о сайте
27.09.2012, Tekali,
crossing of the borders
of the three
South Caucasus Republics
with the participation
of residents
from Baku, Yerevan,
Tbilisi, Marneuli,
and border villages.
Georgi Vanyan
Moderator: Before introducing the agenda, I would like to thank Mushvig Namazov, host of this hospitable house, who donated 4 acres of land to Tekali Peace Center. A deep reverence to him and I wish us all to take in this land of peace, freedom and cooperation as soon as possible. Please pay attention to the white chairs you sit on. It is the first civic contribution from Zamira Abbasova to the budget of Tekali Peace Center. Today in Tekali we have a project called “Joint web, internet platform of young historians of the South Caucasus” launched. This platform will work thanks to efforts of our friends from Germany who support Tekali process since the beginning. I am glad to introduce professors from Berlin: Doctor Eva-Maria Auch, project director and Doctor Rasim Mirzayev, project coordinator.
Mushvig Namazov
Tekali, Georgia
Eva-Maria Auch
Berlin, Germany
Eva-Maria Auch: Thank you for inviting me to your village! I think that we need to greet first not us, as guests, but you, residents of Tekali, as hosts for doing such a kind work and hosting peacemakers not only from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, but peacemakers regardless of their nationality.

The first important thing that everyone feels here is that the peace has no nationality. Either we live together as humans, or we fight for peace or we do not deserve to be called humans. That is why I am very grateful to you, together with Georgi, for dreaming about a new peace to take place here, about a new peaceful land for different nationalities and I hope that we, Germans, will be able to travel here in the future too.

I would like to briefly present the project which came to life based on the experience we gained over the years. When I was in Georgia, there were tanks marching. When I was in Baku, there were tanks marching. I am not one of those officers of some organization who invent new projects in order to spend some money. I want to say that I have been involved in this process all this time and it is very difficult sometimes when you are in Berlin or Bonne, or abroad, on one hand you feel empathetic but practically it is very difficult to help. Naturally, I can talk about Azerbaijan, Armenia or Georgia for a long time. As a historian, I try to resist various historical versions written from the nationalistic view, but it is not enough. This is why, aside from the work at the university, we set up scientific-cultural union “EuroCaucAsia” a few years ago. From the name itself it is clear that we viewed Caucasus as the link between Asia and Europe.

And within the framework of our international organization which is open to not only to the Germans, but to everyone, we are working in different parts of Germany. Recently the management has moved from Bonn to Berlin, and our contacts are maintained and made in different countries. And very importantly, representatives from your republics who live in Germany are also involved in our work. These are people who want to act differently and think differently.

During our first project in Tbilisi we sat together and talked about stereotypes written in the school books. We can only ask: where does it all come from? Everything starts at the university when you are taught a certain image of neighbor enemy, when you are taught stereotypes. When there is no good methodology or approach to the sources, documents. When there is nothing like that, what can you expect of a school teacher? Now a new generation grew up which knows nothing about other approaches and are not used to asking questions. They basically remain in this closed circle…

We met students, future historians in Azerbaijan and Armenia. There is no sign of change for the better. We think and we are concerned about what will happen in the future if next generation is brought up in this spirit? Not to know anything about each other is a “favorable” soil so that it is easy to shoot someone you do not know. This is why we try to do something together with our friends who are present here too. It is about a breakthrough from informational blockade.
If beyond 100 km
you do not know
which book came out,
which conference is held,
who works,
what kind of
subject they are
interested in
then you will not
be able to work completely.
We do not interact among ourselves. Of course, some elite receives scholarships, grants. They study, go abroad, learn languages, know how to behave, they are invited to conferences. But what about masses of our young people, what about them? What about our students, pupils? What about those who do not have the opportunity to explore the world. We did not need any Arab spring; we did not need that to understand that the foundation of peace-building is the expansion of interactions, exchanges between our nations. This is why our joint idea is that we want to create a joint internet platform. We started with the idea of platform of young historians. But during our discussions we decided to expand the circle: everyone will have the right to be present, be actively involved in the work of this platform. And we came to Georgia now and these days we were working on the concept of such internet platform which will function to support its various participants. I think that this is the first step – exchange of information. Nothing else. Imagine you go to the market and exchange there too – what will be the prices in Baku and Yerevan? Which goods will be sold out well? This is also exchange of information which is important for your everyday life. For young people such exchange is necessary. If beyond 100 km you do not know which book came out, which conference is held, who works, what kind of subject they are interested in then you will not be able to work completely. This is why we gathered in Tbilisi to discuss questions, people we will include, which subjects we want to touch, which procedures will work, which conditions we will agree to. If everyone will do what they want it will turn into chat – “you are bad, you are worse, you are this and that”. If you search Internet, there are many social networks, but what is their level? It is horrible what happens there. Our approach is different. We want to start with the young, fresh spirits, new ideas and alongside we realized that we are also young…

Moderator: No, no, they are young and we are the youngest…

Eva-Maria Auch: Yes, that is right. And in cooperation of young and the youngest we proposed experience of similar German platforms and we hope that not only participants here will support us. But we also hope that you talk about it, invite your circles to this platform because this platform will exist only if there is active and large involvement of people. Thank you.
Rasim Mirzaev
Berlin, Germany
Rasim Mirzaev: I think my colleague Eva-Maria Auch has already talked about the project in details. I only want to express my wish and impressions.

I am very excited about my first visit to Tekali. And this is a great idea of Georgi, such an idealist and realistic person at the same time. He is idealist and 90% of the Caucasus population do not understand him, and maybe do not accept him, but at the same time he finds such a real place where people support him from all sides. I am simply very grateful to the villagers here and I am very grateful to those who come here from Armenian villages. I ran to greet them and this interaction is a big joy for me.

I think that peace is achieved and the humanity is saved always by idealists. Those idealists who also find people who support them, who follow them and who believe in them. Today I am more than sure that Georgi and we all together will achieve a democratic prosperous Caucasus one day. I see this model here. He masterfully chose this base, foundation – Tekali, which is already famous in the world and will one day go down in history: “everything started here…” I see that day, I imagine, I think that we will gather one day again when the peace is established in the Caucasus and we will celebrate that day together in Tekali. I wish us all that. Thank you.

Question from Edita Badasyan, Caucasian knot: Are there young historians from both sides (Armenian and Azerbaijan) who agreed to work with each other?

