By Abdul Kerimkhanov
On 22 September, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan left for the U.S, where he planned to participate in a meeting with the diaspora in Los Angeles, a home of about half a million Armenians. The meeting was planned to demonstrate Pashinyan’s popularity among diaspora Armenians and highlight his claim to be the leader of the world Armenians.
Ahead of the visit, US journalist Nurit Gringe from News Blaze described Pashinyan’s visit undesirable and even said that Armenian PM must be a persona non grata in Los Angeles.
She recalled that Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and forcibly expelled one million Azerbaijani civilians from their homes and lands.
“The aggressive and unlawful military occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory was accompanied by massacres against Azerbaijanis, the largest of which took place on February 26, 1992, in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, when Armenian armed forces invaded the town and massacred 613 Azerbaijani civilians,” she noted.
Gringer pointed out that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and borders of Azerbaijan have been recognized by all members of the international community, except Armenia, adding that on many occasions the U.S has unequivocally stated, that it supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
“So the question is, why would the Los Angeles City Council and County allow Armenian PM to hold a rally in an open public space on U.S. soil with their sponsorship and participation?” she concluded.
The so-called Pan-Armenian gathering in Los Angeles on September 22 promised to be not as cheerful as Armenian PM hoped. Claiming to be the leader of the world Armenians, Pashinyan believed to turn the meeting with the diaspora into his triumph over his political rivals in Yerevan.
Thus, the initiative group of the Armenian Diaspora in the U.S. intended to present Pashinyan a petition demanding "not to put himself in the role of world Armenian leader, but to speak exclusively on behalf of "Russian Armenians". That is Armenia, which formed as a state on the territory of the Yerevan Khanate, which became part of the Russian Empire.
As one of the petition organizers noted, the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. are mainly the descendants of former citizens of the Ottoman Empire.
Russian columnist Stanislav Tarasov believes the most intriguing thing in this situation is that part of the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. is ready to enter into dialogue with Turkey and even to reduce the existing tension in US-Turkish relations.
Pashinyan felt this, and declared his readiness to normalize relations with Turkey without conditions, although Ankara did not react to this statement. Moreover, when he calls for unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, one can also see an attempt to play on the field of the Western Armenian diaspora here. However, Pashinyan runs into a tough stance with Azerbaijan. Moreover, he cannot play the “Russian card”, since there is an alliance between Moscow and Ankara, and serious partnerships between Moscow and Baku.
“Yerevan’s position is knocked out of the existing regional geopolitical context, and it doesn’t have any points of contact with Washington,” Tarasov stressed.
Unpleasant surprises for Armenian PM did not end there. Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles informed that in connection with the meeting of Pashinyan with the diaspora scheduled for September 22, the diplomatic mission will take series of measures to enlighten the US public about Armenia’s policy of aggression against Azerbaijan. On 22 September, an airplane carrying a banner reading “Karabakh is Azerbaijan! End the Occupation!” flew over the area while Pashinyan was speaking, and trucks carried billboards presenting Karabakh realities around nearby streets
The posters displayed information about Azerbaijani IDPs and occupation of Azerbaijan's lands. They also informed the public about the vandalism of Armenians in the occupied lands and the Khojaly genocide.
On the eve of the Armenian PM's visit, Nasimi Agayev, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, sent letters of protest to the Los Angeles city authorities, asking them not to authorize the meeting.
It should be added that Armenian diaspora intensifed its anti-Azerbaijani activities as a preparation for the visit.
Thus, the Armenian National Congress of America (ANCA) organized a meeting with the U.S. Department representatives, which was attended by Cheryl Fernandes, Director of the State Department’s Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts and Andrew Schofer, OSCE Minsk Group co-chair from the U.S., Armenian media reported. At the meeting, the Armenians demanded the elimination of the Madrid principles with regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in exchange of new principles for resolving the conflict.
In addition, the Armenian lobby has also been showing activity since early autumn, to prepare for further pushing for anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish issues in the U.S. Congress.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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