Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, member of the National Writers’ Union of Ukraine
Abstract. The article describes the reminiscences of Oleksnadr Bozhko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Armenia. Having arrived to Yerevan as the first Ambassador of independent Ukraine, the author became a witness to the events that initially led to a long-lasting political crisis, and subsequently to the unconstitutional change of Armenian government.
The article analyses the tumultuous events that Ukrainian Embassy faced immediately after its opening in September 1996. At that time, the Armenian society, which for years had been patiently overcoming numerous abuses of power, the arbitrariness of oligarchs, bureaucratic corruption and bribery at courts, broke out with a riot of peaceful disobedience.
It was the time when the reminiscences of the fierce Armenian-Azerbaijani War for Nagorno-Karabakh of 1991–1994 were still in minds of people when society had been drawn into an exhaustible internal political confrontation on the eve of the presidential elections. The more electoral confrontation grew, the more dissatisfying was the population with the leadership of the state. Eventually the state of emergency was introduced in the country.
These factors affected further activities of Ukrainian diplomats. It was important to quickly find premises suitable for a diplomatic mission and to carry out the diplomatic procedures necessary for the launch of Embassy’s activities.
The author states with sorrow that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia did not even find money to fuel a car and bring Ukrainian delegation to Yerevan. Shattered roads that have long been unrepaired, queues near bakeries and kerosene selling points, semi-empty store shelves and even faded eyes of those, with whom the author communicated, – those were sad realities of the Armenian life in the mid-nineties. The formation of the diplomatic services in both countries was carried out under difficult conditions, likewise the maintenance of diplomats’ activity in Ukraine was similarly poor then.
The article also describes that the stumbling point in Ukrainian-Armenian relations was an issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. The principle of territorial integrity was one of the fundamental in security sphere of Ukraine, whereas Armenia, which acted as guarantor of Nagorno-Karabakh security, adhered to the principle of self-determination of the nation. In this respect, Armenian politicians considered everything related to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. This dramatic problem was originated from 1921, when Nagorno-Karabakh was included to the Azerbaijani SSR. The policy of displacing the Armenians from their ancestral lands, which was deliberately carried out by the authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan, caused frustration of Armenians, dozens of thousands of whom had lived in that territory for centuries.
The author analyses the cooperation with the Directorate for Political Analysis and Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine regarding the defining Ukraine’s possible position in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The author emphasizes that the article is not just a diplomatic memoirs but also an attempt to comprehend what has happened to us over the past two decades, looking back at the past experience.
Keywords: Armenia, Embassy of Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukrainian-Armenian relations.