Eva-Maria Auch: It is a very important question and this question honestly worried us. What are our realities? From one side there are young people who openly write on the Internet. These are smart and thinking young people. I know they exist otherwise I would not be up for it. From other side there is official young elite. We held a meeting of young Azerbaijani scientists in June in Berlin. The result was that there was a feeling that all of them wanted to show themselves as technocrats. They are technocrats, they are officially armed with patriotism as some kind of shield: we are such patriots, but deep down they are technocrats and show the culture I was talking about. The result – it was a great conference, everything went well. But when student conference finishes with the reception at Hilton then our students ask – pardon us, please, what kind of students are they? I of course do not expect that we can do something with them.
I imagine,
I think that
we will gather
one day again
when the peace
is established
in the Caucasus
and we will celebrate
that day together in Tekali
As the answer to your question I will say that we need to have good friends. I am very grateful to my friends, our friends who helped me. You can consider that doing something through someone is a bad thing; of course you can treat it like that. But in this case there is no other way. How else can I find really smart people? Only through friends who share my visions. And in this case I hope that we were lucky and that this process will continue. If tomorrow someone says they do not want to participate, it is their right. We do not force anyone to agree. Who wants, they can, who does not want, there is nothing bad about it. It is a personal decision.

Rasim Mirzaev: We held meetings with Armenian and Azerbaijani students a few times in Berlin. For example, when Vahe Avetyan, Armenian writer who lives in Sweden and our good friend came, we organized first such meeting. The questions were very poignant; we did not pass by any tough question. There were representatives from Karabakh. There was one radical young person who I knew from past conferences on Karabakh. I told him to come to the meeting as there would be Azerbaijani representative, refugee from Karabakh and share your hard feelings, thoughts but also listen to others please. He told me – I do not believe you, you are Azerbaijani. I am Azerbaijani and my friend Vahe Avetyan is Armenian and we organize this meeting for you. There was a lot of pressure when we announced the meeting. But everything went well. There was literacy, tolerance to each other. People argued intelligently, they talked. This is the right way.

There are normal thinking people among our youth and the one abroad and here and they understand that Caucasus is the absurdity we are living in. And it is not normal and can never be normal the way we live in the Caucasus. There is no future. No normal person wants their children to live in this scary horrible Caucasus. There are such young people among us. We worked in panels yesterday. During personal interaction our perspectives emerge.

Moderator: I want to say again that this project is for all. As a cross-border coordinator I would like to present history teacher at Tekali school and history teacher from neighboring Berdavan. I promise to fill the triangle and invite history teacher from Shikhli. And I think our German colleagues can start approbations in these three schools. There is also an idea of Tekali University. We can consider that today we start its foundation. The topic of our civil hearing is “Cultural legacy of the USSR in international relations – asset or obstacle for Tekali process?” and I give the floor to the first speaker.
Luiza Poghosyan
Yerevan, Armenia
Luiza Poghosyan: Dear Tekalians, we will take cultural legacy of the USSR in international relations and try to apply it to Tekali process to what happens in our meetings here and in-between our meetings. There is an oratory tactic often used by Soviet cultural personas: cultural persona talks about the deceased national cultural persona. He goes on to say that speaking about this person is sad and joyous. It is sad because this prominent person went through hard times in life. He lived in poverty, he was not appreciated by anyone and we lost him prematurely. It is joyous because in our good prospering country he immortalized himself. His soul is in the sun, in the grass and he walks among us and we feel his presence everywhere.

I also use this marasmic juxtaposition. And I will say that according to the rules of hearing from one side I will present from maximalist point of view and exaggerate so that the debates take place but from other side I will say what I genuinely think. So it is up to you to view my presentation from the point you think convenient for you. And before I start my presentation I want to ask each of the participants to remember that there is good and bad in everyone, that there is an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, that throughout our life we do good and evil and that we will continue doing that. I would also like to note that all my arguments are a result of self-analysis and my observations. In my presentation I will also use and already used thoughts and opinions of people I interacted with, most of whom are not here. I admit to plagiarism beforehand and will not quote the source of the thought I will use.

So, I think that cultural legacy of the USSR in international relations is an obstacle for Tekali process, for any process aimed at reconciliation of nations living in the South Caucasus and regional integration. I think that this obstacle should be systematically and strategically destroyed.

My generation is a generation of people whose parents and grandparents spent their adult lives, formed their culture and outlook under the Soviet regime. I am myself a Soviet person in third generation. You can say I am an absolutely Soviet person. Today we bear the culture which is so influential that it is difficult to predict under which circumstances it will disappear naturally.

The last 20 years have shown that Soviet culture went through deformation and not reformation. It turned into what we symbolically call national culture that is it is the remnant that we called legacy. Not only does it not extinct, but also it gets cultivated and there is a system of passing over to the next generation.

I think we should not have waited for 20 years to understand that the USSR was a kleptocratic society. It is also known that it was totally bureaucratized, and not only the government system but also all aspects of life. It ensues that the soviet person was a thief and forger. Each of us did that, I think. But I will soften this statement and say that at least everyone witnessed robbery and forgery. We should explain to the young people what kind of robbery we are talking about. An engineer sits at his office and looks at the board bought with the money from state budget and imagines how well it would look in his balcony. If he has good relations with the management, one fine day this board materializes in his balcony. In fact this board did not improve quality of this person’s life. It was just a trait of a Soviet person. This kind of people is called thieves. Private property was not legalized but everyone had a feeling of their own, something that belongs to them and something that they need to stash from the state. Psychologically speaking it can be considered kleptomania. In ethical sense this person was not considered a thief; it was just an ethical norm. There is no need to explain what a forger means. Everyone is familiar with bureaucracy. The more widespread bureaucracy is, the bigger and more creative the fight against is.

In a public life our Soviet person could easily utter and write a lie. That is he could easily lie. A form of this lie is demagogy. If in accountancy it was the figures that were written in, then in humanitarian life it was demagogy used to lie and silence. It was a cultural norm.

What happened to this person, this liar, this thief and forger when he got into conflict? It became uncomfortable for him in a social aspect. He got hungry and cold. Besides, this person got into an ethnic enmity. It is natural that the cultural norm of thief turned into looting and plundering of people close to him. The cultural norm of a public lie, ungrounded arguments and unaccountability for the words uttered on the spur of the moment and not feeling remorseful for what was said turned into a culture of provocation and disinformation. It claimed human lives. A Soviet person became a criminal. Under extreme circumstances these harmless kleptomaniacs and demagogues who blended well into a Soviet life turned out to be too much for the society which cultivated that type of person.
If we lived in peace
during the Soviet times,
then we can live
in peace now.
No we cannot
until we free ourselves
from the soviet legacy
in international relations.
How did the Soviet culture express itself in another conflict, in a clash of civilizations between the West and Soviet Caucasus in the funding sphere, in the contest of getting and implementing grant projects, in a sphere where Tekali process actually started?

