by Varuzhan Avetisyan
To create a sovereign national state we must first liberate our country from the Russian colonialism. That is why the biggest imperative for the Armenian nation should be decolonization. The idea of decolonization should become a tool and guiding principle that unites the Armenian political elite. Below is Varuzhan Avetisyan’s article, which expresses our views on decolonization. This article will be followed by a series of others on the main steps for achieving decolonization.
Decolonization (Armexit) or the Beginning of the Life Road
Follow-up Address to Armenian Youth
A nation’s quest for existence can materialize if it is accompanied by a credible pursuit of freedom and dignity. The main condition and means for providing free and dignified existence is a national state. Nations subjected to a foreign rule—the colonized nations—face a genocide in the long term. The forms, methods, volumes, and rates of genocide could vary, but the results are largely similar.
The national state has two main qualitative characteristics: its mission and legal status. The state, as a system, is a tool for the mission’s implementation. The state is known to have a legal status if it has a territory, a stable population, an ability to engage in external relations, and own (not foreign) government, a system of public administration. These two features must be present simultaneously: legal status is a necessary but insufficient condition for the existence of a national state.
While the legal status is generally observable, the mission can only be inferred. Universally, the mission of Armenians’ (or as Kostan Zaryan brilliantly coined “of the shepherds’ nation or people of Ararat”) is to spread the “wisdom of life” and be a bridge-mediator between civilizations and regions.
After losing its legal status the state simultaneously loses its mission, but after losing the mission the legal status may exist for a while longer. It will be lost eventually, but this process can last for centuries, as it happened in the case of Armenia.
Nearly 200 years ago, the Armenian elite tied the country’s political future with Russia. Regardless of the prevailing motives of the time, this choice was of a smaller evil, expected to help avoid the encroachments typical to Turkic domination that was not characteristic of the Russian rule. In other words, a choice was made in favor of a genocide committed in more gentle forms and methods and to a lesser degree and at a slower pace.
However, this appearance is deceiving. The Russian Empire has to date been carrying out a “red genocide” with the help of the Caucasian Tatars. In essence, the situation has not changed much. We still do not have a national state and a free and dignified life. We are in a survival mode, gradually being subjected to genocide in various ways, methods, degree, and pace. To be fair, in our history there were periods of partial uplift and prosperity, providing energy and stimulus for a possible life, but they did not change that process.
We find this approach questionable, because the brutal and bloody Turkic rule gave birth to self-preservation and resistance instincts, while the Russian dominance—veiled under the “Christian Brotherhood” and seen as the smaller evil—undermined the self-preserving instinct and instead led to apathy and “bleeding to death.” Moreover, a considerable part of Armenians, who have been under Russian domination, often have lost their identity and have shown ultimate commitment to Russia, sometimes even with a pathos. The policy of cultural assimilation typical for the Russian Empire (doubtless an interesting topic deserving a separate examination) has greatly contributed to it.
After much of Eastern Armenia was absorbed by Russia, the perception of the smaller evil was largely disassociated from the Armenia-Persia relations and clearly and unambiguously became part of the choice between Russia and Turkey.
The Russia vs. Turkey dilemma is a foreign policy choice that causes strategic (and in its extreme manifestations existential) challenges for Armenia and Armenians, and is based on a choice between a mild Russian yoke instead of a national state that would help get rid of the Turkish yoke. Among considerable part of Armenians, it has created a mentality, which accepts the Russian colonialism and the Russian-Turkish bargains, carried out at our expense, as a destiny that deprives the Armenian side of the opportunity to live a free and dignified life and fulfill its mission. It essentially helps the Russian and Turkish sides ensure their interests at the expense of Armenians and Armenia by excluding the Armenian factor and form a regional architecture favorable for them.
The establishment of the 1st Republic of Armenia in 1918 provided an opportunity to get out of the format of Russia vs. Turkey dilemma and to create a national state. However, due to the Armenian Genocide, the unfavorable geopolitical situation, and other objective reasons, the newly born Republic was not able to withstand the Russian-Turkish aggression. The Russian-Turkish alliance seized and divided the state that existed for two and a half years and in 1921 created a regional architecture that excluded the Armenian factor by the Treaty of Moscow (of March 16) and the Treaty of Kars (of October 13). This was also guaranteed by the alienation of Artsakh and Nakhijevan from Armenia as well as by depriving the Republic of Armenia of sovereignty and turning it into an administrative-territorial unit of Russia.
As a result of all this, we returned to the format of the unfavorable Russia vs. Turkey dilemma. Armenia emerged in a colonial system, the basis of which was the regional architecture formed by the Russian-Turkish agreements, and the lever was Armenia’s dependence on Russia, with the tool of implementation being the Russia’s administrative control over Armenia.
