Zatik consiglia:
Iniziativa Culturale:



Countdown to the Next War over Artsakh
By David Boyajian

Meeting at the White House with a group of Armenian Americans, the chief U.S. negotiator for the OSCE peace talks on Artsakh (Karabagh) announced that the United States would be satisfied if a peace agreement were to last for only 10 years.

The official was Joseph A. Presel. It was 1996, and Bill Clinton was president. I happened to be at that meeting.

With Presel were Richard Morningstar, U.S. special envoy to the newly independent states of the Caucasus, Caspian, and Central Asia, Nancy Soderberg of the National Security Council, and others. A key U.S. objective, Soderberg declared, was to pump the region’s oil and gas resources west through U.S. sponsored pipelines.

While commenting on the OSCE negotiations, Presel made an astonishing remark, which I paraphrase: ‘Even if a peace agreement between Armenians and Azerbaijan over Karabagh were to last just 10 years, that would be sufficient.’

Did Presel mean that Washington would risk a quick fix for Artsakh even if it were likely to result in a medium-term renewal of violence? I believe so, and the reasons are clear.

The Armenian corridor
Like Georgia, Armenia sits in a strategic position between energy-rich Azerbaijan (and the Caspian Sea) and NATO member Turkey.

An Artsakh peace accord would lead Azerbaijan, and probably Turkey, to reopen their borders with Armenia. That, the U.S. State Department hopes, would eventually result in Armenia’s serving American interests as a land, air, and gas and oil pipeline corridor between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

None of that will happen without an Artsakh peace accord. But it need last just long enough for the U.S. to gain an economic and political foothold in Armenia. Such a foothold would take several years, which explains Presel’s 10-year timeframe.

Why did Presel, an experienced diplomat who had served in Turkey and Russia and was soon to be the ambassador to Uzbekistan, make such a damning disclosure about State Department strategy?

I don’t know. It was early in the morning, and Presel looked very tired. Perhaps fatigue caused him to let his guard down.

With Presel’s 10-year timeframe in mind, consider the OSCE peace plan for Artsakh that Washington, Paris, and Moscow have proposed.

Recipe for disaster
The plan would, for instance, allow thousands of Azeris to resettle in Artsakh. Even Armenia has apparently fallen for this pseudo-humanitarian proposal.

Azerbaijan will ensure that the resettlers include plenty of spies, saboteurs, and provocateurs. Their job? To sow discord over property rights, school curricula, military service, alleged discrimination, and any other pretext they can dream up. The resulting disorder or civil war would give the OSCE and Azerbaijan an excuse to cancel the referendum that would supposedly decide Artsakh’s final legal status.

Claiming that Armenians were brutalizing its kin, Azerbaijan - armed with advanced weapons bought with billions in oil and gas revenue - could well launch a massive assault. Azerbaijan has always preferred reconquest over peace.

Even if the resettled Azeris lived peacefully, their higher birth rate would ensure their eventually outnumbering Armenians.

Under either scenario, Armenians could lose Artsakh permanently.

Major power plays
Would the United States (and Europe) really be unconcerned if an Artsakh peace fell apart after 10 years or so? It depends.

If western-bound pipelines passed through Armenia, or if a new war jeopardized the existing Azeri pipelines that lie just north of Artsakh, Washington and Europe would oppose a new war by Azerbaijan. It’s unclear, however, that they would have sufficient leverage over Baku to enforce their will.

Conversely, if their interests were not threatened, the U.S. and Europe might not particularly care if Azerbaijan reconquered Artsakh. Russia might actually welcome a new war by Azerbaijan if it concluded that an Armenian counterattack would damage western-bound pipelines.

The major powers could prove to be greater enemies of Artsakh than is Azerbaijan.

Treachery and betrayal
Would Armenia ever agree to a deeply flawed peace plan for Artsakh designed by the U.S., France, Europe, and Russia, all of whom have historically lied to and betrayed Armenians? Probably.

Inexplicably, Armenian governments have rarely, if ever, publicly reminded these countries of their treachery. Brought up in the denationalized Soviet educational system, Armenian leaders may be largely unaware of the details of that treachery.

Moreover, Armenia’s recent accord with Turkey - the so-called “protocols” which tend to cast aside Armenian historical rights and may make the factuality of the genocide debatable - demonstrates that its leaders are poor negotiators and more concerned with lining their pockets than heeding the views of their people.

State Department doubletalk
Despite Presel’s eye-opening revelation, unintentional or otherwise, about a short-term fix for Artsakh, Armenians should know that he also reflects the State Department’s doubletalk about the Armenian genocide.

At the White House, Presel referred directly to the Armenian genocide, saying, ‘I don’t know why Turkey doesn’t just acknowledge it.’ The statement was strangely disingenuous. Presel had, after all, served in Turkey and certainly knew of Ankara’s fear that a genocide acknowledgment could advance long-standing Armenian claims to territory and reparations.

