What does the “hunt” for Ruben Vardanyan suggest? - Mediamax.am

What does the “hunt” for Ruben Vardanyan suggest?
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What does the “hunt” for Ruben Vardanyan suggest?


The recent so-called “investigations” of Troika Dialog, the company previously owned by businessman, philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan, have caused a hailstorm of public and expert discussions. The financial aspect of this case is irrelevant to me, contrary to the underlying political motives.

Vardanyan is perceived both as a Russian billionaire and a representative of the Armenian Diasporan elite with close ties to the West and the East. Ever since The Guardian started publishing the “investigation” reports, I closely followed the publications in media worldwide. The analysis has revealed that most of them put the emphasis not on Troika Dialog, but on Vardanyan’s ethnicity.

The statistics discovered by the content analysis shows the following numbers: the phrase “of Armenian descent” is used 49 times, “the Russian-Armenian” – 36 times, “Armenian by birth” is mentioned 33 times and “the Armenian lobby” – 27 times. Many publications also highlight the project Aurora, which raises even more questions, chiefly, what is the real reason of these publications and who is the final beneficiary of the potential weakening of Vardanyan?

I would like to divide the answer into two parts, which might be tightly intertwined.

Firstly, we have to take into account Vardanyan’s political activity. He consistently repeats in interviews and speeches that politics isn’t for him and he has no relevant ambitions. However, we need to understand that philanthropists of his scale simply cannot stand on the sidelines in current reality of politics, even if they want to. Besides, we should keep in mind that conditional rivals don’t have to take your word for it. As a rule, they prefer playing safe rather than putting out fires later.

Thus, various centers of power view Vardanyan’s project Aurora solely in the political context. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative actually has several aspects, the Armenian Genocide firsylu. This subject matter came into existence for the world powers long before Armenia declared independence, and subsequently, the recognition of the Genocide has been a foreign policy tool for a long time. This concerns the United States of America primarily.

For the U.S., this tool is one of the most effective “sticks” to use against Turkey when it crosses the lines drawn by Washington. Unsurprisingly, the first demand to recognize the Armenian Genocide was voiced by high-ranking members of Congress after Turkey occupied Northern Cyprus. If we follow the chronology of the attempts to pass the resolution on recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the Congress, we will see a number of coincidences:

a) The attempts grow more active during crises in U.S.-Turkish relations or problems experienced by large U.S. companies with interests in the Turkish market;

b) The resolution is either put on hold or withdrawn for an indefinite term after the mentioned problems are solved.

Let me bring up a few examples. In 1984, Turkish government signed a contract with Boeing for supply of 18 planes, but its main competitor, the European airplane maker Airbus managed to strike a different deal with Turkey. In the end, Ankara reduced the number of ordered Boeing planes down to 11. A few months later (in 1985), the Boeing agents of influence triggered a discussion on the new resolution of Armenian Genocide: 197 out of 229 co-sponsors were registered Boeing lobbyists.

The document passed through committee after committee without hurdles and the Turkish government launched a counter-attack, threatening the Reagan administration and Congress elites with deterioration of relations and cancelation of the Boeing deal. After lengthy consultations, Turkey unexpectedly decided to implement the initial contract for 18 deals, and the lawmakers unexpectedly withdrew their votes for the resolution one after another, so the document was put on brakes before even reaching the Senate. The situation almost repeated itself in 2006, when Turkey quarreled with oil company Chevron and the aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin. In other words, the federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. (adoption of the law signed by the president) is impossible as long as it can be used to influence Turkey. For the United States, it is also convenient that the main supporters of the resolution are U.S. citizens of Armenian descent, who implement the operating functions for the official lobby (and come out of the process as the disappointed losing side). The only bonus is the non-regulatory resolution that some states adopt individually. These resolutions aren’t laws, because states cannot engage in foreign policy, therefore, these documents are non-binding.

In this context, Ruben Vardanyan’s project Aurora is viewed in several aspects.

Firstly, it is seen as a Russian attempt to intercept a case of extreme importance for Armenians worldwide (and especially in the West) through its citizen of Armenian descent. In the “Cold War 2.0” each side is trying to use all available assets and the liking of the Armenian Diaspora of many millions, scattered all over the world, can be a significant weapon. We only need to recall how positively Armenians perceived President Putin’s visit on the Centennial of the Genocide and how negatively they reacted when President Barack Obama decided against visiting Armenia on the occasion. In fact, for the U.S. Aurora is a projection of Russia’s “soft power”, aimed at winning over the Armenian Diaspora in the West.

Secondly, Aurora has already gained a large scale and recognition as a platform that unites nations who survived crimes against humanity. Undoubtedly, this tendency will be opposed not only by world and regional powers, which do not was independent and effective Armenian lobby, but also elites in the ethnic groups that do not like Armenians hogging the blanket.

Finally, Vardanyan is trying to figure out an interpretation of the modern Armenian world and probably considers it his task to form a pan-national aristocracy. The number of opponents of this vector (both external and domestic) will continue to grow.

We must realize another simple truth, which is that we have to protect each other with all our might (that is the main moral lesson of the Genocide), especially when it is the matter of competition with other countries and nations. We shouldn’t be happy when others attack ours and we shouldn’t help them by being indifferent to the fate of our compatriots. Domestic jealousy and the policy of always tripping one another are typical for all nations, but we should strive to become an exception from that rule, because otherwise we have no option of survival. I have to stress again that our financial aristocracy must change its attitude to the Armenian statehood and realize the inevitability of its drowning in the morass of history outside the strong nation state.

The desire to build an Armenian world in California, Marseille or any other Diasporan center will lead to extremely negative consequences. The desire to play the exclusive role of an operator of external powers, who changes one master for another, will also result in a failure. All Armenian-centric elements in the world now have an exclusive chance to make history by using their resources for the one and only significant goal and idea, which is the strengthening of Armenian statehood.

There is one more recommendation I have for our financial elites: do not believe yourself untouchable, falling to deception of the numbers on your bank accounts. The state breaks each and all if there is goal that requires it. Even families like Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors were dispossessed as kulaks and weakened, when the state interests demanded it. Forget the numbers of high-ranking officials from the core nations in your mobile phones. During the Armenian Genocide, the orders of annihilation of the intelligentsia overnight were given by those, whom the Armenian elites of Istanbul considered friends and visited as distinguished guests. The moral is simple: if we do not defend each other, we will be taken out one by one. Let no one doubt that it’s only beginning.

Areg Galstyan - PhD, regular contributor to The National Interest, Forbes, The Hill and The American Thinker.

These views are his own.

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