By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Can’t the Armenian government do anything right? Not a day passes without additional bad news from Armenia and Artsakh! Rather than blaming our enemies, we need to look at our own shortcomings and stop inflicting more wounds on ourselves.
In the midst of the severe crisis in Armenia after the devastating defeat in the 2020 Artsakh War, one would think that Armenian leaders would have the wisdom to unite the nation and strengthen the military to prevent further attacks on the country.
Surprisingly, Armenia has embarked on a course of action that is further dividing and weakening the nation. Armenian leaders are too incompetent to run a country with so many critical issues. Rather than trying to minimize Armenia’s losses, they are determined to add to the damage inflicted by its enemies.
For four years, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been dividing Armenians into “blacks” and “whites,” Artsakhtsis and Hayastantsis, former leaders vs. the current one, and Armenia vs. Diaspora, at a time when Armenians desperately need to be unified. He has threatened to slam into the wall or the asphalt his domestic political opponents. He even went on the campaign trail last year holding a hammer in his hand, promising to smash the heads of those who oppose him.
Not only is Pashinyan too incompetent to lead Armenia, so are his cabinet ministers and advisors. An incompetent leader cannot make competent appointments.
Take for example, Pashinyan’s appointment of Zareh Sinanyan to the post of “High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs.” Sinanyan’s only qualification is that he is a blind supporter of the Prime Minister. Consequently, Sinanyan has hardly accomplished anything worthwhile during his three years on the job, except for wasting the government’s meager budget on his and staff’s frequent travels around the world.
Sinanyan just announced that his office will hold a “Global Armenian Summit,” at the end of this October. One would have expected that he would have the common sense to invite to the “Global Summit” the representatives of all Armenian organizations and prominent individuals in Armenia and the Diaspora, regardless of their political affiliation.
However, Sinanyan’s and the Prime Minister’s only goal is to give the impression that they are busy doing something rather than actually accomplishing anything useful for the nation. Sinanyan shortsightedly decided, with the blessing of his boss, to invite to the “Global Armenian Summit” Armenians who are the regime’s supporters, leaving out those who have dared to oppose the current leaders. The government of Armenia is actually engaged in dividing, rather than unifying the Diaspora.
In any other normal country, an employee like Sinanyan would have been fired long ago for being incompetent and wasting the government’s precious resources. However, this Prime Minister will not fire an underling who is more incompetent than he is! Regrettably, Sinanyan does not even know his job description. He has foolishly advocated inviting Arab immigrants to Armenia, not realizing that his responsibility is dealing only with Diaspora Armenians, not Arabs or other nationalities. In his frequent TV interviews, Sinanyan constantly engages in partisan politics, criticizing major Armenian organizations, and creating further divisions in the nation. He does not understand that his job is not to act as a propagandist for Pashinyan’s regime, but be a government employee who is getting paid a salary to be a bridge between Armenia and the Diaspora.
If the excuse of Pashinyan and Sinanyan is that their political opponents would have refused to attend the “Global Armenian Summit,” that would have been a good reason to invite them. Those who reject the invitation would have looked bad and the government would have looked magnanimous rather than petty. The Armenian government cannot behave like a thug who wants to settle scores. Regrettably, it does not possess the maturity to rise above the fray. Armenia is the home of all Armenians, not only those who agree with the regime. A small and weak nation surrounded by powerful enemies cannot afford to splinter itself into smaller fragments.
Rather than embracing all Armenians worldwide, the government has rejected in recent weeks the entry of several prominent Diaspora Armenians whose sole guilt is that they are opponents of the supposedly “democratic” regime! Meanwhile, Turkish members of the Grey Wolves terrorist group are allowed to enter Armenia and insult the memory of the Armenian martyrs on the grounds of the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan!
In the past 20 years, Armenia has organized several Diaspora-Armenia conferences. None of them accomplished anything useful. Sinanyan’s planned “Summit” will have the same result. Pashinyan has repeatedly talked about allowing Diaspora Armenians to assume high-level positions in the Armenian government. Regrettably, beyond paying lip service, he has not taken any step in that direction. Similarly, Sinanyan announced with much fanfare around a year ago that his office will appoint Diaspora commissioners in Armenian communities around the world. Until now, he has not appointed a single such commissioner.
When Pashinyan came to power in 2018, he pledged to increase Armenia’s population from less than 3 million to 5 million by the year 2050. Regrettably, Armenia’s population in his four years in office has declined, not increased. Beyond just talking about encouraging repatriation to Armenia, nothing has been done.
It is high time that all Armenians unite to defend the homeland against the powerful enemies on both sides of the border. Before reconciling with Turks, Armenians first need to get along with each other.
This column originally appeared on September 1 in The California Courier of which Harut Sassounian is the publisher, and is syndicated with permission of the author and publication.