We do not have to wait 20 years to assume what can happen if a western donor comes to this Soviet person already distorted by the conflicts. In his "clash with Western civilization" this man successfully used the "legacy" seasoned in the recent war. The western grant system has been adapted to the Soviet Caucasus without any efforts. Kleptomania and demagogy returned to their position in the culture of interaction between funders and grantees. Everyone working in this field is a kleptomaniac and a demagogue to some extent. I suffered from demagogy and kleptomania and continue to suffer. It is inevitable. In order to get rid of this you have to bypass not only financial but also ideological bureaucracy which requires setting goals and outcomes far from reality. Honestly, I do not know if it is a problem of adjusting in the post-Soviet space. Perhaps it is inherent in the culture of international community in the funding sphere. I do not know. I can confidently talk only about our own Armenian environment. I can make assumptions about the South Caucasus. In this case it does not matter. What is important is that for 20 years our kleptomania and demagogy has been an obstacle for an intended use of our grants. They are an obstacle to achieving a real effect, real benefit for everyone.

Another element of the Soviet legacy subject to extinction in the first place is kitchen dissidence. Soviet people would express themselves only in the kitchen. You have a kitchen of 10sq.m and you express yourself there, criticize reality, reproach yourself and reach the peak of rebellion accompanied by the alcohol drinks. You wake up in the morning and enter your society blending nicely with it until the next kitchen ritual. This culture of “kitchen priesthood” smoothly passed on to the grant projects including conflict-related, international relations and regional projects. This kitchen has moved into the corridors of projects with their banquet component. It means that all intellectual potential is used not on the project itself but in the process of communication outside a project.

And I have a question. Can we quit the kitchen dissidence as a bad habit consciously and forcing ourselves? Can we come up with our own model of discarding it?

Today, as a result of a "clash with Western culture," we do not have cultural exchange or adjusted programs. We have the adjusted people. For 20 years I think these adjusted people have led to downgrade the West in our countries, to create new stereotypes about human values and human rights protection. There are negative stereotypes regarding scientific research and its outcomes. It is especially true about the sciences that widely used in the Soviet years - sociology and psychology. Those people who were supposed to become bridges and introduce all new, with their opportunism led to the negativity and rejection.

Formalism, low-paid job in a funding sphere of socio-cultural projects, in a sphere which was supposed to free us from the Soviet cultural legacy and lead to universal human values makes even smart people engage in demagogy as it is easier to do so. Lack of analysis, objective evaluation and healthy competition creates favorable conditions for cultivation of the Soviet legacy. It is not a problem of the West. It is our problem. It is a problem of those who get and implement these funded projects. If breaking the system, and not adjusting, was a purpose for a few people involved in this sphere, then I think it would be possible to gain success.

I want to conclude the topic clash of civilizations with a joke. Prisoners of war from World War II built many objects in Armenia. On one of these objects a German prisoner of war took a big rock and smashed a fellow Armenian’s head. So he was taken to a tribunal and interrogated. To the question why he killed a fellow he replied: I have gone through a lot, I have fought, spent a few years in trenches and in captivity, experienced tortures which are hard to describe… but this guy worked so badly that I lost my self-control.

It is true that it is different times now but the German can still lose self-control.

It is true that it is different times now but the German can still lose self-control.
We can wait, of course. For example, we can wait until three generations change. Can we assume that in three generations’ time cultural legacy of the USSR will disappear naturally? Can we guarantee people will not lose self-control while waiting? Each of us personally may run away. But the society will extinct, it will not have a chance to become a nation, a state. It will not have even a chance to register its death.

And as a conclusion, I will try to talk briefly about stereotypes of friendship and enmity inherited by us. These stereotypes are part of our current ideology, ideology of nationalism grown in a test-tube. Due to some catalysts this nationalism grew. It is very similar to nationalism but it is not as viable as it could be had it grown in a natural environment. International relations were identified with friendship and brotherhood in the USSR. That is as such there were no relations, no interaction. What was friendship and brotherhood built on? It was built on sameness. That is we are Russian-speaking to some degree in the same way, we speak with accent in the same way, we are same as much as we read (and have to read) same books, we watch (have to watch) same films, we laugh at the same jokes, we are non-believers in the same way. All this sameness helps us to be “friends”. This focus on sameness hid and destroyed interaction ethics natural for each of nations. It goes without saying that diversity was never talked about, it was disguised.

Today, with our returning to ourselves, with a life that makes us come back to ourselves, our societies are becoming more closed and unique and it gets difficult to rely on the sameness, roughly speaking. But we still continue to "play" some kind of distorted Soviet friendship. The Soviet sameness, sameness as a value is so deeply rooted that when others do something differently they are met with hostile attitude. We do not accept it when we see unlikeness even in small things, it annoys us. What an unpleasant language (!) this Georgian is - say Soviet Armenians visiting Georgia today.

Our today’s ideologies of peace and war are a product of the Soviet intelligentsia which teaches people how to be friends and how to fight. The ideologies of peace and war are united in their sameness. Peacemakers and agitators of hatred are the same in using positive and negative examples they support as an argument. Both of them are able to reason about the past Soviet friendship which was expressed in human feats such as saving lives, for example, and escaping from enemy states (saving from the traffic police, not snitching when seeing someone steals something etc.). Just some (peacekeepers) believe it is a universal rule and they blame all the negative on the government, while others (fighters) think it is an exception taking place "despite national settings". The work of civil society is based on mathematics - to increase the volume of peace-lovingness and blame the atrocities of the past, the present and the future on the authorities. The work of agitators of hostility on the contrary is to increase these atrocities and turn them into a cult, to discount the possibility of humanity in interaction with the enemy. Peace-loving policy and hostility-loving policy of the government are built around these examples of demagogy. Let’s say the question arises when a man was kind and he saved a child and a man was angry, he was stoned and he tortured captive children. So what? Different interpretations do not give us an evaluation of what is happening today. They do not give us perceptions of reality.

People will always fall in love with each other and hurt each other. Life experience shows that. Ethnic difference can attract and repulse.

The difference is attractive to love and exaltation as well as humiliation and hatred. How is civic peace-building related to it?

A very active young man from Gyumri came to participate in the South Caucasus festival in Kars. He decided on the spot to shoot a short film together with a Turk. He found a cameraman who also was a Turk. Turk did not refuse to participate. The film eventually turned out to "pro-Armenian". The director who was an Armenian made it so, but a cameraman who was a Turk with a different perception, different culture absolutely did not care if it was pro-Armenian or pro-Turkish or anything else. He was just doing his job shooting. Here is another example. An Armenian and an Azerbaijani make a film together. And this is how they are friends in this project the Soviet way. An Armenian says to an Azerbaijani: dear, let's make it so that even if your name is on it, you do not have problems when you go back to Baku. Let's think over everything so that you do not have problems in Yerevan either. As a result, we have friendship of people and an empty film. And in the project aiming at conflict resolution and reconciliation we take the psychology of "hide a friend from the traffic police." In fact, we are hiding from reconciliation and sensitive issues together by doing so.

