Pashinyan’s Denialist Bombshell

Spread the love

Pat Walsh

Pat Walsh To: [email protected]

On 24th April each year Yerevan issues its standard message commemorating the “Armenian Genocide” of 1915. This is usually a matter of routine. But not this year. The statement issued by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has led to him being called a “denialist” by the Armenian diaspora and the Genocide industry in the US and elsewhere in the West.

Here are the relevant parts of Pashinyan’s statement that have attracted the ire of those with a stake in the Genocide accusation:

“Dear people, dear citizens of the Republic of Armenia,

Today we commemorate the memory of 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, the Meds Yeghern, who were put to the sword in the Ottoman Empire since 1915 for being Armenians.

This large-scale tragedy took place during the years of the World War I, and the Armenian people, who had no statehood at the time, having lost their statehood centuries ago, had essentially forgotten the tradition of statehood, and became victims of geopolitical intrigues and false promises, lacking first of all a political mind capable of making the world and its rules understandable.

Meds Yeghern became a nationwide tragedy and grief for us, and without exaggeration, is now a predetermining factor for our socio-psychology. Even today, we perceive the world, our environment, ourselves under the dominant influence of the mental trauma of the Meds Yeghern, and we have not been able to overcome that trauma.

This means that… we often relate and compete with other countries and the international community in a state of mental trauma, and for this reason, sometimes we cannot correctly distinguish the realities and factors, historical processes and projected horizons confronting us.

Maybe this is also the reason why we receive new shocks, and relive the trauma of the Armenian Genocide as both a legacy and as a tradition… When talking about the Armenian Genocide, the Meds Yeghern, we always talk to the outside world, but our internal conversation never takes place on this event.


What should we do and what should we not do in order to overcome the trauma of genocide and exclude it as a threat? These are questions that should be the key subject of discussion in our political and philosophical thinking, but this kind of point of view of dealing with the fact of the Meds Yeghern is not common among us.

This is an imperative, an urgent imperative, and we must evaluate the relations between the Meds Yeghern and the First Republic of Armenia, we must relate the perception of the Meds Yeghern with the vital interests of the Republic of Armenia, our national statehood…

We must now stop the searches for a “national homeland” because we have already found that homeland, our Promised Land, where milk and honey flow. For us, the commemoration of the martyrs of the Meds Yeghern should not symbolize the “lost homeland”, but the found and real homeland, in the person of the Republic of Armenia, whose state… policies can prevent a repetition.

Never again! We should not say this to others, but to ourselves. And this is not an accusation against us at all, but a point of view where we, and only we, are responsible for the directing of our destiny and we are obliged to have enough mind, will, and depth of knowledge to carry through that responsibility in the domain of our sovereign decisions and perceptions.

May the martyrs of Meds Yeghern and all our other martyrs be consoled in their permanent sleep by the Republic of Armenia.

And long live the Republic of Armenia.”

It has been noticed that in his statement of April 24th, 2024, the Armenian Prime Minister chose to continually refer to the event the diaspora has been promoting for the last 50 years as “the Armenian Genocide” as Meds Yeghern or “the Great Crime”. He used the Genocide term extremely sparingly, almost in derogatory fashion against its diasporan promoters. Meds Yeghern is the term that Armenians used until the 1940’s to describe the events of 1915 before the term Genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin and applied by the Armenian diaspora in its campaign for reparations against the Turkish state since the 1970s. Since then, there has been an insistence that the proper and legal term that should be used is “Genocide” or Tseghasbanoutyoun, in Armenian.

What Pashinyan seems to be suggesting is that Armenia should stop its myth-making and deal with the realities of situations as they present themselves. In other words it should stop treating propaganda as fact because propaganda is a poor basis for policy and Armenia’s recent disasters are very much connected with this tendency. In line with this he has suggested, in line with Azerbaijan President Aliyev’s demand, that Armenia adopt a new constitution deleting the references to “Artsakh” and “the Armenian Genocide”.

One of Pashinyan’s top lieutenants’ has also made the suggestion of making a list of all “1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide”. This has been seen by the Armenian diaspora as an indirect way of questioning the veracity of the “Armenian Genocide” and part of a policy of appeasment toward Azerbaijan and Turkiye.

