Monday, September 3, 2012

Playing the Patriot

Let's first enumerate a few simple, incontestable facts: in 2004, during a NATO seminar in Budapest, Ramil Safarov, a lieutenant in the armed forces of Azerbaijan, hacks a sleeping Armenian co-student to death, with a hatchet.  In 2006, he is condemned to a minimum of 35 years in jail by a Hungarian court.  In August 2012, he is handed over to Azerbaijan, under a European treaty that allows signatories' citizens to sit out their sentences in their home countries.  Despite assurances to the contrary, once in Baku, he is given a hero's welcome, pardoned, and promoted to the rank of major by the Aliyev regime.  Armenia promptly cuts off its diplomatic relations with Hungary; its president, Serj Sargsyan, issues an uncharacteristically blunt statement a few days later, asserting Armenia's readiness for war.  The plot thickens  when, almost simultaneously, it is revealed cash-strapped Budapest could be the recipient of a token of oil-rich Azerbaijan's generosity in the form of a multi-billion dollar loan.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Armenia and its Oligarchs

In an earlier post, I pointed to the dangers involved in ignoring the many deficiencies within Armenian society, arguing that progress would emerge not through accommodation with a corrupt and increasingly arrogant soi-disant elite, but through consistent critique of and principled resistance against its many excesses.  Unfortunately, events over the past few weeks have proved my assertion that government in Armenia is of some people, by some people and for some people painfully correct: in the absence of a state under the rule of law, all become prey to the whims of those higher-up in the echelons of power. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Greece and its Fascists

One week from now, Greece will find itself at yet another unwelcome crossroads.  It is difficult to overstate the importance of what could be the country’s most important moment since the fall of the military junta, in 1974.  The choices are stark; the potential consequences dramatic.  But the various economic alternatives provided by a panoply of parties from the radical left to the centre-right pale into insignificance when compared with the existential choice between democracy and thuggery, civilisation and barbarism presented by the neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Tale of Two Nations

The 24th of April is upon us again, and for the 97th time, that date will pass without proper acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by the government of Turkey.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Trouble with Syria

Let’s first get something out of the way: the Syrian regime is one of the nastier ones in the world, and even by the nasty standards of the Middle East, it excels in its oppressive paranoia. It is thus not at all surprising that a large number of Syrians would rebel against a cliquish government that, just as in neighbouring Iraq in years past, is largely built on the loyalty of a religious minority (in this case, the Alawite one). But the Middle East being what it is, nothing is as it seems at first sight, and one must ask oneself: is the outrage heard in Western and Middle Eastern capitals truly one born out of a bleeding-heart concern for democracy? With absolutist Gulf monarchies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia clamouring for democratisation and human rights, there is more than just a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.