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The minutes of the public hearing that took place on September 27, 2014 in the village of Tekali, with the participation of the dwellers of Tekali and guests from Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan and the frontier villages of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Georgi Vanyan: Dear friends, welcome to the public hearing entitled “What to do?” which will be the final one for the year 2014, dedicated to the memory of Georgi Khutsishvili. I welcome the participants from frontier villages, Baku, Yerevan and Tbilisi, as well as our friends from Germany, Australia and Canada. We traditionally hold our September hearings in cooperation with partners from Humboldt University, and I give the word to Professor Eva Maria Auch.

Eva Maria Auch: Dear friends! I want first of all to cordially welcome all those who live here in Tekali, because we have come here thanks to you, and being aware of all the hardships which you have faced during the last months, I want to especially thank the citizens of Tekali; those who maintain the banner of Tekali Process, and thus make these meetings of ours possible. Tekali Process goes on regardless some slanderous information and all of us who comes here, we all support this process, we develop it and we don’t get discouraged. I hope that we will have some interesting chats and discussions today.

Georgi Vanyan: Today Rasim Mirzayev has brought a present to Tekali Process from Berlin: the flag of European Union. And we will be able to hoist here, on the meeting point of the borders (of three South Caucasus republics) three flags: those of Georgia, European Union and Tekali. I give the floor to Rasim Mirzayev.

Rasim Mirzayev: Dear friends, I am glad to be here again, to meet old and new friends. This one day in Tekali where we come every year is a special one for us, it brings its own ambiance, and it offers singular impressions for us. And I wish we all spend more time in Tekali, and make our own input for Tekali House of Peace. Thank you to the team. We still remain united!

Georgi Vanyan: I invite the Co-Chair of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly of Azerbaijan Arzu Abdullayeva to kick off with our theme of the day and the welcoming speech. She, also according to our Tekali traditions, takes part in our autumn hearings regularly, too.

Arzu Abdullayeva : I thank you for such an opportunity. And I want to say that I am very proud with the fact that albeit not often, but still I participate in Tekali Process, and I hope I can be seen as a Tekali citizen, too. Incredibly smart, warm, pure, honest and just people gather here. And I will be supporting this Process as much as I will be able to. .

And now, before giving the word to Zardusht Alizade, my idol, the person with whom more than 20 years of friendship and cooperation unite us, I want to shortly present the work which we had done for getting ourselves familiar with Aland model (a group of islands between Sweden and Finland which de jure belong to Finland, are inhabited with Swedish-speaking population and is an autonomous, demilitarized region). I visited Aland islands in 1992; imagine how long ago it was. We were there with a friend and colleague of mine, Anahit Bayandur, she, rest her soul, was the chairman of Armenian Committee of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. There are, certainly, many commonalities between various conflicts which take place in Karabakh and Aland islands. The apparent difference between the conflicts of Karabakh and Aland islands, even if we look at it superficially, is that there were no military actions and armed conflicts during the second one, although there were cases of persecution and arrests. In fact, there are many differences: mentality, psychology, geography and many other factors. But it is also important to note that Aland model is a successful example of solving a conflict, an important experience of securing the rights of a Swedish minority in Finland. In the past we have organised two more joint trips of representatives of our societies to Aland islands, we were there for the last time in 2014. Aland islands is a self-governing province. Swedes living on those islands have tried to execute their right of free will and join Sweden in 1917, but League of Nations have reached a different decision, in an arbitrary manner, one might say, and have kept the island as part of Finland, by offering many privileges for autonomy and for securing the cultural rights of the population of those islands. Zardusht will tell you about this in greater detail.

Those trips of ours were so rich and bright that we have forged our own unique “Aland folklore”, that is to say our own jokes and anecdotes. For instance, a partner and friend of mine from Nagorno Karabakh Karen Ohajanyan has made the following humorous remark: Armenians swim to Aland islands in pessimistic mood, but they return from there turned into optimists. And Azerbaijanis, on the contrary, are very optimistic before the trip, but they turn into pessimists after spending some time on the islands.

One of the participants of our latest trip has put it this way: “I already know the solution for Karabakh conflict. We need to relocate all Karabakh inhabitants on Aland islands, and put all those living in Aland islands inside Karabakh… but another problem may arise: while inhabitants of Aland islands will be busy rebuilding Karabakh and breathing new life in there, inhabitants of Karabakh will devastate Aland islands. )

… And here’s another episode, a diplomatic one. At the beginning of nineties, when Aland model was seriously discussed even by OSCE, ministers of foreign affairs met one another in 1993, and the minister from Armenia stated that: “We would agree on implementing Aland model, but the truth is Azerbaijan is not Finland.” And our minister, Tofik Zulfugarov countered with the following at once naturally: “You, too, apparently are pretty far away from being Sweden.” )

Such types of jokes and anecdotes would come into existence during the process of getting to know Aland model. We all know that it is not a very easy task to be a peacemaker, and humour helps us out sometimes.

I wish good luck to Tekali Process, and I will be happy to share my experience with you, to answer your questions about our experience with studying Aland model.
Zardusht Alizade: Dear friends and colleagues, I am not only an old hand in peacemaking movement in general, but I am also becoming one for Tekali meetings in particular: I have visited this place many times already, I have spoken during discussions in yards, and now it is the second time when I speak out under the tent. I am the agitator of this initiative during meetings with western diplomats, scientists, representatives of non-governmental organisations, and I always say that there is one very vivid and promising initiative for creating bridges of trust and friendship between Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples, and not just between us, but between all peoples of Caucasus. Today we dream about turning Tekali into the capital of peace for all of Caucasus. This is a very slow-progressing, and maybe naïve, very romantic some might say, dream but there is a very true assertion indeed: be a realist, dream about the impossible. We are not deputies who are limited in their actions, very limited in fact; we are civilians, we are activists of the non-governmental sector, and thus we need to be a little romantic, we need to dream about the better, the light, and work hard to reach it.

My speech of today will repeat the ideas that were expressed in an article written in 2011, entitled “Impasse as the voluntary-coercive destination of ancient and long-suffering peoples”. Unfortunately, this article cannot be named old-fashioned even today.

There were and there still are organisations that have great income thanks to conflicts. But the majority of humans, ordinary human beings, didn’t and still don’t want to see the conflicts continue rolling. They don’t want to be manipulated, to be provoked against one another, to see us kill one another. It is, in my view, a humiliating thing for an educated person to be involved in a conflict. It means they don’t have enough brains to get rid of that conflict. We don’t have enough willpower. We don’t have enough consciousness for living peacefully without a conflict. We have gathered for this discussion today to think over about how we can make the community understand this, how a civil society, non-governmental organisations can lobby, advocate and push the idea of peaceful solution of conflicts by the example of Aland model. By the way, I may add that it is not the sole model. And Aland model itself is not a static model. In Aland islands themselves there were more than four stages of empowerment (extending the power of the local authority), and they would erect an arc for each such accomplished stage. There is a room for the fifth arch, when complete independence is gained. Finland can agree with that in today’s Europe, but Aland islands will not agree with that, because as soon as they get absolutely independent European Union will cancel all the privileges, and they hold on to that and don’t want absolute independence. There exists the experience of North Ireland. You know, a bloody conflict was spinning in there, they would shoot, kill, blow up, but, at last, they have reached an agreement. We may fantasise a lot. We may find many methods, means to make us less dependent from regimes, less dependent from governments. The citizen and the government are in constant confrontation. The state tries to make the citizen obey it, and the citizen tries to broaden their scope of freedom and rights.

And what have we got today on a governmental level? More than twenty years of fruitless negotiations. Hardly a sober analyst would dare to give an optimistic forecast regarding a positive solution for the conflict of Nagorno Karabakh for the near future. It is more realistic to forecast twenty more years of fruitless talks. The deadlock is apparent and hopeless. The positions of the two sides oppose one another diametrically. Armenia thinks the issue is already solved, there is only one insignificant thing left to accomplish: make Azerbaijan come in terms with the fact of defeat and recognise the loss of Karabakh. And Azerbaijan is hopefully looking at the degradation that Armenia undergoes, at the emigration of the population, at the deepening of critical occurrences in society, and is waiting for the opportune moment when the quantity change will result in quality change, when the country will collapse in the gap of chaos and helplessness.

