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South Caucasus


Georgian particpants
Irakli Chikhladze, Temuri Kiguradze, Yulia Adelkhanova, Nino Aptsiauri

nationality human - 2008: yerevan: september 24

Host: Today we will have an opportunity to ask questions to our Georgian guests. Please minimize and form your questions so they are clear to understand. Later on our guests will ask you questions.

Armen Voskanyan, linguist: When I was watching these films, I noticed that Jews made them, so to speak. As I understood… the festival worked out to be a festival of Jewish films.

Host: Unfortunately that question is not for our guests. The films are from the repertoire of the Prague festival; the jury chose 9 films, out of which the local co-organizers chose 6 of them. You can clear anything you have to find out by addressing our co-organizers. And now you may ask any questions you might have for our guests. Please.

Venera, student: Do you justify Georgia’s actions toward the Ossetians?

Yulia Adelkhanova: I don’t justify the Georgians, the actions of the Georgian authorities to be exact, considering that I was against the conflict and I believe, that this problem should not have been solved through the military.

Temuri Kiguradze: I wasn’t completely clear on what was meant by “justifying”. I don’t know what kind of information is being spread around here, but the conflict wasn’t started from our side. The Georgian side was not the side that started the conflict. I’m not prepared to justify Georgia’s actions either, of course it’s not good when people from the peaceful population die, and soldiers from both sides as well, but we need to think a little bit, who started the conflict and what were the reasons.

Irakli Chikhladze: I spoke on air yesterday on «Yerkir-Media», and for some reason the television edited out the part where I was talking about, “ If it wasn’t for the third power, the power that has always made us - love each other – we would have found a common language much faster and simpler, all of us – Georgians and Ossetians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Abkhazians.

Nelly Avetisyan, an YSU Psychology lector: Was there hatred between Georgians and Ossetians before that? And what were Georgia’s expectations from Armenia and the Armenian people during those difficult days?

Temuri Kiguradze: During the conflict I was in Tskhinvali, there was no hatred on an individual level, if it wasn’t for the events that provoked the hatred. I saw many Ossetians, for whom I am considered an enemy, because I am a Georgian, they actually treated me very normally. A lot of Ossetians speak Georgian, a lot of them live in Georgia now. Six years ago I had an Ossetian teacher in school, who taught military science, so to say that there is some sort of hatred between the two nations – wouldn’t be right. Yes there was an expectation from Armenia, and it’s still there to this day, and that’s for Armenia to speak out as a neighbor in our defense in such a difficult time.

Irakli Chikhladze: I felt strange in august, that representatives of Armenia’s higher powers were altogether watching the Olympics in Beijing. I felt strange when I read Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s interview in which he supported Russia’s actions. I got the Impression that the entire Armenia, the authorities with the opposition along with the ordinary population shared the same perception. But here I am in Armenia from September 7th and I have been in different cities – and I see on different levels of the ordinary population the support of Georgia is much greater that on a political level.

👤 I don’t have a question. I just want to say that there is a misunderstanding here, the explanation of which is the following: the government filters most of the information that comes to Armenia and most of it is pro – Russian. Since you are citizens of Georgia, I think everyone gathered here loves you; Georgians are our brothers, neighbors, etc… And seeing how you are so young and brave is just great. Thank you.

Nara, YSU student: What is your opinion about the Armenian – Georgian relations for the past 20 years?

Irakli Chikhladze: I think Armenian – Georgian relations do not exist as it is. There are personal contacts, inter – governmental agreements, and unfortunately I cannot call them relations. Armenia and Georgia could cooperate even more on a governmental level. Unfortunately the only time Armenian – Georgian relations are remembered, is only due to problematic questions... during conflicts or a crisis. That’s my personal opinion.

Temuri Kiguradze: I agree with Irakli about our governments being more active and effective in cooperation with one another, and in regards to personal relations, basically there really aren’t any problems, because there are a lot of Armenians that live in Georgia, I often visit Yerevan and I never encountered any problems here. It’s a pleasure for me to be here.

