Special Report: Common Ground in the Caucasus

Since the 1994 cease-fire effectively put the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on hold, attempts to find a lasting peace have often been frustrated by negative stereotypes of each side, perpetuated by national governments and media. Yet Armenians and Azeris have more in common than they often care to acknowledge. In the Soviet era, both groups lived side by side in urban centers in Armenia and Azerbaijan; business relationships and even intermarriage were not uncommon.

 

tsopiAn Azeri man and an Armenian woman walk together in the ethnically mixed village of Tsopi, Georgia. Photo by Onnik Krikorian.

 

An older generation can remember the time when Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived, studied, and worked alongside each other. A new generation in both countries has no recollection of that past, and few opportunities to cross national divides. But in neighboring Georgia, ethnic Armenians and Azeris still co-inhabit residential districts in the capital and rural villages in some regions. And young activists throughout the South Caucasus are increasingly turning to to new media - blogs, Internet telephony, social networks - to break down information barriers and forge new alliances.

 

For this project funded by TOL and the British Embassy in Yerevan, Armenian journalist Onnik Krikorian traveled with reporters and bloggers from Azerbaijan and Georgia to neighborhoods where Azeris and Armenians live peaceably side-by-side. One goal was to explore the utility of new-media tools such as Twitter and cell phone video to do real-time reporting and bypass traditional outlets (you can see some of the results at TOL’s Steady State blog). Another was to show that Armenians’ and Azeris’ view of each other need not be defined by the Karabakh conflict.

 

Follow the links below to see their written and audio reports on both the traditional and the burgeoning cooperation among nationalities in the region.

marneuli market SMALL
Common Ground
In Georgia, ethnic Azeris and Armenians belie the propaganda and live together in peace. A TOL multimedia presentation.
teahouseSMALL
Cup of Kindness
TOL Reports: In Georgia’s ethnically mixed communities, Azeris and Armenians come together over tea.
tsopischoolSMALL
Class Struggle
TOL Reports: In a village school in Georgia, Azeri and Armenian students study in peace but share a common problem – poverty.
Twitter Diplomacy
Can new media help break the Armenia-Azerbaijan information blockade?
No Borders Here
TOL Talk: An Armenian journalist and an Azeri activist use new media to breach the region’s information barrier.

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