The last opportunity to break away from the Russia vs. Turkey dilemma, to free from the colonial system (Armexit) and create a national state emerged due to the Artsakh liberation struggle (of 1988) and the demise of the USSR (in December 1991).
The liberation of a considerable part of the territory of Artsakh partially broke the regional architecture created by the Russian-Turkish alliance, that is, the basis of the colonial system keeping us under control. It also provided a chance for taking control of Nakhichevan and building a national Armenian state free of Russian colonialism in the Kura-Arax natural range and through it overcoming the Russia vs. Turkey dilemma and starting the process of regaining our national mission and reclaiming our homeland.
However, during the demise of the Russian Empire (which existed in the form of the USSR for 70 odd years), reproductive mechanisms were put forth, which soon turned into a plan of reviving the Empire in a new form that aimed to recolonize the former USSR republics.
In the case of Armenia and Armenians, with a plan to overcome our national resistance, the Russian Empire used its agent network (both political and intelligence) in Armenia’s governing system to maintain its colonial rule and through it:
- Diverted the liberation struggle of Artsakh from its original objective of unification with Armenia. Through Artsakh’s independence and separation from Armenia, it undermined the challenge that the unification could have posed for the regional architecture and thus the possibility of Armenia to challenge the colonial system and become a regional factor. Finally, it created pre-requisites for using Artsakh as a bargaining chip in its efforts to retake Transcaucasia;
- Forced Armenia to enter supranational alliances (g., CIS, CSTO, and EAEU) created around Russian axis, significantly limiting the possibilities of Armenia’s international and regional integration and development of partnership potential, turning Armenia into Russia’s satellite-state. It formulated a bilateral treaty-based legal system deepening Armenia’s dependence on Russia;
- Established strategic control over Armenia’s security, defense, and economic sectors as well as external relations and public administration;
- In 1988-94 and subsequently, neutralized the political, public, and military figures, who had the potential to build a national state;
- Completed the formation of an inferior political-managerial class and its core colonial administration in Armenia (including Artsakh) with strong allegiances to Russia, slave mentality, materialistic aspirations, and a weak will;
- In an act of criminal collusion, it actively supported the colonial administration in its move to:
(a) completely capture the state and transform it into an instrument of reproducing the Russian colonial power and its subservient administration;
(b) create a situation forcing mass exodus of Armenians from homeland;
(c) create disproportionately large (in comparison with the country’s population) Janissary police force and guarantee its use with impunity.
Due to these and other actions, Russia also succeeded in maintaining the lever of colonial system, that is, the dependence of Armenia on Russia and will ensure the reproduction of the colonial administration leading to the loss of statehood, genocide, and the final loss of our homeland.
The systemic crisis caused by these actions seriously weakens the national immunity and creates conditions and prerequisites for Abkhazization of Armenia and its final absorption. If that happens, we will be deprived of the prospect of creating a national state and of re-empowering our homeland, implementing our mission, and consequently of the possibility of having a free and dignified life, which will irreversibly lead to assimilation and loss of identity.
To save ourselves of this “dying breed” status and gain a free and dignified national status, first of all, we need to start the decolonization process, that is, liberate ourselves from the Russian colonialism built upon the Russia vs. Turkey dilemma, demolish the colonial system, and cut the umbilical cord with which Russia controls Armenia.
To start the decolonization—the Armexit process—we first need to create an Armenian factor, which may be possible only if the colonial administration is removed and replaced by a national government (that is, a national system of public administration).
In our case, the colonial administration can be removed only through a popular uprising, while the national government can be formed in a phased approach involving the following stages: (i) formation of the government of people’s trust, (ii) establishment of the system of transitional government, and (iii) setting up a system of public administration formed on the basis of a new Constitution.
The national government should undertake a review of the regional architecture and eliminate the lever of the colonial system, which would require the following:
- Reject the criminal and destructive approaches whereby: (i) the Armenian statehood is viewed as a product of the Russian-Turkish alliance and aggression and a heir to the Soviet Armenia and (ii) Artsakh is separate from the Armenia proper; Instead pursue a strategy of: (i) regarding Armenia as a successor of the 1st Republic, (ii) reclaiming other inalienable rights of all Armenians and the homeland, and (iii) establishing a New Republic on the official territory of the current day Republic of Armenia (RA) and the constitutional territory of Artsakh as the “Republic of Armenia” through the will expressed (in a referendum) by the residents of Armenia and Artsakh.
- Launch a legal and political process of reclaiming other inalienable rights of Armenians and Armenia, based on the principles of international law and on the existing international treaties, including:
(a) annulling all international treaties and agreements that reject and/or limit those rights of Armenians and Armenia, as well as other legal acts and actions (including the Moscow Treaty of March 16, 1921; the Kars Treaty of October 13, 1921; and the Treaty on the Formation of the USSR of December 30, 1922), which are not in compliance with the international law.