The Lemkin Institute, horrified that its raison d’etre has been questioned by the Armenian Prime Minister, no less, issued a very lengthy and detailed statement saying:

“While we do not generally involve ourselves in domestic affairs of states unless there is an internal threat of genocide, we must address concerns stemming from recent statements made by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that appear to diverge from fundamental principles of genocide prevention, genocide recognition, and transitional justice, and that directly relate to issues of Armenian national security.”

The Lemkin Institute statement then seeks to refute Pashinyan’s own statement published on April 24th:

“Perhaps most striking about Pashinyan’s statement on the genocide was the absence of any mention of aggressors. In paragraph three, for example, Pashinyan — discussing the period in the Ottoman Empire leading up to the 1915 genocide — cryptically asserted that “…the Armenian people, who had no statehood, had lost their statehood centuries ago, and essentially had forgotten the tradition of statehood, became victims of geopolitical intrigues and false promises, lacking first of all a political mind capable of making the world and its rules understandable.” This statement seems to assert that Armenians mysteriously experienced genocide due to their own witlessness. By asserting that Armenians were solely “victims of geopolitical intrigues and false promises,” Pashinyan further disregards the long-term and multi-layered historical oppression of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as well as the deep and visceral contempt for Armenians among members of the Committee of Union and Progress, the ruling party during the genocide. In other words, Pashinyan’s statement fails to recognize the role played by the ethnic, religious, and cultural animosity for Armenians in the Turkic supremacist campaign of extermination that targeted Armenians during World War I.

Furthermore, instead of attributing blame for the genocide to the leaders of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Pashinyan redirects attention towards Armenians, and specifically their apparent incapacity to understand politics at the time. He appears to be referencing the actions of the Russian Empire and Western powers during that era, who promised to protect Armenians but did not follow through, which aggravated the Ottoman leaders’ sense of external threat to the empire and drew negative attention to the Armenians as ‘foreign agents’. However, he does not state this outright; instead he seems to believe that Armenians brought the genocide upon themselves by misunderstanding the political terrain. Pashinyan’s talking points in this passage seem ironic, given that he has himself embraced Western offers to save Armenia from its hostile neighbors. Yet, his talking points also echo the official position of Türkiye regarding the Armenian Genocide which justified it by contracting “against an onslaught of external invaders and internal nationalist independence movements”. By parroting the Turkish narrative of the events of 1915-1923, the Armenian Prime Minister risks absolving Türkiye of its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, downplaying all previous acknowledgment efforts. Further, it may substantially hamper the continuing work on international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and Turkish accountability – something that the worldwide Armenian diaspora, as well as genocide scholars and activists, have been fighting for.

Pashinyan’s argument that “Armenian people, who had no statehood, had lost their statehood centuries ago, and essentially had forgotten the tradition of statehood” inexplicably plays into the denialist agenda of Türkiye and Azerbaijan by obliquely mischaracterizing Armenian efforts to gain equal rights and human security in the Ottoman empire with foolish attempts to exercise a quest for independent statehood for which they had no capacity. The vast majority of Armenians under Ottoman rule were not seeking secession, but rather security and justice. Pashinyan’s words directly echo the official Turkish view of the Armenian people as rebellious “traitors” who collaborated with hostile European powers to bring about the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and who therefore betrayed the country. In fact, in this passage, Pashinyan seems to be making the case that Armenians can only avoid future genocides by capitulating to present-day Türkiye’s expansionist designs.”

It must be admitted that the Armenian Prime Minister has a better understanding of Armenian history than the propagandists in the Genocide industry.

Just after the Great War of August 1914 began in Europe a delegation of Young Turks attended the 8th Dashnak Congress held at Erzurum, in Ottoman eastern Anatolia. There they made an offer to the Armenians to secure their loyalty in the event of the War coming to the Ottoman territories – so as to preserve stability in the territories in which the Armenians lived.

That the Ottomans should have hosted the Dashnak Congress as the Great War was beginning reveals something about the good intentions of the Committee of Union and Progress (New/Young Turks). For most of the previous decade the Dashnaks had sat in the Ottoman parliament, Armenians had been Ottoman ministers and there had been genuine attempts at reform, which were to be supervised by International inspectors, in the eastern vilayets where the Armenians mostly lived.

At this Congress the Ottomans offered the Dashnaks the thing they had been struggling for over the previous 30 years – autonomy.

The Ottoman Government sent a delegation of 28 CUP members, representing all the ethnic groups of the Empire, including important individuals like Behaeddin Shakir and Naji Bey, to make an offer to the Armenians – who were observed to be moving toward supporting a Russian assault on the Empire.

