The wrong kind of love

16:48, 13 October, 2004

The Karabakh conflict has a history of fifteen or sixteen years. The Republic of Armenia , in fact, was proclaimed and has spent its life under the shadow of this conflict, which led to war once, and may do so again. An entire generation has been born and raised in these conditions, and has no idea that it is possible to live without blockades and without war. The fragile peace, which is the result of a truce, not of the end of the war, is viewed by the people as a gift. For too long, the peoples of the Southern Caucasus have been hostage to interethnic wars, wars that prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities the 21 st century offers. And while the world is developing, integrating, and solving the problems of the future, we - burdened by the legacy of the Middle Ages, constantly getting in each other's way, remain stuck in the past.

We have the habit of declaring, with or without cause, that we are a part of Europe , that our mentality and worldview are European, but life shows that today, as in the past, we have fallen hopelessly behind European developments. Today, the values Europe puts forward are alien and unacceptable to us. The 20 th century was significant for Europe in that taking into account the experience of the past as a whole, it declared human rights the foundation of its current policies, and the individual the supreme value. Guided by these criteria, Europe has confronted the East, and, within this confrontation, we are a part of the East.

With the proclamation of an independent Republic we announced that we were adopting European values, but we concluded the 20 th century with widespread human rights violations, with encroachments on the right to life, in a state of war and mutual hatred with our neighbors. In the final analysis, we remained not just outside the European system of values, but inside the camp of those fighting against those values. As a preventative step in the 21 st century, Europe proposes and implements the ideas of globalization and integration. Europe has become a voluntary union of free peoples and democratic states, where there is no room for nationalism or thoughts of restoring historical justice, for these (however undesirable us it may be for us) invariably lead to confrontation, war, and chaos.

The world has always been bipolar. And it is bipolar today. Yesterday, European values and communist ideology were the opposing poles. Today, Asian regressiveness, with its patriarchal mentality, radicalism, terrorism, and imperialistic ambitions - where a freethinking person has no place - represents one pole, and the free world the other. We have to make a choice and no one will allow us to play a double game, to be a complementarist. A real war is being waged today, and the free world is on the defensive in this war, protecting its centuries-long achievements and its future. And whoever is not with it aids the other pole. We either accept European values in their totality or we don't accept them at all; there is no way to accept them half-heartedly, to commit to adopting them and not to do so; there is no other approach, no other mentality. If one's mentality is different, one is part of the non-European world; one is alien to European civilization and cannot make use of its achievements.

History shows that by rejecting or not fully accepting progressive and humanitarian ideas, we have only lost out. The fall of the Ottoman Empire brought independence to all the nations under its yoke that aspired to statehood, with the exception of the Armenian people, because our struggle was not for Armenia's independence and existence, but against Turkey and the Turks, and for, in this particular case, Russia. As a result, not only did Armenia fail to achieve independence, but a genocide was carried out against us and we lost part our homeland, Western Armenia , forever. Actions based on hatred could only lead to defeat, and so they did. Today also, we continue to condition our life on hatred toward our neighbors, which brings us isolation, regression, and inevitable defeat.

But didn't our grandfathers love our homeland in this way already? For several centuries, our grandfathers loved Armenia exactly the same way and with the same kind of love, as a result of which we inherited a small rocky part of a huge and flourishing homeland. Our grandfathers, with the same mentality that we are manifesting today - which extends from provincial patriotism, hatred toward our neighbors, and the inability to think about the future to extreme irresponsibility - left to us only defeats, irreparable mistakes, and vainglorious myths about moral victories, to which we are captive today.

We haven't been able to learn anything, to become prudent, to take a critical look at our history, to break the old patterns, and to emerge - without the unnecessary burdens and patterns of the past - in the 21 st century, which brings new ideas, new possibilities for solving problems. It is not necessary that the Karabakh conflict be settled based on scenarios from the 18 th or 19 th centuries, when what was important was at what geographical point your flag was waving, and it was there that your border was drawn. Ours and other South Caucasian conflicts could and should be solved in the spirit of our times.

Both sides must be able to approach the issue from the point of view of the adversary; our actions must be aimed at peace, and we must view our future within the context of integration processes. Any border, any peace agreement which fixes any geographical division with new borders is the precursor of a future war.

In these new times borders are beginning to lose their value; they are becoming transparent or disappearing altogether. The processes of integration and globalization are becoming the best scenarios for the settlement of conflicts, especially territorial ones. Those nations who, like the Europeans, adopt these principles will avoid territorial problems and the wars that stem from them. The Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples will profit from accepting what the 21 st century has to offer with open arms, especially so, since these two peoples have demonstrated by their history that they are able to coexist peacefully, if they are not subjected to provocations by various self-interested forces.

There is only one way for a real settlement of the Karabakh conflict - integration. It is toward this end that the two liberated peoples guided by democratic values should move, if only because there is no alternative to coexistence and peace, or because the alternative - war - does not bode well for our peoples. All of the militaristic statements now coming from official Baku and Yerevan serve only to prolong of the power of our undemocratic leaders and have no connection to the dream of the two neighboring peoples to live in peace and prosperity.