By the way, such pessimistic moods are also part of the discourse of many political scientists and politicians of Armenia. A colleague of mine who is also involved in Arabic Studies, a member of Karabakh Committee since 1988 Erjanik Abgaryan states: “Immense sense of fear, this animalistic instinct, the lack of competence in international relations, in realities and existing tendencies, as well as the mercenary betrayal have become constant companions of the society, and those don’t allow it to look at the world with open eyes, to see and recognise one’s own true national and state interests and the real ways of protecting and expanding those.” (an interview with www.1in.am)

And here is what analyst Hovhannes Mandakouni writes: “Armenia, although does get some nods in various international reports generally because of mimicking of paper reforms, in reality has a catastrophic economic situation.” (“It’s not just citizens who flee”, 1in.am.)

According to the data of Global Financial Integrity, 6,2 billions of dollars were transferred from Armenia abroad (during 2002-2011), 4.5 billions leaked from Georgia, and 17 billions from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has lost 2,7 times more than Armenia did, but the volume of the economy of Azerbaijan is bigger from that of Armenia sevenfold. If we are to translate these data into the languages of sociology and economy, we may state that the richmen of South Caucasus don’t believe in the future of their motherlands…

Another Armenian political scientist Hakob Badalyan writes in desperation in “Lragir” (09.08.2013): “Moscow has almost completely destroyed Armenia as a political subject by turning it into a blunt tool… Since 2000s Armenia is systematically giving away its resources of strategic importance to Russia.” One can endlessly bring more examples. Who will claim that they are wrong? Unfortunately they are right indeed.

Azerbaijanian analysts are right, too, me included, when they speak of counterproductiveness of the model of a state which the current political elite is constructing ignoring the will of the people. Total corruption which eats the fabric of the society and state, empowering those who shine in negative light which leads to the degradation of the ruling class, contempt of the elite toward the people and its future force to question the existence of the nation itself.

And here they are, these antinational and corrupt elites negotiating about peaceful resolution for the conflict thanks to which they have gained power and maintain it. They do negotiate, but about what? The president of Armenia tells its youth “we have solved the problem of Karabakh, now it is your turn to solve the problem of Western Armenia…” As of the president of Azerbaijan, he informs the people that “… Armenia itself as a state is created on the Azerbaijani soil…” In short, it is hard to see a desire for reconciliation. One wouldn’t get ready to reconcile in such a way; one would get ready to war again in such a way.

And the peoples? Peoples are being prepared to a new round of large-scale military actions. And peoples, as I can see, are ready for it. Although war will be much bloodier than it was at the beginning of 1990s.

And the world community, OSCE Minsk group? OSCE Minsk Group has offered the sides of the conflict to reach an agreement on their own. They will agree with everything.

What should we do? The scenario of 1920s might be repeated again, when Russia has sovietised all the three states of South Caucasus one after another. The conflict of Karabakh has created quite ideal conditions for that back then. Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples have created those conditions, but Russia has benefited from it. We shouldn’t feel offended because of that. The conditions were created anyway…

This is the discourse which currently leads the regular fans of good old Russia. The deputy of Armenian parliament Artashes Geghamyan has claimed in Baku that the Karabakh conflict will fade away and will resolve on its own in case if all the region gets integrated into Eurasian Union under the lead of Russia. Theoretically such a thing is possible. But it will also mean that other issues like human rights, independent court, social justice, sovereignity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the development of science, culture and industry will fade away as well. Because those issues have faded away in a state called Russia already, and they fade away in the states of South Caucasus which are leashed by Russia.

This perspective of an integration of Armenia and Azerbaijan is not a suitable one. What is left for us to do? How should we escape the deadlock of Karabakh conflict and save ourselves?

What is offered? Not by the regimes, of course; they are busy playing their own games. What is offered by civil society of Armenia and Azerbaijan? They, it seems, place the ideas of human rights and democracy higher than all the nationalistic wash which is used for brainwashing our peoples for more than 100 years by all types of forces. What is the final condition of Armenia from which they cannot “step back any further?” It is known: “We will never agree on vertical submission of Stepanakert to Baku!” The democrats of Azerbaijan completely support this idea of maximal decentralisation of power. We have seen this non-vertical line in the west which may exist between a region and the capital city. We have seen this on Aland islands which do not vertically submit to Helsinki.

What does that actually mean in our country? The bureaucratic apparatus is collecting, and the president is appointing by their decree, the top five most influential politicians in every province: head of executive power, head of police, judge, prosecutor and the head of state security service. And so these top five politicians do with the population anything they want, and the only aim is to get rich, to strangle the freedom of thought, to terrorise the people and to serve well to authorities. As a result we have what we have, and it is a shame to have it. And we cannot get anything else with the current regimes that have installed in our societies thanks to conflicts and the peculiarities of political culture of our peoples.

Do the democrats of Azerbaijan like this vertical line? Certainly not. We want real democracy, power to the people, without any imitation and deceit.

In such situation Nagorno Karabakh could have internationally recognised and guaranteed rights for real self-governance through the means of elections of the structures of power from bottom to top, and can become an oasis of democracy without any intervention from the capital city in all South Caucasus. It is not Baku which will appoint officials; the population itself will elect those, according to the Constitution of Karabakh. Falsification of elections? Absolutely not: the political control over the realisation of the peaceful treaty will be monitored first of all by European Union and then by member states of Minsk group.
EU is long seeking a suitable moment to peacefully, without any element of violence or coercion, prove the global power of its ideas and its model. Especially if we consider the fact that during the inevitable ethnic competition which will occur at the beginning, none of the sides will allow themselves to break the process of voting and counting the votes (mind how Armenians and Azerbaijanis build relationships abroad based on mutual respect, in places where there is no nationalistic atmosphere that puts pressure on them). Also the executive and legislative powers should be elected, as well as police, prosecutor and the judge. One cannot speak about the possibility of military violence. The sides will have no money to pay for that: Karabakh should turn into a demilitarised zone by a peaceful agreement. All the enthusiasm will be focused on raising the level of life of the population, on conserving the nature, on developing the culture, education and health services. Baku will have to donate significant sums for restoring the region according to the peaceful treaty. There are moral and political obligations for the sponsors of the peaceful process, too: you used to spend on arming the sides against one another and on war, now be so kind to finance the urban development and agricultural sectors. Armenian Diaspora which tries to prove its love for the motherland by financing military officers will get a chance to prove its love by financially supporting the decent peaceful life of Armenians of Karabakh.

Karabakh bank can become a serious argument in favour of peace; it will be a place to where means for restoration will be accumulated and distributed from. Azerbaijan will be able to transfer the debt it owes its Armenian citizens, and this means dozens of thousands of euro for every citizen. Karabakh citizens of Azerbaijani origin will have their accounts in this very bank as well. All of the population of Karabakh will be interested in stability and prosperity of Karabakh bank, all of them will jointly counteract against anyone who will try to incite discord and distemper, who will try to disturb the peace and prosperity of people.

And is there anyone who forbids to create a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) in Karabakh? The region lies between the three states (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran). In case of international guarantees for protection against political arbitrariness, in case of minimally low taxes and of the right to freely access the markets of South Caucasus, CIS (Cooperation of Independent States), EC and Near East, Karabakh will be able to become a pretty attractive place for investments. I assume first of all Armenian and Azerbaijani businessmen will migrate in there to get rid of racketeering of politicians, and also Iranian and Turkish businessmen for the sake of easier access to the markets of Europe and CIS.

And how are we going to protect the language and culture of Armenians living in Karabakh? There is the experience of regulating the Ulster conflict: according to the Good Friday Agreement (aka Belfast Agreement) the parliament of Ulster has the right to coordinate cultural and educational politics with the parliament of Irish Republic. There is also another olden, more radical proposition coming from Azerbaijan National Committee of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly for all the peoples of Azerbaijan: decentralise the governance of culture and education, empower the Foundations of National Culture with the powers of ruling the spiritual lives by giving them an international status and an independent budget, and these bodies will work with local organisms representing state power and with population.

I do not expect to hear some abstract words about “highest of all possible statuses”, but a specific status which will be worked out together with Armenian experts and which will allow self-governance for Karabakh. I specifically want to see Baku agree with “non-vertical relationships” with Karabakh as an agreement to compromise. It is Armenian and Azerbaijani democrats who should take the responsibility for developing and offering their peoples such a model for making a truly independent Karabakh.

