ArmInfo.In an interview with ArmInfo, Artsakh security expert, former adviser to the Artsakh Foreign Minister Hrachya Arzumanyan comments on the geopolitical aspects and the background of the 44-day war, shares his vision of the future possible domestic and foreign policy impulses around Armenia and Artsakh.
Hrachya, all these 44 days you were in Artsakh - in the very epicenter of events. Please, share your assessment of what happened. How the defeat of the Armenian army could happen, what contributed to this?
In my opinion, it would be better for us as a people to recognize the fact of our defeat in the war organized by Turkey, Russia and Azerbaijan. It is necessary to understand that this war has become a concrete, joint initiative of two centers of power. Armenia, by definition, could not win the war in such a initially planned situation. We were doomed to defeat against such a force, which is by no means only a military one. And we need to realize this. We also need to understand that this is a military defeat. This is not genocide, this time there was no talk about the extermination of the Armenian people. We fought, our soldiers fought for the outcome of the war. The war demonstrated a fundamentally different situation from the situation happened one hundred years ago, demonstrated a brilliant army, a brilliant Armenian people, rallying to win this war. And it is not our fault that the forces were so unequal. Therefore, I do not believe that something fatal for our people happened during these 44 days. We will prepare for the next war and play in a completely different way.
The war ended only a couple of days ago, but already today we hear calls to the Artsakh people to return. Is the natural return of our compatriots to their homes reasonable from a geopolitical point of view?
We need to realize that Artsakh is today divided between Turkey and Russia. Accordingly, I consider the participation of the Artsakh people in this division and thus its legitimation to be wrong. In this light, I consider it necessary to distance as much as possible from the result obtained in the Russian-Turkish games, from the war actually unleashed by Russia and Turkey against the Armenian people. Formalization of the results of this war between themselves is a matter for Russia and Turkey. I consider it a mistake to make the Armenian people and Artsakh Armenians a participant and hostage of these games. Ideally, Armenia should not have put its signature under the act of surrender at all and risked our people. Armenian people can feel protected, feel safe only in an Armenian state under the protection of an Armenian soldier. If there is none of this, no international forces will ensure its status and security. The Artsakh Armenians, protected by Russian peacekeepers, will become a hostage and a factor with which Moscow will influence Yerevan. In this light, in my opinion, it would be more correct to admit defeat, evacuate the Artsakh people to the territory of Armenia and start building a completely different Armenia, which would later be able to return Artsakh and even more. The present Armenia has been defeated. We must admit this and start building the state anew. With a different economy, with a different army and with different allies.
You rated the Armenian army and the Armenian people as brilliant. Now assess the Armenian leadership.
The Armenian leadership has demonstrated its complete inadequacy to the positions held. And I'm still inclined to qualify what happened as a betrayal. The Armenian political leadership betrayed its own people, its interests, betrayed the army and society. We must state this. And this statement requires the resignation of such a leadership. Against this background, the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan gives us a chance to restore and save face. The signature, the consent of Armenia to the division of Artsakh will lead us into a more difficult situation in the future.
What, apart from saving face, can a refusal to sign give Armenia? After all, the Russian military is already in Artsakh.
This is not the problem. The problem is much deeper - in our ability to take such steps in the conditions of absolute dependence of Armenia on the military might of Russia. I saw with my own eyes how it works in Artsakh, where Russia quite deliberately did not use air defense systems in order to achieve the result that we see today. Air defense systems were included at the very end. And by "closing the sky" Russia has clearly demonstrated its own ability to military neutralize enemy drones and aircraft. Against this background, a quite natural question arises - what will happen to Armenia in the future? After all, we have a combined air defense system with the Russian one. Can anyone guarantee the Armenian people that the same approach will not be applied to Armenia in the future? Our ally did not help us in the key issue of Artsakh. And where is the guarantee that a similar situation will not happen in Armenia?
Do you see a candidate to replace Pashinyan today?
No. I did not deal with the internal political situation in Armenia. But I think that in this situation, replacing Pashinyan with new faces will in any case be correct. These new persons will take responsibility for the country or for the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreements on Artsakh. At the same time, I, of course, do not see these new faces among the 17 political forces striving for power. All these people representing Serzh Sargsyan, Robert Kocharian and Levon Ter-Petrosyan are also responsible, including for the past and, accordingly, for betrayal. Judging by the nomenclature of Russian weapons and equipment deployed in Artsakh, it seems that they will carry out, let's say, not only a peacekeeping mission. And after killing three Iranian border guards by Turkoman terrorists, can it be stated that after a 44-day war, the region is becoming another arena for hybrid wars? Considering that this situation was designed by Moscow and Ankara, I would like Moscow and Ankara to seek a solution to the already maturing problems you are talking about, without the Armenian people, without the Armenian warrior, and not at the expense of the life and death of Armenians. Russia itself took this path of resolving the problem, and accordingly, its independent search for a way out of the situation created, including by it, will be fair. Messrs Putin and Erdogan will have to solve the problem, even without Aliyev. This is not an Armenian or even an Azerbaijani problem. Our problem is the loss of Artsakh. And for a while, we need to come to terms with this. I think that there is nothing terrible, especially fatal, in a lost war for us. We will always have the opportunity to replay the situation. If, of course, we are able to build a completely different Armenia.
Yes. But there is one more thing here. Doesn't the new Russian-Turkish confrontation on the territory of Azerbaijan and Artsakh create the possibility of recognizing Artsakh following the example of Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
I consider the implementation of this scenario undesirable for Armenia and Artsakh. After the recognition, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia fell into complete dependence on Russia. We must avoid a situation in which the Armenian statehood will depend on one center of power. In this light, the recognition of Artsakh by Russia alone does not in any way correspond to the interests of the Armenian people. Recognition of Artsakh can only be international and coordinated with other centers of power. And this path is also the path towards the salvation and preservation of Artsakh as Armenian. But today, in the conditions of the total Russian and Turkish presence in the South Caucasus, I do not see any opportunities for solving the problem in this way. The fact is that Messrs. Putin and Erdogan tend to interpret and disrespect international law quite freely. In this light, today the Armenian people should be concerned exclusively with ensuring the military security of the part of Armenia that we have. Because the destruction of the Republic of Artsakh that took place before our eyes may well serve as a model for the destruction of the Republic of Armenia. This task has not been solved today. We bet on Russia as a guarantor of our security. The bet did not work, therefore, we need to look for other ways for this.