By Orkhan Amashov
A year ago, Armenia was forced to sign a ceasefire agreement, which was, in fact, an act of capitulation. There is also a likely probability that Armenia will be coerced into committing itself to a comprehensive peace treaty with Azerbaijan at some point soon, which will leave very little room for manoeuvre for the diaspora and the international lobby that has nurtured it with its resources.
At this juncture, the expatriate community of Armenia is acutely conscious of its fading fortunes, and its leading members across the world are doing their level best to take all kinds of measures to ensure that a fully-fledged peace treaty between Baku and Yerevan is blocked. This is the absolute key to survival for the Armenian diaspora in its present incarnation.
Now that the fight on the battlefield is over, information warfare has gained a renewed significance. The diaspora, in order to prove its relevance, on one side, is trying to ascribe exaggerated importance to its localised semi-successful moves whilst simultaneously conducting carefully-orchestrated attacks on internationally renowned figures espousing the Azerbaijani worldview.
Contrived PR triumphs
The diaspora is in desperate need of contrived PR triumphs so as to create an artificial impression that it is still capable of gaining a competitive advantage over its opponent. The recent documentary, titled "Armenia: Thread of Memory", is a case in point. Broadcast on Italian TV RAI I, the film represents an incredibly slanted view of the circumstances pertaining to the Second Karabakh War and its consequences, although it is undeniable that its director, Stefania Battistini, does not claim to have produced a fair or balanced review of the conflict. All of her interviewees are Armenian and the whole documentary does not incorporate any Azerbaijani or third sources.
It is important to note that RAI’s coverage of Karabakh, overall, has not been one-sided. In fact, the TV station’s Moscow correspondent Marco Innaro recently visited Shusha, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Ganja and Baku, and three different reports were aired on RAI III. These gave a very clear and fair assessment of the facts on the ground. It was stated that liberated Aghdam is a ghost town. The author also reflected on the fact that one-fifth of Azerbaijani territories were under illegal occupation for 30 years, and only last year's war reversed the situation. He also spoke about the restoration work undertaken on the liberated territories, including the construction of the International Airport in Fuzuli in record time.
In other words, to put it plainly, Azerbaijan has not lost to Armenia in Italy. Italy’s unequivocal recognition of Azerbaijani territorial integrity, Rome's tribute, clearly enunciated diplomatically, to Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War, deepening economic ties between the two nations, Baku’s policy of involving Italian companies in the restoration of Karabakh and other considerations of relevance are to be borne in mind whilst cogitating the issue, not the unfortunate documentary aired on RAI I.
Another policy of the Armenian diaspora is to exert influence on different social media platforms and to threaten public figures supporting the Azerbaijani stance. Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of Russia's Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defence) newspaper, was subjected to unprecedented Armenian pressure. His Facebook account has been blocked twice over the past couple of days. Initially, he was blocked because of posing a perfectly legitimate question as to why Armenians did not build anything on the occupied territories over the past 30 years of occupation.
On the second occasion, the Armenian anger was to do with the fact he shared the documentary "Even IS terrorists did not do that" from the VMedia Youtube channel. The central theme of the documentary was based on the question as to why, during the period of the Armenian occupation of internationally-recognised Azerbaijani territories, international structures did not raise the issue of the destruction of the cultural and historical heritage of the Azerbaijani people. Subsequent to Korotchenko’s post, Armenian Telegram channels urged their audience to complain about this video, labelling it as “disinformation” and “incitement of hatred”.
The closure of Igor Korotchenko’s Facebook account, even temporarily, gives a rise to quite a number of legitimate questions about Facebook’s so-called "internal review mechanism". The film has been endorsed by many distinguished and venerable personages, including diplomats, pundits and independent experts, yet it seems Facebook has relied on the number of complainants without ascribing due attention to the nature of the claim and content of the material.
Although there has never been a proper enquiry, instigated by Facebook itself, into the question as to why certain posts, deemed "undesirable" by the worldwide Armenian diaspora, have been removed or why the authors of such posts have been blocked, it is apparent that certain moderators of Armenian origin have played an integral role in some cases. For instance, the investigation led by the Day.az website last year revealed that a certain Maryam Sulakian openly asked Armenian community members to send her posts dealing with the Khojaly genocide and other aspects of Armenian aggression that could not be taken down through ordinary complaint routes, and promised to "escalate those cases at Facebook, as an employee", in direct contravention of the internal rules of the company, which clearly state that an employee should act professionally and within the strict confines of ethical standards.
One thing is very clear. The Armenian diaspora is fighting a losing battle. However powerful and resourceful it might have been, it has failed to obstruct the course of justice and make the world accept their falsified version of "truth" during the Second Karabakh War. The diaspora has been drawn into a vicious cycle. The worldwide Armenian community will invest more and more into the hopeless case of convincing the government in Yerevan to reject a final peace deal with Baku, and it is bound to get less and even less in return.
During the 1990s, when Azerbaijan just regained its independence and was not in a position to fight its detractors effectively, the Armenian lobby was at the height of its glory. Its power, once uncontested in major political centres across the globe, is no longer unchallenged. The diaspora is still capable of waging a wide variety of information wars and achieving localised, temporary successes. But in light of the general and wider picture, it is doomed.
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