August 14, 2020
Complaints Dept. BBC
London, UK

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to complain about Mr. Sackur’s interview with Mr. Pashinyan of Armenia.

Mr. Sackur has a reputation to maintain as a tough interviewer but his behavior was hammy from A to Z. A performer rather than a prober. He was “tough” armed with hostility towards Armenia and the questions his producer/writers had drafted for him. He was rude while visibly preening about his interview method. I am certain he would have handled Mr. Netanyahu with kid gloves in fear of losing his job. But with Armenia–small, impoverished, and blockaded country–it’s easy to have a field day–especially since the leader of Armenia hasn’t had the benefit of English language instruction–which Mr. Sackur has enjoyed–at one of your public schools.

Even before the beginning of the interview, Mr. Sackur revealed his anti-Armenian/anti-Pashinyan bias when he “headlined” the interview with the question: “Is Armenia preoccupied with fighting old battles?” A loaded question which no professional journalist should pose without evidence or before an interview. What’s the point of the interview when you already have the answer?

The rhetorical question, which was intended to tell viewers that “Armenia is the bad guy”, is pregnant with the following insinuations:
A) Armenia is reactionary
B) Armenians and their government are backward
C) Armenians are not only belligerent but also must have started the recent fighting with Azerbaijan
D) Armenians are vengeful
E) Armenians are troublemakers
F) Armenians are inflexible
G) Armenians are revanchists
H) If there’s a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan/Turkey, we should stay neutral because Armenia isn’t entitled to our help

When Mr. Pashinyan tried to explain the cause of the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, Mr. Sackur cut him off. He didn’t want to give Mr. Pashinyan the opportunity to explain the cause of the conflict.

Artsakh was part of Armenia as early as 6th century B.C., according to ancient Greek historians. Its name was Artsakh then. Mr. Sackur tried to make fun that Armenian nationalists had changed the name of Nagorno-Karabagh [by the way, a colonialist name] into Artsakh not realizing that Armenians had merely restored the original name. Artsakh was part of Armenia when the Azeris (they are Turks) and Turks didn’t even exist. Azerbaijan was fabricated by Russia in 1918. Yet this fabrication says Armenia is part of Azerbaijan and should be called Western Azerbaijan.

I am not surprised by Mr. Sackur’s superficial knowledge. Many so-called “star” journalists are performers first and reporters second. Mr. Sackur is typical: he is as deep as tissue paper and apparently has the memory of a guppy.

Finally, Artsakh (pop. 90 percent) Armenian, was handed to Azerbaijan by Lenin/Stalin to earn the favors of Turkey because the USSR wanted to win Ataturk’s Turkey to its side. They also gave another Armenian region (Nakhichevan) to the Azeris. During 70 years of Azeri rule, Azerbaijan tried to change the demographics of Artsakh by settling Azeris there. When the Soviet Union was cracking up, the Armenians of Artsakh voted to separate from the oppressive, corrupt, and alien Azerbaijan. Baku declared war and launched pogroms of Armenians who lived in Azerbaijan. That’s when Armenia came to the rescue of Artsakh Armenians. By the way, when the USSR collapsed, the Armenian region of Nakhichevan had 17 Armenians left. In the previous decades, Armenians had moved to Armenia as a result of Azeri persecution.
Jirair Tutunjian

P.S. For Mr. Sakur’s benefit, “interview” means the exchange of views. He had his views firmly on his note pad. He was not interested in the views of Mr. Pashinyan or whether his viewers would have been interested in what Mr. Pashinyan would say.

  1. I watched the interview. It was not an interview it was an attack. Shame on BBC for broadcasting it. Obviously also the attacker is misinformed. My father was a genocide orphan and it bleeds my hearth when such people are on the TV.

    1. The fact that PM Pashinyan accepted to be interviewed by him shows his deep belief in democracy. Let’s see if Sackur (as he said in his tweet) can get Aliyev to have an interview with him and if he would attack him the same way he attacked PM Pashinyan.

  2. I watched the full interview in shock.
    How could BBC or Mr. Sackur would succumb to Azari petrodollar temptation?.
    Mr. Sackur, that is if he deserves to be called ” Mr.” was a deplorable interviewer and a disgrace to journalism.
    His Anti-Armenian rants were insult even to the intelligence of a fifth grader.
    He was completely and utterly anti-Armenian. He rudely and shamelessly took advantage of
    PM Pashinyan’s command of poor English language and put him on the spot by bunch of offensive Azari payed$$$ and orchestrated propaganda questions.
    I wonder what are the $$$$$rates for morality, integrity, decency and righteousness now days.

  3. Sakur’s malignant and arrogant attitude is very well known throughout Europe his
    anti-Armenian obsession requires a trip to the therapist.

  4. Sakur’s interview occurred at a time when the british BP wanted to secure new deals with Baku.
    Shame on London, having to take into such pitiful methods as Sakur’s. His methods just bury BBC’s reputation deeper into rubbish. BBC still denies the undeniable by using quotes for Armenian Genocide.

    1. The Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia should not expose Mr. Pashinyan to this kind of interview…….I imagine that there was a purpose to give this interview at this time. The prime minister drove some good points across, but the result, by talking to Sackur, was that he was caught in an ambush. I am sure they will be more careful in the future……..English is not a language that he commands well. Maybe talking in Armenian with an interpreter of his office’s choice would be more suitable for this kind of occasion…….They need to be more in control of this kind of situations, and not leave the outcome of an interview in the hands of a journalist lacking in ethics like Sackur.

      1. We here in London thought his English was very good. It was the constant interruption of Sackur that caused problem.

        1. Speaking in Armenian and using a translator designated by the PM’s office would give more control to the prime minister to wade through an ambush like the one Sackur performed. English is not the prime minister’s first, or even his second language…….He still managed to get his points across in spite of the bad faith shown by this so called journalist.

    2. The Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia should not have exposed Mr. Pashinyan to a journalist lacking ethics like Sackur……..I imagine the prime minister needed to get some points across to the international community. He was ambushed….. Maybe talking in Armenian with a translator of the prime minister office’s choice would work better, given that English is a language that he doesn’t command very well. They need to be more in control of this kind of situations. I am sure they will be more careful in the future……..The prime minister drove some good points across to anyone who is well informed in the subject.

      1. That shows PM Pashinyan’s bravery. He has been in jail for his belief of democracy and freedom of speech. If he would not accept this interview Sackur would probably take it as a weakness.
        Having said that I was also shocked by Sakur’s tone and rudeness. I felt like he was there to make Armenians the bad guys and the Azeris the good guys. So shameful.

        1. What a journalist of the likes as Sackur thinks of the prime minister of Armenia’s strength is the least of the things that the office of the prime minister would be concerned about. Nikol Pashinyan does not need to prove his valor to a man whose journalistic ethics are wanting…….I am sure the PM’s office had a purpose in mind to give the interview……. There are many other serious journalists that would, I am sure, be considered in a future interview when the office of the PM thinks it is needed.

  5. Mr. Sackur clearly came into this interview with a biased opinion of Prime Minister Pashinyan and the country of Armenia. His level of professionalism was, in fact, deplorable. Why ask questions if you are not going to receive a full response? Let’s see if President Aliyev would have the same courage to be interviewed by a journalist with a rhetorical commitment to the government of Armenia.

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