Tatul Hakobyan

Tatul Hakobyan Presents His Book on Artsakh War at Tekeyan Cultural Association California Event

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ALTADENA, Calif. – “I am going to talk about views that are not very popular and many of you may not agree with me, but I am very much convinced in my views. Also, considering historical facts, I must repeat my views,” announced Tatul Hakobyan. A journalist, writer and the coordinator at the Ani Armenian Research Center, he spoke on June 11 at a presentation of the English translation by Arsen Kharatyan of his new book The Valley of Death, 44-Day Catastrophe. The event was organized by the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA), with the participation of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Rights Council of America, Armenian Society of Los Angeles, Iraqi Armenian Family Association of Los Angeles, and the Organization of Istanbul Armenians, at the TCA Beshgeturian Center in Altadena.

Hakobyan presented his views to the gathered diaspora members regarding the terrible defeat of the 44 days of Artsakh war, exclaiming: “I can give you 100 reasons. But there is one main reason why we lost the second time in our history.” He gave a prior historical example first before stating his views, asserting, “The first time was in 1920 when our American friends, one of the main allies at that time, were telling us to find a common ground with our neighbors and not to rely on them [the allied powers]… Instead, we were determined that the future of Armenia will be decided in Sèvres or other places, and not in Armenia with its neighbors. We went to war and were terribly defeated, losing 30 square kilometers — the city of Ani, the entire Kars province and the biggest city of Armenia at that time, Alexandrapol.”

He then went on to declare: “I think that the main reason for the recent defeat is that we didn’t estimate our strengths correctly. As a political principle, we chose not realism, but the dream of having a big, bigger and biggest Armenia. We didn’t listen to friendly countries who were telling us to speak with Azerbaijan and to accept painful but dignified compromises.” Hakobyan expressed hopes that after this defeat Armenians won’t have another one in one hundred years and won’t rely on “wishful thinking” as a political principal in the future.

Hakobyan talked about the current situation in Artsakh, Armenia, and specifically in Syunik province, intentionally presenting them separately because of the unique situations for each, stating: “For the first time since 1991 we delegated the security of Artsakh to Russia. Will the Russian peacekeepers leave in five years, in ten years or will they stay? Or can our ally Russia one day make an agreement with Turkey and again sacrifice that Armenian territory? These are questions that we need to think about incessantly.”

Hakobyan emphasized the urgency of time, since no one knows what the political situation will look like in the world in four-and-one-half years. He was certain that Armenia needs to fix its armed forces and its economy and be ready even for painful developments. “We are our only ally with our realism,” he noted, and continued: “Right now, the status of the Republic of Artsakh has no significance for me. There are two important measures for Artsakh right now: security and the number of the Armenian population there.”

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Speaking about Syunik province, Hakobyan related that on the road built during the 2000s from Goris to Kapan and to Meghri, about 70 km. now passes through the territory of Azerbaijan. In order to drive south, one is forced to see Azerbaijani flags, road signs and soldiers. “This indicates that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republican borders were restored,” said Hakobyan.

The rest of the Republic of Armenia is in the throes of election preparations. In his opinion, these are intellectually the lowest level of political races and debates in Armenian history. He said: “There are three main political parties that are participating in these elections and all of them are constantly using street language. But the most dangerous part will be possible civil resistance or civil war. At the minimum, two participants are ready to destroy one another. We don’t know how this all will end.” Nevertheless, Hakobyan hopes to wake up in a peaceful Armenia on June 21, after the elections.

After the last war in Artsakh, many things changed in the diaspora as well, which had participated in many ways during the war and in its aftermath. During his book tour in March and April in the US, Tatul Hakobyan met with Armenian community members. He thinks that now the diaspora is in a confused state while facing a reality different from what was presented to it during the last two decades. He said, “We need to make new talking points with the diaspora. We need to stay away from the ‘toasts and wishful thinking’ and try to ensure the presence of the diaspora in the political life of Armenia.”

Hakobyan said that the diversity of the diaspora needs to be used properly so that the diaspora can have a serious stake in the future of Armenia. To achieve significant results, collaboration needs more often to be between various organizations and even individuals. He said: “It must be mutually beneficial. The diaspora Armenian has to be sure that investing in homeland is not only an act of patriotism but also doing a business in a normal business environment. I don’t want to hear stories in every corner about how much someone lost in Armenia. We don’t need huge conferences with long speeches and applause. We need specific steps that needs to be taken by the consulates, ambassadors and community organizations.”

The Valley of Death, 44-Day Catastrophe is a collection of various articles and publications, and a factual and often emotional diary, that Hakobyan kept during the war in Artsakh, when he witnessed the horrors and struggle of his compatriots. The book includes the list of cities and villages that were lost during the war.

Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles Armen Baibourtian speaking at the Tatul Hakobyan book presentation

Armen Baibourtian, Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, highly recommended the book at the presentation, stating that other books that will be published about the 44 days of war will definitely refer to this work. “Until now many questions [about the war in Artsakh] are not clear to me, as to many other people. We all need to understand the reasons and, I think it’s important to note that it is crucial to learn our lessons from history. We all as a nation need to find the right solutions to overcome the crisis and to pave our way to the future that we want to have. We must do it with specific steps and everyday work. We must learn from today’s event as well,” said Baibourtian.

Along with The Valley of Death other books on the first Artsakh war and Armenian-Turkish relationships written by Hakobyan were presented at the Tekeyan Cultural Association.

Mayda Kuredjian, TCA West Coast Executive Secretary, opened the event with words of welcome, while Tomik Alexanian of the Armenian Society of Los Angeles introduced Armen Baibourtian and Tatul Hakobyan. Mihran Toumajan, member of the TCA Metro LA Chapter executive, conducted the question-and-answer session with Hakobyan at the end of the event.

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