caucasus conflict voices may 2011

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Alternative opinions and views on Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh

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  • VOICES

    1

  • c A u c A S u S c o n f L i c t V o i c E S , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    t H i S P r o J E c t W A S c r E A t E d b Y o n n i k k r i k o r i A n , A J o u r n A L i S t , P H o t o J o u r n A L i S t

    A n d o n L i n E M E d i A c o n S u L t A n t f r o M t H E u n i t E d k i n G d o M b A S E d i n Y E r E V A n ,

    A r M E n i A , f o r t H E P A S t 1 2 Y E A r S . i n A d d i t i o n t o W r i t i n G A n d P H o t o G r A P H i n G f o r

    t H E M A i n S t r E A M t r A d i t i o n A L M E d i A , H E A L S o f i x E S f o r t H E b b c , A L J A z E E r A

    E n G L i S H , n A t i o n A L G E o G r A P H i c A n d t H E W A L L S t r E E t J o u r n A L A M o n G o t H E r S ,

    H E i S A L S o t H E c A u c A S u S r E G i o n A L E d i t o r f o r G L o b A L V o i c E S o n L i n E A n d f i r S t

    V i S i t E d t H E d i S P u t E d t E r r i t o r Y o f n A G o r n o k A r A b A k H A S A r E P o r t E r i n 1 9 9 4 A n d

    A S S i S t E d t H o M A S d E W A A L i n t H E r E S E A r c H f o r B l a c k G a r d e n : a r m e n i a a n d

    a z e r B a i j a n T h r o u G h P e a c e a n d W a r .

    H t t P : / / W W W . o n E W o r L d . A M / d i V E r S i t Y /

    f r o n t c o v e r p h o t o : e t h n i c A r M e n i A n , t S o p i , g e o r g i A o n n i k k r i k o r i A n 2 0 1 1

  • i n t r o d u c t i o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

    c u L t u r E t H A t u n i t E S r A t H E r t H A n d i V i d E S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

    A M A J o r i t Y o f M i n o r i t i E S A n d A k A L E i d o S c o P E o f c u L t u r E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3

    M A r n E u L i , t S o P i A n d k H o d J o u r n i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0

    P L A n S f o r A n A r M E n i A n - A z E r b A i J A n P E A c E b u i L d i n G c E n t E r i n G E o r G i A . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2

    A r M E n i A - A z E r b A i J A n P E A c E b u i L d i n G k i c k S o f f i n t E k A L i . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 8

    t H E t H i n G S i W A n t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 2

    f r i E n d S L i k E S i S t E r S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 5

    E x P i r E d H A t r E d ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 8

    S o c i A L M E d i A i n A r M E n i A - A z E r b A i J A n P E A c E b u i L d i n G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 1

    c L E A r i n G M i n E S A n d S A V i n G L i V E S i n n A G o r n o k A r A b A k H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 4

    c A u c A S u S c o n f L i c t V o i c E S , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    V O L U M E I I , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    VOICES

  • Anyone who works with the conflicts of the caucasus learns to live

    with contradiction. if you watch state media in Armenia or

    Azerbaijan or hear some politicians speak, you could believe that

    these two nations are implacable enemies on the verge of war. one

    Azerbaijani friend told me that nowadays whenever he hears the

    word fascist he expects to hear the word Armenian attached to

    it. in many ways the modern identities of independent Armenia

    and Azerbaijan and of the small statelet of nagorny karabakh are

    defined by rejection and hatred of the other.

    Yet as soon as you probe deeper strange things start to happen

    and this picture begins to blur. A long conversation with an

    Azerbaijani about how terrible the Armenians are ends with the

    admission that his grandmother was actuallyArmenian. A

    karabakh Armenian talks about the crimes of the Azerbaijanis and

    then casually lets slip that he had Azeri friends at school and still

    remembers a lot of the language.

    Move outside the conflict zone and these hidden signs of

    compatibility come out into the open. in the territory of Georgia,

    Armenian and Azeri villagers live side by side. there is trade and

    even inter-marriage. Armenians and Azerbaijanis often prefer to

    do business with each other than with Georgians.

