After completing his three-and-a-half year tenure in Yerevan, US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills has chosen to leave while making incendiary remarks rather than parting quietly with fond memories.
During his term in Armenia, a remarkable transformation took place in the country. While Armenia became more visible on the international scene, domestic changes heralded a new era particularly with the advent of the Velvet Revolution.
Any country, regardless of size, has a role to play on the strategic balance of powers, especially in the Caucasus region, which has become a powder keg.
In his parting salvo, Mr. Mills gave a long interview to EVN Report (https://www.evnreport.com/politics/u-s-ambassador-mills-i-leave-inspired-and-hopeful), where he covered much of the developments in the region during his tenure in Yerevan. To say the least, his remarks and views created a bitter aftertaste in Armenia with regard to the solution of the Karabakh conflict.
The Armenian media, in Armenia and in the diaspora, has reacted vehemently to his statement, even hurling personal insults at the ambassador. It would be foolhardy and naïve to hold Mr. Mills personally responsible for those remarks. We do not need to shoot the messenger instead of the message. We have seen in the case of one of his predecessors, namely John Evans, a single word, “genocide,” cost a diplomat his position and destroy his career. Ultimately history will vindicate Evans, but it has not helped his case in the present.
These policy statements are carefully crafted at a higher level, at the State Department, and trusted to individual diplomats to enunciate. Basically, that was the mission of Mr. Mills, to deliver the message to the Armenian people, no matter how unpalatable it was. His successor, Lynne Tracy, cannot deviate from the script either.