Yulia Adelkhanova: For the past 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union our countries have become very distant from one another. Georgian and Armenian people don’t take any steps toward any solutions together – and that’s very bad. In reality if you look say from Mars then you will see that there aren’t any differences visible between Armenians and Georgians. And instead of looking for differences between these two nations we must look for similarities, in a lot of things we are very alike and that’s wonderful, we must be closer to each other and try to find out more about each other, then we will be aware of the present.

Tamara Iskandaryan, student: Do you think that the Georgian war triggered the beginning of a “Cold War”, or are the rumors exaggerated?

Irakli Chikhladze: I think so. «The Cold War» was, and now it has become more evident. And Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been pulled into it.

Temuri Kiguradze: I think the cold war was never over, and that it went on all these years. There was a brief moment of silence, when Russia didn’t have the economic or military power that it possesses today. Russia has reached to a level of such credits, whereas the Russian politicians consider it to be adequate. I think that did play the role of the “trigger” to sharpen contradictions between the Super Powers. As for Georgia, our conflict is simply a reason.

Yulia Adelkhanova: In my opinion the cold war has started over and the armaments race – has been restarted.

Hayrapetyan Ruzanna, Student at the Medical University after Amirdovlat Tamaseci: The president of the Russian Federation called the aggression from the Georgian side towards South Ossetia a genocide more than once in his addresses. Do you agree with him?... no matter WHO provoked the conflict.

Temuri Kiguradze: In my opinion to call the events in South Ossetia genocide would be in correct. And that word just doesn’t fit in here anywhere. I was in Tskhinvali for three days during those events. I was in a Tskhinvali hospital, I talked to people who were wounded, and yes I saw a lot of dead people, but I never met any one from the peaceful population, who would say that Georgian soldiers intentionally shot at them. I did not see any relatives of any girls that were raped in Tskhinvali, and I never saw anyone’s friends or acquaintances whose relatives were raped by Georgian soldiers. I believe that the rumors about the 2 thousand people from the peaceful populations that were killed are exaggerations. As far as I know the Russian side doesn’t have any proof of that. And I find making propagandist statements or announcements to be out of place, I also find it to be out of place to speculate with the word “genocide” in concern to those events.

Irakli Chikhladze: I also don’t consider it to be genocide; this type of a war cannot be called genocide. When Georgian politicians were summoning to recognize the genocide of the Georgians in Abkhazia, for example, I stood against it; I was also against the recognition of the genocide of Abkhazians from the Georgian side. If one nation calls itself a victim of genocide, then it will be difficult for them to find a common language with the other nation.

Yulia Adelkhanova: I think that the wars with Abkhazia and South Ossetia were territorial wars. Genocide is a little different. That’s when people are being killed due to their ethnic background. This war was over territory not over nationalities.

Irakli Chikhladze: I’d like to add this; during the first wars there were Georgians Ossetians and Abkhazians on both sides.

Arsen Poghosyan, student at the Mkhitar Gosh University: What is your understanding of the conscept of “war”?

Yulia Adelkhanova: War is crossing the final border after which the violence begins. War is something that turns a person into an animal, it takes away a person’s will, it forces people to subordinate to others, it ruins a person just as alcohol or drugs do, I know that what I am saying are banal things.

Nvard Khachatryan, film producer: You were speaking about an interesting problem just now. It is 20 years since our relations have been frozen, not considering that we travel, rest and communicate. Both nations have conflicts, us Armenians are in the same condition with the Azerbaijanis, as you are with Ossetians and Abkhazians. We need peace with our neighbour countries. How can we break the ice on a governmental level, on a social level, and what are our chances, if not to avoid, then to soften our contradictions? I also attend regional conferences and I’d like to know your opinion.

Irakli Chikhladze: I also participated in NGO meetings, I was also at a conference dedicated to Armenian – Georgian relations in Armenia last year. Approximately 30 people gathered, Georgians and Armenians, and everyone was saying beautiful and correct things that are needed, but 30 people said those things and no one heard or found out about it. Society must know about it, it shouldn't be a restricted club. For example that’s exactly how one Azerbaijani had been meeting with the same Armenian for 20 years, they received grants, visited each other as guests, but no one knows anything about it, there should simply be more information about people meeting each other, and talking about things, otherwise it turns out to be an elite tourist club which is sponsored by international funding, as a result.

