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Review & Outlook - 04/06/2010

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ARMENIA'S STAND: Justice At Home, Justice Abroad

Armenian News Network / Groong
April 6, 2010

By Raffi K. Hovannisian


We are at the brink of a pair of wars, civil and regional, and it is
better to speak now.

Armenia, that ancient civilization deprived by the tragedies of yore
of its capacity for contemporary statecraft, needs immediately to put
its house in democratic order.  Finally responsible for its own
record, it also has legitimate expectations of the international

In this global and so contracted century of ours, where resources and
rights often compete for precedence, domestic demeanor and foreign
affairs form part of one and the same policy agenda.  Nuclear or not,
all pieces count.

Armenia has finally to empower its citizenry, ensure due process and
accountable government, and hold true elections.  The corruption of
state and its ill-disguised feudalesque vertical of post-Soviet power
must give way to basic liberties and equal opportunities for all.
Political prisoners should be released forthwith and those responsible
for the deaths of ten citizens on March 1, 2008 brought to account.
Justice must begin from within, or else civil strife is sure to ensue.

Modern independent statehood is an immeasurable gift that must not be
squandered or ceded to anybody, friend or foe.  Armenia's security and
armed forces are functions of its sovereignty, and no one, neither the
Collective Security Treaty Organization nor NATO, should be called
upon to guard its borders and its interests.  Sound mutual relations
with Russia, the United States, Europe and China are pivotally
important, but Armenia must from now on be in sovereign command of its
own frontiers and strategic assets.  This choice should be universally

The resetting of regional imperatives requires correlation with
Armenia's vital concerns.

Armenia and its people the world over shall never forget the great
Genocide and the dispossession of their homeland.  They cannot be
expected, through protocols or other avenues of persuasion, to ratify
their loss or to legitimize the fruits of genocide.  These include an
illegal de facto boundary negotiated by the Bolsheviks and Turkish
Nationalists, the destruction of a thousand years worth of cultural
heritage and architectural treasures, the mass expropriation of homes,
schools, academies and other properties, and an abiding official
escape from responsibility into the annals of schizophrenic denialism.

There is a growing current in Turkish society which seeks to look
their history in the eye and thus to recast the exclusivist
foundations of their state.  They should be embraced and supported in
their long-overdue self-discovery, just as the Turkish family who in
1915 saved my grandmother's life by risking their own should find
their due in the textbooks of tomorrow.

As with the Holocaust and the liberating leadership of postwar
Germany, acknowledgment must beget atonement which, if anchored in
truth, will lead to redemption, restitution, a right of return to a
national home, and ultimate reconciliation between the Armenian and
Turkish nations.

Armenia expects the world community to uphold and attach the rule of
law, both internally and internationally, without seeking refuge in
intellectually and legally false distinctions such as sui generis.
Mountainous Karabagh's case for post-Stalinist decolonization and
independence is juridically at least as strong as, if not more than,
Kosovo's, Abkhazia's, Eritrea's or East Timor's.  It must formally be
recognized - and within its existing constitutional borders - by
Armenia and the very same countries that have extended recognition to
the aforementioned.

Supported by Turkey, Azerbaijan today is trying to breathe bellicose
fire into its failed war of aggression, 1988-1994, against Mountainous
Karabagh by which it lost any claim it rhetorically might ever have
had.  Contrary to Baku's familiar projection of blame upon others, it
alone holds in occupation the ancestral Armenian heartlands of
Gardmank, Shahumian, Getashen, Artsvashen, and Nakhichevan.  Let the
refugees of all nationalities, including the local Azeris and the
nearly one million Armenians displaced from these territories as well
as from Azerbaijan proper, return to their places of origin.  That is
comme il faut, but there can be no further territorial adjustment
without resolving the occupation above.

Georgia would do itself and its firm future relationship with Armenia
a favor by defending in full the linguistic, cultural, civil,
political and religious rights of its large Armenian community.  The
historically Armenian region of Javakhk must be given special
consideration in terms of its identity, representative
self-government, and connection with the Armenian republic.  This is
fundamental to both Armenia's and Georgia's national security, as is
the requirement to release all ethnic Armenian prisoners from the
injustice of their politically-driven incarceration.

Iran, too, shall change - at its pace and in its way.  A long-standing
bilateral rapport with Armenia as its basis, the Islamic Republic
ought to work to improve its domestic performance and, among other
things, to recognize the Holocaust.  So too should Israel, as bearer
of the Shoah, no longer rest complicit in the denial of the Armenian
Genocide.  Washington, Moscow and the capitals of Europe have a lot of
critical rethinking to do in this connection.

The time, perhaps, has come for all past paradigms to shift their
script.  Whether classically geopolitical or energy-sourced, the
curtain must soon fall on the east-west and north-south axes of
yesterday's cliche.

For the sake of little old Armenia and the grand New World.

Raffi Hovannisian, the Republic's first foreign minister, is founding
director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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