And finally, back to the beginning I will say a few words about the actualization of the past in the Soviet way. Lenin lived. Lenin lives. Lenin will live. Let's suppose and believe that the best of the best were killed or accept that there is good and bad at war. It does not matter. A man who fought and died in Karabakh does not know what has happened to us over these 20 years and he cannot approve this or that act because he remained in the past. But we actualize these people, we use those who cannot answer our questions or say what we need to do today.

For centuries reconciliation has been based on the belief in person. It has been based on the belief that people did not want to murder and be murdered. It has always been like that. And now people want to make their dream come true – the dream to have a slice of bread without having to kill. People always think that it is possible. Today the medieval cult of war competes with the technological progress. And if you are a public activist then you have to determine. Dogmatic humanism existed in the epos from old ages. Did it help us? I do not call out to burn the books. But dogmatism can kill Tekali process. This dogmatism is deadly for Tekali process.

If we lived in peace during the Soviet times, then we can live in peace now. No we cannot until we free ourselves from the soviet legacy in international relations.
Rusudan Marshania: I do not have a question but I have a comment. I really liked the remark about the actualization of dead heroes. I only want to make an analogy of our conflict regions. It is very topical in Abkhazia as well and maybe not so much in Georgia. In Georgia the actualization of dead heroes happened immediately after war. In Abkhazia it is on until now. I think that it is also a part of the Soviet legacy as you said. To be honest I never thought about it until now. Actualization of dead heroes is done to raise the spirit, warrior spirit of the society so that the society does not have an opportunity to make a compromise with the rival and in order to justify actions of the government at that time to some extent: so that the sacrifices were not in vain. It is because these mistakes are not forgiven in the Caucasus. I think it is a good idea to elaborate this subject in terms of conflict. It is very topical not only in terms of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict but Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhaz conflicts

Eva-Maria Auch: I am very grateful to you for posing this question and comment because we have an inter-disciplinary project at the university called – death, dying in the Caucasus. This focus is a very important element in the project. I can simply invite you to participate in the project and I am very glad that you support this idea because a few years ago when we had the idea to prepare this project everyone said: why the dead? How topical is that? It is uncomfortable when you talk about the death, the dead, a person is reluctant to do that, but from the other hand, no one understood how topical that subject was. I am very grateful to you that you noted it.

Alexandr Avsandjanishvili: I have a question. Luiza drew a parallel that many errors such as grant-eating, kickbacks etc are the legacy of the Soviet regime. I have a little different opinion and as an illustration I will ask a question. Do our NGOs differ from the western ones? Second question is if they have similarities in negative forms.

Luiza Poghosyan: I have no idea how they have it in the West. I am talking not about the Western funder who brings money to the Caucasus but the Western NGO representative who is engaged in human rights protection, orphans etc in their country. I formed an idea about it based on the films. But I can assume that it is not a cultural norm there.

Georgi Vanyan: I was on a trip to the US to study NGO activities. I have some knowledge about how NGOs work in Europe too. I can confidently say that they are nothing like that. But those American and European NGOs that work in the South Caucasus, not even half, but most of them quickly transform into something like Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani NGOs. Normal organizations start dictating their terms after coming to the Caucasus. They either fail, or adjust, or leave. In this regard a vast majority of international NGOs represented in Armenia, I will talk only about Armenia, are in a dire situation.

Vagif Abbasov, a teacher from Azerbaijan: I have a comment. On one hand this speech reminded me a little of a famous declaration by Karaganov-Fedotov from Public Chamber of the Russian Federation according to which it is only necessary to apologize, repent, bang your head against the wall and that is it. That is there was nothing positive. Naturally, I cannot say that my family and families of my friends were neither thieves nor snitches or something like that. And thirdly, the fact that I feel a peacemaker and I am here is precisely because I was educated in the Soviet school. That's what I wanted to note. Thank you.

Rasim Mirzaev: I would also like to point out that those people, including you, who lived in the Soviet time, had the cult of decency, the cult of an educated person, a decent person. Even uneducated and dishonest people could not but admit it and they were trying to present themselves as decent people. And now, it is the opposite. People now demonstrate their vile and venom. We have billions and we are not interested in the morality of small people. And second comment is about our Western NGOs. We also spoke about it. Not only these international non-governmental organizations, but also European official bodies - we can see how they work here. We know that. Even among them Germans are more or less strict as I imagine. We know perfectly well how these organizations work in the Caucasus.

Luiza Poghosyan: How do these organizations work in their countries?

Rasim Mirzayev: I do not see such a thing inside their countries. Of course, there is such a thing as to create appearance of work. But they do not get to that point. For example, let’s take the biggest tragedy of Americans, 11 September. Many Americans made donations and can you imagine how many foundations were created to help the victims? And for all these years only one foundation which collected 20 million USD ran away. It can happen everywhere. But it is not a trend there and we should understand the difference.

Moderator: It is not a trend in our countries also. It is a thought-out, systematic approach. On this optimistic note I give the floor to the second speaker – Micheil Mirziashvili.
Micheil Mirziashvili
Tbilisi, Georgia
Micheil Mirziashvili: Because the title of our session is quite long I will try to talk briefly. I would like to thank Luiza for highlighting in-depth picture of our past and describing our society well. To some extent I will argue with her as the format of this discussion presupposes.

But before that I would like to dwell into the main question: what is our Soviet legacy like? What can we take from there and use in our work? What is negative about it? I will start with positive sides. The positive side is that we have an opportunity to communicate. We have communication left to us from the Soviet past. It is certainly a language, but not only. There are also perceptions, such as jokes, films which we remember often. There are TV shows, both Russian and local Russian language channels that we watch now. There is even gastronomy. The dishes from neighboring countries are very famous in our countries as something new and recent. We have an institute of tamada left from the Soviet times which I observe to be the case in most former USSR countries. It is said to be born in the Caucasus. In general, it is a Caucasus thing. I have seen institute of tamada in the Ukraine where I tried to hide my Georgian roots so that they do not ask me to be tamada. In the Ukraine they do it quite masterfully. This is about the positive sides.