There is a detailed account of the offer made to the Dashnaks at their Congress in Erzurum in a book written by Morgan Philips Price, a pro-Armenian British Liberal, who later became a Labour M.P. He acted for C.P. Scott as The Manchester Guardian’s Caucasus correspondent during the Great War:

“At the outbreak of the European war the Committee of Union and Progress became all-powerful, and all reform schemes and reconciliation plans fell to the ground. The Armenian party, “Dashnaktsution”, happened to be holding a conference at Erzerum when the war began. Turkey had not yet entered; but at the beginning of August Hilmi Bey, Behadin Shekir Bey, and Nedji Bey were delegated by the Committee to make certain proposals to the Armenians in the event of war with Russia. These delegates arrived at Erzerum at the end of the month, and their first proposal was that the Armenians should observe complete neutrality, the population of Armenia and the Trans-Caucasus doing its military duty, to whatever Empire it owed allegiance.

This the Armenians accepted, and all seemed to point to an agreement. But a few days later the Turks suddenly made another proposal. Turkey, they said, could never be secure until there was a chain of buffer States between her and her arch-enemy, Russia, and they claimed that, if war broke out, the Armenians should assist them in carrying out their plan. They then produced a map of the Middle East in which the following political divisions were made. Russia was to be pushed back to the Cossack steppes beyond the main range of the Caucasus. Tiflis and the Black Sea coast, with Batum and Kutais, were marked as belonging to an autonomous province of Georgia. The central part of the Trans-Caucasus, with Kars, Alexandropol and Erivan, were to be joined to the vilayets of Van, Bitlis, and East Erzerum, as an autonomous Armenia. Eastern Trans-Caucasia, including Baku, Elizabetopol and Dagestan were to become an autonomous province of Shiite Tartars. The Armenians, feeling the impossibility of the Ottoman Empire ever being able to realize such a grandiose scheme… refused to have anything to do with the proposal. So the Young Turk delegates, unable to make any impression in Erzerum, proceeded to Van, where they met with no greater success.

According to statements made to me during 1915 by prominent Van Armenians, it is clear that the action of the Tiflis Dashnakists, about which the Committee of Union and Progress had doubtless been informed by the end of August, was the principal cause of these Turkish demands. Early in August 1914 the Tiflis Armenians seem to have decided that a Russo-Turkish war was inevitable, and thereupon the Dashnakist leaders there at once offered 25,000 volunteers to assist the Russians in conquering the Armenian vilayets.

This offer was made before the outbreak of the war with Turkey, and in the interval the volunteers were busy training and forming at the various centres in the Caucasus. At the end of October, when Turkey came into the war, preparations had been so far advanced that Andranik, the famous revolutionary leader from Turkey, at the head of the first volunteer battalion, took part with the Russians in the advance through North-west Persia, capturing Serai early in November. Meanwhile five more battalions had been formed and were ready to leave for the front, as soon as they could get rifles and equipment. Fifty per cent, of these volunteers were Armenians who had left Turkey, Bulgaria and Roumania since the outbreak of the European war, and had come to the Caucasus to offer their services.

There can be little doubt that this volunteer movement, started under the auspices of the Caucasus Armenians, was the cause of the Young Turk demands on the Armenians of Erzerum, Van and Bitlis for a similar volunteer movement against Russia, and of the subsequent persecution when this demand was refused. Prominent Armenians, whom I met in Van, told me how the attitude of Djevdet Pasha towards them and their people became much more unfriendly as soon as the news arrived that Armenian volunteers were on the front fighting against the Turks. He at once demanded the return of a number of Armenian deserters, whose absence had hitherto been winked at. He accused them of going over to the volunteers with the Russians, and commenced the policy of forcing the Armenians into special labour battalions, where they had very hard work and bad food. Thus the Van Armenians were at the mercy of the Turks, who avenged on them all the rash acts of their kinsmen in the Caucasus. 

