Staunton, January 26 – Many Turks and Azerbaijanis have long assumed that the Armenian diaspora, numbering from seven to ten million people, is a powerful lobby for Yerevan; but in fact, Moscow analyst Aleksandr Krylov says, it is divided on most issues and increasingly at odds with Yerevan.
Recognition of that reality, he argues, is a reason why President Ilham Aliyev believed he carry out a military campaign against Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory (imemo.ru/files/File/magazines/rossia_i_novay/2020_04/18.KRYLOV.pdf reposted at kavkazoved.info/news/2021/01/26/globalnaja-armjanskaja-nacia-v-politike-sovremennoj-armenii.html).
In the past, Azerbaijani and Turkish leaders have been convinced that if they moved against Armenia, the Armenian “lobby” would rapidly bring Western governments and Russia in on the side of Yerevan to stop them, a view that served to restrain them from such moves. But now, Krylov says, there is no such belief.
Armenians living outside Armenia remain united on one thing: They are committed to having the governments of the world declare the mass murder of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 an act of genocide; but on all other issues, Krylov continues, they are divided not only in terms of how much they identify with the Republic but also on what policies they support.
Some are culturally Armenian but not political, and consequently, they have been slow to respond to Armen Sargsyan’s notion, first floated in London in 2011, that they are “a global nation” that should unite around Yerevan. Even Yerevan has been less than enthusiastic in promoting that idea.
“After the disintegration of the USSR, the Armenian authorities tried to use the experience of Israel, China and Ireland, all of whom established effective cooperation with their diasporas and received form them significant political and economic support,” the commentator says. But Armenia’s problems had the effect of putting off many in the diaspora.
Yerevan was also more restrained in promoting such ties. On the one hand, it did not always welcome either the involvement of émigré-based political parties or even investors. And on the other, it did not legalize dual citizenship until 2005, long after the initial enthusiasm about independence had cooled.
As a result, “and unlike Israel, Armenia did not become ‘the Promised Land’ for the Armenian diaspora.” Indeed, instead of Armenians moving back to the Republic, ever more Armenians saw the diaspora are providing them with an easier way to move abroad, not only in the Russian Federation but elsewhere as well.
If most Armenian leaders did not pick up on the idea of Armenians as “a global nation” – Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, for one, has never used the term in public – they all have spoken in recent years about “the unity of three parts of the Armenian nation, Armenia, Artsakh [Qarabagh], and Spiurk” [ the diaspora elsewhere].
Yerevan has supported various diaspora unions, but these have remained sharply divided within themselves and often at odds with the Republic, thus limiting their utility as allies for the Armenian authorities, Krylov continues. And that problem has only intensified both within Armenia and in the diaspora since Yerevan’s defeat in the recent fighting.
As a result, he concludes, “the idea of ‘a global Armenian nation’ requires rethinking on the basis of an objective assessment of the entire post-Soviet period of the development of Armenia and the negative experience of the Qarabagh war of 2020.”