What is the negative that remained from the past is the inability to make contacts on horizontal level. We do it very poorly. Our countries grasped the structure of a very powerful pyramid of power very well but in a bad sense and in these circumstances it is difficult to build horizontal relations. Let’s take so-called Soviet internationalism. Everyone reminisces that there was no nationalistic opposition in the Soviet times but I think there was no opposition because relations were built vertically and not horizontally.
By the time
when the USSR collapsed,
we had grown up
knowing our culture,
knowing that
there were people
living next to us.
We are somehow civilized,
we have history,
and we have traditions.
If we did not know
history and traditions
of our neighbors
we would look down
on them.
By the time I was born, the USSR had a different national policy. For these 70 years national policy of the USSR had undergone changes a few times. From the very start the direction was towards leveling everything, creating the Soviet. Then, due to several reasons an ethnic, national element was introduced. Some people tie it with the personality of Stalin who wanted to show that he is not son of a barbaric and on this ground he stimulated a national element including a Georgian one. But let’s leave this very big topic aside. By the time I grew up this national policy was causing a natural laughter, grin. At least it had a very formal nature and no one took this national policy seriously. By that time some Soviet-communist nationalism emerged in every national republic. I observed it in Georgia when communist who were supposed to be internationalists, had nationalistic moods and were inventing special national projects. I can give an example on Georgian versions of these projects.

And it turned out that by the time when the USSR collapsed, we had grown up knowing our culture, knowing that there were people living next to us. We are somehow civilized, we have history, and we have traditions. If we did not know history and traditions of our neighbors we would look down on them.

I think that the inability to build horizontal relations led to the horrible ethnic and national conflicts which took place in the South Caucasus as well. I think Tekali gives an opportunity on one hand and it is also a challenge for the project to build horizontal relations so that the project takes place. The lack of such relations creates a problem not only between ethnic groups or countries, but also within our societies. This problem affects everyone, from the fraternity of households to international regional policy. I often observe when strangers meet for the first time and want to work out immediately who the director is, the boss is and who should be a leader and the one who is led. You can observe this in the South Caucasus. For example, I always hear one of the South Caucasus countries saying that it is a leader and should do everything as a leader. It is unknown why it is a leader. Listening to these politicians you cannot figure out why it is a leader and why it should be a leader. I will repeat that this problem exists on a personal as well as a state level.

Now I move on to the part of debate where I must oppose. I will touch the subject which I am more familiar with. It is a subject of grants, funders and grantees. In my life I have been both funder and grantee. I worked in an ordinary NGO which received grants. I also worked in one of the foundations which gave grants; I worked as a bureaucrat of this foundation. As a result what Luiza was talking about made an impression on me that such a deceitful attitude to the work comes from the fact that people approach this kind of activity not horizontally. If there is an approach according to which funder and grantee are partners in a concrete work, then there will not be situations when you have to compete, when you focus on the contest in order to get a certain grant despite your activities, activities of your organization and your concrete experience in the past. If relations are horizontal including those with the funder, then the environment is more normal and excludes deception and pretence by the funder, because you do the real work. I think I spoke too long. I will be glad to answer your questions or give the floor to the next speaker.
Samir Kerimli, Azerbaijan: Everyone here almost praised that we respect legacy of the USSR. I think the time has come and though we are already late. It's time to give up these stereotypes, because the USSR from the days when it was established up until the end has always been a problem for the world. What is the USSR? It is South Korea and North Korea, Afghanistan, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 ... The time has come to abandon the USSR, and we still live the same way. It is time to look forward. We already want to forget the past, what happened in Karabakh during the war, we want to forget what happened 20 years ago. And at the same time we want to remind all the time what happened 30 years ago, or 70, 40, 50 years ago. Then we automatically remember the same Karabakh war, the same Abkhaz, Ossetian wars.

Micheil Mirziashvili: Can I ask a question? You said that all speakers praised the USSR?

Samir Kerimli: No, I did not mean the speakers. I meant those in the audience and particularly about one comment.

Micheil Mirziashvili: Yes, the Soviet school was mentioned. Our topic implies that we need to talk about advantages and disadvantages. I understood that the person who made a comment placed the school in the box of advantages. I agree with you that the USSR, just like Soviet Azerbaijan, Soviet Georgia and Soviet Armenia which made up the USSR, led us to many problems. It was also bad.

Eva-Maria Auch: I understand that we still ask why we are the way we are, with positive and negative sides. Talk about fear of the authorities – it is what is missing. This question was not raised. We talk often about the Stalinist repressions, and as if it's all gone, and it was only a few years ago. Of course, terrible things have happened, but to what extent this Stalinist system still exists in the form of fear of authorities? For example, I have worked in all the republics during the elections. We met with different NGOs. And it was only when we were alone with them; we could talk about everything very openly. When the authorities appeared, everyone was in a fuss, quickly doing something, running around. It was done so that it looked fine but it was superficial. The fear of authorities is deeply rooted. Not in everyone of course. But, in my opinion, we should also speak about this fear. As if there are two personalities. And it is not the past; it did not remain in the Soviet period. This exists today. I'm sorry I still look at it from the side, but when I see how people react to certain processes, protest against this defamation ... What is defamation? It has been already used since the 20s as a tool to discredit the opposition. There are tools that the authorities use to react to certain processes. They are very similar to the ones used by socialists. That's the issue, fear of the authorities that I have not heard about today.

Micheil Mirziashvili: I just did notice that there are no authorities here. That is why I did not talk about it. But I was exactly saying about the impossibility and inability to build horizontal relations and our authorities inherited the vertical relations. And I think that is just about it.

Zardusht Alizade: I want to answer to my young countryman. The construction of a model for inter-ethnic relations is what we discuss here. We did not have the Soviet Union until 1922. 1922 is the year when the Soviet Union was born. Before that mankind had a history which estimated 5000 years. There were no wars? There was no oppression? There was no genocide? There were no massacres? Take the world history for example. And the Soviet Union did it too. For the first time in the history of mankind the Soviet Union proposed some new model of construction for interethnic relations. How did a socialist revolution come about? It came about as a result the horrors of World War I when people in the civilized Europe were attacking and exterminating each other as animals. They were killing each other with gas, bombs, "Big Bertha" aviation. The reaction of the world to it was in the form of Communism and Nazism. It was the reaction. And now this model is extinct. . This model does not exist. And now we want to find and build a new model of international relations. And we want to ask ourselves the question: What was in the past experience? Can anything from the past experience help or hinder Tekali process?

Rusudan Mashania: My question coincides with your question, Zardusht muallim. I was about to ask the speaker – what can we take from our Soviet past to our future in order to build our relations, post-conflict relations? From my experience, at the meetings I see how we, those who were born in and remember the USSR, despite our problems, can find common grounds with each other more easily and quickly than the youth who was brought up in post-soviet time and who does not know or remember anything, who does not have common grounds with each other. What could you take with you from the Soviet past?

Micheil Mirziashvili: The short answer is - nothing. But the long answer would be this. We cannot take other than what we have – it is Russian language and communication icons (communication windows) - jokes, movies, etc. Here you have given an example - why do we understand each other more quickly? It is because we have not only a common language but also these communication icons. And young people – they do not. And I want to say something bad now about the young people which in itself is bad, it's like spitting into the wind - but I will say it. Young people in the Caucasus, not all, but the younger generation as a whole, often looks up to the previous generation. The younger generation often looks up to the previous generation, and at such meetings where some very important issues are discussed. The issue of national pride, national territories, and so on, when these issues are discussed, they often look up to the previous generation. I think it makes it difficult. It's not just the problem of young people, when we were young we did the same.

