Ordinary Armenians: A perspective lost in the noise of diaspora
    Opinion by Adnan Huseyn

    KARABAKH  26 March 2023 - 17:35

    Adnan Huseyn, the founder of Re-Azerbaijan, has written an opinion piece, arguing that the hostile, anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric employed by journalists, MPs, members of diaspora and other organizations do not represent the ordinary Armenians living in the country. Caliber.Az prints the article.

    Social media platforms, particularly Twitter, often amplify divisive rhetoric, painting an incomplete and misleading picture of the thoughts and beliefs of entire communities. When analyzing the hate-filled, negative discourse between Armenians and Azerbaijanis online, one might assume that these hostile views are shared by all Armenians. However, my personal experiences with Armenians in Tbilisi, Georgia, suggest otherwise.

    A significant portion of the hostile online language seems to originate from the Armenian diaspora, particularly those residing in the United States. This is followed by proxies of the Karabakh clan and foreign supporters of Armenian propaganda, such as paid journalists, parliament representatives, and organization members on the payroll. It is noteworthy that a relatively small number of these voices represent the ordinary Armenian population living in Armenia.

    While in Tbilisi, I had the chance to interact with a number of Armenians, both permanent residents of Georgia and visitors from Armenia. The Armenians who were born and raised in Georgia were friendly and generally not involved in the Karabakh conflict. They often maintained cordial relationships with their Azerbaijani friends and neighbors, living together peacefully in adjacent or even the same villages. Their interactions included forming business partnerships and even intermarrying.

    During our conversations, Armenians visiting from Armenia expressed a sense of weariness regarding the ongoing situation. Despite differences in opinions on certain matters, we maintained respectful discussions. They acknowledged that recognizing Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan and abiding by international law could lead to peace, allowing Armenians in Karabakh to integrate into Azerbaijani society and enabling all those who were displaced from their homes to rightfully return. Some even admitted that the outcome of the first Karabakh war in the 1990s, which resulted in the illegal occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan's territory, had impeded their country's development and economic progress. Universally, they agreed that both sides had suffered enough, and the conflict must come to an end.

    In stark contrast to the Armenian diaspora, they did not deny the Khojaly genocide or other wrongdoings, nor did they try to shift the blame. Some even agreed that while all perpetrators of the events in Azerbaijan were sentenced, and the soldiers accused of allegedly committing war crimes were arrested, it was unjust and wrong that Armenia has not held anyone accountable for any of the crimes committed against Azerbaijanis. They recognized that doing so is an essential part of the peace building and normalization of relations processes.

    The Armenians I had the opportunity to meet in Tbilisi were a diverse and interesting group, comprising businessmen, artists, and even a remarkably talented sculptor with whom I engaged in deep conversations that lasted for hours. I met them at various events such as Georgian friend's birthday parties, weddings, or corporate gatherings. Georgia has always been unique in that it is a place where Azerbaijanis and Armenians coexist peacefully and where ordinary Azerbaijanis from Baku and Armenians from Yerevan can interact without issue in most cases.

    During some of my encounters, I observed a stark contrast between some of the Armenians I met and those from the Armenian diaspora who engage in attacking, insulting, and falsely accusing Azerbaijanis and foreigners who seek to shed light on the Azerbaijani perspective, without providing any evidence. Some of the Armenians I met distanced themselves from the diaspora, stating that many of them were more interested in profiting from the conflict and using the Karabakh issue to gain access to foreign organizations. Some even shared stories of organizations like the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) raising millions of dollars during the second Karabakh war, but only a small portion of those funds actually reached Armenia.

    When asked why they didn't publicly voice their desire for peace, they explained that doing so would make them targets of the Armenian diaspora and the Karabakh clan's local proxies. This fear prevented them from openly discussing their true feelings.

    My experiences in Tbilisi revealed that, like their Azerbaijani counterparts, there are ordinary Armenians that are weary of the conflict and yearn for peace. They do not recklessly jeopardize their future or that of their children for a land to which they have little connection - most of them have never even visited - and that causes them more problems than benefits. Instead, they acknowledge the importance of adhering to international law and recognize the potential advantages that peace could bring, such as development and an improved quality of life.

    To gain a genuine understanding of the situation, it is essential to distinguish between the voices of the Armenian diaspora who spread hate from the comfort of their California mansions and the proxies of the Karabakh clan, and those of the ordinary Armenians who are directly affected by the conflict. By muting the former and listening to the latter, we can strive for a future that prioritizes peace, development, and understanding in the region.

    Caliber.Az

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