Navigating Armenia's path amidst church protests, historical myths
    Pashinyan's doctrine

    ANALYTICS  29 May 2024 - 15:09

    Murad Abiyev

    The return of four villages of the Gazakh district to Baku's control was a major milestone in the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. At the same time, this issue, due to the context of revanchist sentiments in Armenian society, as is known, has become central to the protests led by the Armenian Church together with the Karabakh clan. Against this backdrop, on May 24, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the nation.

    In general, Pashinyan repeated his narrative about “historical Armenia” (read, “mythical”), which must be overcome by “real Armenia”, about the conflict between the ideas of “historical Armenia” and the position of neighbors guided by international law, i.e. about the very “bull and men in red clothes”, though this time without such lavish allegories.

    However, Pashinyan has now taken the next step in these reflections, touching upon both the origin of this dissonance between “historical” and real Armenia and the ways out of it. Reflecting on the roots of such a distortion of reality, Pashinyan, of course, made a great deal of misunderstanding, or rather, misrepresentation, by blaming the entire responsibility for the mythical consciousness of Armenians on the Soviet Union. Allegedly, the Soviet authorities sought to erase the sense of statehood from Armenians and for this purpose planted the idea of an independent state outside of Soviet Armenia. “One of the Soviet Union's methods of dealing with the strong national consciousness of Armenians was to channel dreams of Armenian SSR independence outside the territory of Soviet Armenia and the Soviet Union, sometimes for geopolitical purposes and sometimes to weaken and eradicate the perception of the Armenian SSR as a potential territory for the re-establishment of Armenian statehood. The Soviet Union promoted among Armenians the formula of seeking a homeland outside the Armenian SSR,” Pashinyan said.

    This is a ridiculous statement. The Soviet Union by definition could not encourage in the national republics the sprouts of a future state, but the irony of fate is that just for Armenia during the Soviet period the most favorable conditions for the formation of a purely mono-ethnic republic were created. It is enough to recall the deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia in the late 40s and 80s of the 20th century.

    However, the purpose of such manipulations of Pashinyan is clear: in the context of the struggle with the opposition, tacitly supported by Moscow, it is important for him to show that he is against the Kremlin, and, accordingly, he carefully attributes all the negativity of his theoretical calculations solely to Russia, completely “forgetting” about the role of Western powers in the formation of the Armenian nationalist idea.

    However, Pashinyan's next thought compensates for this unilateralism and challenges any doctrine linking Armenia's fate to third forces: “Under these circumstances, the sovereignty of Azerbaijan suffers significantly because when your notions of homeland do not coincide with your country's internationally recognized borders, you are forced to open the way for disproportionate influences from others. This is because you feel that by doing so, you gain power and support to advance agendas that do not align with your legitimate borders.

    Afterwards, Pashinyan makes another clever move. He begins to use religious motifs in his rhetoric, as if trying to deprive the Armenian Church of the basis of its protest rhetoric and take away its monopoly on spiritual truth. While churchmen are muttering something unintelligible about the betrayal of the spiritual staples of the Armenian people, Pashinyan finds the most successful (in the context of fighting expansionist ideas) of all possible religious parallels for the current situation, calling the Republic of Armenia the “Promised Land.” “We are passing through this path, and at the end of this path is our Promised Land, the Republic of Armenia, with the only difference that we are here now, but very often we do not notice our Promised Land and, not noticing it, we continue our search for the Promised Land.

    Our country today is not perfect in part because our endless search for the Promised Land in the Promised Land does not allow us to concretize and formulate an answer to the question of what territory, in what place, what size we want to build a home-state, and the process of delimitation by each border pillar formulates an answer to that question.”

    Perhaps it is difficult to overestimate the power of this message. It mimics the traditional casuistry that Pashinyan likes to feed his audience, but we must admit that unlike many of the Prime Minister's previous statements, this message has a tremendous creative energy. It is capable of shifting the focus of the Armenian view of the world and of oneself in the world, and for the first time in many years the Republic of Armenia can be clearly seen as a gift from above. This message is both practical and religious. Perhaps it is worth bringing the passage around the “Promised Land” to the end: “And we together must walk this path, which, yes, is not a carpet, but passes through thorns and traps, difficult and complex decisions, disappointments and misunderstandings, but it is the only path that has a horizon in front of it and leads to the real Promised Land, the real Armenia - the Republic of Armenia.

    This is the decisive path. One of the philosophers says that the best path is the one that leads you to where you are. This path leads us to where we are, to the Republic of Armenia, and gives us the opportunity to look at our reality from a completely different angle. And only from this angle we can see the future and the path that leads to that future. There is only one guarantee to successfully follow this path to the end: the nationwide awareness and conviction in the mission of political leadership.

    It is also worth noting how Pashinyan combined a spiritual message with the need to follow the course of the “party and government”. Perhaps we can conclude that in the ideological sense the Etchmiadzin card is beaten.

    “Long live our children who will live in a Free and Happy Armenia!” is how Pashinyan concluded his speech.

    It couldn't be said better. Indeed, Armenia needs to free itself from the ways of external governance, which impose ideas of greatness on the people and do not allow them to focus on the problems of statehood. In this sense, Pashinyan is carrying out serious, responsible and sometimes dangerous work.

    It is a pity that Pashinyan did not demonstrate such an approach earlier, before September 2020, but, as he himself admitted in the same address, it took time for him to come to such an understanding of things. And with all obviousness - a crushing defeat in the war with Azerbaijan on all fronts.


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