And what Armenia can offer as a compromise for its part? Armenian civil society, which will work out the draft of preliminary peace offer together with Azerbaijani and Karabakh non-governmental organizations, must be audacious enough for requiring Armenian government to stop going down the slippery slope leading to war, and to demonstrate and prove the possibility of securing peace and security in the region for all the peoples, and to express willingness for recognising territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This will not be a statement which will allow to set Machiavellian and corrupt Azerbaijani politicians upon the population of Karabakh; it will rather be a statement that will work against war, and for the interests of the population of Karabakh, and for the interests of the two peoples and states. This will be a statement which will help the two peoples get out of the hole which was dug for us by the conflict, and at last it will be a statement that will allow us to start working on ourselves. And if our little plan works, then Karabakh will be able to rapidly climb by its level of standards of living and democracy up to a truly European level, to become an engine which will pull Armenia and Azerbaijan if not into EU, then at least into a more European-like, more decent reality.

By knowing that our peoples strive for peace and are ready to live and work together (I don’t count the politically hyperactive, ignorant or mercenary part of the peoples; they are a minority), I am more than sure that this option is possible and has all the chances to succeed. Meanwhile, I also know that the reaction of the regimes will be a negative one, as a successful democratic Karabakh example can become an attractive example for the peoples and dangerous for the regimes. People can ask them a very simple question: are we worse than the people of Karabakh? People visiting Karabakh from Yerevan and Baku can ask themselves: why people of Karabakh can enjoy the fruits of democracy, but it is forbidden for us to do the same? People can react, and then the political elite will have to say goodbye to its sweet life, secured by endless “intensive negotiations for peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

I am sure that the regimes will not dare to directly oppose the peace offer of communities; they will fear the reaction coming from the West and the rationally reasoning part of their peoples. Our regimes, and not just them, will press the red button, and the ordinary choir of Armenian-Azerbaijani “nation-preservers”, who survive thanks to inciting distrust and hatred against the neighbouring people, will start to sing. “How can you trust those Armenian liars?”, “Who will want to live next to those blood-thirsty Turks?”, “Do you remember how Mamed slaughtered Ashot three millennia ago?!?” “We will always remember genocide, Sumgait and Baku!”, “We will not forget Masis, Gugark and Khojaly!”… and so on. The repertoire and the voicing are perfectly familiar, and we are fed up with it, but the regimes will provide them all the media outlets and financial resources.

Will our regime repeat the provocation that it organised when Armenians of Karabakh visited Baku in September 2001? Will the Armenian regime succeed in replaying the same provocation with our peaceful initiative which they have organised when they tried to organise Azerbaijani and Turkish films festival in Armenia? Very probably they will. The resources the regime has got are significant.

And what have we got? I think we’ve got a lot of things. Things that the hirelings don’t have. We’ve got consciousness, bravery and reason. We’ve got patience and knowledge. We need to thoroughly discuss the abovementioned option, to involve courageous and interested citizens into the hearings, organise a discussion among experts. We may also involve foreign experts. We need an international coverage, including grabbing the attention of Minsk group, when the idea will be well developed.

We need to organise discussions locally, explain, and work directly with the population. We need calculations and computations of economists, lawyers, agrarians, cultural figures. There are examples of autonomies that successfully work under the protection of international guarantees and lawful states; a type of state which we will erect after solving the conflict. Our strength is in the support of the society, and we need to gain that support, by first awakening its consciousness chasing away the nationalistic trance. We need to prove that our nations are able to overthrow the destructive war, to be show solidarity against the oppression of nationalistic thugs.

I visited Aland islands in 2005 as part of delegation consisting of Armenian and Azerbaijani activists of civil society who were invited by Finnish government to make themselves familiar with an option of a peaceful conflict resolution. Azerbaijanis were first full of support toward Aland model because of word “autonomy”. Well, the pressure of public opinion cannot be overcome by everyone. Armenian activists knew beforehand that the option wouldn’t fit them, they would almost expose their scepticism, but still they were happy to be part of the interesting study visit. After five days of intensive studies of Finnish-Swedish model of relationships in the scope of “Act on the Autonomy of Aland” Armenian colleagues got all jolly and gay, but Azerbaijani fellows got sombre. As of myself, I thought that the fact that the moods of both sides have switched to diametrically opposite directions proves that we all still continue to be the hostages of our myths and prejudice. Armenian colleagues were happy with the fact that Aland islands did not obey Finland at all, and our guys were unhappy exactly because of that. And only a few true democrats were happy and jealous for the peace, prosperity and harmony that reigned on that little corner of Earth.

I am perfectly aware of the scepticism which is injected in social consciousness of Armenian people against the Aland model. There are two main reasons for that: 1. We have already won the war, Karabakh is already independent, and there is no sense in decreasing the status of Karabakh down to autonomy. 2. Azerbaijanis are not Finns, and Armenians are not Swedes. What is good for Scandinavian and northern peoples whose history and culture differs from that of Caucasians is not good for us, the southern peoples.

At first these seem to be serious arguments. There is no “Azerbaijan” present in Karabakh for real, and if Azerbaijani reality establishes there, we may regard it as a disaster, even considering all the antidemocratic reality of Karabakh of today. But a joint project of civil societies does not offer returning Karabakh to “Azerbaijan” with all the well-known bouquet of politicians’ obscenity, and not even conserving the antidemocratic order of puppet regime of current Karabakh; instead a new, a European model of governmental organisation is offered, with a perspective of spreading it into Armenia and Azerbaijan. As of the “independence” of Karabakh, that tale can be told to an innocent consumer, but not to experts who know well about all the aspects of the problem.

And let’s now speak about Azerbaijanis turning into “Finns” and Armenians into “Swedes”. Why can’t we start dreaming and working on that? Why it’s bad to become a “Finn?” The yearly income of an average Finnish citizen is 30.000 euros, highest rates of developed industry, science, in spheres of social security, best educational and healthcare systems in the world. Perfectly functioning system of democracy, local self-governance. Is it better for us to continue be “Azerbaijanis” and whine under the medieval tyranny, succeed in just securing our existence as inhabitants of fucking “third world?” Should we apathetically observe how the chances of becoming respected citizens of a normal democratic state pass by?

And what does it mean to stay Armenian and not to become a “Swede?” To live under the iron heel of agents and criminals, to live under the threat of new wars, to be an object of manipulations of foreign states and feed oneself with unrealistic dreams by exchanging lives for promises?

I am convinced that any nation should have a dream. Armenia now lives by a dream of implementing the results of the first Karabakh war. Is it a dream worth of the 21st century? Azerbaijan lives by a dream of getting Karabakh back. Is that all the two nations are capable of? Compared to the social and scientific achievements of modern world these dreams can be seen as only extremely stupid.

Why shouldn’t we dream of peace, accord and cooperation? About democracy, quality life and security, creative and free life?

Our today’s life in our independent states with the paradigm of existence imposed onto and accepted by us reminds me a very sad joke: “There is an ugly and poor girl sitting on the beach and fishing. She catches the goldfish, and the goldfish asks her to release her by promising to make her three wishes come true. The girl agrees and asks to lengthen her nose so that it reaches the floor. The dream comes true. Then she asks to lengthen her ears so that the wind moves them. The wish comes true. The third wish is about making her hands long enough so that they reach her ankles. This wish comes true, too, and she releases the fish. The goldfish leaves her, but then returns and asks the girl why she didn’t ask for beauty, health and wealth. And the girl asks with a surprised voice: “Why, was that allowed, too?”

Dear fellow Caucasian countrymen, could we not choose peace, cooperation and wealth instead of murders, deportations and poverty? Or nothing depended on us up till now? We were breathless cogs inside a huge machine? If so, we, the representatives of civil society, hereby offer everyone to stop being cogs, to become citizens and make a conscious choice.

If civil societies of Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot succeed in stopping the seeming fatal path leading to war, then I expect strengthening of fascism in our states. Let the term “fascism” seem not a publicist exaggeration. What were the pogroms, murders and ethnic cleansings in the two states if not expressions of fascism? In Nazi Germany they hated and persecuted Jews. How does the practice of Turcophobia in Armenia differ from the practice of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan? What is the difference between our cruel dictatorship of crony capitalism and that of German capitalism of the past? Fear not, ask questions, and if you see the animalistic face of fascism in the answers, remember to what the conflict has brought us.

