Notes From Hairenik
May 1, 2006

Today is May Day, otherwise known as International Workers’ Day, as is celebrated around the world. May Day was important during the communist days of course due to the socialist overtones associated with the holiday’s symbolism—apparently May Day was endorsed officially by the Soviet Union and was marked by military parades and all associated fanfare in the good ol’ days. But it was also a day when workers took the day off to hold mass demonstrations in support of their communist country.

May Day’s celebration went away in Armenia as soon as the Soviet Union fell apart, then made a come back in 2001 as an official state holiday, then supposedly marked only by communists according to a news report. But last year much more was made of the holiday, including an honorary ceremony for war veterans held in Yerevan’s Victory Park on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. It’s interesting to note that of the millions of troops that served Mother Russia during the second world war, 600,000 of them were from Armenia—about half of them returned alive.

The image above is a Soviet World War II-era propaganda poster marking the arrival of May Day and encouraging the people’s support for their country.

In an unrelated note, President Aliyev of Azerbaijan met with President Bush in Washington a few days ago, where they talked about various topics including regional peace and stability and so forth. But the most notable, hot item on the agenda was the Karabagh war resolution. According to an RFE/RL report, the two presidents did not have much to say on the topic, at least not in the limelight. But apparently President Aliyev assured President Bush that he was hopeful a peaceful resolution would be found to the conflict. This runs contradictory to the rhetorical statements President Aliyev has been spewing during the last few months about Azerbaijan willing to use military force at a moment’s notice in order to reclaim Karabagh, raving that Azerbaijan will never let the region go, even though it technically lost it in 1994 when a ceasefire agreement was signed. Regarding this matter I believe President Bush told his Azeri counterpart either one of two things: to give Karabagh up once and for all or to restore his country’s territorial integrity. The next few months will be interesting regarding whether a final outcome will be salvaged. Although the status quo cannot go on indefinitely, even though Armenia clearly holds the upper hand geo-strategically, economists and diplomats claim that the long-term socioeconomic survival of Armenia depends on closing a peace deal, whereas Azerbaijan has nothing to worry about supposedly because it has a steady flow of oil money in the billions of dollars.

You can read some more about President Aliyev’s rhetoric here and here. The article about his meeting with President Bush can be read here.