    We hear far too little of what i call this third narrative of the

    Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, a narrative of peace. it spins the

    idea that the two peoples are capable of getting along fine, have

    lived together in the past and, if politicians are able to overcome

    differences on the karabakh conflict, can live together in the

    future. international mediators are too timid to speak this

    c A u c A S u S c o n f L i c t V o i c E S , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    2

    introduction

    t H o M A S d E W A A L

  • narrative or feel that it is not their business. the media in both

    countries suppresses it.

    this is why i congratulate onnik krikorian for the work he has

    done over the past few years, both in print and in images, and

    which is published here. He has given a voice to these alternative

    points of view and given a vivid picture of the different and much

    more positive Armenian-Azerbaijani reality that still exists in

    ordinary people and in Georgia.

    Look at these pictures and descriptions of villages such as tekali

    and you see that the problem there is not ethnic incompatibility or

    historical injustice, but poverty poverty that will have a much

    better chance of being fixed if the karabakh conflict can be

    overcome and money can be diverted from buying expensive

    weapons. it is a totally different and refreshing approach and he

    has done it pretty much by himself.

    Send this collection to anyone who thinks they understand the

    Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and be pleasantly surprised by

    their reaction.

    t H o M A S d E W A A L i S A S E n i o r A S S o c i A t E i n t H E

    r u S S i A A n d E u r A S i A P r o G r A M A t t H E c A r n E G i E

    E n d o W M E n t . H E i S A L S o t H E A u t H o r o f b L A c k

    G A r d E n : A r M E n i A A n d A z E r b A i J A n t H r o u G H

    P E A c E A n d W A r .

    c A u c A S u S c o n f L i c t V o i c E S , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    3

  • E t H n i c A r M E n i A n S , t S o P i , G E o r G i A o n n i k k r i k o r i A n 2 0 0 9

  • c A u c A S u S c o n f L i c t V o i c E S , M A Y 2 0 1 1

    5

    culture that Unites rather than Divides

    o n n i k k r i k o r i A n A n d A Y G u n J A n M A M M A d o V A

    tbiLiSi, Georgia An Azeri teahouse, and naturally Azerbaijani

    can be heard spoken inside. A dozen men, identical in appearance,

    sit at tables, chain smoking and drinking cups of ay (tea). Salam,

    we say, before approaching the waitress. the owners of another

    Azeri teahouse, ironically run by ethnic Armenians just around the

    corner, directed us here, saying that the waitress too is Armenian.

    She is, even though the teahouse is owned by an ethnic Azeri.

    Anyway, we take our seats at a table with the intention of once

    again exploring the reality of peaceful coexistence in at least one

    part of the South caucasus.

    considered neutral ground by international organizations and

    local nGos engaged in regional cooperation, communication and

    peace-building activities, the situation is, of course, very different

    than in Armenia and Azerbaijan proper. A recent survey by the

    caucasus resource research centers (crrc), for example, found

    that 70 percent of Armenians disapproved of forming friendships

    with Azerbaijanis. that figure is alarmingly high, but the situation

    is even worse in Azerbaijan. there, 97 percent of Azerbaijanis said

    they didnt look favorably on friendship with Armenians.

    true, thousands of ethnic Armenians, mainly the wives of

    Azerbaijanis, are believed to still live in baku, the capital, but they

    do so with some difficulty, maintaining a low profile to avoid

    discrimination. the same is true to a lesser extent for significantly

    fewer Azeris in Yerevan, although their ethnic kin from iran do

    indeed operate more openly in the Armenian capital. of course,

    locals dont view them with quite as much hostility as they might if

    they were from Azerbaijan. indeed, even a festival of non-political

    contemporary films from Azerbaijan had to be canceled recently

    after strong local nationalist backlash.

  • in both cases, however, its probably no wonder. Armenia and

    Azerbaijan fought a bloody war in the early 1990s over the

    disputed mainly Armenian-inhabited territory of nagorno

    karabakh. over 25,000 were killed and a million on both sides

    were forced to flee their homes. despite a tentative peace, the

    frontline remains tense, with doz