Our peoples failed the exams on humanism and pragmatism in the past several times, many times they were fooled by the sparkling promises of foreign puppeteers and nationalistic gamblers, for which they were punished severely. The history is preparing another exam for us; it gives us a chance to demonstrate maturity and wisdom, an ability to choose between war and peace, between decent and free life and a life of tyranny. Will our peoples be able to rise to the level of the current century? Or we will demonstrate to the world our medieval nature once more?

I will say the following to sum all up. We may speak of and spread the example of Aland islands. A lot is written on this, worth to be studied. Anyway, it is a humane and an effective method for conflict resolution and it can be implemented both in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in any part of the globe, wherever the peoples have succumbed to the will of evil forces.

The word is given to the opponent speaker.
Vahe Avetian: Thanks for coming to the hearing, friends. It is both easy and hard for me to speak after this great human being, Zardusht Alizade. I have a speech, I have an idea, and I just need to follow it, and thus it is much easier to do it for me than for respectful Zardusht. But it is also hard as I completely agree with him, we have no discord regarding Oland model. Only by obeying the format of the hearing which requires a speaker and an opponent speaker, I will have to call your attention to a few details which might be revised from a more critical viewpoint. Actually I have nothing against the model, and I think it does work. I agree with the speaker in that there are many models, and I would add the Swiss model, I’d add the Swedish one, as well as the Danish one. This is not a political model but a humanitarian and cultural one.

And to explain what I mean I will just bring an example. The capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is situated 700 km away from the border of Denmark; it’s a former Danish city, and north of Stockholm there were battles rolling between Danish and Swedish troops. There is even a stone erected there into which I bumped by chance and investigated people about it. They said yes, there is a sort of stone over there, because there were battles happening there. During my 22 years of life in Sweden I have never heard from anyone about it; people had nothing in their memory reminding the conflict. As a true Caucasian I was trying to find out how on earth there is this discrepancy; borders are scattered all over the place, and you have no conflict because of that? It’s abnormal. I had to reach people who knew history so that they’d tell it to me. I ‘d ask them, they’d first think intensely, and then they’d say something like right, there was something that happened there… this scandalous model is similar to that of Oland one; Scandinavian relationships between Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finns, Icelander are similar… people have decided in the end that any human is automatically a citizen of any of the northern state. Scandinavian Union was build and factually existed long before European Union. I even suspect that Benelux and EU have adopted a lot from the Scandinavian union. And until today there functions the Nordic parliament in Reykjavik where all these states are represented. In case if something goes wrong with EU, there are alternative unions to keep this culture. Any inhabitant, any citizen of these states can easily move to another state if they want to live or work there, and one doesn’t need any permission for it. They do it automatically, and may even take part in elections, meaning it is an insider in any of those states.

There is a fresh anecdotal story. A Danish right-wing actor has expressed populist thoughts mentioning that Skone and Blekinge belong in Denmark and that they should be returned to the Danish. Malmo, the most southern city of that province is connected to Copenhagen, and it feels like they are two parts of one city. Then I observed how journalists would interview different politicians in Swedish parliament wanting to know their opinions on the subject. It was funny to see how the Swedish politicians were saying things like: “Yes, some say so… Yes, this person has stated it, but it is not the official stance of Denmark… it is one human being… But if they want it in the future, we will give it to them, no problem. Skone will not vanish, it will still be there. And people will be still there, too. And if people want to be Danish, I don’t think it will be a problem, we will just hand it to them, and that will be it.”

These are not just words. This is true in fact. This means that humanitarian and social connections between the peoples are so strong and deep that even I can’t imagine anything that will make these people stir a conflict.

And now allow me to start reading the text of my speech.

If adults communicate and cannot reach an agreement for more than twenty years, it means they don’t want to reach any of it. More specifically, they want to not to reach an agreement.

If an entire nation cannot see that the leaders want NOT to reach an agreement after twenty years having all the facts in front of them, then it is a nation of fools. I see the desire of not reaching an accord in our leaders of all generations. The marginal part of our peoples makes fortunes out of the conflict, and the rest are poor. Maybe they wouldn’t get this ten years ago, twenty years ago, but now there already exists the internet, all the information is available. An entire nation cannot consist entirely of fools. Which means the nation doesn’t want to understand.

The discussions are held in secretly, the peoples learn about the details years after these discussions took place, and maybe they don’t even learn the truth in the end but just catch the false rumour. There is some process of conspiracy and the people feels like they can be informed about some grave fact only after a given event happens. The discussion is led by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia it seems, and Minsk Group, meaning the U.S., Europe and Russia control it. Karabakh is even not part of the discussion process.

This is a dead-end situation indeed, but it mustn’t be like this. It will change dramatically if the abovementioned components of “status quo” change.

As an opposing speaker I have underlined the passages of the paper of Zardusht Alizade which will allow me to speak not of the opportunities, but of the difficulties.

“Status quo” comes in handy for the states of the triad as well. It is handy for the nearest neighbours of ours, Turkey and Iran. It is not handy just for us, and no one allows us to change the situation. This is why we have what we have.

It is not right to speak of diametrically opposing positions of the peoples, methinks. We don’t know what the stance of our peoples on this is. We know about the stance of our leaders for whom it is economically and politically profitable to uphold the “status quo”. I mean things will change if the discussion will be lead not by the leaders of our states, but the representatives of communities (civil society), if the membership of the triad is changed, or if we reject them at once, if Karabakh gets involved into the process of negotiations instead of Armenia…

What could have happened if we, three Transcaucasia states, reached an agreement? Caucasus would get richer than Emirates in short period of time, it would control the entire region, and even South Caucasus up to Kerch; this means an alternative path for gas and oil into Europe, bypassing Russia and Turkey. We, the three of us, could solve the problematic issues and the problems that have to do with Iran, Turkey and Russia. We could have parallel relationships with them simultaneously, instead of nowadays’ feudatory relationships.

Why our three republics are not given the chance of being on the same side? If you recall Armenia was called an island of freedom, because they thought that liberals have come to the power. And then liberals have come to power in Georgia. And KGB representatives came to power in Armenia This means it doesn't matter who is a liberal and who is a democrat. The only thing which matters is to keep them separate. Because if we get together, if we have the same economic and political interests, Caucasus can possibly become an uncontrollable region, a very strong region. And it will start dictating others a lot in many ways. I see this as one of the reasons why we are not allowed to integrate.

Zardusht Alizade has spoken of poverty and demographic changes. I think this will not solve the conflict in any way. The predictions of our political scientists are pessimistic, as they are the product of the status quo system. Not a single independent-minded Armenian political scientist is known to me. As regards those few young ones I know, they are not part of the system; they are not being published, they are not popular. I mean all that political-scientific material, the so-called product which is known to us, is written somewhere; it is published and is handed to us through some individuals whom we have called political scientists. The speaker is quoting Armenian colleagues by assuming, naturally, that these people have at least some academic integrity. I would advise checking out what these same political scientists and analysts used to write during the times of the first so-called president, what they would write during the rule of the second one and what they write about now, and it will be clear that they do not have any integrity, they don't even know what that word means. All their thoughts, oeuvres and speeches are adapted to the political climate of today.

"Total corruption which devours the very fabric of the society and the state, selection based on negative qualities which lead to the degradation of the ruling class, indifference of the elite toward the people and its future questions the existence of the nation itself." The speaker writes this apropos Azerbaijan. I can assure you it's true for Armenia, too.
The speaker is right in that our peoples were brainwashed so badly in the past 20 years that they psychologically are ready for the new war. He is indeed right in that there will be a new war, probably much bloodier than the previous one. But I am sure that the aim of this war is to assure new points of dislocation for Russian troops in our region. Especially in Karabakh.

The recent statement of the ambassador of Iran in Yerevan affirms this version. In response to another statement coming from Russia which said that it was ready to place "peacekeeping troops” in Karabakh, he stated that dislocation of Russian troops in Karabakh will be interpreted by Iran as an attack against its sovereignty, and that an adequate reaction would follow.

My fellow speaker reminds us that the Minsk Group of OSCE offered the conflicting parties to make a deal on their own, and they will agree on any terms. First, that group is desperately legitimising the illegitimate regimes of our countries, then it offers them to resolve the conflict on their own, realising that a democratic agreement is full of legal consequences for those very leaders. This means they suggest to resolve the conflict, but they are sure that both parties will refuse to do so.

