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Feature Story August 25, 2006
Hot Afternoons in Armenia's Frozen Zone
By Yasha Levine Browse author Email
Page 6 of 6

But Petrosyan isn't so much a democrat. He thinks that Karabakh should follow in the footsteps of Singapore's and Hitler's national-socialist programs.

"We need to follow their lead. I say this on my TV program all the time. There may be bad things about these countries and societies, but the important thing about them is that they had only the common national good in mind when it came to organizing their country's social programs. That is something that Karabakh does not have."

Petrosyan, incidentally, was just appointed to head an ethics committee to oversee Karabakh's elected officials.



Shrapnel spray in Stepanakert

Armenians occupied about 16% of Azerbaijan-proper's land during the Karabakh war. And while the Armenians are holding onto most of it as a buffer zone to protect Nagorno-Karabakh, one area in particular, known as the Latchin corridor, is the main artery connecting Karabakh with mainland Armenia. The buffer zone may be open for negotiation, but the Latchin corridor is not.

"For most people in Karabakh, the Karabakh question is a non-issue," a journalist for British-funded Karabakh newspaper called Demo told me. "For us the war is over and we don't want to fight. But there can also be no talk of negotiations to give Karabakh back."

"But will mainland Armenians stand behind you? Are they ready to die for it?" I asked.

"Armenia is behind us all the way. Just look at who is in the office."

Armenia's previous president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, had to resign after he appeared ready to agree to return most of the Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani territories in Karabakh during negotiations. Robert Kocharyan, Karabakh's first president and prime minister, replaced him and now rules Armenia. Kocharyan was born in Nagorno-Karabakh, fought in the war and was among the founding fathers of Karabakh's military. He's holding down fort in Armenia to make sure Karabakh gets what it wants.

"We fought once and we're ready to do it again. We have no choice but to defend Karabakh. And anyway, our young ones are itching to prove themselves. But I don't think that it is very likely that Azerbaijan will attack. They know too well that we have the capability to strike their refineries and oil distribution systems," the Demo journalist added smugly.

"Can that card that trump Azeri hatred?"

The Demo guy didn't answer. He just put his hands behind his head. Like so much of my time there, I couldn't understand if this gesture expressed a kind of weary indifference or fatal overconfidence.

Whatever the case, one thing lacking here was a sense of urgency to resolve the conflict to both sides' satisfaction. But as the region is rapidly changing due to the opening of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, and the effects of the War On Terror, neither indifference nor confidence seem to be very good strategies for the Armenians of Karabakh.

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Yasha Levine is an editor at The eXile. You can contact him at

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