(b) proposing giving the New Republic of Armenia legal rights over the territories of Nakhichevan and those on the right bank of Kura River.
Only such arguably radical steps—adequate in response to those committed against us by the Russian-Turkish colonial alliance 100 years ago—could change the situation and initiate changes in regional architecture, capable of undermining the basis of the colonial system and eliminating the lever of the colonial control, thus starting the process of forming the decolonized independent Armenian factor. If we do not have the appropriate will and determination to do so, we are doomed to remain in the Russian colonial spiderweb and bleed to death.
However, if we understand and utilize the opportunities arising from the ongoing geopolitical developments in the region and the inevitability of border changes, we will be able to start the process of reclaiming our homeland and regaining our national mission.
At the same time, these steps by themselves are not enough to achieve decolonization: they are the necessary conditions for decolonization. Therefore, apart from these, the decolonization requires a comprehensive set of actions as follows (listed in order of importance, where simultaneous implementation of some actions is possible):
- Withdraw the Russian border troops and hand over the control of the RA state border to the RA Border Guards;
- Annul the contracts on joint air defense system and joint armed forces with Russia;
- Exit all supranational and multilateral alliances established around the axis of Russia (e.g., Collective Security Treaty organization, Eurasian Economic Union, Commonwealth of Independent States, etc.);
- Carry out de-communization and de-Sovietization programs;
- Perform a lustration of political, economic, and intelligence networks and ensure the accountability for the usurpation of power (by the colonial administration and accomplices) and restore the violated political, civil, economic, and social rights of the state and citizens;
- Withdraw the Russian military base from the RA territory;
- Reestablish national control over strategic infrastructure and facilities transferred to the ownership or management of the Russian side through nationalization or other means.
The main cause of the continuing deterioration of our national identity and statehood is the colonization of political consciousness of Armenians in the context of Russian-Turkish conspiratorial dilemma. It justifies the “smaller evil” mentality and the choice of the Russian bayonet over the Turkish yataghan. This in turn makes the Russian yoke tolerable, acceptable, and eventually beloved by some.
Such a choice is usually made by a nation, whose political consciousness and elite have—to a certain degree—lost the qualities necessary for the preservation of national identity (i.e., dignity, pursuit of freedom, strategic mind and will, desire for autonomy, etc.). As a result, such a choice does not stop the disastrous course of action: it loses the core of its mind, will, and power. As a system, it loses its function, disintegrates and falls into a dependence from the colonial power and begins to serve the latter’s regional and geopolitical objectives. Such nations turn into shrinking ethnic-religious communities, with their elites becoming a resource for the colonialists at the expense of their national interests.
Such a choice is a path to self-destruction via the “white genocide.” The fact that (i) elements defining and sustaining a nation’s identify (i.e., mission, culture, public administration, elite, defensive capability, etc.) are subordinated to, and/or are identified with, the colonizer’s respective characteristics and (ii) the nation’s prominent individuals form a “pantheon” of cult idols (e.g., the Madatovs, Loris Melikovs, Isakovs, Baghramyans of the world, among the 40 thousand or so other prominent Armenians in Russia) ensuring the colonial spiritual and political slavery, facilitate and accelerate the absorption of national resources in the colonial system. A nation under such conditions may lose its global scale/dimension and be confined to the territory under the absorbing colonial power.
The path out of the Russia vs. Turkey dilemma and the Russian colonial, genocidal spiderweb toward a free and dignified life is the spiritual, mental, political, and economic decolonization at the national and personal levels; our way out of the deepest sleep and detention—the Armexit—which can lead us to a full and equal membership of the world community and humanity.
The ones on the forefront of the battle for decolonization and a free and dignified life is our progressive, bright, and vibrant youth, the holder of the keys to the future. This is why this call and all our hopes in general are addressed to you, the Armenian youth, the ones who will free us of our chains and help build tomorrow. Do not listen to the older generation that has seen mental slavery! Instead take the responsibility for the future into your own hands and lead us through the road of life to Ararat mission!
 For more detailed information on these steps—their justification and implementation—you may refer to these statements: (i) Formulating the Goals of the Struggle, (ii) Jirayr Sefilyan’s and Sasna Tsrer’s Address on the Anniversaries of Battles of May and the Restoration of Independent Statehood, (iii) The Turbulent World Order, Armexit, and the Promising Prospects of a US-Armenia Strategic Alliance, (iv) Sasna Tsrer’s and Friends’ Address from prison and underground on the anniversary of the “Sasna Tsrer” Rebellion, (v) Eradicate Turk-Bolshevizm and Establish Kura-Arax Republic, (vi) The danger is the Line of Victory. Varuzhan Avetisyan’s New Article, and (vii) Joint Statement of Jirayr Sefilyan, Garegin Chugaszyan, Varujan Avetisyan and Garo Yeghnukyan: Perspective of Armenian-Iranian relations.