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Armenia: 1918 Sardarabad Victory through 1994 Artsakh Liberation War

Armenia: 1918 Sardarabad Victory through 1994 Artsakh Liberation War

In less than 100 years, Armenians managed to have three succeeding republics. But in reality only two of them existed as sovereign states – The First and the Third (current) republics.

On May 28, 1918 Armenians declared independence in Eastern Armenia covering an area of 60,000 sq. km. giving birth to the Ftirst Republic under the name Democratic Republic of Armenia. But it was short-lived.

In 1920 the Soviet Red Army invaded Armenia and imposed its rule under the name Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia from November 1920 through 1991. In 1921, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carved out the territories of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh) and Nakhichevan from the Second Republic and ‘gifted’ them to the newly sovietized S.S.R. Azerbaijan. Sovietized Armenia suffered both loss of territories shrinking its area down to 29,000 sq. km.; and exodus of tens of thousands of Armenians who were anti-Soviet.

In September 1991, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia declared independence and has been functioning as the Third Republic ever since. This republic and its Diaspora are credited for empowering Armenians of Artsakh to achieve victory against Azerbaijan during the Artsakh Liberation War (February 1988 to May 1994). The Republic of Artsakh has been independent ever since. Currently the twin republics cover an area of nearly 42,000 sq. km.

The First Republic was the direct result of another victory 95 years ago at the Battle of Sardarabad against Turkey.

Ironically both Sardarabad and Artsakh wars were imposed on Armenians by Turkey and Azerbaijan respectively. Armenians managed to come out victorious thanks to their strong sense of self-determination assisted by providential intervention. They understood full well the famous French saying: “Aide-toi et le ciel t’aidera.” (“Help yourself, and heaven will help you”)

The Battle of Sardarabad was a battle imposed by Turkey for a heinous purpose – execution of the final phase of its anti-Armenian genocidal campaign in Eastern Armenia under the cover of World War I. It took place near Sardarabad (modern-day Armavir region ofArmenia) from May 21–29, 1918. The battle location was only 40 kilometers west of Yerevan, today’s capital of Armenia.

For Turkey it was an opportunity to literally get away with the 20thcentury’s first crime against humanity.

For Armenians, it was a last-ditch effort not only to stop the Turkish Ottoman advance into the rest of Armenia but also to prevent the complete destruction of the Armenian nation. In the words of historian and researcher Christopher J. Walker, had the Armenians lost this battle, “it is perfectly possible that the word Armenia would have henceforth denoted only an antique geographical term.”

The spirit of May 28th, 1918 served as the bedrock of Armenian victory in Artsakh Liberation War.

Now both victories should serve as the launching pad of Reunified Armenia provided that Armenians benefit exponentially from deep understanding of the legacy created by both triumphs.

One of the challenges facing Armenia and its Diaspora is the imperative to fight and win the current war that has been shifted to the economic and political arenas.

What good can both victories do if Armenians don’t tame corruption, cronyism and nepotism in Armenia and stagnation in the Diaspora?

In order to celebrate in practical terms the 1918 Armenian victory at Sardarabad, both Armenia and its Diaspora need to establish a functional partnership for the purpose of achieving crucial objectives such as:

  1. Helping Armenia create a sizable middle class that empowers the Armenian state to achieve sustainable multi-faceted economic growth, and to become the economic engine of the Caucasus region;
  2. Organizing massive repatriation. So far Diaspora imported into Armenia a few thousand repatriates and a handful of investors. Some Diaspora Armenians may rightfully lament the existence of several hurdles in their ancestral homeland. But these excuses do not put bread on the dinner tables of a segment of the society in Armenia that continues to be unemployed.
  3. Getting the Diaspora better organized. In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide and the Sovietization of Eastern Armenia, Diaspora Armenians managed to rebuild their lives but they failed to create a supra structure bringing to life popularly elected leaders with mandates to represent and lead the Diaspora. It is fair to say that Armenia is one of the most endangered nations. Beside the internal challenges, Armenia must also focus on empowering its children in dispersion to be better organized and ultimately assist the Armenian state to metamorphose into a regional power. Through its Diaspora Armenia has all the attributes to leverage the worldwide “stationing” of Armenians to her advantage and somehow make the highest and best use of their resources;
  4. Turning the tide on assimilation by a) maintaining strong and affordable Armenian education system throughout the Diaspora; b) reclaiming lost Armenians in the West and other parts of the world; as well as hidden Armenians in Turkey;
  5. Mounting joint legal defense of the right of Armenia and Armenians to recover real and personal properties; to demand international enforcement of President Woodrow Wilson’s binding arbitration reassigning them Wilsonian Armenia located in Turkish-occupied Western Armenia.

If Armenia and its Diaspora continue to decline and to be exposed to existential threats, this time around Armenians have no one else to blame except themselves.

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