An independent Caucasus seems dangerous to everybody. I have said this before. The region will become an important international player with the energetic resources of Azerbaijan and the current sitting possibilities of Armenia and Georgia which will mean that everyone will have to adjust to the new reality. This would change politics for everyone in an unpredictable manner, but it is a rather predictable vision for us. And the forecast is quite a positive one for us in case of such a scenario.

The speaker is warning that "…it is quite possible that the scenario of 1920 will be repeated; back then, Russia turned all the three states of South Caucasus into its Bolshevik dependents. Back then the rolling Karabakh conflict created ideal conditions for them to succeed. It were the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples who created these conditions, but it was Russia who benefited from it. One shouldn't resent it. Conditions were, however, created by us...” I agree with him. However there is one but. Both back then and today, the conditions were and are created by tsar's secret police and by KGB officers. Our peoples were not and still are not able to create alternative conditions, if they are to tolerate the leaders appointed by Russia. Only a fool can think that the empire is appointing leaders in our countries by considering the interests and the rights of our peoples. We haven't got much of experience or much of knowledge on this matter.

I don't deem it necessary to analyse the ideas expressed by Armenian "politicians" whom the honourable speaker mentioned. All of them, without any exception, are former members of Komsomol (a Russian communist youth organisation), KGB and other ex USSR structures. Everything they have, including their underwear, were given to them by Russia, and all of this will belong to them as long as they are part of Russia. Ideas and thoughts expressed by Armenian, and I also think Azerbaijani politicians, too, are the result of their existential needs; it doesn’t include the analysis of political situation in the region. I pity such individuals. All of them are hostages, and thoughts expressed by them out loud are not a serious matter for discussion. In any case, I'm not interested in it.

Our politicians benefit from the problem of Nagorno Karabakh because it was, it is, and it will still be an obstacle in improving human rights in our region, because whatever is good for the human rights cause is financially harmful for our self-appointed leaders. And if many do not understand this, it doesn't mean the politicians themselves do not understand this either.

This means that the integration of Armenia and Azerbaijan is not possible as long as these leaders are here, but that doesn't mean that it is impossible in general. We just need to change the functionaries. It is our ultimate goal, methinks. To change the functionaries. And it is exactly what Kremlin and the Minsk Group, meaning the whole world, are hindering us to accomplish.

Speaker is offering "the civil societies of Armenia and Azerbaijan escape that nationalistic chaos which has been promoted among our peoples throughout the last century, and do it through human rights and democratic values." I would suggest to first define nationalism. What is it in general? Everyone calls themselves nationalist assuming it means attacking your neighbours and organizing pogroms.

In reality non-dramatized nationalism of oppressed people is nothing but a choice of subsisting as an independent nation, instead of existing as a tribe, or instead of subsisting as a people being part of another state, another nation. Nationalism is life organized based on one's own agenda instead of living in an outpost under the dictates of the vicar and the king. Nationalism assumes national interest. Look at what direction our states were progressing toward during the past 20 years. What do you see there which stems from our national interests? And these people dare to call themselves nationalists. The primary national interests of any nation are human rights and democracy.

The honourable speaker is offering us to "break free from the worldview which is imposed on our peoples". I agree with him. We should understand that human rights are first of all of personal interest to anyone, and of national interest for the members of all nations. In order to be a nation we need to be independent. We've spoken about this previously. Let's be independent, ladies and gentlemen! But this has nothing much to do with Karabakh. Karabakh problem is made up in order us to be dependent, in order us not to be democracies respecting human rights.

We have to understand at last that peace is not a favour to one's neighbour, but a common national interest for all. We have to understand that good economy for the neighbour means good economy for me, too, that security of the neighbour, education system of the neighbour affects me, too.

The speaker is mentioning that the ultimate condition for Armenia into which it will not give in is the vertical submission of Stepanakert to Baku. I've got a question: how do we know what Armenia wants at all, and what conditions it sets? How do we know what Azerbaijanis want? Have we ever interrogated our peoples on this? Was there ever any real poll conducted? And finally, what sort of information was provided to our peoples, what were they preaching to us in general?

And if it ever happens that the relationships between Stepanakert and Baku become parallel, then what will the relationship between, say, Ganja and Baku, or Vanadzor and Yeravan be like? And if we succeed in developing real democracy and decentralised self-governance, then will there even be a "Karabakh issue"? In fact, it won't exist if the entire region gets independent.

Do you notice that I am speaking of independence once again, not of Karabakh or of Azerbaijan, nor even of Armenia, but of independence of Armenia and Azerbaijan from Russia and in general?

The author is offering to view Oland model as an example for us. Ladies and gentlemen, we are speaking of communities which have come up with institutions of Ombudsman in the 18th century, and a document comprising 30 pages on the rights of animals. We are speaking of such cultures which succeeded in sealing a deal. And even they, at the beginning of the conflict, were threatening with regular army units. Mind it. They succeeded in finding a solution, and they could have come up with a myriad of other solutions; in any case they would respect human rights. Indeed. Oland Islands model is not about diplomacy, or better to say it's not exclusively about diplomacy. It is about the culture or the style of living, the culture of true democracy, of freedom, and of human rights.

How on earth are we going to lean on the notion of human rights and democracy, if we have still got journalists imprisoned, if we have still got writers in exile? Most importantly, there is a total silent agreement with and indifference toward all this coming from our peoples. This means that we are governed by brutal dictators, and we are surrounded by people who are in complete darkness.

The speaker says: "In such a situation Nagorno Karabakh could have had internationally recognized and guaranteed right on self-governance through democratic and transparent elections of all of its structures, and could have become a true oasis of democracy in South Caucasus." I agree with him. Meanwhile I ask him: do you understand now that as long as we have vicars of Kremlin in here, such a solution is not just impossible, but the conflict itself was artificially forged so that that solution would have never come into being?

The speaker imagines that elections will take place in Karabakh after a peace treaty is signed the legacy of which will be insured by observers on behalf of Minsk Group, and other international institutions. I've got another question: why haven't they done it during these last 20+ years? How one can trust the institutions the representatives of which put their signatures under protocols of elections in our states, by thus legitimising our illegitimate leaders? You don't think, of course, that those international observers are naive and they have no idea about what's going on in our states. Believe me, they understand perfectly well what is going on, but that is exactly what they are after.

The speaker reminds us to "look at how respectful Armenians and Azerbaijanis are toward one another overseas, where there is no nationalistic atmosphere that would put pressure on them". True. I advise, too, to always keep that in mind. And to remember that it proves that our peoples have no "genetic incompatibility" as publicly insisted one of the presidents of Armenia, by thus disgracing both himself and us in front of the world community. None of his counsellors, which are as ignorant as he is, told him that the difference of genetic material between a human and an orangutan is just 4 to 5 percent. How, thus, one can speak of incompatibility between human beings?

The speaker is speaking about directing significant amounts of money into Karabakh after the peace treaty, and about the possible free trade area... I think that it is a legitimised way of bribing. Azerbaijan and Armenia have suffered as much as Karabakh did. There are many peoples on Earth that have successfully forged various ways of co-existence. We don't need that money now. We need peace. Undoubtedly, we will find many ways of coexistence if we succeeded in reconciling. It is even possible that we will be able to make better models, and some day there will be others that would come to learn from us; just the way we go to Oland and other parts of the world, people will come to learn from us, to exchange knowledge with us. The speaker is noting that he is "perfectly aware of scepticism which has been injected in the social spirit of Armenian people regarding Oland model. There are two main reasons for this: we have already won the war, Karabakh is already independent, and there is no use in turning Karabakh back into an autonomy." This is simple instance of brainwashing, because we didn't win the war, Karabakh is not independent, and together with it, Armenia and Azerbaijan are hostages, too.

And the second reason or point: " Azerbaijani people are not Finn, nor Armenians are Swedish. What is good for Scandinavian and northern peoples the history and culture of which are radically different from that of ours, is not good for us, for southern peoples." I quite agree with this. Not because what is good for Scandinavia is bad for our peoples. Both Oland model and Switzerland model are good, as well as the motto of Quebec in Canada, and many other models. Our representatives of civil society are not good enough, that is the problem. We are not good enough. We the peoples which resemble one another, we think we are smarter than anyone else, just the way all ignorant people do. We don't need to learn from others. We will teach anything to anyone, and will retrain anyone. The real problem is within us.

