Throughout 20 years of covering Armenia’s foreign policy I have had many reasons to write about the diplomatic achievements and failures of our country, give praise or criticism where it was due. But what I have seen in the “Letters” section of Financial Times on April 10 was unprecedented – and not in a good way.
Armenian Ambassador to India Armen Martirosyan has published the following letter:
“In 2005, as the then permanent representative of Armenia to the UN, I was a first-hand witness to then US ambassador Bolton’s aggressive campaign for an anti-Iranian resolution at the UN General Assembly. Armenia’s position on the Iran vote did not meet American expectations, so the US mission contacted us with an urgent request for an appointment with Mr Bolton. It was abundantly clear that Mr Bolton was not ready to take no for an answer, and this peculiar situation called for unorthodox solutions. After a brief welcome, to my guest’s utter surprise I unveiled a map of Armenia and rolled it out over my desk. With this visual aid, I impressed on him the relevant regional complexities facing my country and thus justified our position on the resolution. Before his departure, Mr Bolton accepted a sip of Winston Churchill’s favourite Armenian brandy, Ararat, as a seal of our new understanding. My advice to all potential interlocutors is to treat Mr Bolton as a rational agent who is perfectly capable of engaging in constructive dialogue and adjusting positions based on new-found insights.”
There are so many things done wrong in this letter that I simply have to list them:
1. Why write that letter? What is the reason for the Armenian Ambassador to India “defend” an American diplomat in the English paper? Something tells me the ambassador did not consult with Armenian Foreign Minister before composing the letter. If so, Mr Martirosyan is coming forward with a personal initiative, while using the name of our country.
2. It is good to know that the ambassador had had a short meeting with John Bolton 13 years ago, but why recall it now, when the relations between USA and Russia are deteriorating and the “hero” of Mr Martirosyan’s letter has a key role in that process?
3. What does he mean by saying “It was abundantly clear that Mr Bolton was not ready to take no for an answer”? At that time, Mr Bolton was his country’s ambassador to the UN the same as Mr Martirosyan, so obviously, it was his job to protect the interests of the United States. Whether it would be a “yes” or a “no”, it would be his problem. America is a superpower, but if the Armenian ambassador thinks the other party does not want to hear a “no” and decides to try “unorthodox solutions”, it is the inner workings of the diplomatic process, and although I find these unacceptable, the rest of the world should not know about them. At least because an ambassador of the U.S. or other big country might read the letter and assume Armenian ambassadors would come to the meeting perplexed
4. If Mr Martirosyan was trying to compliment Mr Bolton, he has achieved exactly the opposite. According to the letter, a senior U.S. official would not know the challenges of the region if he wasn’t given a map, is that so?
I honestly cannot understand why the ambassador would publish that letter. Did he think that the U.S. National Security Adviser needed protection? If the aim was to support an old “friend”, a private letter would suffice. Given the Russian-US tension that I have mentioned above, Russians will be among Mr Bolton’s “potential interlocutors”, as Ambassador Martirosyan puts it. Should they really base their tactics on the recommendations by Armenian Ambassador to India during the negotiations with U.S. and Bolton?
The issue is not in the ambassador’s personality. The problem is that we forget sometimes we have no right to jeopardize the country that already has a thousand and one issues for the sake of our personal ambitions or interests. All citizens and more so, all ambassadors of the Republic of Armenia must defend our country, not a conventional John Bolton.
P.S. The only bright side in this story is the advertisement of “Ararat” brandy.
Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax.