Ambassador Djerejian: An Illustrious U.S. Diplomat Tarnishes His Own Reputation

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Ambassador Djerejian: An Illustrious U.S. Diplomat Tarnishes Own Reputation

By Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher/Managing Editor

USA Armenian Life Magazine

October 10, 2012

On Friday October 5, 2012, Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian presented a lecture in Los Angeles titled “Arab Awakening, The Turkish Role in The Region and The Future of Armenians in the Middle East”.

Nearly 500 Armenian Americans attended the event organized by Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Asbeds.

Holding himself true to his principle “as a diplomat to think twice before saying nothing,” Amb. Djerejian talked for over 50 minutes without making important revelations on the current situation in the Middle East and Syria in particular. He went on to narrate the situation in the Middle East by delivering certain details with eloquence, mesmerizing his audience. He also shared anecdotal stories during his tenure as US Ambassador in Syria.

However on the 56th minute, as he shifted his focus to the Caucasus region, he dropped the nuclear bomb on his Armenian American audience when he claimed that 2014 is a potentially deadly deadline for Armenia and Armenians worldwide imposed by Azerbaijan. He sternly cautioned Diaspora Armenians about the so-called “Azerbaijan deadline” for political settlement of the Artsakh (Karabagh) conflict by 2014 “or else” face the dismal possibility of a new war. He tersely warned that a formidable military buildup by Azerbaijan spelled trouble for Armenia, and that the war this time “may not be as favorable” to Armenians as the first war. Many members of Southern California Armenian American community were concerned with his promotion of fear among Diaspora Armenians on the ‘dire’ consequences of a new war with Azerbaijan.

His lecture also agitated several members of the audience who were disturbed by his pro-Azeri claims that Armenians are ‘occupying’ lands that “belong” to Azerbaijan.

Before making such anti-Armenia and anti-Artsakh declarations, that the lands around Artsakh (Karabagh) are ‘occupied’, Amb. Djerejian should investigate for himself the true identity of the territories in lower Artsakh (Karabagh). His research will reveal the undeniable fact that the borders of Armenian Territory of Artsakh encompassing both mountainous and lowland Artsakh run from western border of contemporary Armenia to Kura River to the east of mountainous Artsakh; and from Gantsak (“Gendje” under Azeri rule) just north of Shahumian in the north all the way to the current Iranian border in the south.

Under infamous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the Territories of Artsakh and Nakhitchevan were carved out of then newly Sovietized Republic of Armenia and were ‘gifted’ to then newly sovietized Azerbaijan in early 1920’s thus completing ‘stalinization’ of Armenian territories.

The Artsakh Liberation War of 1988-1994 facilitated the reversal of that process which can be appropriately labeled ‘de-stalinization.’

Djerejian also underlined how Turkey is fast-becoming a regional superpower. Then he expressed support for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, and normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey with “honorable terms” for Armenians on critical issues. But he did not elaborate on the issues.

For a moment the former U.S. Ambassador sounded more like an Ambassador of Azerbaijan or Turkey rather than a veteran diplomat representing United States as an honest broker in the Caucasus.

During the question-and-answer period, audience members caught Djerejian off-guard by presenting pointed questions such as whether Armenians in Artsakh should pursue or give up self-determination as opposed to capitulating to Azeri demands to settle for autonomy within Azerbaijan. The parade of inquisitive and intelligent questions reflected deep Armenian-American concerns for Armenia and Artsakh as Amb. Djerejian backtracked and modified his position to come across as a more ‘balanced’ diplomat.

Amb. Djerejian pointed out the proliferation of “ism”s such as “extremism” and “terrorism” in today’s world. Interestingly, his position on vital Armenian American issues has illustrated that he is influenced by petroleum interests, and is an adherent of “petrolism.”

A well-respected writer and political observer David Boyajian of Belmont, MA recently wrote: “Djerejian, whose parents were Genocide survivors, is a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Syria. He is now the Founding Director of the James A. Baker III Institute in Houston. The Institute’s namesake is James Baker. Djerejian is a former Secretary of State and an Armenian genocide denier, as is Madeline Albright, an ex-officio member of the Institute. Its Board of Advisors is filled with current and former executives of Chevron, Marathon Oil, Shell Oil, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and similar corporations, several of which also fund the Institute. Not surprisingly, human rights are nearly invisible on the Institute’s agenda. In a depressing political presentation to Armenian Americans in Texas in 2011, Djerejian uttered not one word of criticism of Turkey or Azerbaijan. Nor did he mention Artsakh/Karabagh’s rights, human or otherwise. Instead, he took a neutral position on the issue, and approvingly quoted Azeri President Ilham Aliyev that ‘Azerbaijan has the upper hand.’ Regarding the Genocide, Djerejian noted only that ‘the Armenian Genocide can best be resolved within the context of improved state to state relations between Armenia and Turkey.’”

As noted above and ironically, many of Amb. Djerejian’s commentson October 5 were echoes of his own remarks of 2011 in Texas.

Similarly, the following comments that were presented in 2011 in Texas are almost identical to his observations made in Los Angeles:

“Armenia must look at current trends in the region. The Russian-Georgia conflict destabilized the Caucasus region and beyond. Russia is asserting itself in the “near abroad.” While Armenia’s relations with Russia will remain very important, Armenia must avoid becoming over-dependent on Russia. Turkey is looking westward, seeking to be part of the European Community, while strengthening its ties in the Middle East and Central Asia and improving its relationship with the United States. Georgia and Azerbaijan are actively pursuing stronger relations with the West. Iran’s future direction remains problematic, but it is a major regional player. Increasingly, change in Iran is not a question of if, but of when. Iran’s policies will have important implications for Armenia, a neighboring border country. Armenia’s relations with the United States are very important and involve interaction on issues such as non-proliferation and border security, international narcotics, money laundering and the trafficking in persons, and the development of democratic institutions and sustainable economic growth. Washington also appreciated Armenia’s support in Iraq. Thus, the promise for Armenia’s security and prosperity rests with following the major trends toward regional and international integration. Armenia can no longer risk being “the odd man out.” Indeed, Armenia should rediscover and reaffirm its historic role as a bridge between the North and South, and the East and West.”

While sounding genuinely concerned about the future of Armenia and that of Armenians, Mr. Djerejian trashed Armenia’s performance as a viable state.

Under succeeding US administrations of the last few decades, the U.S. State Department has been siding with oil-producing dictators such as Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan at the cost of trampling upon the human rights of people like Armenians of Artsakh (Karabagh). By doing so, US administrations risk exposing themselves to the ire of international public opinion in Middle East, the Caucasus and elsewhere.

Abundance of social and diversified mass media has helped the masses unmask this American double standard.

It is obvious that Djerejian is not a champion of human rights for Armenians of Artsakh. But he could have at least steered clear of making anti-Artsakh (Karabagh) Armenian pronouncements by respecting his diplomatic rule of ‘thinking twice before saying nothing;’ and by declining to unfairly agree with Azeri false claims that Armenians “are occupying” lands in Azerbaijan.

Ambassador Djerejian not only did not alleviate Armenian American concerns about the U.S. State Department being a dishonest broker in Asia Minor and Caucasus with regard to Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azeri issues, but also ended up tarnishing his own reputation as an illustrious U.S. Diplomat.