Temuri Kiguradze: NGO could play a positive role now, but as far as I know the contacts with the Georgian side are completely disrupted, and it’s not because the Georgians and Ossetians hate each other, but because there is a third side at work here, which doe not allow the adjustment of a dialogue between the nations, if that third power decides to start a conversation between Georgians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians, then I think that the NGO could play a positive role at that time, but right now I don’t believe that’s possible.

Yulia Adelkhanova: No one can refuse or allow us to communicate as far as the level of ordinary citizens is concerned. There must be an initiative of those who wants to communicate with each other, those who aren’t afraid of going to a neighboring country, and go without any fears. It’s risky of course, but we must visit each other, for example to organize different concerts, or associated shows – to communicate with one another.

Abgar, YSU student: One of the guests mentioned that the war was not against the people, and that it was over territory, then what was the context of the operation “clean field “?

Temuri Kiguradze: After all the question about the name of the operation should be addressed to our military ministry, but if “you” are talking about the cleaning of the population, then I’ll tell you this: Nobody in Georgia needs Ossetia if it’s not populated with Ossetians. It’s impossible.

Irakli Chikhladze: I’d like to mention something else, as I found out from my friends who are serving in the military, they are contractors of the Georgian Army, as far as I know they were given strict order not to touch the peaceful population under the threat of severe consequences, “punishments”. So I think that it’s Russian propaganda – it was calculated for Russians, not the Georgians.

Abgar, YSU student: I agree that on an individual level in our relations everything is just fine. But does the destruction of Armenian culture on Georgian territory help for relations between our nations to be on a higher standard. Or the same conditions in Javakhk, which lead to forcing out the Armenian population?

Yulia Adelkhanova: In regards to the destruction of Armenian statues the information I have is very foggy. No one from my friends and acquaintances has done anything as such, and I don’t know any people who are doing it, for some reason the Armenians from my background are also telling me about the destructions. It’s being done very quietly and dishonourably.

Temuri Kiguradze: I would like to add the following, information must be found before presenting accusations: about premeditated destruction of Armenian statues for example. I would personally like to see proof, that that’s exactly how it is, and see the reaction of the Georgian side in regards to that question, and not listen to single sided accusations.

Host: I’d like to ask a question if I might: Are you certain that Armenian statues are being destroyed?

Temuri Kiguradze: I’m not sure that our government premeditated to destroy Armenian statues.

Host: Independent of weather it’s premeditated or not, are “you” sure whether they’re being destroyed or not?

Temuri Kiguradze: I want to know more about it.

Irakli Chikhladze: Last year there were references on the Georgian television to the Armenian television, during which they showed a report about, the banks of Kura in Georgia being covered with Armenian grave stones with Armenian writings. I was happy that the Georgian television wasn’t lazy, and the journalists got the cameras and actually went there, and during the trip on the banks of Kura they didn’t find any stones with Armenian writings. If we discuss destruction, then there are vandals everywhere, in Armenia, Georgia, and Russia.

Temuri Kiguradze: If there are any complaints, they should be discussed with our government.

👤 We already have the information you are talking about, you can address our republic’s Academy of Sciences, located on the Baghramyan Prospect, there is a famous specialist his name is Samvel Karapetyan. I will give you all his info and he will show you photos and documents. But that’s not the matter. Our goal must be to prevent any more conflicts from happening in Caucasus, because as you said it yourself these conflicts are being planned and realized by third and forth powers.

Ani Manukyan, NGO «Ajakitsner»: As journalists, do you see yourself in the role of the ambassadors of peace with the Ossetians?

Temuri Kiguradze: I don’t consider it to be a question, because any Georgian of a healthy mind, will gladly take upon him or her self the role of a peacemaker in a conflict and if we are talking about dialogue, and I speak for myself – I am ready to take a step toward it. (Yulia and Irakli are supporting that opinion).

