By Umit Donmez
PARIS (AA) – Glorification of terrorists in Armenia is a serious threat to peace, said Nasimi Aghayev, consul general of neighboring Azerbaijan in Los Angeles, California, in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.
Anadolu Agency interviewed Aghayev after Armenian nationalists hung in front of the Los Angeles Azerbaijani Consulate a picture of an Armenian terrorist who assassinated several Turkish diplomats in 1973.
Anadolu Agency: Last night, Armenian radicals hung a picture of Armenian terrorist Gourgen Yanikian in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate in Los Angeles. Yanikian is known for his cold-blooded 1973 murder in California of Turkish diplomats – including Consul General Mehmet Baydar as well as Consul Bahadir Demir. What are your feelings about this and your expectations from the state of California as well as US federal officials?
Aghayev: Indeed, last night, Armenian radicals posted photos of infamous Armenian terrorist Gourgen Yanikian in front of Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles. Yanikian murdered two Turkish diplomats in California back in 1973, becoming the first terrorist to assassinate foreign diplomats on US soil. Yanikian also inspired the establishment of two main Armenian terrorist organizations – JCAG and ASALA – whose terrorists murdered scores of Turkish diplomats around the world in 1970s-‘90s. Posting the photos of such notorious terrorist in front of our consulate is a direct threat to Azerbaijani diplomats in Los Angeles and another miserable attempt to silence us. On almost a daily basis, we receive phone calls, emails, and social media messages from Armenian extremists. We urge therefore the federal and local law enforcement agencies of the United States to investigate these threats in the most serious manner.
Q: As you have stated in your message published on social networks, Armenia and the nationalist networks of its diaspora are known for their glorification of terrorists as well as many controversial fascist and Nazi figures of their past. What does this reflect of the Armenian mentality and its impact on peace and stability in the Southern Caucasus region?
Aghayev: The glorification of terrorism is a serious problem in Armenia. After Gourgen Yanikian, another Armenian terrorist – Hampig Sassounian – murdered a Turkish consul general in 1982 in Los Angeles. Sassounian was recently paroled and released from prison and extradited to Armenia, where he was received as a “national hero.” Now he travels around Armenia, “educating” the Armenian youth about his “heroism.” As for Yanikian, he was paroled by California’s ethnic Armenian Governor (George) Deukmejian in 1984. His remains were transferred to Armenia in 2019, where he was reburied as a “hero” with military honors. Many other Armenian terrorists like Monte Melkonian or the Lisbon Five are celebrated as “national heroes” both in Armenia and among its diaspora. Another serious problem is the glorification of Armenian Nazi collaborators such as Garegin Nzhdeh and Drastamat Kanayan. Last year, the famous American Jewish magazine Forward published a list of 22 Nazi monuments in Armenia, which makes Armenia a country with one of the largest concentrations of Nazi monuments in the world. Not surprisingly, a survey by the US Anti-Defamation League revealed Armenia as the second most anti-Semitic nation in Europe.
This terrorism and Nazi glorification as well as widespread anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish hatred in Armenia impede the achievement of sustainable peace and normalization of Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan and Turkiye. However, I am confident that Armenia can overcome this hostility and hatred, and gradually move to become a peaceful neighbor. It is in the best interest of the Armenian people and nation. We have repeatedly said that after the 44-day (Nagorno-Karabakh) war of 2020 and the liberation of Azerbaijan’s territories from Armenia’s illegal occupation, we consider the conflict to be over and we want to achieve lasting peace with Armenia and sign a peace treaty and open all communications.
Q: What can you tell us about efforts that could be made for peace by the Armenian community in the US?
Aghayev: As for the Armenian diaspora, we still need to see any tangible efforts by them to reign in the radicals. I will give you an example. On July 21, 2020 hundreds of Armenian radicals physically assaulted a handful of peaceful Azerbaijani protesters in front of our consulate in broad daylight in Los Angeles, injuring many of them. The Los Angeles police have been investigating it as a hate crime. Neither any of the hundreds of Armenian organizations in the United States, nor Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, nor their embassy in Washington D.C., have condemned this outrageous hate crime by Armenian radicals. Nor have they called on their community to avoid any further violence, in the face of death threats to the Azerbaijani community. On the contrary, both the diplomatic missions and their lobby groups such as ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) have absurdly blamed the physically assaulted, injured, and hospitalized Azerbaijanis for the violence!
The consistent display of brutality, especially by young, US-born Armenians, raises many questions about the kind of environment that has enabled and instilled a profound hatred in so young a generation, a generation that has been driven to hostility and violence, even as they live far removed from Armenia. 7,000 miles (over 11,250 kilometers) seem to be a minor distance when confronted with multigenerational prejudice, even for those raised in a city as diverse and multicultural as Los Angeles. Armenian community leaders should carefully reflect on how to address and dismantle the violent hatred within their community and make sure that a new generation of Armenian-Americans in Los Angeles are not brought up in such an obviously harmful and destructive atmosphere.