But on the other hand, young people are more open, and when they find these opportunities for mutual understanding, they move on more quickly, and the evidence to that are many ideas that come from the young who are free from what we have, so to speak, from what bring us down.

Moderator gives the floor to the next speaker.
Rakhman Badalov
Baku, Azerbaijan
Rakhman Badalov: I have to admit that until yesterday I did not know that I would be speaker. And I think it is fear now speaking when I say it. I look for excuses. In fact, there is fear but also understanding of the fact that I will not be able to make a presentation as consequently as Luiza did. I would mostly likely speak with thesis statements. Last night when I was thinking about what I was going to speak about I thought to myself that I would speak honestly and sincerely. The rest will be as it comes.

Because it is my first time in Tekali I have to say two words about Tekali process as it is very important and it can actually turned out to be a big thing. I am not expert in etymology or a historian, but as far as I know Tekali in Azerbaijani means one hand. And I am immediately reminded of the Azerbaijani proverb saying that there is no such thing as sound of one hand, one palm. But then I remember that many of you may know about a Tibetan koan and the one important - about the sound of one hand clapping. Not of two hands but one hand. And this is actually a very important thing, because the person who started it, the people who started it, they really believed at some point that one hand could make a sound. And suddenly y this became the sound of one hand clapping... I do not know but we just grew bigger. And of course it is important to continue this process. But I think it is necessary to make corrections to it.

In principle, such an idea came to our mind in Baku ten years ago. I even wrote a concept note, for me it was a concept of post-Westphalian peace, which is peace after national relations, peace after nations. This is why I think that Georgi, Luiza and everyone participating in it should think about its various ways. The ways of manifestation that is. It is also a scientific dispute and manifestation. But they are different things. It is good to articulate. Manifestation is very important. I do not know what exactly we are going to do – to stay there, hold to each other, light the candles. I am talking from lantern, spontaneously. But the fact is that we need to come up with manifestation ways so that it is visual and visible to those people who not only want to participate in our discussions, but also want to unite this movement. In addition, we should invite a scientific discourse and not necessarily in Tekali. It can be in Tekali or anywhere else in the world declaring it under the leadership of Tekali process. We should make sure that Tekali process continues in Baku, Yerevan, Berlin, Bonne, Warsaw etc. Then it will work. It is my first thesis.
Tekali process
is a crazy idea.
But the life
will show
how crazy
it is to be true.
My second thesis can be a little ironic. I would like to announce my age. Everything will be clear then. I am born in 1937. This is why I always say that I am not an expert, I am an exhibit. As an exhibit I can preach young people so much that it will take a whole day. But I think that the fact is all my life is a gradual expulsion of the soviet myself off me. My grandchildren call it today not soviet, but USSR. They just do not understand. I do not know if it is good or bad. When I show them a soviet film “Until Monday”, they do not understand it. They do not understand a soviet cartoon. They are raised watching other big American, Japanese cartoons. It is a different generation. We have to put up with that. We have to admit that otherwise we will not understand anything. To what extent they can be humane, not in a soviet way, but post-soviet, post- Westphalian way is a complex problem. If I had a week or two, I would make a presentation. But I will leave this topic aside.

I want to say that I absolutely agree with Misha regarding resources. Everything was a negative resource in our life both before the 20s when the Soviet came to power and the 20th century. During all this time the only resource proved to be communication. Most importantly it is a Russian language. Russian language is not only for conveying information but it also presents a bigger picture of the world. I wrote about it in my article and I am not afraid to admit that I am somehow Russian. It does not mean that I am Russian. It means that I landed in a situation of post-Westphalian peace which resulted in a floating ethnicity. As I say in Baku, I cannot be Azerbaijani for 24 hours. It is not normal to be so; I would get tired of it. I think a normal Armenian cannot be Armenian for 24 hours. It is a new reality. And we have to take this reality into consideration.
Nevertheless, evicting the Soviet out of us as something negative is a very important thing. What is it? I think Luiza had a very good presentation. Not because she told the truth about all of last of all instances about the Soviet. No, it does not happen like that. And yesterday I did not even think that we would be talking about the Soviet. So I say spontaneously. It is because she spoke non-standard vocabulary and expressions. For example, it is important to talk about kleptomania because it was a very significant thing even for those who did not steal. Because it was a country where people did not understand at all what a public treaty was. If there was no public treaty then you could steal. And if you do not steal, then you choose a moral position and nothing more. It is not a public position, not a social position and I do not want to be like that. Do you understand? For example, I never took a bribe, but it was not because I regarded the country as a public treaty. No, I did not understand that. I was completely an anti-social person, I was a kitchen maverick. I wrote about this in the article. I have been actually recovering my sight step by step since 1956 because we did not know about the events in Germany and so on - in all instances.

And it is important to know what the deficiency of homo-Sovetikus was. If there were Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians here they would not have any illusions about homo-Sovetikus. They would say that homo-Sovetikus is an absolute evil and I would agree with them. Because there is one thing we need to understand. Luiza called it a total bureaucracy; I call it a total system. Not to be confused with a totalitarian one. What is the total? Someone was born on the territory of the state and is buried at the national cemetery. All my life I have spent on the authorities. Old people (I do not consider myself ugly old man), ugly old men, keep all of these forms, documents which prove that they are part of the government machine. They are proud of it. They do not even want it, they are afraid to be out of it. They hang their medals as signs. I always say that in the old age you should go into eternity, throw trinkets. But they cannot, they part of this system. Imagine the culture from the early twentieth century and I am talking about Joyce who said a phrase that was mean to shock the Soviet people and the phrase was simple: why should I die for Ireland , let Ireland die for me. It did not get into minds. But the words of Kennedy (Do not ask what your country has done for you, ask what you can do for your country) did although no one knows in what context it was said and what he had in mind saying that...

It means we want to be cogs. It is very important. The most frightening and in a sense the most soviet for me is that it gets reanimated in each generation. It gets reanimated because we want to hide somewhere, we want to be not ourselves, we do not want to be “I”. He is afraid of himself as “I”. It is good that he is afraid of something, but it is not good that he is afraid of himself. He thinks that it is easier to use himself as a human but he does not understand that it is a labor, a difficult process, that he needs to learn how to use himself as a human. Because the first thing that you will know will be: I can be myself without being an Azerbaijani, I can be myself without being an Armenian, I can be myself without being a German. It is because it is a part of me and not the most important one. Where there is a collective fate, there is a global world. What is a collective value? What are collective values?.. Everything passes now, but we still keep clinging because it is convenient to stand in the ranks. It is difficult to come out of yourself, everyone observes you and you are hiding back. This is what I wanted to say.

