Sunday, December 27, 2020

‘Armenia Must Normalize Relations with Baku and Ankara or Pack Its Bags and Move,’ Libaridian Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 25 – The protests in Yerevan following Armenia’s defeat in the latest round of Qarabagh fighting have called attention to those who want to take revenge against Azerbaijan and Turkey either in alliance with Russia or, in the case of those who believe Moscow betrayed them, on their own or with some other ally.

            Those voices may be the loudest, but they are not the only ones. Gerard Libaridian, an Armenian American academic who served as an advisor to Armenian presidents and as a negotiator on the Qarabagh dispute in the 1990s, offers a very different piece of advice (

            He argues that “Armenia must normalize relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey or pack its bags and move somewhere else.” That is the only way to ensure the security of the country. If Yerevan continues to view both as enemies, “hatred and fear will dominate,” feelings that for all too long have been “part of Armenian political thought.”

            Libaridian recalls that in 1988, one Dashnak leader said that “Armenia cannot be independent because then the Turks would come and kill all of us.” But Libaridian argues that “in that case, Armenia could never become independent.” It must find ways of developing normal ties with its neighbors all past history notwithstanding.

            Otherwise, he suggests, it is very difficult if not impossible to imagine a good future for Armenia.

            That would require, as Libardian recognizes, a fundamental reordering of Armenian thinking, an end to the Masada complex many in that country suffer from because of the events of 1915 and otherwise and that is perhaps best reflected in Franz Werfel’s insightful 1933 novel, The 40 Days of Musa Dagh.

            But the fact that some Armenians are now willing to try and to take the risk of hostility from their own people by suggesting the need for such a change is a hopeful development, one that people of good will everywhere can only hope will be reciprocated by people in Azerbaijan and Turkey who also have complicated pasts they need to overcome.  


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