Armen Voskanyan: I think, that your conflict is not just Georgian and Ossetian, it’s - a war between Russia and Georgia. That is why I’d like to ask you such a question, because I know Japanese very well, Japan writes in its official laws that it forbids war eternally. Do you think it’s possible to create a South Caucasian Society Without Wars, and to put it bluntly to despise Russia? There is an idiomatic expression in Japanese which hints that a Russian cannot listen.

Irakli Chikhladze: No, I don’t consider it to be real. It’s impossible to live in a house and drink beer with one neighbor while rearranging the other one’s face...

Temuri Kiguradze: I don’t think the answer is within creating unions with one government against the other. The solution is within finding a common language with everyone even the Russians.

Yulia Adelkhanova: Uniting against someone – will definitely not bring any results. Of course the countries in South Caucasus must unite, and together begin a dialogue with Russia. Otherwise it will turn out as follows: first we begin to ignore that country – Russia, later we will ignore the Russian language, the culture…

Armen Voskanyan: So, what are you saying, the Russians know how to listen? They hear your opinions? They take it into consideration?

Yulia Adelkhanova: There are people, who don’t want to listen to each other in all countries and all communities, but there are also intelligent people everywhere, and there are people who are prepared to communicate with one another.

Aram, foreign relations student at the YSU: What were relations like in Georgia toward Russia before the war, and what were the moods?

Irakli Chikhladze: Russia has accomplished a lot to receive a very negative treatment in Georgia. Currently Moscow has done everything to make it possible for the 99 percent instead of the 77 percent of the population to vote for Georgia’s joining the NATO. Russia creates the social relations in Georgia toward itself. The moods before the war – January 5th, of this year, during the presidential elections and simultaneous plebiscite 77 percent of Georgia’s population said “yes” to joining NATO, the opposition protested the results of the presidential elections, however it didn’t protest the results of the plebiscite - that should tell you Georgian population’s mood is like. NATO is needed for protection from Russia. Those feelings were there before, and now they’ve grown even more.

Aram, foreign relations student at the YSU: Don’t you think that little Georgia has dug itself into a hole, and when you speak of third and forth powers why don’t you mention USA and NATO as part of those powers?

Irakli Chikhaldze: I am not making any excuses for USA’s actions in Iraq or in Afghanistan, but no country in the world has been in a war with almost all its neighbors besides Russia.

Nino Aptsiauri, Advisor of the Georgian Embassy in Armenia: I want to know what your variations of regulating the Georgian – Ossetian conflict would be and your prognosis.

Irakli Chikhladze: It’s a difficult question, if there was a simple recipe then everything would have already been solved. I believe, if Georgians and Ossetians sat behind a round table under a mulberry tree… without any middlemen and simply talk – that would already be a great achievement. I don’t think that Americans, Europeans or for that matter Russians are needed for me to talk with an Ossetian or Abkhazian. In 2006, Georgi was conducting a congress of South Caucasian citizens in Yerevan, here I met with Abkhazians, with young ladies from Sukhumi, who had never seen a live Georgian, for them it was some kind of a …

Replica: Souvenir.

Irakli Chikhladze: Yes, a horrible souvenir. Three days later those girls came to me and said: Irakli lets go to a discotheque. I told them, first of all I am old and sick, and second - I am a Georgian… What was most interesting we found a common language very fast. I think that we came to an agreement without any help from middlemen from the side - and that concerns Ossetians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis. That would be more meaningful – in that case, and only that case will bring us to the solution of a conflict.

Temuri Kiguradze: We are trying to solve these conflicts with the help from middlemen for 20 years, in my opinion so far there aren’t any results. It’s an ideal way, to speak without middlemen, and about the prognosis… it’s too soon to talk about starting a direct dialogue.

Irakli Chikhladze: I think a very small amount of time will pass before Tskhinvali begins to search for contacts with Tbilissi, the main thing is for Tbilisi not to allow any mistakes and go toward any contact with Tskhinvali.