We all know that the Russian Empire didn't leave our region, it has become USSR, and then CIS, and now it is turning into Eurasian Union, and the imperial ambitions are always there. We understand perfectly well that in our states it is the members of former KGB which rule, and that our leaders are appointed by them, and they themselves are members of such organisations. We understand perfectly well that they successfully fulfil their mission set by Kremlin, they destroy all civil and democratic processes in our countries. Now we have lots of information to claim that the clashes and pogroms were artificially designed so that we fall into the loop of hatred from which our psyche cannot set free, and this is how they rule over us. Easy ain't it?

By realising this well, we suggest to dream. About what to dream, I have no clue myself.

We kicked off Tekali Process in Tbilisi many years ago. Back then I reported on lustration, on the necessity of making all the archives of KGB and the rest of secret USSR structures public, as these are still in us and govern us. We are colonies my friends; you ought to get it. We will not advance at all, unless we purge all the Russian agents away from all the spheres of their influence: politics, public life and business.

There is no such thing as Karabakh problem, methinks, even today. The problem is KGB, in us. We first of all need to get rid of opportunistic public figures. For these the conflict is a source of income.

I offer making Tekali Youth Platform stronger. We need public figures of the new generation, with fresh mentality. They could become a new wave of public diplomacy; it will be a new team of young Armenians and Azerbaijanis that will take on the negotiation process. We could become their assistants, and their counsellors.

Opportunism needs to be excluded from this process at all. First off we need to exclude Russia from this process in general. An invader, which is also arming both sides of the conflict, cannot be apart of peaceful negotiations. It is absurd. Our leaders cannot reach Oland-type agreements. The empire which has generated this conflict will not allow it to be solved, at least not the way which is planned by it. Thank you for your attention.
Louisa Poghosyan: This year we have decided to discriminate, so to speak, against some population groups, and offer more space to the youth. We suppose that in 2015 Tekali Process, with all its forums, will serve to post-soviet generations. The youth platform was created during "Tekali Mic" summer camp; the platform is open to everyone, and those who are ready to work as part of Tekali process for realizing their ideas. So, the special opinion of the Youth Platform; there will be comments and offers apropos the papers of Zardusht Alizade and Vahe Avetian.

Sevak Kirakosyan: The most important idea which I have heard today was that of Zardhusht Alizade, in my opinion, regarding the creation of a 'Committee' for propagating (talking about) Aland Islands model. It's a great idea, and I loved it, and I suggest starting it right in Tekali. It can be incorporated as a performance, or even as a movie. Let's imagine that there is an escalation of the conflict in Karabakh, and the Aland model works. I suggest taking hold of this idea, and create a special group which will work on this. Both Zardusht and Vahe can become our mentors and counsellors for realizing this project. Thank you Mr. Alizade for such an interesting idea, and in general your paper was very interesting.

Then, I would say that I disagree with some ideas of Vahe. It's just my opinion. For instance, Vahe Avetian says that the entire world is against us. It's not even realism, in my humble opinion; it's just pessimism or, at least, a pessimistic realism. And if one suggests that the entire world is against us and we cannot do anything... Well, why are we here then? Then Vahe is offering us just to switch the actors. Maybe he means something else, and I misunderstood him. If not, then suppose we replace the driver of a car which is heading for an abyss, yet it's the same car, it is taking the same route, heading for the same abyss. Will replacing the driver solve the problem? Vahe introduced a very interesting argument on differing cultures, on how they have acknowledged animals' rights since the 18th century. This culture does exist. And today, methinks, we need to change our mentality, change the paradigms. Of course, we will not turn into Switzerland in five years, but everyone has to start working on it right here and right now to get there, or shall I say continue working on it.

Also, I myself thought of Russia as of an enemy. Just three days ago I would put it that way, too. But two days ago Zardusht Alizade and Vagif, a friend and a teacher from Azerbaijan, both of them have pointed out in Tbilisi the positive impact of USSR in the past; among other things, it includes secularism and the process of interacting with European cultures. And when we hear ideas like "Russia is the mankind's enemy" or "We need to isolate Russia from the rest of the world", I say instantly to myself "It's actually about Kremlin, the one which exists today, but not Russia". Probably many mean Kremlin when they say Russia: the leading regime, not the people. It's just dangerous to say Russia whilst meaning other things. I myself do it sometimes. But in fact, Russia is a European power, it adopted many aspects of European culture a few centuries ago, and the French writer Victor Hugo said the following: "A DAY WILL COME when you France, you Russia, you Italy, you England, you Germany, you all, nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities and your glorious individuality, will be merged closely within a superior unit and you will form the European brotherhood, just as Normandy, Brittany, Burgundy, Lorraine, Alsace, all our provinces are merged together in France." European Union already exists. Russia is not yet part of that brotherhood, but it is the part of European culture, and belongs there. Just a few days ago a peace march took place in Moscow, and many thousands of Russians took part in it. The participants of that march, Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky, and politicians who believe in human rights, honesty, dignity, liberty, truth and love, now that's Russia! One participant of the March, businessman Viktor Bondarenko, has shared some interesting thoughts during the march: "... I belong to European civilisation. We live inside a European civilisation; everything we see around us, including this interview which some people will watch, and the camera which makes it, all of this is the product of the European civilisation. I don't get our people who loves the milk and hates the cow, who loves eating honey, but hates the bees, and who enjoys everything the human race has achieved, but hates all those who have created and given it to us."

And to conclude, those of you who were present in Tekali in August remember, I hope, that the focal idea of my speech was about the necessity of changing the way we think. We are transforming our societies and make a better present for all of us. Here and now. And this is one of the tools (of change). Because if we want to install Aland islands model, then who is going to do it for us? And thus, only if we change our thoughts and mentality, we will turn into ...

(remark from the audience) ... Tekali Actors.

Aland model will work, in my opinion, if there are well organized groups, many of them, of free-thinking and empowered citizens in Armenia and Azerbaijan. If we often think that we will fail, as there are forces that hinder us, if the entire world is against us, as Vahe Avetian mentioned, if there are so many obstacles, how one can do anything about it? This is why we actually need positive thinking: I can do it, it is possible, it is interesting, and I'm all for it. Action is fundamental. Personal stories and role models matter. Yet right actions do come thanks to a positive mindset. It is crucial, and especially if we want to breathe life into a new model, then we cannot go forth without this. The most important question is the question of "why". Why are we into this? This is a fundamental question for every single individual, and for the groups; everyone needs to think over this.

Finally, where are the people of Karabakh? Ethnicity matters not; Azerbaijanis, Armenians, where are the inhabitants of Karabakh? On the one hand all of us, the Actors of Tekali, are "Karabakhi" in some sense, but on the other hand, it is important that the inhabitants of Karabakh agree with this and be part of this, too. I also remind that I’d like to propagate Aland islands model through Tekali Process.

Yura Hakobyan: Greetings everyone, and thank you for being here. Every single human being who has come to Tekali today matters. I thank Vahe and Zardusht for sharing their opinions on several ways of solving the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, I also thank Sevak for his comments, but I disagree with him.

How should we solve this conflict? We need to have a look at how this issue came about first of all. The Karabakh issue is conceived by Russia, by Russian imperialist forces. But how we can change something, if even today this issue is a toy for Russian imperialists who still play their dirty games in Caucasus with it. We need to realize it. I like Aland model which is offered by Zardusht Alizade. But I think that we need to also discuss the risks that may arise if we are to implement it. We, methinks, need to also discuss other models and discuss both the positive sides, as well as the negative consequences which may result in case if we choose these. In my opinion, what Zardusht is offering and what Vahe was saying are two distinct options. There is no contradiction. Yes, it is the KGB staff, so to speak, which rules in our countries. And we will not be able to do anything without lustration, even for solving Karabakh conflict. In my view we need to work with several models, merge them and make a new one which will allow us to negotiate with one another. We need to request it, speak about it also with the leadership, and we need to fight for it.

Both Azerbaijani and Armenian youth gather here; it is the youth that wants to collaborate. We may offer and discuss about the possible ways of the solution, but we also need the help of the youth of Georgia. Because if we speak about Caucasus, then Caucasus needs to be united, and we all need to work on this. Karabakh conflict is a threat to Georgia, too. They need to understand this, too, and need to help us. We, too, need to help them in solving Abkhaz and Ossetia conflicts. By collaborating on this today we will achieve the unity of Caucasus tomorrow. After all, that is our mission.

