Greece Must Recognize Artsakh to Atone for its Envoy’s PR Tour of Shushi
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
A scandalous propaganda tour was organized on July 9-10, 2021 by Azerbaijan’s despotic government to occupied Shushi and Hadrut to display “proudly” to foreign ambassadors its barbaric attack on the civilian population of Artsakh and partial destruction of one of its most sacred Armenian cathedrals.
Before I present the list of ambassadors of countries that exposed their hostility to Armenia by participating in this tour, it is important to note that the ambassadors of France, Russia, and the United States, who are members of the Minsk Group of mediators of the Artsakh conflict, refused to take part in this charade to the chagrin of the Azeri government. The Minsk Group thus indicated that it had no interest in Azerbaijan’s pompous show of its occupation of parts of Artsakh. Contrary to the repeated statements of Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the Minsk Group still considers the status of Artsakh not resolved. The absence of these three major countries from this propaganda tour is a slap in the face of the Azeri government.
The 46 countries that shamelessly participated in this scandalous tour of the city of Shushi are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine and Venezuela. There are 63 foreign embassies in Azerbaijan, which means that 17 ambassadors refused to participate in the propaganda tour, including Argentina, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Great Britain, and India, in addition to France, Russia and the United States. The countries that took part in the Azeri tour should be severely criticized and condemned by all Armenians. Furthermore, the Armenian communities who live in these countries should express their strong disapproval. Demonstrations must be organized in front of the embassies of those countries in Yerevan and protest letters sent to their respective governments.
Of course, the most shameful participant in this tour is the ambassador of Greece, a country that is supposed to be a friend of Armenia. In addition to betraying Armenia, Greece violated its own interests and principles by taking part in this scandalous tour. The Greek ambassador must have forgotten that during the height of the Artsakh war last year, the Foreign Minister of Greece visited Yerevan to show his country’s solidarity with Armenia. He also forgot the insulting and undiplomatic words Pres. Aliyev used to address him during the presentation of his credentials in Baku.
I am pleased that the Greek media and Armenian community of Greece responded harshly to the country’s ambassador’s disastrous visit to Shushi and called on the Greek Foreign Minister to appear in Parliament to provide an explanation. It is not known if the Greek ambassador in Baku obtained the approval of his government prior to his tour of Shushi. If he did, that makes it an even bigger scandal. However, if the Greek Ambassador had not secured his country’s approval prior to his visit to Shushi, which is unlikely, then he should be immediately fired!
Rather than showing gratitude to Greece, Azerbaijan disrespected its submissive action by sending its first parliamentary delegation to the Turkish-occupied so-called Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey. There are reports that Azerbaijan may soon recognize the statehood of Northern Cyprus. If that happens, Greece should immediately dispatch its ambassador in Yerevan to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, and announce its recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. This would be the only way that Greece can atone for its envoy’s indiscretion and deliver a proper response to Azerbaijan’s recognition of Northern Cyprus.
In addition to the Armenian National Committee of Greece’s complaint, the ANC’s of Belgium and the Netherlands filed similar complaints with their respective governments. Protests should also be made to the other participating countries, particularly the governments of Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, Ukraine and Venezuela.
I am pleased that the Foreign Ministries of Armenia and Artsakh issued statements condemning the visit of the foreign ambassadors in Baku to Shushi: “The Republic of Armenia considers utterly unacceptable the visit of diplomatic representatives accredited in Azerbaijan to the occupied territories of Artsakh, including Hadrut and the historical center of Artsakh — Shushi, regions which were ethnically cleansed and their population was the subject of war crimes and other mass atrocities committed by Azerbaijani armed forces during the recent aggression.” It was emphasized that by arranging such events “the Azerbaijani authorities are trying to legitimize the aggression against the people of Artsakh and to strengthen their own claims of having resolved the conflict by force,” stated the Armenian Foreign Ministry which also handed these ambassadors a “note verbale” or a note of protest addressed to their governments.
Rather than visiting the occupied territories of Artsakh, the foreign ambassadors in Baku should have issued a joint statement condemning Azerbaijan for importing Syrian terrorists to fight in the Artsakh war, committing war crimes, ethnic cleansing, destruction of Armenian religious and historical monuments, and continuing to hold captive Armenian prisoners of war 10 months after the end of the conflict in violation of international law and the agreement signed by the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on Nov. 9, 2020.
At every opportunity, citizens of Armenia should remind the foreign ambassadors accredited to Yerevan the inacceptable participation of their colleagues in Azerbaijan in the Shushi tour. Similarly, Armenians living in the offending ambassadors’ countries should express their displeasure to their governments. By continuing to complain about this visit, Armenians will ensure that these countries and their ambassadors in Azerbaijan will think twice before they agree to participate in other propaganda activities on behalf of Azerbaijan.
The only proper response to Azerbaijan’s PR actions is for the Armenian government to organize a tour of Stepanakert, Artsakh, for the foreign ambassadors accredited to Yerevan. Will the Armenian government dare to make such a move and will it succeed in carrying it out? However, before embarking on such an initiative, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan must fill the post of foreign minister which has been vacant for two months.