Yulia Adelkhanova: I think that middlemen aren’t executing the functions they are supposed to do and aren’t fulfilling the hopes, which are expected of them. They only write scientific works and dissertations, while observing us as if we are insects – any middlemen, weather it’s the EU, ОSСЕ, NATO, or Russia. As for prognosis, this is how it will be: NATO will come and enforce the strict rules, a wall will separate Georgia and Ossetia and the dialogue will be frozen.

Haikaz, foreign relations student at the YSU: As I understand it, the Georgian – Ossetian conflict – it’s not a conflict between nations; it is a conflict reflecting an impact of super powers. Isn’t Georgia guilty of wanting to join the NATO at any price? Meaning to invite the USA to the region and create huge possibilities for them to interfere with and provoke currently existing problems, also to bring the USA closer to Russia, which provokes a worse treatment toward Georgia and forces Russia to take steps to defend its interests in foreign relations.

Temuri Kiguradze: Russia has done a lot to make us search for close relations with NATO. If we do not receive support from NATO Russia will simply swallow us.

Yulia Adelkhanova: In reality our choices are to be swallowed by American militarism or to be “booted by soviet militarism”. Everyone chooses what he or she needs. When we asked about joining the EU in Latvia, we received a very original answer: EU is just one more thing that needs to be joined.

👤 Russia has put Armenia into conditions of a silent blackmail, by trying to keep its influence; this is why Armenia doesn’t have the freedom to express its opinion. My question is this. There is information that Russian channels have been disconnected in Georgia, what was your government’s goal in doing so?

Temuri Kiguradze: Yes, that’s true, the T.V. channels, as well as the Internet were disconnected. Because they are broadcasting 24 hours of propaganda, and I don’t think that’s the information, which would inspire people in conditions, whose country, as a fact was under occupation.

Yulia Adelkhanova: I have a different opinion in regards to that. Once again, this type of interception and the limitation of information, testified about a vacuum, the absence of choice is more forceful, we didn’t have any choice to compare the information.

Georgi Vanyan: When I returned to Armenia from Tbilisi on August 12, I was in shock by the reaction of my acquaintances and close ones. They were all saying – that’s still not enough for them. I practically could not communicate. But 3 -4 days later when I was already watching Russian television I began to see little “putins” and “medvedevs” around myself. Russian propaganda had crossed all allowed limits, it had sunk as low as the level of street slang, and that’s why, if I had the opportunity to make decisions during those days, - I would also block the Russian channels.

Irakli Chikhladze: I am also against the limitation of access to information, but in this case, after the wave of hatred toward Russians in Georgia would have grown. To look and see how you are being covered with filth… it’s better not to watch, in order not to aggravate the situation.

Student of the Polytechnic: I would also like to ask about the third power, is it not true that NATO is also considered to be under that category. But right now I would like to simply notice, that you aren’t discussing your own mistakes, about the mistakes of Georgian mass media, which we can also accuse of spreading propaganda, and that’s peculiar for journalists.

Host: With your permission I will also ask a question. The information we received about the destruction of Armenian statues, didn’t reach us in a form of rumors, but in reports and documented facts. And Khojivank and the cemetery – I have seen with my own eyes, it really isn’t any hail, someone broke the gravestones there. Don’t you think that our position, the position of Armenians – “I’m holding my own” - regarding the events in Georgia, are self explanatory, are the Georgians at fault here as well?

I speak as a regular citizen of Armenia, if some one came up to me and addressed me, to take certain steps toward the solution of problems between Georgians and Ossetians, I would first of all put the following question in front of them – why is that sort of a thing happening to Armenian statues in Georgia?

I was in Khojivank personally, where the Armenian pantheon is, besides the destroyed fence and the grazing cattle, the stone tablets of Jivani’s, Thumanyan’s, Tsaturyan’s graves were broken, to put it shortly four of the graves were completely invisible. I saw it with my own eyes.

Temuri Kiguradze: I won’t argue with the facts. There is such a problem. I personally don’t know enough about it. But if there is a problem then I think instead of presenting accusations something must be done. Was there a complaint to the mayor of Tbilisi?

