Armenia is one of those places we hear little of, somewhere far off somewhere in the east. It is also one the great nations of the world, an ancient nation, an ancient race of people who have a history that would intimidate many others.
Armenia was a great kingdom in the time of Christ, it was the first nation in the world to establish Christianity as it’s religion, it has been a nation that has risen and fallen many times, and a nation that seems to have migrated over hundreds of miles in that time.
Perhaps only the Jews can compare with the Armenians in their antiquity and the integrity of their culture and religion. When other races have faded or mixed with newer ones, the Armenians kept themselves whole, through massacres, conquest and genocide they survived and managed somehow to thrive.
Above: St. Stepanos church
When the Soviet Union began it’s dissolution in the late 80s and early 90s, Armenia reclaimed itself once again and their brothers in the Kharabagh proclaimed their union with Armenia proper. Muslim Azerbaijan (in which Kharabagh is situated) declared this illegal, even though they themselves had just declared independence from the USSR.When Stalin had been the Nationalities Commissar under Lenin, he had drawn the borders of the republics of the Soviet Union, in places he deliberately drew borders that divided peoples and ancient nations as a tool with which to divide the locals who would then look to Moscow.
Above: Yerevan – Armenia’s capital
Kharabagh and Naxcivan, although majority Armenian, were handed over to Azerbaijan, in the years that followed Naxcivan was de-Armenianised, so was Kharabagh, but it was less successful in Kharabagh.
Above: The Tatev monastery
In response to a referendum in Kharabagh which decided on independence, Azerbaijan launched a war on the Kharabagh and the Armenian peoples. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians fled from Azerbaijan and Naxcivan, hundreds of thousands of Azeri’s also fled from Armenia, the Kharabagh and the territories that Armenia would occupy in the war.Unfortunately, as is the case in Bosnia and Kosovo and other places, this conflict was frozen. Armenia won this war, but they have been unable to end this war as the ‘international community’ refuses to recognise reality and the will of the Armenian peoples.
Above: Khor Virap monastery, with Mount Ararat
Not that I trust the will of any peoples, but surely if anyone has the right to this little slice of land, it is this ancient Christian race?The Azeri’s already have a large nation, one enriched with oil and allied to Turkey and Iran. Armenia is a small nation, the Kharabagh even smaller, Azerbaijan could well do without this small impoverished province.
I have a great deal of respect for this ancient Christian people, their faith, their churches and monasteries, their sheer survival over time is enough to inspire.
Above:The Armenian Holy See in Echmiadzin is built over a pagan (fire) temple
Their suffering is also humbling, a small group of highly cultured people, people who know how to make money and thrive, have been the scape goats for many less able and jealous races, most famously the Turks who came close to annihilating them in the Great War.Let us hope the Armenians can continue to inspire, let us hope they hold fast to their faith!