“The Azeri have as their ultimate goal the extermination of the Armenians and their history”

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW – On September 15, three days after Azerbaijan’s military attack on Armenia, a fragile ceasefire was established on the border between the two countries. For the deputy mayor (UDI) of Issy-les-Moulineaux, it is urgent that France and Europe help the thousand-year-old Christian people threatened by their Turkish-speaking neighbors.

Arthur Khandjian is the deputy mayor of Issy-les-Moulineaux – where an Armenian community has lived for a century – and national secretary of the UDI, where he is delegate for relations with the Middle East.


FIGAROVOX. – You were in Armenia a few days ago, before Azerbaijan attacked the country. Do you feel the proximity of the attack?

Arthur KHANDJIAN. – It is difficult to foresee an attack from Armenia. In Yerevan this summer, the population lived happy days, far from suspecting the proximity of a new Azeri offensive. Unfortunately, since the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Caucasian republics, Armenia has never known peace, Azerbaijan is in an endless war against it.

Why was Azerbaijan attacked this time? What are its short or medium term goals?

The cause of the temporary attack I do not know. However, we need to look further to find out the reasons. Russia, Armenia’s protector since the end of the Soviet Union, is in trouble because of the continuation of the conflict against Ukraine. Due to it being occupied by the Ukrainian front, it no longer has the means to prevent Azerbaijan from attacking Armenia on Armenian soil. As for Azerbaijan’s goals, they are simple. In the short term, the territorial continuity of his country will be achieved by opening the exclave of Nakhitchevan from the rest of Azerbaijan (the country is divided in two by Armenia, editor’s note) through a road under full Azerbaijani control. In the medium and long term, the goals are very dark for the Armenians, they are neither more nor less than the extermination of the Armenian people and their history. Like its Turkish neighbor, Azeri was bred and raised to hate the Armenian people and its only goal is to destroy it.

Every day, new victims are counted on Armenian soil, whether they are killed by bullets, bombings or Turkish drones by the Azerbaijani army. Cases of torture and war crimes were reported.

Arthur Khandjian

Is the war destroying Armenian society?

Yes and how could it be otherwise? Every day, new victims are counted on Armenian soil, whether they are killed by bullets, bombings or Turkish drones by the Azerbaijani army. Cases of torture and war crimes were reported. We must add, moreover, the thousands of refugees, whether they are from Artsakh (during and after the 2020 war) or from the borders of Armenia who fled towards the center of the country. This set, combined with the deterioration of economic exchanges due to the war, contributed to a great destabilization of Armenia.

What can Europe do so that these millennial people are not again sacrificed on the altar of Western realpolitik? Does France have a particular role?

The role of Europe and France in particular will be decisive for the continuation of this conflict. Each person has their own history and interests. For several months, Europe has been trying to break its dependence on Russian gas, because of which it returned to the United States with its shale gas (forbidden to exploit in Europe), Algeria, Norway as well as Azerbaijan… This that confidence, new and not easily replaced, limited the will of European actions and strengthened the position and means of Azerbaijan in this war against Armenia. However, if Europe and France wanted to, they could arm Armenia as they did in Ukraine to balance the conflict, or even completely reverse the course of the war.

Armenia must learn to manage its interests by itself and worry first and foremost about its survival.

Arthur Khandjian

The Armenian diaspora is very well established in Europe and especially in France as well as the United States. What role will it play in this conflict?

The diaspora naturally plays a role. Thanks to him, the Armenian Genocide was recognized by most countries of the Western world. Since the 1990s, it has had to adapt to the existence of an independent state in Armenia inhabited by Armenians who survived the great genocide ordered and carried out by the Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. The current role of the diaspora and friends of the Armenians is to unite Armenia and to use all the levers and means at their disposal to force Azerbaijan to abandon its project to exterminate the Armenian people.

Do you think Armenia will one day find a way to break the Turkish-Azerbaijani bond?

The beauty of diplomacy is that it makes possible what many consider impossible through arms and economics. Armenia must learn to manage its interests by itself and worry first and foremost about its survival. To achieve this, it must agree to deal with any country that might find it useful to support Armenia’s position. Armenia must make Churchill’s sentence its own “England has neither friend nor enemy but permanent interests” and remove all the consequences. I hope that in the medium term, with the help of the diaspora and its friends, Armenia will reach a strong position and will once again be able to prosper in the land of the ancestors.

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