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 Friday, February 23 2024 16:32
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Lemkin Institute warns Armenian government not to give in to  Azerbaijan`s demands to change Constitution and state symbols

Lemkin Institute warns Armenian government not to give in to  Azerbaijan`s demands to change Constitution and state symbols

ArmInfo. The Lemkin Institute warns the Armenian government not to give in to Azerbaijan's demands to change the Constitution and state symbols.

The Lemkin Institute in its statement notes in part: "With Aliyev'  re-election, the future of Armenia remains in limbo, particularly  following his 14 February statements that there will be no peace  treaty with Armenia unless Armenia "puts an end to territorial claims  against Azerbaijan" and "brings its legislation to normal." With  these statements Aliyev intends to threaten Armenia to give up all  claims to the territory of Artsakh, which has been Armenian for  nearly 4000 years and before 19 September 2023 had never been under  direct Azerbaijani control. Aliyev pointed to the preamble of  Armenia's Constitution, which calls for the unification of Armenia  and Artsakh.  Azerbaijan is demanding that Armenia adopt a new  constitution.  

Azerbaijan also states that Armenia must not only change the  Constitution, but also legal documents and attributes and symbols of  the state. This underscores a systemic attempt to reshape Armenian  national identity in alignment with Azerbaijani interests. The  intimidation by Aliyev in the pursuit of "peace" is deeply concerning  as it undermines the autonomy and sovereignty of Armenia. By  leveraging threats and demands, Aliyev seeks to impose his will on  Armenia, disregarding its right to self-determination and seeking to  seize Armenia's internationally-recognized territory.  

Given the ongoing threats from Azerbaijan, the Lemkin Institute is  concerned about recent actions undertaken by the Armenian Government.  These actions include proposed changes to the Constitution and to the  use of significant cultural symbols, such as the name and iconic  image of Mount Ararat, alterations to parts of the national anthem,  and a proposed shift from teaching "Armenian History," which spans  thousands of years and extends across wide swaths of the Middle East,  to the "History of [the modern state of] Armenia" in schools. Such  proposals raise alarm bells, as they risk bolstering President   Aliyev's current campaign and inadvertently reinforcing his   ideological stance.  

For example, altering the history curriculum to cover only the  "History of Armenia" could limit the scope of historical study simply  to periods after Armenia gained recognition as a modern, independent  state. This raises major concerns about the degree of inclusion of  crucial historical events predating this, notably the Armenian  Genocide. Hence, there is a legitimate worry that pivotal events may  be downplayed or manipulated, undermining the integrity of historical  education and perpetuating a distorted narrative, jeopardizing  Armenia's national spirit and essential foundations. Alarmingly, this  would allow genocide denier like Azerbaijan and Turkey to downplay or  even erase their roles or responsibilities in historical events that  may reflect negatively on their governments' political agenda and/or   national identities.  

On February 15th, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan rejected  Azerbaijan's ongoing calls for legislative alterations and expressed  concerns that Baku might be planning "large-scale" military  aggression against Armenia. An example of this would be the  initiation of military operations along the border with Armenia with  the potential of escalating into a full- fledged war against Armenia.  According to Prime Minister Pashinyan, Azerbaijan is actively  engaging in a "policy of military coercion," aiming to secure  additional Armenian territory and extract concessions from Yerevan  and this intention can be read in all statements and actions of  Azerbaijan. A potential invasion of Armenia by Azerbaijan in the near  future could be viewed as a strategic move, particularly given the  current global focus on the genocides in Gaza and Ukraine and the  continuing lack of strong international condemnation of Azerbaijan.  With the international community's attention diverted elsewhere,  Azerbaijan may see an opportunity to act without significant  opposition, interference, and, most importantly, consequences. This  maneuver bears resemblance to historical precedents, notably the  tactics employed by it's ally, Turkey, during the Armenian Genocide.  The timing chosen to commit that genocide was a strategic move, as  Turkish leaders knew that international powers would be too  preoccupied with WW1 to act, and indeed, there was no significant  action to stop the genocide.  

