Prelude: Why was Mehriban Aliyev Restoring Roman Catacombs?

Vahram Martirosyan

Writer, screenwriter

Such an exuberant week in terms of events as was last week might happen or not happen once or twice a year. The Armenian media covered the Armenian-American star’s visit and the Pope’s mass commemorating victims of the Armenian Genocide quite actively, but there were gaps, according to me, in terms of genre.

First of all, missing were interviews with the main actors. 

The surprising metamorphosis that the attitude of the Armenian media and social media underwent toward Kim Kardashian, from accusatory and scornful to ecstatic, might banish everything to oblivion, but since Kim’s visit was discussed for months, it was not ruled out that if a news outlet sought it in advance it might’ve received an exclusive interview.

I think, media consumers would be greatly interested also if someone attempted to explain the reason for Kim’s popularity, showing clips from her show and providing analysis. Since this wasn’t done (I myself was abroad: I followed the news from there, and my search yielded no results), media consumers continue to wait for their deserved analysis of the mysterious change in the Armenian public’s attitude toward the American star. Perhaps Kim’s silence also contributed to this. 

Present at the Pope’s mass was Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan; thus, the news outlets traditionally accompanying him were aware and had all the grounds to get an interview with the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.

Pope Francis’ acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide should not be underestimated, but here too excitement replaced analysis. Moreover, MP of the parliamentary majority Republican Party of Armenia Naira Karapetyan insulted [AM] Armenian National Congress (HAK) representative Vladimir Karapetyan’s expert observerations [AM]. 

The Republican MP didn’t like that Karapetyan recalled that the “Pope only repeated the words pronounced by Pope John Paul II  in 2001,” but one of the flaws in our political analysis (and also in journalism) is our short memory (interpreting is each person’s job). 

Karapetyan countered [AM] this letter, which was disseminated in the media, but it’s not only the Azerbaijan-Italy agreement that he mentioned that was not advantageous for Armenia on the eve of 2015. 

The Armenian media didn’t cover this, but Azerbaijan exerted other efforts for the Vatican to adopt a more moderate stance on the genocide issue. In particular, in 2012, during the days of Pope Benedict XVI, Mehriban Aliyeva on behalf of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation signed an agreement with the Holy See to restore one of the most important Christian shrines, the Roman catacombs. 

She explained the deed with Azerbaijan’s intense love for historical, including Christian monuments. This, a few years after the destruction of khachkars (Armenian cross-stones) in Julfa. And the Holy See didn’t decline the agreement, recalling the recent destruction of thousands of khachkars. 

This is one of the reasons that Turkish-Azerbaijani propaganda painfully leads to the Pope’s mass but will scarcely refer to it. Describing the prelude to the events and revealing the subtexts should not be the exclusive merit but the responsibility of our politicians, experts, and media.

Vahram Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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