In the past couple of weeks, members of the Irish government have, in a rare moment of virtue, voiced their opposition to aggressive Israeli military moves in Gaza. While this is to be commended, it brings into stark relief the government’s disgraceful behaviour recently with regards to the war in Armenia. If ethnic cleansing isn’t acceptable, how come members of the Irish government recently laundered genocidal activities in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Seán Ó Fearghail, Fianna Fail TD and Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil came under criticism for his warm welcome of Azerbaijan officials at the end of last month amidst the then-ongoing persecution of Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
With various human rights organisations condemning Azerbaijan’s actions in the historically Armenian region, the Irish government damaged its international reputation once more, as officials in Leinster House gleefully greeted their Azerbaijani counterparts. While the tánaiste at least denounced Azerbaijani aggression, this statement means little if the Azerbaijani officials are being feted in Dáil Éireann at the same time.
This meeting came as the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Alen Simonyan led an Armenian delegation to the European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments, hosted in Dublin.
So dysfunctional is the Irish government’s current foreign policy, that in December of 2022 the Irish Representative to the UN Security Council, said at a UNSC meeting that:
“Ireland, like others, is seriously concerned by the ongoing obstruction of the Lachin corridor, which began on 12 December and has severe implications for the local population. Without the free movement of people, goods, food and medical supplies through this vital corridor, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh will surely face a humanitarian crisis this winter. As a Council, we must do everything we can to avoid this and prevent another man-made catastrophe emerging on our watch. Ireland therefore calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally restore freedom and security of movement along the Lachin corridor, in line with the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020.”
Such a blatant contradiction of Ireland’s morality-based foreign policy is a shameful demonstration that Irish elites do not adhere to the principles which they present themselves on the international stage. Far from an amoral machiavellian realpolitik policy however, Ireland’s liaison with Azerbaijan serves our state no purpose, and violates the very principles under which our state interacts with the world.
Regional players like Israel and Turkey are involved in supporting Azerbaijan, as Russia and the United States too, are unwilling or reluctant to support Armenia. The territorial conflict caused under the Soviet era gerrymandering of borders has left an imprint on the geopolitics of the region, and as a small state, isolated from the global system, without allies, Ireland ought to have a natural sympathy with the plight of the Armenian people.
Embarrassing As Usual
However, once again, Irish officials have proven our untrustworthiness as a state in the international system, as rhetoric of human rights obscures genuine principles and state interests for the sake of padding Irish elites CVs so they can continue their international career rat-race.
The Irish government has no excuse for its negligence with this meeting, as only in February of this year, the Armenian ambassador to Ireland and the UK Varuzhan Nersesyan raised concerns regarding the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Much to the state’s embarrassment, the speaker of the Irish parliament, Ó Fearghail went as far as to defend his meeting with the Azerbaijani officials. Ó Fearghail is an outspoken supporter of Ukraine, yet whether it be apathy or incompetence, he is swift to ignore Russia’s historical support for Azerbaijan.
Former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator Terry Leyden said of Azerbaijan: “They reclaimed their rightful territory, which is their right. If east Donegal was occupied by the British or the coloniser, what would we do?”
Terry Leyden is currently set to become the consul for Azerbaijan in Ireland.
So close is Mr Leyden with the Azerbaijani delegation that he escorted them inside Leinster House, even receiving praise from his Fianna Fail colleague the Ceann Comhairle who said: “our good friend Terry Leyden, who is outside the door. You are heartily welcome. It is good to have you here”.
The Ceann Comhairle should resign his position, as he has embarrassed Ireland’s international image and relationship with foreign states, by liaising with foreign officials during a time of international unrest and independently pursued actions contrary to the interests of Irish foreign policy. In any other European state, Sean O Fearghail would be severely reprimanded, and Terry Leyden investigated for his suspicious links to Azerbaijani officials, but in greasy old Ireland, there has and will continue to be radio silence on all fronts.
Once again, Ireland’s diplomatic reputation is sullied, and it is questionable if there is anything at all that can be done to recover it. In regards to Armenia, the Irish government has not announced any intention to send aid or assistance to those fleeing their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh – whereas they are more than happy to import and provide welfare payments for tens of thousands of bogus refugees.
Irish elites have long prided themselves on their morality-based foreign policy, that no matter the cause Ireland sides with the morally just and oppressed peoples of the world. Ireland’s supposed fixation with the good reputation that is accrued with defending small nations is once again undermined by the government’s senseless and irrational actions.
Realpolitik may be the rules that govern international politics, but as our own foolish ventures show, Ireland is playing by a very different set of rules, by which our Department of Foreign Affairs, and government officials, function in effect as glorified tourist agencies.
Ultimately, Nagorno-Karabakh is another flash-point in an increasingly unstable global system, and it is one that Ireland should learn a lesson from regarding its interactions with foreign states. We lack military and economic hard power, and are as a small state forced to pursue soft power diplomatic strategies, and thus far, our government has failed catastrophically at upholding and implementing such an intrinsic component of our state’s foreign policy.
As an aside: the fact that Armenians are a White-adjascent, Russian-allied, and devoutly Christian people probably didnt win them any favour among the Irish political class, either
Lack of morality and sense
The instability across western Asia and beyond in recent years are characteristic of a world undergoing a drastic shift in the geography of power, as America continues its decline. Ireland is a country with its own existential problems, tied to this ailing superpower.
The limited role we can play in international affairs could include highlighting moral failings such as Israel’s behaviour in Palestine or Azerbaijan’s in Nagorno-Karabakh. But displaying extreme moral inconsistency, while also potentially embroiling ourselves in diplomatic fiascos (as Ó Fearghail has done), is both degenerate and dangerous.