Fast forward to several years ago. Presel was on a panel that discussed Armenian - Turkish relations. He reportedly endorsed Turkey’s denialist stance that the 1915 killings were not genocide but rather were caused by Armenian rebellions.

Regardless, Armenians must take Presel’s “10-year” warning seriously. There is no reason to believe that the State Department’s policy is any different now than when he said it.

When a “peace” agreement on Artsakh is signed, start counting.
David Boyajian is a freelance writer. Many of his articles and interviews are archived on

Developments in Archaeology in Armenia Highlighted at Ararat-Eskijian Library on Dec. 6

Left to right: NAASR Board Member Bruce W. Roat, Ararat-Eskijian Museum Director Maggie Mangassarian-Goschin, Dr. Pavel Avetisyan, Dr. Gregory Areshian, Mrs. Effie Eskijian, and Museum Chairman Martin Eskijian.

Dr. Pavel Avetisyan, Director of Armenia's Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Dr. Gregory Areshian of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, presented illustrated lectures on Sunday, December 6, 2009, at the Ararat-Eskijian Museum in Mission Hills, CA 91345. The event was cosponsored by the Museum, the Friends of UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).

Dr. Avetisyan spoke in Armenian, with English translation provided by Dr. Areshian, on the subject "International Academic Cooperation and Its Importance for Studies in Armenian History and Civilization."

He explained that a major transformation of Armenian studies has taken place during the last two decades since Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union. Besides traditional areas such as the study of the Armenian past based on written historical records and Armenian literature, "younger" areas of inquiry more focused on the Armenian material cultural heritage, long-term processes in Armenian history, anthropological and sociological researches and others started gaining momentum.

Stating that "it is not surprising that the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia has become the world's fastest growing institution of Armenian studies," he elaborated that the Institute focuses on previously unexplored or poorly understood areas of Armenian life and civilization: from the appearance of first humans on the Armenian Highland to the process of formation of values and transformation of national identities in the contemporary Armenian society at the threshold of the new millennium.

What propels this growth, said Dr. Avetisyan, is the exponential expansion of international cooperation. Currently the Institute is the senior partner in two dozen international collaborative projects, the largest eleven of which are concerned with the study and documentation of the Ancient and Medieval Armenian material cultural heritage. In the last six to seven years, these projects have made amazing discoveries, some of which Avetisyan presented.

In Avetisyan's view, the most significant implications of the international collaboration are: (1) that the most recent advancements in social theory developed in the West are applied to the social researches in Armenia; (2) the Armenian cultural heritage is brought to the attention of the scholarly audiences and the general public in the U.S. and Europe; (3) new discoveries not only make major corrections and fill gaps in our knowledge of Armenian history, but also contribute to a better understanding of significant stages in the development of human civizilation in general; (4) a major improvement in the training of students in Armenia has been achieved; (5) the Armenian society has been enriched by a large number of new sites, monuments, and finds of outstanding cultural and historical value, all of which are kept in different museums in Armenia; and (6) the scientific data obtained during those explorations are processed and studied in the best laboratories of Europe and North America.

Dr. Gregory Areshian, in a talk in English entitled "The Discovery of a 6,000 Year-Old Cave Civilization in Armenia," presented information connected with discoveries made during 2007-2009 in the Vayots-Dzor Province by the Arpa River Valley Joint Project of the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Arpa River Valley is a little-explored area, despite having the highest concentration of karstic caves in Armenia and such outstanding monuments of Armenian medieval architecture as Noravank Monastery. The project identified more than three dozen inhabited caves in that region and other important sites dating from the Stone Age to the 17th century A.D. In the summer of 2010 the Project will start a systematic survey of the region.

However, for Areshian, the most exciting and sensational discoveries were made at the cave known as Areni-1, where a small-scale excavation started in 2007. The explorations carried out thus far attest to a very large cave site with cultural remains in three interconnected cave galleries, each up to 40 meters long, and also under the rock shelter in front of the galleries and on the slope descending toward the river. In the uppermost layer, fragments of a Medieval Armenian manuscript were found. Beneath, a carbonated, hard, natural crust covered more than 15-feet-thick cultural layers.

The crust, together with extreme dryness and stable temperatures inside, created unique conditions that preserved artifacts and various organic remains not found in other earlier excavations. Non-burnt wooden artifacts, seeds, rope, cloth, straw, grass, reeds, and even dried fruits (grapes and prunes) were found in the top three layers dating back to the Copper Age (Chalcolithic), ca. 4000 B.C. Various remains may indicate the presence of a full cycle of wine making in the cave.

Areshian explained that a human brain found in a ritually deposited head is the most astounding discovery from that period. This is the oldest human brain ever found in the Old World. He stated that the newly-discovered cave society will prompt a major revision of our knowledge concerning the early civilizations of the Middle East and Southeastern Europe.

By David Boyajian

Il sito è curato dall'Arch. Vahé Vartanian e dal Dott. Enzo Mainardi;
© Zatik - Powered by Akmé S.r.l.