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Serj Tankian: We Will Win with Culture 

Grammy-winning musician and activist Serj Tankian helps launch #ArtistsForArtsakh

September 30, 2020  |  by Creative Armenia

Serj Tankian

On September 27, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack on Artsakh, violating international conventions and ceasefire, and targeting schools, hospitals, and civilian populations in flagrant violation of human rights. We caught up with iconic musician and Creative Armenia founding member and advisor Serj Tankian to talk about the role of artists in capturing the truth in times of war.

CA: In the fog of war and the noise of modern media, people find it difficult to tell what actually happened in Artsakh starting September 27, 2020. How would you describe it? 


ST: Azerbaijan and Turkey, after conducting military exercises, importing foreign fighters from Syria, and delivering a huge cache' of military equipment, have gone ahead and attacked Artsakh shelling military and civilian areas along the whole Artsakh-Azeri border. At the same time, they have engaged in prepared media disinformation to create a false parity between the fighting sides. 


CA: Why should the international community care about what's happening in Artsakh? And what should they be doing?


ST: Turkey has been meddling in the affairs of nations and enacting an expansionist policy in the region starting with Syria, then Libya, the Mediterranean, and now against Armenia. They are a destabilizing force in the region but also a transit hub for oil with a large economy. Their lira has already plummeted since the start of this conflict. It is believed that a large-scale war in Artsakh will embroil other large regional state actors including Russia, Iran, and the U.S. So if the international community isn't worried about justice, they should care because this will lead to regional destabilization. 


CA: You're a founding member and advisor of Creative Armenia, which has just launched Artists for Artsakh, a fund to support filmmakers, musicians, and other artists in Artsakh as they tell the story of their homeland. What would be your message to those artists on the frontline? And, in general, what is the responsibility of artists in times of war?


ST: It would be a very difficult thing to be an artist close to the front lines during times of war. The best thing would be to record the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the things occurring and share them with the world so no one is alone out there on the front lines I guess. The artist's responsibility is to always be truthful to his muse, oneself, and the universe at large. 

CA: You wrote a song about Artsakh. Tell us about it.

ST: After the 2016 invasion of Artsakh and the huge mobilization by Armenians around the world (as there is now), I was inspired to write a song about Artsakh, its history, its people, the beauty of its land, and the durability of the sense of freedom there. I called it the Artsakh song, released it, and posted the video to Youtube. it has been seen and heard millions of times over since. I recently posted the original demo of the song shot on my iPhone.  


CA: At the end of the song you repeat: "We will win with our culture. We will win with our culture." What do you mean by that?


ST: The most beautiful essence of a people is its culture. Not its military, economy, flag, or borders. We are extremely rich in culture especially compared with some other nations in the region. The Chinese always believed that their culture is so powerful, that irrespective of battle victories, they would inevitably win because their culture would endure. That's what I mean by it.

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