By Vafa Ismayilova
Against the background of new realities emerging in the South Caucasus region after its defeat in the 44-day war with Azerbaijan in 2020, Armenia has not given up the policy of glorifying fascism, anti-Semitism and Nazism.
The installation of a monument to Nazi accomplice Garegin Nzhdeh in Khojevend, the area still in the zone of Russian peacekeepers' responsibility in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, is a glaring example of this policy. In light of Azerbaijan's and other regional countries' efforts to achieve lasting peace in the South Caucasus, the propaganda of fascism and terrorism, intolerance towards other nations threatens security in the region.
Policy of ethnic, religious hatred
Soon after this incident, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Armenia to refrain from the policy of ethnic and religious hatred.
"Ethnic and religious hatred has no future, and these ideas can be a disaster for the state and the people who promote it. Armenia must refrain from these dangerous tendencies and make efforts to establish international peace, cooperation, and prosperity. Undoubtedly, this will benefit Armenia, the region, and the international community,” the statement said.
The ministry focused on Israel's Diaspora Affairs Ministry's annual report on the rise of anti-Semitism in the world, including Armenia.
"This report, published on the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day - January 27, assesses the anti-Semitic situation in the world in 2020. The report says that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Armenia. Thus, the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as political cooperation and defence trade between Israel and Azerbaijan have led to an alarming rise in the bar of anti-Semitism in Armenia. It is noted that political criticism was soon replaced by attacks against an ethnic-religious background and accusations against Jews of alleged historical and contemporary crimes against the Armenian people," the ministry said.
The ministry stressed that Baku has many times raised concern over the propaganda of Nazism in Armenia and the glorification of fascism. It recalled Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s speech at the meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State in 2019 that was based on specific documents and evidence.
"The former Armenian authorities erected a monument, in the centre of Yerevan [in 2016], in honour of the fascist executioner and traitor Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, who served with the German fascists under the nickname Garegin Nzhdeh. Unfortunately, the new government of Armenia did not dismantle this monument. I believe that there is no place for fascism glorification in the CIS," Aliyev had said at the meeting.
Some experts believe that Aliyev was the first among all the CIS countries' leaders to have told the Armenian prime minister that his country has been engaged, for many years, in glorifying Nzhdeh.
Addressing a high-level meeting to mark the UN's 75th anniversary on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session held in September 2020, Aliyev said: "The glorification of Nazism is the state policy in Armenia. Notorious Nazi general Garegin Nzhdeh has been turned into 'national hero'... Hatred against Azerbaijani people is instilled in the young generation."
After Azerbaijan’s victory in the 44-day war, Aliyev repeatedly stated that by defeating the Armenian army, Azerbaijan "broke the back of Armenian fascism", saving the region from great troubles and tragedies.
Provocation against Azerbaijan, Russia, Israel
Day.az has described as a provocation the erection of a monument to Nzhdeh in Karabakh’s Khajevend.
“The appearance of the bloody murderer’s bust on the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day is a provocation not only against the laws and principles of Azerbaijan but also Russia and this happened in the area of the peacekeepers' responsibility. It is also a provocation against universal human values, which have never been particularly respected by the Armenian side, either in Armenia or in Karabakh,” the website said.
Day.az recalled that on January 27, 1945, the Soviet army liberated the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, in which, according to various estimates, from 1.5 to 4 million people died. According to documents from the Nuremberg Tribunal, 2.8 million people died, 90 percent of whom were Jews.
The website described the move as “a manifestation of disrespect and even contempt for the tragedy of the Jewish people”.
Commenting on Armenia’s annexation policy, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva said in early September 2020 that “everyone is well aware of the reasons for the criminal acts of the country, which supports terrorism at the state level, enlightens the young generation on the basis of the racial ideology of Garegin Nzhdeh and fascist values, whose representatives demonstrate aggression and hostility towards Azerbaijanis in various countries”.
Israeli international relations expert Mikhail Finkel described the Nzhdeh monument in Khajevend as a “provocative step towards Azerbaijan, Turkey, Israel, and the Jewish people in general, especially considering that the opening took place literally on the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day”.
He believes that the move should not surprise anyone. This should be viewed as the hysteria of the losing side.
“The monument to Nzhdeh in Khojavend is not a manifestation of strength, courage or intelligence, it is a manifestation of weakness and proof of its own complete collapse. The Armenian side could not think of anything more intelligent and weighty for provocation,” he said.
He regarded the move as a slap in the face of Russia, a country without which modern and indeed no Armenia would exist.
“Armenia was created by tsarist Russia and was always supported by it. And today, if it were not for Russia's economic, military assistance, Armenia could no longer exist. During the 44-day war, Russia again saved Armenia from a complete, total defeat. Russian soldiers are now standing in Karabakh, actually protecting the Armenians. And what are the Armenians doing? They erect in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers a monument to a fascist, a man who actively collaborated with the Nazis,” Finkel said.
He recalled that the Russian Foreign Ministry and various Russian officials had repeatedly condemned Armenia, heroizing Nzhdeh and erecting monuments to him.
“But Armenia does not care deeply about this," the Israeli political scientist said.
Meanwhile, well-known Russian expert Yevgeny Mikhaylov urged a strong reaction from Russia to the aforesaid step.
"In my opinion, Russia should react harshly to the installation of a monument to Nzhdeh," he said.
He said that this step can be regarded as an open provocation aimed at discrediting the Russian peacekeepers, whose zone of responsibility currently includes this Azerbaijani city in Karabakh.
“There is no doubt that such an action is a message to Azerbaijan, they say 'we will still fight'. But whatever happens in the end, there will be one end. Sooner or later, the monuments of Nzhdeh will disappear both in Yerevan and in Khojavend. Historical justice will triumph, and the truth about those who were with the fascists will be fundamental one while assessing their real historical activities," Mikhaylov said.
High time to stop promoting fascism
In early January 2021, Russian expert Oleq Kuznetsov said that idealization and promotion of fascism in Armenian society can lead to fatal consequences both for this country itself and for its population. In Kuznetsov’s opinion, first of all, the Armenians must, without a preliminary procedure, get rid of Nazism in their country.
"For this, it’s necessary to ban and dissolve the Republican Party of Armenia, to dismiss its current and former members from all positions in the civil service, to nationalize the property of this party and all financial and economic assets associated with it,” he further said. “Also, all the monuments to Garegin Nzhdeh should be dismantled and all urban infrastructure objects named after him should be renamed.”
According to him, the above steps will allow Armenia to get out of the foreign economic blockade, in which it found itself as a result of its ambitious-aggressive foreign policy activity and territorial claims to neighbouring states - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
The expert stressed that the leadership of Armenia must also urgently conclude agreements on peace, friendship and good relations with all its neighbours, and first of all, with Azerbaijan and Turkey, without which the successful economic development of this country will be just impossible.
“I understand that all this will be very painful for the Armenian society since it will have to abandon the socio-political postulates of the last hundred years, but there is no other option. Armenia today has only two paths of the potential development – de-nazification or self-isolation following the example of North Korea, which however has China feed it with rice, while Armenia doesn’t and won’t have any country which could ensure its security. Therefore, today Armenia simply doesn’t have an alternative," Kuznetsov said.
An article covering the facts that Nazi collaborator monuments exist in Armenian cities of Gyumri, Kapan, and seventeen other locations was published in Israel's The Forward news agency, Trend reported on January 29.
“Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city, honours Nzhdeh with a street and a prominent statue. Kapan also has a Nzhdeh street and a memorial, erected 2003,” the report said.
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