Zamira Abbasova: Hello everyone! I am grateful to Zardusht Alizade and Vahe Avetian. But I will also criticise them a little, after which I will make an offer myself as a Tekali actor.

Aland case seems to offer the most realistic solution for the moment, because both conflicts resemble one another, even the structure and the mentality which led the Swedes, back in the day, as they longed for independence out of nationalistic urge. But I am very sceptical about the joint visits to Aland islands; it will be one of the many peace-making "tourist" events. I think this will not help us, because we have no idea about how big the business is, what sort of discussions they are having in ОSCE with our so-called leadership. We will return, we will speak about it once or twice, and everyone will forget about it then. And maybe someone else will visit them again after 20 years, and it will be fruitless again.

Also on the role of Russia. Imagine there's a room, and there's a big elephant in the room. You cannot live with that elephant, there is not enough space. You need to take it out of the room somehow. You repeatedly tell it: "Elephant, you've got to leave!" But the elephant is not living, and there's nothing you can do about it. What do you need to do in this case? You need to find a crane which will take it out of the room, from outside. This is how one can describe this situation metaphorically.

And this is what I offer for the moment, this is what we all can do: we can organise a Tekali Diaspora which will work from outside, from abroad, and this Diaspora groups will help us in organising meetings with the Members of Parliament of diverse European states, be it Austria, and even New Zealand, or Finland. Tekali Diaspora can help us with writing petitions, ant with making their respective states think again what they can offer to change the situation. Because if we are to shout all the time "Elephant, leave!" it will not work. Because the elephant feels comfortable, it feels good, warm, it eats in that room (audience: and poops in the room, too) ... we will not be able to make it leave. Which is why I offer making our special Tekali Diaspora, the Diaspora of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan? We need people which will help us in making sure that our requests are heard all across the world, to the senators and members of parliaments of various states. We need the Tekali Diaspora so that we can achieve something. Thank you.

Arpine Javadyan: I thank Zardusht Alizade and Vahe Avetian for their interesting papers. I want to underscore that I agree with the idea that lustration must be implemented, as the reality we have in our states is the result of the absence thereof. And that Russia should be temporarily isolated by all means. Sevak has said that we shouldn't isolate it, because there were some positive impacts coming from it in Soviet era. But it is always the case anyway. One may find positive aspects or facts about fascist Germany, too, but it doesn't mean that it was good. Russia should be escorted out of Caucasus, temporarily isolated, methinks. This is the only way through which we will be able to get rid of negative consequences, activities, and of Soviet mentality in our states. And then, when we will have a totally different mentality, we then may build new type of relationships with Russia.

I absolutely agree with the theses which Zardusht has presented. Yes, Aland model is an ideal one, but one cannot forget that we indeed are not Swedes, nor Finnish. We need to collaborate on this model itself, as our peoples differ. Also, this very model cannot work twice; it is ideal only for Aland islands. There cannot be another Mahatma Gandhi either. Good things, unfortunately, don't happen twice.

Varoujan Tribunyan: I want to respond to Sevak. He is mistaken. Russia is not our archenemy; it is our archfriend. This is how we perceive Russia, and this is how it is. And if the citizens of Russia didn't want to have such a state, then they wouldn't have it. It is not only the government to blame, but first of all it is the citizens of Russia, as they themselves decide what type of government they want. The same goes for Armenia and Armenians. In 1991 Armenians chose between two individuals, and they voted for the one who didn't want independence. And what we have today is the result of our own actions. We have chosen the wrong man. Everyone knows that Karabakh conflict is designed by the Russian Empire, by Moscow, by Kremlin. Is there anyone in this room who thinks this is not the case?

Louisa Poghosyan: For instance I think that the conflict was caused by Armenians. They themselves where the part of that very Empire, and supported it.

Varujan Tribunyan: Suppose Zoya steers conflict between me and Sevak, and Louisa wants me and Sevak be friends. Zoya (i.e. Russia) should then say "You know what, both of you need to solve this conflict on your own, peacefully, without me". Russia has no right to interfere.

Louisa Poghosyan: I think that everyone will agree on the fact that it's quite hard to convince Russia. Varujan and Sevak, I at least hope to convince you both to be friends now, as it is hard to convince Russia.

(peace is established between the two by a handshake)

Varujan Tribunyan: Also, about what Zamira has said: about the example of the elephant and Russia. Actually Russia owes us a lot, and it's not right to just let it leave. She should give us back everything she has taken away from us.

Aland islands model will not work in case of Karabakh conflict, as, unfortunately, there are only Armenians living in that area now. And those Armenians of Karabakh definitely want independence. Anyway, lustration will force the politicians of Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve the issue.

Zoya Bezoyan: I don't think that we need to transfer this or that model; we need to forge our own. As of Russia and the citizens of Russia, we distinguish between thalassocracy and tellurocracy. Russia, in my opinion, is thellurocracy. We are their property in their eyes. This is their mindset. And when they speak of Armenia or Azerbaijan, they think through their colonial mindset. They perceive us as part of their empire, their provinces, not as independent states. I'm done.

Tural Mustafayev: Greetings everyone! We realise that we will not be able to change anything with the governments that we have today. We praise European Union, but how do they protect us when we have human rights violations in our states? We have no independent states, no democratic governments. We'd better discuss models that would allow changing the governments. And discuss Karabakh issue afterwards.
Oliver Reisner: This I my first time in Tekali, and I was listening to the discussion of Aland Islands model with great interest. I think you put a lot of stress on the result, on what people have gotten as the result of implementing that model. But I think you need to have some lectures to study the process of it: how the Finnish and Swedish have reached that accord, what factors mattered in making the states come to that resolution. I mean you would better get interested in the process rather the result. The experience of the process itself will help more than assessing what they have got for the moment. There existed a unique situation in Scandinavia, and of course you have your own unique situation in Caucasus, and one cannot disregard that. But you need to study the other processes so that you can come up with your own model that will meet the specific demands.

Eva Maria Auch: I would also add that we need to consider the international background back then, as it is a very important element. Things were different after the First World War and we cannot compare it with what is happening today; it is not the right thing to do. What is happening today in Ukraine happened also in the south of Europe, in Balkans.

Gia Kuchava: : Good day, I would like to speak as an opponent to both speakers and make my own comment. Although we discuss the advantages of that model, we need to consider the fact that we live in Caucasus, and our mentality differs from that of Northern European peoples. The process of the realisation of this model will be a complicated one, and both the leadership of Azerbaijan, as well as of Armenia may not agree with this. This is why I offer another scenario. Maybe it will take more time, but it may ensure some results in the end. We may call a Common Caucasian Parliament, a body which will represent Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. Maybe at first it will be a place where everyone will be just speaking... In order to bring to life any models, we first need to get some experience. And this Parliament can help in gaining that type of experience. Both the society and state bodies need to get involved in this. I say we start working on this now, and found such a parliament in 2015.

I will disagree with madam Auch; what is happening today looks really like what was happening after the Second World War. The functioning of a Common Caucasian Parliament is critically important for now, as new generations take over. I always quote the British prime minister Lloyd George: "This war, like the next war, is a war to end war." Only that generation remembers about wars which has fought it, and only they know what it means to spill blood. The next generation already thinks of the war as of a triumphal procession. Which is why we need this common parliament.

We need to think and discuss about what we do and how we start this. I will repeat myself and say once more that at first it will be only about chitchatting. But what does a parliament mean in general? We can reach an agreement only through communication and talking. I think everyone will agree with my suggestion.

Samvel Beglaryan:Friends, when I need to introduce myself, I do it as follows: father of three, grandpa of five. Why? Because we work hard for our descendants, so that they live without hating an enemy, without fighting wars. That is our aim. We gather here to live without an enemy, but unfortunately we make a new enemy for us: Russians.

