In the light of the street demonstrations of the Armenian opposition, which aim to overthrow the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Pashinyan, we would like to say that a third way is possible and desirable. We do not recognize ourselves in the violence of the words ("traitors", "corrupt", etc.) between the supporters of one side and the other on social media, which unfortunately underline the lack of confidence in the intellectual autonomy of Armenian citizens, ratify a system that offers only a binary choice as the only solution and bring to light the injunction to submit to avoid the abyss or nothingness. Obedience is only civil under certain conditions.
It seems to us however that it is possible, at the same time, to defend human rights, all human rights, and the rights of the Armenian nation to live in peace and security on its land. In this context, it is regrettable that men of the quality of the former Ombudsman, and in our opinion bearers of this synthesis, are not yet considered as a possible recourse in the face of the extreme polarization of Armenian society, as the State is once again being dismantled to make way for competing feudalities.
Armenia can pride itself on being more democratic than any of its neighbours, including Georgia, which also trails Armenia in the latest RSF press freedom index. Armenia, unlike its Turkish neighbours, has been invited to the US-organised Democracy Summit in December 2021. However, one can legitimately wonder what concrete benefits the Armenians get from this democratic label given by the West when one sees, for example, that, contrary to what was said shortly after the war, there is finally almost parity in the sums that the European Union is going to invest in Armenia and Azerbaijan in the coming years. When we see, for example, that despite the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the American Administration, massive military aid is maintained to Azerbaijan, while the sums allocated to Armenia, in all areas, seem trivial in comparison. During the reception of his Armenian counterpart in Washington in early May 2022, Secretary of State A. Blinken congratulated Armenia for its "flexibility" on the Karabakh issue. Western energy interests, especially in a context of total disengagement from Russian hydrocarbons, are pushing these countries, our countries (France, the United States, the EU), as Prime Minister Pashinyan himself indicated, to demand that Armenia "lower" the bar on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, i.e. that it renounce, it seems, what was nevertheless a campaign promise of Pashinyan's, the right to self-determination for the people of Karabakh (Artsakh).
The right to self-determination for the people of Artsakh was in fact included in candidate Pashinyan's Civil Contract election program for the June 2021 parliamentary elections in this form (1):
“Our main objective in the coming years must be to eliminate the consequences of the catastrophic war, as well as to ensure the security of the people of Artsakh and the peaceful, comprehensive settlement of the Karabakh conflict based on self-determination of Artsakh people without restrictions, which stems from the need to resist to the existential risks of the Artsakh people. The fact that the Armenians were evicted from all the territories of Artsakh where Azeri control has been established as a result of mass human rights violations and crimes, indicates that the people of Artsakh cannot survive under the subordination of Azerbaijan”.
Is this enough to call for his resignation today? Is it necessary to integrate this questioning of the legitimacy of a government in a specific moment of power while at the same time there are many arrests and violence? In a democratic society, no doubt. Even if the concept of legitimacy remains difficult to grasp, it can be stressed that all political power is fundamentally based on legitimacy, which refers to trust, an initial credit and what has a coherent and credible character. We, who supported him in a 2018 power grab that brought new perspectives, since civil disobedience is a form of political action that marks the awareness of the citizen's capacity, call on him today to honor his campaign promise on the self-determination of Artsakh. We say this as members of the Armenian nation.
For it is perfectly clear that Armenians will not be safe under Baku's sovereignty, whatever form it takes (more or less autonomy). In such cases, there is a concept that has been applied at least twice since the end of the Cold War, for Kosovo and East Timor: remedial secession. A population threatened with genocide or ethnic cleansing by the State on which it depends can legitimately claim its right to self-determination as a last resort in the name of its survival and security. If ever a people were in such a situation, it is the Armenians of Artsakh today.
The outbreak of war by Azerbaijan cannot negate the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh, unless the international community recognizes that the use of force must be rewarded.
In the wake of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling of 7 December 2021 (2), which affirmed the state character of anti-Armenian racism in Azerbaijan, and the European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2022 (3), which emphasizes that "the erasure of Armenian cultural heritage in the region is part of a wider pattern of systematic, state-level policy of "Armenophobia", historical revisionism and hatred towards Armenians promoted by the Azerbaijani authorities", we call on the international community, including Armenia, to be consistent with itself and to recognize the right to self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh. This would be the least that could be done for the Armenians who fought alone an unprovoked war of agression launched against them by far more superior forces for a month and a half in the midst of a global pandemic and US presidential elections. What demands for justice do we have? If we do not accept that the law and the authority of the strongest rule, but the truth, then only international recognition of the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh can preserve their security in the future.