In my opinion now we simply need to understand that in post-Westphalian peace nations dies as a political project, not as a cultural one. That is it is a choice of everyone, not a choice of group of people. In the article I wrote I asked a question about what an Azerbaijani is, what is “I am Azerbaijani?” I will not talk long, but briefly. It is Pushkin fatherly graves for me today. My wife is buried on this land and this land is mine. I do not want to leave because I do not want to go anywhere far from it. It is not a universal thing, it is my personal experience. I remember the smell of my grandmother’s shawl who was from Shusha and that is why it is difficult for me to talk about Shusha as an Armenian territory because it is shawl of my grandmother. Not because I have something there, I do not know the historical promise - who came, who left. It does not matter to me. But my grandmother's shawl did. These two women were important in my life. They have created me. And I am Azerbaijani because my grandmother spoke Azerbaijani. I will not talk long about my wife because it is like a personal, intimate topic. I will leave it aside.
The USSR also underwent changes in a national aspect because it was not monotonous either. I have written about it in one of the articles and I think that its main change and main reason of collapse, albeit there are many reasons of collapse, started after the war. The last thing that united soviet people was war. Or let’s say victory in war. Nevertheless, it did not unite Latvians, Lithuanians with us. I remember there was agenda called “Military Songs” at one of the festivals we attended. Military songs made us cry, Estonians were laughing at us.

Stalin thought and it seemed logical that victory in war would become a tool that would unite soviet people. This is why the fight against heroic idols started after war. That is each none of nations should have a heroic memory. He understood it precisely. He understood it but he did not understand that it was chimera and it would not work. All this fell apart. Now look at May 9, remnant of the past time when out of whole battalion only one person stayed alive and the lyrics from the song by Pakhmutova called “victory with tears in the eyes” left. It is a victory with tears in the eyes. It cannot be like anything else. It is a last outburst, the victory in war. It proved that it is a chimerical creature and it cannot exist. This is why collapse was inevitable. For international relations it is almost 90 percent of negative resource excluding communication because we want to create our collective myths again and hide and feud wall to wall. Everything that happens is feud wall to wall. Whoever knows me then they know how it happened twenty days ago: once you speak up with collective outcries “Guard” then you become an enemy to the extent anyone might write that I need to be shot down. This is our reality.

This is why I want to say that we need to continue this subject. It does look like dismantling cubes. It is a transition from “We” to “I”, a very difficult one. We have just started it. We talked about grants, it is the same struggle. Let’s say we find shortcomings there and they have them, but we also want to see the shortcomings just to pat ourselves on the back that they are like us. But they are not like us. Not because they are good, but simply they have an independent court. This says it all. Let’s say I was deceived by western people but western courts could protect me. For the last 300 years that system has not been built on utopia, it doesn’t tell us to be utopic. It is built on a real man, it somehow curbs a man’s desire to assign everything to himself by taking from someone. The mechanisms are built into the system as much as it is possible.
Alexander Avsadjanishvili: I will oppose all three speakers. We are here today thanks to the Soviet past or in spite of it? After listening to all three speakers one can conclude that the faster we reject, the sooner we get rid of it, the better it will be. I will dare to disagree. In many ways we are here thanks to our Soviet past. We lived mostly on a negative precedent. We were searching back then for what should be the right world, for what should be the world of good. It is just now we have more opportunities to realize it. In general, I want to remind you of the parable about prodigal son, and yes, the Bible one too. We have been through such a terrible experiment, we saw so many terrible things happened and I consider that is not reasonable to now get rid of this experience and say that the sooner we reject all, the better it will be. A tree is strong with its roots. After experiencing the Soviet system, we know what we should not do. Then again we cannot completely say that we knew what to do in most cases. This is the case with the friendship between nations. We never had a problem with each other. So it was not a question to the speaker, but a small summary: let’s not throw out the water together with the child.

Yulia Adelkhanova: I have a comment. There is a koan which talks about people locked in a cage with monkeys; the keys to the cells are in the hands of the monkeys. Question: How can you get out of the cage, if a person who gets the keys turns into a monkey? There is no concrete answer to this question. It is necessary to solve this question every time, every hour for yourself and everyone should constantly solve this problem again and again. What I want to say is that you say that generation has changed; it is not like the Soviet one. No. This is not such a generation. It is nothing to do with genes and Cheburashka. The next generation will anyway reproduce the same USSR even if it is not aware of its negative aspects or the horrors although it may live 50 years later and more after that.

Rakhman Badalov: I agree with you about eternal questioning. Europe is an eternal questioning. Talk-talk-talk – and then verbalize. This is mandatory. Now I looked at Alek and remembered. He had a parable which went on like this: we lived in an aquarium, then someone broke this aquarium and we crawled to the river ahead. Along the way many have died and those who swam to the river said how bad it was there, that they were not fed there, that there was no problem to solve there. Of course the river is much worse than the aquarium, but the choice is ours, to each their own.

Micheil Mirziashvili: I want to say that when we talked about the experience we should incorporate into somewhere, we meant incorporating this experience in Tekali process which is just starting. After the collapse of the USSR we gained another experience, the experience which we have gained for the 20 years, this horrible experience of building relations. I will repeat that it is impossible to turn off the USSR just like that and find ourselves living in another world which is different from the previous one. It is also the case with generations. This lifestyle cannot be turned off immediately. I would like to note again that we can consider this nuance only in the context of Tekali process which is only starting.
Ali Abasov: I want to say that the political systems that have been implemented even the ones such as fascism and communism account for the human soul as people agree to live in those systems and this is a very important thing. I think that we are quite right in cursing communism and the Soviet Union but we still have to admit that we also have something to do with it. I want to say that Western individualism built societies is also going in decline. It is not a financial crisis, but the system of views on the world turned out to be not quite true, that is the western scientific views have come to a dead end and begin to appeal to the mythical oriental patterns. This means that on one hand we have come a very long way, but on the other hand we are still on the threshold of perhaps pre-human societies. That is, I think that the systems that have existed and have shown their strengths and weaknesses have not been integrated into something new yet. In principle, in the West they started talking about the end of capitalism 20 years ago and we all know very well what the end of capitalism means. It is the end of an entire civilization, the end of an entire cultural tradition. And what would become of it? We live in the most exciting time when we are told that the calendar comes to an end, that in 2012 the galaxy and our universe will line up and some ray will pierce us, and we will morally purge or die. It is very curious.

But I still support the idea that memory is certainly a very important thing. It is important to not repeat the mistakes. The Soviet experience is certainly quite impressive. I am not fine with the pace of forgetting the Soviet Union, so I would say it offers very big lessons that if humanity forgets, the mistakes will be repeated. Sometimes I think that we repeat them in our grotesque situations. In post-Soviet period we repeat mistakes a lot, but in a grotesque manner.