Additionally, just before Azerbaijan initiated the bombing and  invasion of Artsakh in September 2023 following a 10-month blockade,  there was a notable increase in Azerbaijani cargo plane flights to  the Ovda military air base in southern Israel. Ovda serves as a key  point for Israel's export of explosive munitions. Last year saw a  total of 19 such flights, the second-highest annual count, with a  notable surge occurring just prior to the September 19 conflict in  Nagorno-Karabakh. Investigations revealed that these flights tended  to escalate whenever military operations took place in Artsakh or  along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Notably, on September 1, 2023,  amidst another provocation by Azerbaijan in Armenia's Sotk region,  flights to Ovda resumed. Of particular concern is the recent  recurrence of similar events, exemplified by the observation through  Flightradar24 of three Azerbaijani heavy-lift flights heading to the  Israeli base Ovda this year, the latest on February 18th. Notably,  this activity follows closely after the military escalation in Syunik  just a few days prior. This repetitive pattern is profoundly  disconcerting, signaling a potential for further military escalations  akin to those witnessed last year. This repetition should be regarded  as a significant warning sign, necessitating increased vigilance and   proactive measures from the international community.  

The recent attack on Syunik Province and Aliyev's subsequent demands  for changes to Armenia's constitution and cultural symbols signal a  broader agenda to undermine Armenia's sovereignty and erase the  presence of Armenian cultural identity in the South Caucasus. The  implications of these actions extend far beyond mere territorial  disputes, touching upon the very existence of Armenia and Armenians  in what is left of their ancestral homeland. It highlights a  troubling trend of using legal and cultural mechanisms to undermine  the integrity of Armenia as a nation-state. Moreover, it underscores  the urgent need to address ongoing genocidal ideologies and undertake  appropriate actions regionally, as Azerbaijan's efforts represent a  direct assault on the survival and identity of the Armenian people.  Such aggressions constitute a clear violation and provocation against  the Republic of Armenia, as a sovereignly recognized country by the   United Nations.  

The Lemkin Institute is issuing this second Red Flag Alert on  Azerbaijan's recent actions in Armenia due to Aliyev's repeated  escalations that we believe are still not being taken seriously  enough by the international community. The lack of response to and  condemnation of Azerbaijan's September 2023 invasion of Artsakh-which  caused the mass exodus of nearly all of Artsakh's 120,000 native  Armenians-has emboldened Aliyev to continue with his genocide of the  Armenian people. The sheer indifference of international powers  regarding the future of Artsakh and Armenia is a gross oversight of  the systems put in place to prevent such atrocities from happening.  Additionally, the lack of media coverage of Azerbaijan's growing  abuses of Armenian territory is allowing Aliyev to continue with his  genocidal actions in the safety of darkness. The global community  must denounce these reprehensible, unwarranted acts and urge  Azerbaijan to remove its occupying forces from over 215 square  kilometers of Armenian sovereign territory. If the international  community wishes to prevent further development of the second  Armenian Genocide that is unfolding before its very eyes, Azerbaijan  must be met with swift condemnation and action barring the state from  participating in international diplomatic and regulatory processes.  

The Lemkin Institute suggests the same actions mentioned in our  previous Red Flag Alert. Granting impunity to the Azerbaijani  government and its enabler, Turkey, will only embolden them to  perpetuate their aggressive expansionist agenda. Western powers must  support Armenia in strengthening its sovereign borders and diplomatic  position in the region. This includes insisting on Armenian control  of any corridors through its territory and imposing sanctions on the  Aliyev regime. The United States, in particular, must end the waivers  on Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (1992) and hold Azerbaijan   accountable for its actions.  

Moreover, Western leaders must acknowledge their role in  destabilizing regional security and pressuring Turkey and Azerbaijan  to pursue genuine peace. The international community cannot afford to  ignore or legitimize genocide as a solution to conflicts perpetuated  by regimes like Azerbaijan. Failure to act risks undermining the  rules-based order established in the aftermath of the Holocaust and  could usher in a new era of genocide with devastating consequences  globally," they summarized.

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