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Interview with General Colonel Mikayel Harutyunyan, Advisor and Chief Military Inspector of RA President

-How would you describe the people of your childhood? What images arise when you say childhood?

-I was born in the village Saday, in the region of Shamakhi. My birthplace is the most beautiful corner of the world with mountains, gardens, forests, ancient magnificent churches. It was a big village having five or six thousand inhabitants. The men were strong, strict and patriotic in my birthplace. The women were proud, unbending; they were the pole of the hearth, the protection angel of the family. I was brought up without a father, I lived in need, but I never had a feeling of loneliness, defenselessness because our village was a big family, people lived with each other’s troubles they helped each other, shared their sorrow and happiness.
There was a majestic, white church in our village and its cross and dome was destroyed, and the church was turned into a barn. The areas around the church were inhabited, there were various ruins, dilapidated building. My mother said that it wasn’t allowed to scribble on the walls of the church and to spoil them, as the church is a holy place. We didn’t understand why the barn was a holy place but the elders exhorted us with such timorousness that we automatically obeyed. Many years later I learnt that the monastery of the Witness Stepanos was in our village where Mesrop Mashtots had held an assembly. The church was destroyed from the earthquake but its base remained stable and on that base a new church with the previous name was built. Later I learnt that the secondary school of our village had once been a school belonging to the monastery and the clergymen have lived in the areas near to the church and many sanctuaries have been built. No villager built his house on these lands and no villager dared to touch the holy things even in the conditions of the soviet ideology which rejected religion. That church is the collective description of our villages – its base being firm, pierced into its land, ancient, invincible, sacred, eternal.
Talish is my father’s birthplace. My ancestors are from Talish, so am I. But under some circumstances they have lived in my mother’s birthplace, village Sadyan. By the way, they both were orphans and were brought up by their relatives. During my military service I have wandered in many countries. Wherever the homesickness suffocated me I went to Talish, to my uncle’s house. He was blind. He had lost his eyesight in the Patriotic War. I came to him quietly, held his hand. He left my face and my head with his fingers and recognized me with an inner heartiness, with the call of the blood. My uncle was a peculiar symbol of fatherland for me.

-What’s the greatest, the most important idea that accompanies you from the years of your training till today?

-We are all soldiers regardless of the stars of our shoulder straps. The idea of a soldier is so high, capacious, and majestic. Both the general and the ordinary soldier are Soldiers.
-Probably the good general and the good soldier.

-Those who are ready to give the most precious for the protection of the fatherland. Those who realize that the soldier and the general are military friends, comrades in arms, those who are responsible for each other. Those who are ready either to save their friend or to die with him and consider the third way a betrayal.

-Mr. Harutyunyan, before meeting you I was talking to Feliks Poghosyan. As you know he is the Deputy Head of Information and Public Relations of the RA Ministry of Defense and has been a volunteer during the war, then he joined the army. He remembered with love and gratitude how you explained the secrets of military training patiently and in details. Mr. Poghosyan remembered that the volunteers were getting ready to go to the front. You had come up to the regiment and asked whether they had any problems. Mr. Poghosyan had complained that his coat was shabby. Taking off your coat quickly you had given it to the soldier leaving for the front.

-I remembered my first military leader, Captain Kuznetsov. I’ll never forget him and I’ll always be grateful to him, he wasn’t only a fine military man but he was also a good teacher and educator, pedagogue and psychologist. He was an elder brother for me, a friend and a commander. He taught me a lot. He showed the difficult but the true and honest way of achieving higher ranks, he prompted me the secret of overcoming the difficulties honourably.

-And what’s the secret?

-Always to strive for the highest, to remember that perfection has no limit, not to be satisfied with what you have achieved, not to fall into the drowsiness of self – satisfaction, to treat yourself with criticism. And to tell afterwards “I could do more than that”. To be resolute, not to be afraid of making mistakes. To live with the life of a soldier, to be possibly closer to his troubles and happiness, inner world, to be a reliable and trustful support for the soldier. The sub–units I led have always been leading and first of all I succeeded due to my kind behaviour towards the soldier.

-Mr. Harutyunyan, you actually got married when you were a commander of battalion. Many military men say that military service takes almost all your time and leaves no place for your personal life. How did you manage to combine excellent military results and your personal life?