Rakhman Badalov: I titled one of my articles in a weird way: “To love oligophrenic”. What does it mean to love oligophrenic? When parents have an oligophrenic baby, there is only one way to live a normal life – to love that baby. There is a bad way too – to think all the time why it happened to you, what ifs and how ifs. It is destructive for a kid and parents. That is why I think that when we understand that, when we rid of our inner slave, then we should love the USSR. Then we will be able to love the USSR as our past and past of our parents and grandparents. There was a normal life in the society back then. I laughed, rejoiced and deluded too, even though much was missing. It was a normal life despite what was happening in the Central Committee of the Communist Party. This is why it is as important to love as it is to not love.

Moderator: Dear friends, I give 30 seconds to the speakers for concluding note.

Luiza Poghosyan: I insist we fight against all that remain as a legacy systematically, not with memories about the USSR, but something that left with us. The remedy to that will be talking about subjects that are difficult for us to talk about. So please vote for the “obstacle”.

Micheil Mirziashvili: 30 seconds?

Moderator: Yes, it is a concluding note.

Micheil Mirziashvili: I am guilty.

Rakhman Badalov: I will rephrase the quote of a famous physics scientist. Tekali process is a crazy idea. But the life will show how crazy it is to be true.

Moderator: Dear friends, we will vote now.

Ali Abasov (remark): Everyone talks about the same thing. There is nothing to vote.

Moderator: We cannot but vote. We have a constitution. We have a legal state. Who agrees that cultural legacy of the USSR in international relations is an obstacle for Tekali process? 33 votes. Who agrees that cultural legacy of the USSR in international relations is an asset for Tekali process? 27 votes.

Rasim Mirzaev: I think that it is both asset and obstacle.

Moderator: Well, then it is the USSR. As an exception and only today I will allow abstained votes. 8 voted as abstained.

Zardusht Alizade: Dear gentlemen, these results are very indicative for our society. Most of people do not accept the USSR. Some people do. I want to say that there are positive and negative sides in the soviet experience and in what happened to us. When we want to deny this we want to say that we do not want to learn from the past. The soviet experience is valuable for Tekali process as there can be horrible dangers and we need to consider them. But there can be also a big advantage that we should also consider. Thank you.

Vagif Abasov: There is a famous saying by Gashek, a Czech writer, if I am not mistaken, which goes on like this – you should not throw stones to the past, otherwise the future will backfire at you. We should always remember that.

Moderator: Friends, I suggest we smoothly move on to free microphone.
Arzu Abdullayeva
Baku, Azerbaijan
Arzu Abdullayeva: I would like to talk about stereotypes. I think that our main goal is destruction of stereotypes. But by what means? What resources do we have for it? Certainly it is a live communication. It gives much, breaks stereotypes and those informational technologies that have been created for years. The stereotypes Armenians have about Azerbaijanis, Georgians have about Ossetians and Abkhazians and vice versa. These stereotypes affect psychology of people. Our goal is to strip our people off these habitual stereotypes, off these labels. And in this case our resources are immeasurable with those of the government. If we could work out some mechanism, one we could publish, broadcast what we are doing, then we could influence the first level – public opinion.

If you remember it was KGB and Central Committee who owned informational technologies in the USSR. Now the term informational technologies do not surprise anyone. Everyone knows that there is black PR, organized campaigns, specifically developed informational technologies. I think we will lose much if we miss the importance of spreading information. What we have been talking about today directly relates to our archetypes, the archetypes which had been forming for centuries. But do they satisfy us? Do they transform to something better? No. It is a more ambitious goal. We should halt the process of negative transformation and try to do something positive. It is certainly a very ambitious goal. Honestly, I do not know how to tackle it.

And the last, but not least – getting rid of various clichés which formed during these years, during conflicts. One of them says that we are genetically incompatible. FYI. Two scientists, Ivan Nasidze, American of Georgian descent and Spenser Bens received grant from National Geographic to do research on genetic kinship of different nations. They now have results on 1000 samples. They established that Armenians and Azerbaijanis are the closest of all Caucasus people on paternal line. From the genetics point of view Armenians and Azerbaijanis are the same population whose DNA set coincides 95%. This is response to Robert Kocharyan.
Yulia Adelkhanova
Tbilisi, Georgia
Yulia Adelkhanova: I want to say in what way we can use part of soviet legacy for Tekali. There is a notion in the soviet cultural legacy known as working hard for the idea. It is not just working, it is working hard for the idea.

Micheil Mirziashvili: To suffer.

Yulia Adelkhanova: To suffer and be happy about the outcome at the same time. That is to work for the outcome. Tekali is a space. We have 4 acres of land…

Moderator: and 65 white chairs and equipment that works sometimes.

Yulia Adelkhanova: We need spades, irrigation and human resources in order to make an oasis out of this desert, a place convenient for the meetings. We need human resources not for the money, but for the idea. (Applauds) ...

Remark: If we need an oasis, we can simply go to Dubai?

Remark: That is also an idea.

Aleksandr Avsandjanishvili: Lest we are unfounded, let's create a web page where we will propose things to do on these 4 acres of land. And on the weekends we will come here and start working.

Remark: Georgi, can I tell a joke about the topic?

Moderator: Let me introduce Samson Khodjoyan, a prominent Armenian teacher of history. He has a joke about the USSR.
Samson Khodjoyan
Berdavan, Armenia
Samson Khodjoyan: A guy called Ivan comes to Brejnev and says: you say that this country belongs to the workers. I want to know what I should do to live well. Brejnev asks: Ivan, what do you do at night? Ivan says: I sleep. Brejnev asks: You sleep that is why you live poorly. Ivan comes home and does not sleep at night. He hears the car driving by. He goes out, stops the car and sees that the brigadier carries something. Ivan says: I will report you to the militia. Brigadier replies: Do not report. Take whatever you want from the trunk. You will live as well as I do. The next day Ivan catches agronomy man, the other day he catches director of the store. And he starts living well, saves money so that to buy something for himself and travels to Moscow. First he wants to meet with Brejnev to say thank you. He leaves the case full of money in the hall, meets with Brejnev and says: I am very thankful to you for your advice. He goes out and sees that the case is gone. He comes to Brejnev and asks: Leonid Ilyich, what is going on? Brejnev says: Ivan, it means that in the Kremlin they do not sleep at daytime.
Organizers of the hearing:

Teqali Association, Georgia

Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives, Armenia

EuroKaukAsia, Germany


Aleksandr Avsandjanishvili
Irakli Chikhladze
Micheil Mirziashvili


South Caucasus Integration: Alternative Start
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