"French-speaking" Armenia`s Francophonie adventures

"French-speaking" Armenia`s Francophonie adventures

The International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF), which includes 58 states representing five continents with a total population of 890 million people, is planning to hold its 17th summit in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on October 11-12. Although the French language and cultural values represent the two cornerstones on which IOF is based, promotion of peace, tranquility, human rights and freedoms globally also constitutes one of the main principles of the organization`s mission and activity.

And it is where a real problem starts. The idea to hold the summit in Armenia is wrong from two perspectives: firstly, from the point of view of the essence, and secondly, from the point of view of the context.

First and foremost, by holding its summit in the territory of the country that committed Khojaly genocide, one of the gravest crimes of the 20th century, and has repeatedly boasted about it unashamedly at the highest levels, even by giving such a country membership, the organization, which declared humanity, peace, human rights and freedoms as its core values, betrays its Charter.

IOF`s holding its summit in the territory of the state, which violated the internationally-recognized borders of another country, keeping part of its territory under occupation and murdering thousands of its civilians, runs completely contrary to the values and principles the organization is promoting. Which "shared values” can link the aggressor, terrorist state that committed genocide with other member states of IOF?

At its 2010 summit in Montreux, Switzerland, the organization adopted a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with all participating countries affirming their support for the OSCE Minsk Group`s efforts and peaceful settlement of the dispute.

What should also be emphasized is that member states of IOF have separately and as part of international organizations recognized the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands by Armenia. IOF members Romania and Djibouti, as well as observer states Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia officially recognized genocide committed in the town of Khojaly. In addition, some of IOF member states recognized the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the Council of Europe, while others did it in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It is quite surprising that member states of these two organizations are going to attend a summit of another prestigious organization in the territory of an aggressor state, and this runs contrary to their previous political statements.

It should also be noted that the French language is the core value on which IOF is based. But when did uncle Ashot and aunt Hayganush (personification of Armenians), who live in poverty and are busy with earning their living because of the Armenian leadership`s careless policy, become francophones? Only 0.01 percent of the Armenian population can probably speak French. But the level of their language ability raises another question.

In addition, it`s most unlikely that Armenia, which is experiencing a political and economic crisis, will successfully organize the summit and can ensure security of participants. From the economic point of view, the Kocharian-Sargsyan regime completely plundered Armenia`s budget and their policy of aggression put the country into isolation.

Armenia therefore lives in extreme poverty, with ordinary citizens heading abroad in an attempt to earn their living, and serving others. The state of Armenia continues to exist thanks to foreign donations. Under these circumstances, Armenia has neither financial, nor logistic resources to host so many foreign guests. There is widespread discontent among the local population because they will be forced to dip into their own pockets. But they do not voice their discontent in fear of the dictatorship.

From the public and political points of view, despite the overthrow of Sargsyan`s mafia regime, the government`s wish to implement "progressive” changes in the country failed to materialize under pressure from the oligarchs within both the government and parliament, putting the country into an even more difficult situation.

A phone conversation between the Armenian National Security Service director Arthur Vanetsyan and head of the Special Investigation Service Sasun Khachatryan exposed the essence of the policy pursued by the new government on the pretext of democracy and reconstruction. Under Pashinyan, Armenia has not only failed to make a step forward, but plunged deeper into anarchy and chaos. Who serves whom, who pursues which interests in the country is still a question. How will the country unable to ensure security of its own citizens ensure security of so many guests? How will the mono-ethnic and mono-religious society tolerate people of different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds? Will the Armenian special services, who easily open fire at their own people at the slightest threat, care of foreign delegations?

According to the available information, Armenia and in particular its capital Yerevan, which lack any experience and logistic resources for hosting a large event, are now facing very serious difficulties. They cannot even provide cars for transferring foreign delegations and even hotels for accommodating them. One of the delegations dealing with the preparations for the summit has recently been robbed and subjected to violence on a Yerevan street during daytime. After reporting the incident to local police, the foreign delegation concluded that the police are acting in complicity with criminal groups. On purely ethical grounds, we do not specify what country this delegation came from. In another incident, protocol officials who arrived in Yerevan to make preparations for their president`s visit had almost all their belongings stolen from their hotel room. The majority of countries decided to send low-level delegations to the summit as they do not want to put the lives of their heads of state and government at risk or to encounter any "surprises”.

As far as the event is concerned, it is full of mysteries. It appeared that there is a basic disagreement among member states of IOF over the final document, and the possibility is high that it will not be approved. On the other side, as usual, Armenia may resort to provocation and politicize the agenda of the summit. It should be taken into account that among the participants of the summit will also be member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which have friendly attitude towards Azerbaijan. Armenia will therefore try to spoil these countries’ relations with Azerbaijan by proposing the inclusion of an article contradicting Azerbaijan`s interests in the final document. But the fact that member states of the Council of Europe and Organization of Islamic Cooperation as well as other friendly countries will participate in the summit will affect its work and undermine the Armenian leaders` anti-Azerbaijani propaganda. Regarded as the leader of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, France itself will be the main country that will prevent such a provocation in Armenia in order to remain neutral and maintain its image as an OSCE Minsk Group co-chair and protect its economic interests in Azerbaijan as a partner. This will be a major blow to Armenia, which considers France as a brotherly country.


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