-My wife Svetlana was my brother’s neighbour. I had had a chance to see her once but when I returned home for holidays, I suddenly began to look at her differently, I saw things that I hadn’t noticed before: charm, kindness, tenderness, intellect. I am grateful to her that she takes on her shoulders even the troubles I had to take. My wife is my friend and I can discuss everything with her (of course, besides the matters concerning to the military service).

-Mr. Harutyunyan, when the war of Artsakh began you lived in Moscow and taught in the Academy of the Chief Headquarters. You left everything – your comfortable flat, high salary, authority and you returned to your fatherland.

-In 1992 nearly 5 thousand Armenian officers and generals served in the Soviet army who came to their fatherland. They did nothing heroic as they did their duty and those who didn’t come renounced their fatherland and their nation. Perhaps it’s my own opinion, but that’s how I think of it. I met Vazgen Sargsyan in 1991. He said that Armenia needed professional military men to help raise the army and win the war. There was no hesitation; I immediately made the decision, because whatever you put on one side of the scale the other side would go down. Our fatherland was in danger. And you speak about a good job, welfare, authority. Sometimes people say that the birth of the army is like a wonder, a myth. Those who say this, have looked at it from afar, and for those standing in the sources of raising the army, it’s a result of hard, painstaking work, sleepless nights, various sacrifices.

-When we look back we hardly believe that we have overcome all the troubles and have raised an army from nothing. How did we manage it?

– We were united, we had a strong will. All our interests were combined. We needed an army, we all needed it, and we needed strength to protect our homes, our land, our parents and sons. There was no hesitation, doubt, divergence of opinions. Every Armenian gave the army whatever he could, one gave his knowledge and experience, the other his courage and devotion and the other helped financially. Even women sold their jewellery to buy weapons, rations and clothes. The warm and loving breath of our nation on our backs, we were ready to any deed. Army was so majestic that it had left no place for material things, meanness and personal ambitions. The birth of the national army is a living lesson for us and a behest to the coming generations; when we are together we are invincible.

-Mr. General, this year Azerbaijan has again added its military expenses and obviously threatens us with war. Is the start of the war possible?

-I don’t exclude war. Armenian – Azerbaijani conflicts begin both as a political decision from above and as a chain reaction of small local collisions. But there are serious reasons to suggest that the war will not begin in the nearest future. The army of Azerbaijan will lose the war and the Azeri know it.

-The Azeri add their military budget every year their officers are trained in the military academies of the USA and Turkey. Both the human and the material resources of Azerbaijan are greater than ours but the army of Azerbaijan doesn’t become powerful. Why?

-Decades after the Patriotic war the Soviet Army enjoyed the glory and ardour of the victory. Even now our army is the inheritor of the victory of the Patriotic war due to the heroic acts and deeds of our fathers and grandfathers. That’s to say both the psychology of the winner and the symptom of the loser is viable. If you have lost yourself, you forfeit the moral right to say to your soldier “you must win”. If you have lost, if you have run away from the battlefield, the calls of your heroism, self – sacrifice give no root. I’ll bring a good example: Abiev, the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan, collided with the troop led by our Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan during the war. Abiev’s troop was crashed, Abiev ran away in front of Seyran Ohanyan. During the possible war the army of Seyran Ohanyan must again meet Abiev’s army. This is already half victory for us. Our national heroes are heroes who won the war and the blood they shed is meaningful. The national heroes of Azerbaijan are the heroes of the war they lost. Can there be a hero of a lost war? That country has no heroes today. The moral and psychological atmosphere in the army of Azerbaijan is inconsolable; it outnumbers us several times in the number of murders. “The discipline of cudgels rules in the army of Azerbaijan. You won’t establish order with the use of cudgels in the 21st century. Thus the military budget is not all mighty; there are problems that aren’t solved with money. We’ve made strong buildings at the front. To overcome that rampart Azerbaijan will have such great losses that will essentially concede us by the correlation of forces. And that’s our positional advantage. Azerbaijan takes this into consideration as well. In short, Azerbaijan is getting armed and is waiting for the moment when it will have an advantage. The only way to block the way of the war is to be stronger than Azerbaijan. However, up to this day Azerbaijan has not tried to bring its losses back with its military budget and officers who were trained abroad. Our nation and our army will give Azerbaijan no chance, be sure of that. Its courage will be nothing but a swaggering.

Category: #01 (917) 12.01.2012 – 18.01.2012, National army, Destinies, News, Spotlight