That their conduct was keenly resented by the Turkish Armenian refugees in the Caucasus, was made clear by some articles in the Van Tosp, the organ of the Van Armenians in Tin as early in 1916. In its issue for January 9th, 1916, Professor Minassian took the Dashnaktsution party to task for having entered into negotiations with the Russian authorities without consulting its kindred societies in Turkish Armenia. It had spread, he said, baseless rumours of a Russian promise of autonomy for Armenia, and then had proceeded to organize volunteer battalions, regardless of the effect that this would have on their kinsmen in Turkey, whose position under the nose of the Turks was very precarious and required tactful handling. He denied that there was any serious negotiation with the Russian Government about Armenian autonomy, and said that the Dashnaktsution leaders of the Caucasus were pretending to represent responsible opinion, whereas they really only represented a group. The Orizon, the organ of the Dashnaktsution in Tiflis, defended itself by saying that the massacre would have happened in any case, and that Prince Vorontsoff Dashkoff had not only verbally promised Armenian autonomy in return for the service of the volunteers, but had actually signed a document to this effect. Whether this document ever existed is however exceedingly doubtful.” (War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia, pp.243-6)

The Armenians turned the Ottoman offer down and instead joined the Tsarist invasion and mounted an insurrection against the Ottoman state. That proved to be a fateful effor with the most tragic of results.

The CUP mission offered the Armenians autonomy in 2 and a half vilayets of East Erzurum, Van and Bitlis plus “Russian Armenia” in return for service in the Ottoman army in the event of war and support from their brethren in Russian territory, who would then, in the event of victory, be part of the larger autonomous region. The offer would be guaranteed by the German Government. The CUP delegation proposed that the Dashnaks aid the Ottoman State by mounting attacks on any Russian invasion behind the lines in Transcaucasia, where an autonomous Armenian state could be founded.

In the 2 and a half vilayets of Turkish Armenia this would have placed around 1 million Muslims under the authority of an autonomous Armenia containing only around 400,000 Armenians. So it was undoubtedly a generous concession on the Ottoman side (see Justin McCarthy, Turks and Armenians: Nationalism and Conflict in the Ottoman Empire, p.10) According to the 1897 Tsarist figures the Armenian population of the autonomous area would have been increased by another 1 million from the Kars, Erivan and Alexandropol Russian guberniyas (although this area would have also contained a sizeable amount of MuslimsBy 1917 the Russians counted 1.4 million Christians in Russian Armenia and 670,000 Moslems).

So, an Armenian autonomous region, with “Russian Armenia” included, under Ottoman sovereignty would have perhaps been made viable by a small majority of Armenians – something that all the Armenian territorial claims were incapable of delivering without the extensive ethnic cleansing of Muslims.

This was the concrete realisation, to all intents and purposes, of the deal the Dashnaks had concluded with the Young Turks in 1907. It was more realistic and realisable than the choice the Dashnaks subsequently took in throwing in their lot with Russian expansionism and British Imperialism.

It could be said that the Dashnaks backed the wrong horse, believing it to be the more powerful one, more likely to win. They were taken in by the promises and propaganda of the Triple Entente – Britain, France and Russia – and paid an awful price for it.

Prime Minister Pashinyan, therefore, has a point. Armenians should grasp this historic opportunity to forget altogether about the myths around “Greater Armenia” and instead concentrate all efforts in improving the lives of Armenians living in the actual Armenia. The ideology of “Greater Armenia” and the “Armenian Genocide” combined, at the collapse of the USSR, to impel Armenia to seize a large portion of Azerbaijan where there was a sizeable Armenian population and which Armenian history had taught was a part of “historic Armenia”. In the course of this conquest there were fearsome massacres of Azerbaijani civilians and over 750,000 were driven from their homes to become internally displaced persons in other parts of Azerbaijan. And the US diaspora volunteeers, led by Monte Melkonian, conducted the notorious Khojaly massacre.

The seizure of Karabakh and the surrounding regions and ethnic cleansing of its population was justified not only on irredentist grounds but with reference to the events of 1915. Azerbaijani Turks could not be allowed to live in Karabakh because these “Turks” were, after all the same Turks as 1915!

The “Armenian Genocide” narrative also chained Armenia to its Russian “protector” after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Armenia was in need of a “protector” after what it did in Karabakh in the early 1990s and Moscow was indeed happy to oblige. This had a consequent retarding effect on Armenia’s post-Soviet national independence and development when the route to the West went through Turkiye. Pashinyan is very aware of this.

One of the first acts of the current US President upon coming to power was to recognise the “Armenian Genocide.” And now that same “caller out” of genocides is the essential facilitator of the clearest case of attempted genocide seen in modern times.

Perhaps that is concentrating the mind of the Armenian Prime Minister and making him into something of a statesman.

Spread the love


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *