but they cannot survive after the depopulation of the homeland.

The precedents he has cited in his article are bitter, yet succinct. The fall of the Bagratuni Kingdom was accelerated when the Arzunis began a side show in Akhtamar, causing the depopulation of the mainland. He also theorizes that the Genocide became a feasible option for the Young Turks when the Armenian population was reduced into minority status in historic Armenian provinces, while the self- efense war in Vasbouragan was successful because Armenians were a majority in that region, during World War I.

Today, with brain drain and depopulation, Armenia has reached a critical point, after which it will not be able to sustain a government nor defend its borders. Of course, there are objective reasons for this ominous state of affairs; Turkey and Azerbaijan are continuing their genocidal policies in an entirely different form, by blockading Armenia into economic strangulation and possible extinction. The Georgians are no lesser enemies.

Recently Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili openly declared that “Azerbaijan’s enemy is our enemy.” No one has any doubts that the target of that announcement was Armenia. These are our external enemies that cannot behave otherwise, based on their own national self-interest. But we have internal enemies who are more detrimental. Those are the very same people who have created a caste of oligarchs to stifle Armenia’s economy for their own selfish interests.

When government functionaries — and even one minister — plundered the help that was sent to Armenia for the destitute survivors of the earthquake, we were all appalled by how much degeneration was caused to the Armenian character by the Soviet rule. But the trend continues. Recently, diasporan benefactor and businessman Vahakn Hovnanian cited some examples in an interview. He says he tried to get involved in the wheat business, but he received threats that his wheat field would be burnt down before the harvest, although, Armenia is a net importer of wheat.

He has tried to import timber from Russia, but his Russian counterparts have even refused to deal with him, because timber is the monopoly of certain oligarchs. He has encouraged some Diaspora Armenians to do business in the homeland, but the government apparatchiks have scared them away. Any Armenian who has had business dealings can cite at least five or more similar instances.

Any foreign investor seems to be at risk. The bodies of several foreign nationals who were engaged in business were discovered in Armenia and even before the police investigation, stories were planted in the media about the characters of the assassinated people who were not able to defend themselves any more.
The same hostile policy is applied against the local people. Currently there is a huge controversy, pitting the mayor of Yerevan against street vendors who have put up primitive structures to make a living. And of course, they have paid exorbitant bribes to city functionaries to get illegal permits to build those kiosks. Rather than going after the corrupt functionaries, the mayor is evicting the vendors, of course, for a good cause. Who does not wish Yerevan to be beautiful? But before that, an answer must be found to the question: who will feed the families of those vendors?

While oligarchs live in obscene opulence, the majority of the people have to struggle for survival, and if they can find a way to secure that survival in any other country, they will not hesitate for one moment. Even those still living in Armenia cannot contribute to the population growth as indicated by a sociologist study. The statistics are as follows: 68.3 percent of the families do not wish to have a child; 16.4 percent plan to have only one child and 13.6 percent have no answer. Among the reasons cited, economy is rated first.

Citing a historic precedent, Libaridian writes: “Our numbers had fallen below a certain threshold, to a level that had made Armenian revolution against the state of the Ottoman Empire impossible and successful self-defense against the Genocide by and large, hopeless. …Nearly a century later, we may now be reaching a similar threshold in the Republic of Armenia, where the decreasing level of population closely linked to the unresolved conflicts with the neighbors that is threatening the viability of the economy and national defense.”

Turks, Azeris and Georgians are Armenia’s enemies and they wish to wipe out Armenia from the map. Armenians have withstood that pressure for 20 years now, and maybe they can resist longer. But what about the enemy within?

We cannot confront the enemy across the border without killing first that enemy within.


Armenia-Russia Relations — More Complex Than They Appear

Throughout its turbulent history, Armenia almost always has found itself in between a rock and a hard place and has naturally opted for the lesser evil. Thus was the choice in the early 19th century, when Armenia,along with certain other peoples in the Caucasus, switched its rulers. Indeed, by the Turkmanchay Treaty of 1828, the Khanate of Yerevan was ceded by the defeated Persians to the victorious Russians. This historic event was even celebrated during the Soviet era, because the Soviets, although they hated the czars, cherished the latters’ conquests.

Armenians had vied for the Russian rule even before that period and they had actively lobbied and worked, especially in the 17th century, through leaders like Nerses Ashtaraketsy and Israel Ori. When the Caucasus was annexed to the Russian Empire, it was a political dream that came true, although some Russian statesmen preferred to have Armenia under their rule “without Armenians.” Therefore, this annexation was a moment of jubilation. Even our celebrated novelist, Khachatur Abovian, wrote in his epic novel, The Wounds of Armenia, “Blessed be the moment when Russian feet tread on our soil.”

Armenians unequivocally adhered to a pro-Russian policy, most of the time willingly and sometimes against their consent. However, often the loyalty looked like one-way traffic. Today, historic forces have thrust upon Armenia a pro-Russian policy, which in the complex setup of the Caucasus, needs to be evaluated more objectively rather than traditional view through naiveté,which had dominated our rationale in assessing the tangible values of that relationship.

This entire historic background comes into focus with the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Armenia August 19 to 22, accompanied by a large entourage comprising Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Defense Anatoli Sertyukov, Minister of Transport Ilya Klebanov and a number of dignitaries and statesmen. Upon arriving at Yerevan’s Zvartnotz Airport, the Russian president’s first visit was to the Armenian Martyrs’ monument at Tzitzernakabart, demonstratively laying a wreath at the monument, unlike Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who chose to keep her visit to the site very private.

