Lost in terminology: vicious circle of Armenia's garbles

    ANALYTICS  02 June 2023 - 15:15

    Murad Abiyev

    Perhaps we are mistaken, but the Armenian leadership, in particular the country's Foreign Ministry, seems to have removed the word "genocide" from its vocabulary in its comments on the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement in recent days. It continues, however, to use the notion of "ethnic cleansing". Thus, on May 29, the Armenian Foreign Ministry, interpreting Ilham Aliyev's famous speech in Lachin in its own way, made the following conclusion: "The president of Azerbaijan again threatens the Republic of Armenia with the use of force and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh with ethnic cleansing".

    When the US State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, publicly backed the Azerbaijani leader's willingness to grant amnesty to criminals calling themselves "officials and parliamentarians" in Karabakh, Armenian diplomats issued a new comment: "Recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan cannot be interpreted as a right to ethnic cleansing and arbitrary treatment of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh". Yet on April 24 this year on the occasion of another anniversary of the events of 1915 the same Foreign Ministry stated the following: "The Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh face the threat of genocide and ethnic cleansing."

    Maybe we are jumping to conclusions, and it is only a temporary disfluency of Armenian diplomacy. On the other hand, Yerevan's compulsion to accuse Azerbaijan of war crimes, however, they are called, is worth separate consideration.

    First of all, let us understand the terminology. According to the UN classification, genocide means actions committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such. International law defines ethnic cleansing as any kind of expulsion of ethnic groups from their territories for reasons related to national or religious discrimination.

    Thus, genocide, as it follows from the meaning of the Greek and Latin roots of the word (Greek γένος - tribe; Latin caedo - to kill), is the act of extermination, the physical destruction of part or whole people, or creating conditions designed for their elimination. And ethnic cleansing covers the range of measures aimed at getting rid of a particular people, ethnic group or religious group from any territory and can include such actions as intimidation, deportation and... genocide.

    As can be seen, ethnic cleansing is a broader concept that includes genocide. In the language of formal logic: any genocide is ethnic cleansing, but not every ethnic cleansing is genocide.

    The ubiquitous use of the term "genocide", or even the threat of genocide, in reference to events such as the 44-day war or the post-conflict settlement, is, to say the least, without merit. Neither during the war, nor since, has there been any record of the extermination, or even attempted extermination, of the Armenian civilians living in Karabakh. Curiously, this inappropriate use of the term "genocide" has the effect of diluting the myth of the so-called Armenian genocide of the early twentieth century. Gullible consumers of this myth may come up with an interesting, and most importantly, correct idea: wasn't the "Armenian genocide" also fabricated in its time?

    And it seems that Armenians themselves have begun to understand it little by little, which may be associated with some reduction of purely genocidal rhetoric in their accusations against Baku. Nevertheless, accusations of intent on ethnic cleansing continue. This implies that the Azerbaijani leadership is at least intimidating and threatening the Karabakh Armenians in every possible way, forcing them to leave their places of residence. However, as in the case of manipulation of the concept of genocide, Armenians will fail on this issue too.

    After the blockade and the hungry children of "Artsakh" failed to produce the desired effect, Armenian leadership cites President Aliyev's words from the above-mentioned speech in Lachin, where the Armenian population is warned that the self-proclaimed authorities must leave their "posts" and "the element calling himself president" must surrender. The head of state emphasised that only in this case can the above-mentioned individuals count on an indulgence, in particular amnesty. Ilham Aliyev prefaced these words with the statement that Baku was ready to carry out any operation in the region. Apart from the fictitious "superiors", there is also a contingent of the Armenian armed forces and local gangs in Karabakh illegally.

    Even the most competent and well-paid lawyer in the world could not find in these statements any threat to the peaceful Armenian population of the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan. All the threatening messages made by the Azerbaijani leadership both during and after the Patriotic War were addressed to the top of the separatist entity, which by virtue of Azerbaijan's law is criminal and liable to apprehension and trial. It is worth noting that separatism is classified as a crime in all states of the world by definition and without exception. Otherwise, what kind of state is it?

    According to the logic of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, a threat to a criminal gang of terrorists is tantamount to a threat to the peaceful Armenian population. That is, by associating the self-proclaimed authorities with the Armenian population of Karabakh, Yerevan's leaders are making a radical mistake. After all, the Armenian leadership has recognised the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which automatically means its refusal to recognise any self-proclaimed authorities and their representatives on Azerbaijani soil. By associating Baku's formidable messages addressed to criminals with the peaceful Armenian population, official Yerevan is demonstrating its support for separatism in the territory of Azerbaijan and, thus, is actually retreating from its recognition of its territorial integrity, presenting itself on the world stage as not only an incapable, but also an aggressive party.

    The good news for us, however, is that this predilection for accusing non-existent crimes demonstrates that the Armenian side has no other effective ideological weapon in its arsenal for turning the situation in the negotiation process in its favour.

    It is strange that the Armenians have not yet understood that this humanitarian (let's call it that) narrative does not work in the context of the conflict with Azerbaijan. The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is respected by the whole world, even during the Armenian occupation. The biggest paradox for Armenians is that after Baku resolved the issue of territorial integrity by force, the respect towards Azerbaijan in the world has only increased. If tales of "genocide" or "massacres" did not have any effect during the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, they look absurd today.

    And finally, I would like to note that the ethnic cleansing of Armenians is really taking place. The leaders and curators of Armenians are looking in the wrong place: the ethnic cleansing of Armenians is taking place not in Azerbaijan but in Armenia. The Armenian world made its people hostage to the delusional idea of "miatsum", driving them into economic and geopolitical isolation, forcing them to sacrifice their sovereignty, and forcing them to a permanent exodus from their state. According to official statistics alone, Armenia's population fell by 700,000 between 1991 and 2020. This figure in absolute terms does not express the full extent of the catastrophe, but if you translate it into relative terms, the difference is almost 20%. If we consider that after the 44-day war, the tendency to emigrate in Armenia has only increased, the situation looks even more threatening. Here, of course, it should be noted that in addition to emigration, the decline in the birth rate also has a major impact on the population, but even this factor is also indirectly linked to the lack of confidence Armenians have in their prospects of building a happy family in their native country.


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