During Second World War my father was taken prisoner. The Germans said to him: since you didn't surrender yourself, but were taken by force, you will be sent to a concentration camp. And they did send him to a concentration camp. After the war the Russians have said: since you were caught by the enemy, you will go to Siberia. And they did send him to Siberia. My father could not decide his own faith, he could not prove his point of view. Either Germans or Russians decided in his stead. Now it's the same with Karabakh. It will not be the Russians who will decide its faith; it will be the French, and the Chinese. This is the fate of smaller nations. Even if this model succeeds, who is going to show us the way? Neither Azerbaijan, nor Armenia, nor Georgia can. Armenians don't want the Russians to do it. Azerbaijanis don't like the French. Smaller nations were always guided by someone else. We need to decide who the leader will be. And why it should be a European nation? Asia is the cultural centre of the world. Everything started with China, with the East. Unless we are ready to solve the issue ourselves, on our own, we will always be guided by someone else. We need to stick together. We need to think together. We want peace, it is a good wish, and it is our strength. We need to go forth. And we cannot exclude others: Russians, French, and German. They have got experience. They have learned to live well, to live peacefully and friendly with one another. So, let them show us the way. Thank you very much.

Samson Khojoyan: I have something to say concerning Russia. We all understand how important the role of Russia is in this region. But I want to remind you the thoughts of an American filmmaker. He put it this way: all the big states are bandits, and the smaller ones are their lovers. Each chooses a lover for themselves. And we all realise that Russia is not one of those «men» which will allow its lover to leave it, even if the lover wants to settle and create a new family with someone else. This is the trouble with Russia. There are more gallant gentlemen who would agree, they'd tell to the lover: “If you don't want to live with me anymore, fine.” But the Russians will not allow their lover to leave them just like that.

Tsovinar Nazarova: We all understand perfectly well that we live in a magical kingdom, and that lustrations will not happen as long as the leadership belongs to those who don't want it to happen. Do we even need to have this discussion? There is not a single document, a so-called policy paper which would state that if we pick this model, then things will get better or vice versa. I would be happy to see such an oeuvre. I would even make a vote to see if we want to continue this discussion, or we should discuss other, far more important issues and themes. And I believe if we can educate this generation, then life will get better in Caucasus. One more thing. We need to develop ourselves spiritually, we need to find that leader we are seeking within ourselves; each person needs to first of all discover that leader in themselves. This will not be possible without spiritual education. Maybe we should give more space to youth.

Rasim Mirzayev: Zardusht Alizade has presented us this model with a lot of passion and in an interesting way. This would fit almost ideally to Caucasus. And who is going to make it? Current Armenian or Azerbaijani leadership? Will they even allow the people discuss and consider this model, not to mention making it? I think our societies themselves need to advance, too. I hope we solve all the problems one by one. And everyone needs to change the reality in their own country. Thank you.

Mirzahid Gajiev: Aland islands model is beautiful. But it us premature in our case I think. However, I have another suggestion. To create Tekali Parliament out of politically active youth of all the three states, and we can start with ten individuals from all the three states. What matters a lot is the attitude, too, and politicians need to help the young. I also want to thank Armenian youth for actively participating in Tekali Process. Thank you.

Mariam Hovsepyan: I have a question to both the speaker and his opponent. We were told that this model is not new to both sides. I’d like to know what arguments were brought against it by the two sides.

Zardusht Alizade: Ali Abasov and Harutyun Khachatryan have jointly written a book on the models of solving Karabakh conflict.What does a “model” mean? For instance, at the beginning of the conflict there was a model called “Miatsum” (lit. – unification in Armenian). The people were told that things are bad now, and if we implement “Miatsum”, then things would get better, and heaven would be established on Earth, and so the people wanted “Miatsum” to come true, it wanted Karabakh to join Armenia; the people decided that it’s OK to also compromise and spill blood and commit crimes for establishing heaven on Earth. But then it was discovered that this model didn’t work at all. Another example: we had socialism, but we thought that if we adopt capitalism things would get better. What happened? We’ve lost everything: industrial potential, science, education, healthcare… and we got wild capitalism instead. But we always need models. Martin Luther Kind dreamed of the time when African-Americans or black people would have equal rights. And that day has come. Many discriminatory laws are abolished in the U.S., and the States are governed by a black president today. I also offer a model to my fellow tribesmen, friends and disciples. You may think that Aland model isn’t good for us, because we are different. What do you mean different? You are regressive, poor and oppressed peoples of South Caucasus. I offer you the chance of becoming different, of changing yourselves. It's up to you. I don't offer anything to corrupt governments. I offer this to the citizens, to the civil society, the activists of Tekali Process. We need to create structures made of civic activists who will themselves offer this model to the citizens, both in Armenia and in Azerbaijan. After 20 years of illusions, what have changed? I think the populations got rid of this and are ready to compromise to reject these illusions and adopt a new model. Thank you.

Vahe Avetian: Actually I agree with Zardusht, I just had to bring counter arguments to Zardusht as an opponent speaker.

Ali Abasov: I know both Zardusht and Vahe, and I know that they just present you these models without implying anything. We ask the younger generation to make a group which will collaborate on coming up with a model that will solve the Karabakh conflict and present it to us during the next Tekali session. You have lots of time to do this in fact.

Arpine Javadyan: Mr. Abasov has just said what I had in my mind. We are presented this model, and it's up to us how we react to it. Even if we really like it, we won't be able to make this come true in a few years. Only after lustration... So let's stick to the topic and continue discussing the model.

Khamis Masimov: I think we shouldn't say that Russia or Kremlin are bad, they just pursue their interests, just like everyone else. I stand with Mirzahid Gadjiev on organising a youth parliament, but I want to also see more experienced individuals which will give advice to the youth. Thank you.

Voting on the following proposition: “Do we need to make and push with models for solving Karabakh issue?” Yes – 48 votes, no – 5 votes.

Vahe Avetian: I am not a specialist in literature. I can only speak of literature as someone who reads it…

In 1999 I was in charge of a project in Armenia, and I invited my Swedish colleagues there; these were experts on human rights, on democratisation and other specialists, and I naively organised series of meetings with Armenian government. I thought back then that these were democrats, and they just violate human rights only because they lack knowledge. And then, the most optimistic experts, my Swedish friends which worked hard with me in Armenia, gave up and told me that there is no use in going on with this project. But Armenia is my motherland, and I loved it, I still love it and will love it always, my roots are there, and I couldn’t just give in and say OK, it’s really hopeless. And I started writing, as my fellow citizens were oppressed on a daily basis; it was a dictatorship which killed people only because of the fact that they dared to speak up. In 2003 one such individual decided that he could speak up… the same evening they broke his chin. I just thought that it would be a crime on my behalf not to write honestly, especially when I had the protection of the Swedish kingdom behind me, and I lived in a developed state where no KGB agent would dare to do anything to me. How on earth I could think I had the right to keep silent when my fellow citizens were silent because of fear? And I started writing and publishing on the internet. Writers have reached out to me fast. Canadian writer Ara Baliozyan, whom I consider to be my teacher, was one of them. I used to write and think that I’m just sharing my ideas with others, but Ara told me: you’ve already got a book there, you’re a writer. I didn’t believe this naturally. Later Armen Melikyan, an American writer reached to me; he, too, was exiled from Armenia. He said the same: I’m a writer. Then many people whom I respect would read what I’d write and tell me that I was a good writer. I myself, however, consider myself a politician who writes. There was a political need coming from Armenia which had induced me to write. Another writer, Alexander Varpetyan, is exiled from Armenia, too. He tried to get back home. He was deported from the airport several times. Although he has children, grandchildren, a house in Armenia and he lived in Armenia all his life, he was just kicked out of the country. And these public figures which were mentioned by Zardusht Alizade, and many of your Armenian public figures, too, most of them didn’t say a word about the fact that there are about a dozen of Armenian writers that are still in exile. I can’t ignore my brothers and colleagues, Alekper Aliev who is exiled, too, as well as Seymur Baijan. I am sure that even though many Azerbaijani writers are in Azerbaijan physically, they are in exile mentally.

So this is it, and now I’ve got about six books published, and I need to edit four more. Only last year I could get into Armenia, after ten years of failure, as I got pardoned. And although I can visit Armenia now, I honestly say that I feel as if I’ve lost Armenia forever.

A terrible crime is being committed; they kill the character of the human beings. It is hard to get rehabilitated mentally, even though it may be done legally. I also know some Georgian writers who are in a similar situation.

That’s all I had to say on Caucasian literature. I enjoy writing. When I write I become honest. More sincere. Literature helps me to be more honest.
Translated by Sevak Kirakosyan
Original language of the content - Russian
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South Caucasus Integration: Alternative Start
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