It was a very clear evening and in the crystalline sky rose the majestic twin peaks of Mt. Ararat, captivating the admiration of the Russian president. Indeed, one of his predecessors Czar Nicholai I, was less fortunate when he visited Yerevan in October 1837. The Russian Czar waited for three days to see the “proud mountain,” which was shrouded in fog and clouds, all the time. After the third day, the czar left Yerevan disappointed stating: “If the czar could not see the proud mountain, Mt. Ararat in its turn was denied to view Russia’s Czar.”

The main purpose of Medvedev’s visit was to renew the treaty of the second Russian military base in Gumri through the year 2044. During his visit, he attended the unofficial gathering of the Collective Security Pact of the seven former Soviet republics, as well as dedicating the “Hill of Honor” in memory of soldiers slain in the 19th century fighting against Ottoman Turks.

This visit marked also the signing of an agreement to build a new nuclear power plant in Armenia by Russia. The visit has a broader impact on Armenia’s future economic relations with its neighbors. In the margins of this visit, the projects of Armenia-Iran railroad and pipeline, as well as an oil refining facility in Armenia were also being discussed.

Following the August 2008 war with Georgia, Moscow is consolidating its strategic posture in the region, and the base in Armenia is only one component of Russia’s assertive policy in the region. The other components are the new Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow signed a new treaty with Ukraine about its naval forces stationed in Sevastapol on the Black Sea and it upgraded its naval forces in the Caspian Sea.

All these developments will come to dampen Turkey’s Pan-Touranian designs, which eventually may boost Iran’s strategic standing in the region, opposed by Russia, the EU and the US. Russia intends to build a peacekeeping force, similar to NATO or the UN, to preserve stability within the territories of the seven signatories of the CIS Collective Security Pact. Russia’s return to the “near abroad” will assign to history the Bush-Cheney policy of perpetual war and provocation, especially on Russia’s southern flanks. In light of these new developments, the Washington Post foresees the waning of US influence in the region, which does not bode well for Georgia.

Commenting on the agreement to extend Russian bases in Armenia, Alexander Khramichkin, the Moscow analyst for the Political and Strategic Institute has stated: “With this new agreement, Moscow will be able to maintain a powerful presence in the region, at no cost, while Armenia will be guaranteed against its neighbors, intending to resolve the Karabagh issue by force.”

The presidential visit and the agreements signed have triggered a hot debate among political parties, statesmen and analysts within Armenia. The proponents of the agreements contend that Armenia has three strategic partners — Russia, the US and the European Union — yet only one can meet Armenia’s needs: Russia. The EU has no military force to extend to the region, thus relegating the task to NATO forces; and the US is unwilling, as evidenced during the Russian-Georgian conflict.

The other advantage for Armenia is cheap or free access to Russian modern military hardware, through the entire life of the treaty. There is also debate about the command of the forces based on Armenian soil. In the event of aggression or threat of war, Armenia’s president will assume the command by the authority vested on him in the constitution.

Of course, a 4,000-strong force may not deter any enemy from its aggressive design, but the defenders of the treaty believe the modern military technology in place will. There are also opponents of the treaty, one of them being the political analyst Aharon Adibekian, who gives a sarcastic analogy to Armenia’s reliance on Russia. He cites the sixth paragraph of the US Army code for women, which allegedly states: “When being cornered by the enemy, do not resist, don’t get tense, just enjoy for maximum pleasure.”

He says thus Armenia cannot refuse whatever Russia asks for “it can only relax to derive maximum pleasure.” Another opponent is Karina Danielyan, member of Public Council, who states that “Russia has always backed Armenia, but it has abandoned us at critical moments. It has betrayed us. There is validity in these opposing views.”

Some of the critics believe that the extension of the treaty will mark the demise of Armenia’s complementarism in its foreign policy. Azerbaijan and Georgia are worried that by these new initiatives the military balance is tilting towards Armenia. The Azeri press is especially very vocal in criticizing these deals and calls for Moscow to give up the role of being an even-handed mediator in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

To appease the Baku administration, Moscow is extending a carrot, which can counterbalance or neutralize the strategic advantage offered to Armenia by Russia.Moscow is proposing to sell C-300 missile systems to Azerbaijan. When interviewed on Armenian Public TV, Foreign Minister Serguey Lavrov not only has not denied the rumors, but has even confirmed the deal, justifying it as a “defensive missile system.”

Therefore, if Baku attacks Karabagh or Armenia, it is secured by the Russian arms against a possible Armenian retaliation. It is an ironic approach, which can only be understood and explained with the overall strategic Russian design in the region, marginalizing the security of the individual nations in the Caucasus.

There is some euphoria in Armenia after Mevedev’s departure, mostly derived from Armenia’s traditional confidence in Russia. But the handwriting is on the wall. Armenia should exact maximum benefit from the modern weaponry available through this treaty to neutralize Azerbaijan’s arms build up through its petro dollars and rely on its only forces, should Russia relent in its commitment to defend Armenia.

Russia has already a fig leaf to justify an inaction, arguing that Karabagh being a non-recognized political entity, cannot be covered by the mutual treaty. Surprises may happen any time. Armenia cannot be lulled into inaction in case of an aggression. Let us count on Russia, but let us count even more on our own resources.