Advisor of the Georgian Embassy in Armenia, Nino Aptsiauri: I was in charge of the department of Armenian language and literature at the TSU (Tbilisi State University), I am an Armenianologist, and I consider myself to be competent in that question. Of course Armenians lived in Georgia a long time and they have a very large cultural inheritance in Georgia, and churches of course. Recently there are many arguments about, whom does one or the other church belong to, and I don’t agree with the fact, that Georgians are destroying Christian churches, that is a different understanding, and Georgianizing them – is different. Destroying and vandalizing is something else, and to argue who it belongs to is completely different, for example the Georgian position in regards to the church Norashen, which is located in Lesselidze is as follows: This is a Georgian church which was Armenianized in time, and they are saying – it’s our church and we must return it, but that doesn’t mean destroy it. Father Tariel’s spontaneous activity, who is the pastor in the neighboring church, is of course unacceptable. But that doesn’t mean the government and the Georgian church are busy with destruction.

👤 But the Georgianizing that you are talking about is similar to destruction for us.

Nino Aptsiauri: Vandalism must be punished. Georgia has been and is the father land of Armenians, and there are bad people in all nations. But arguments must be solved on a scientific basis. A professional approach is needed in the solution of this question. A commission that must solve the questions in regards to the property of these churches has already been created.

👤 We don’t want to accuse you, we just don’t want for any one to provoke a conflict between our two people. And it is being planned. You say you need protection from Russia, and due to that you are looking for that protection within the aggressive block of NATO, Have you thought of what the consequences for the people of the Caucasus once you bring NATO to our region? (Applause)

Irakli Chikhladze: As far as I know the Armenian Diaspora in America, France and Lebanon lead a carefree life. Correct? There is a Diaspora in Turkey as well, but for some reason Armenians get killed in Russia more then anywhere else…

Georgi Vanyan: First of all I’d like to declare that Hamlet surprisingly changed his status of a host, and received an absolutely unknown to me status. (Hamlet decides to transfer the further conduction of the discussion to Georgi, and with that motivating, that he wants to ask the guests questions personally from himself, Georgi accepts that proposal)

I’d like to remind that our today’s subject is “predetermined invitations”. And right now we are only proving once more as to how distant we are from one another. I am not saying that painful questions should not be raised, on the contrary, if there is people who wish to break that wall could do something with our help. Meaning those who have the need to participate in the discussion, let’s talk about the wall, which has grown between us and interferes with our ability to talk in the language of neighbors. I call to participate, but not in mutual accusations, but to find a way to break that wall.

Student from Javakheti: How do you explain the government’s decision to built a correctional colony in Sagamo and Javakhk. At a time when there should be more job openings so there isn’t an outflow of population. Is it not a decision made against Armenians?

👤 We have been silent so long and now we have so many questions that we don’t know what are we talking about and why. If there is a problem – flood the government with letters, because the people that are sitting in front of you are journalists.

Arsen Poghosyan, student at the University after Mkhitar Gosh: What is your understanding of the “ national mentality” concept?

Irakli Chikhladze: National mentality has formed in prehistoric times for the instinct of self-preservation, now it has too many atavisms.

Temuri Kiguradze: No matter how separated we were in our region the mentality is a common one. The majority of the population is those who were born in the Soviet Union. That’s why the roots of the mentality are relative. That complex of the understandings is something, which has been created as a result of the education and background.

Yulia Adelkhanova: I am a representative of 4 nationalities from the day I was born, therefore - 4 mentalities. In my opinion mentality is the feeling of belonging to a nationality, it brings out pride at times, sometimes it interferes with understanding and relations.

Georgi Vanyan: Meaning that we all have is Soviet mentality - the mentality of a complex refugee from the Soviet Union, and we cannot become complete citizens no matter what we do. For example I am ashamed that our mass-media, and the journalists didn’t shed light on that war, and no light was shed from Tbilisi, the people and their streets who were affected by that war were not on our screens, when they knew that in a half an hour the Russians will be in Tbilisi. We didn’t see what was necessary for us to see and know.

👤 Well now Russia wants for everybody to recognize the Ossetian genocide, we want for our own to be recognized, you don’t want that and hence you will begin to get closer with Turkey. What do you think, how should we be on the different sides of the barricades?

Irakli Chikhladze: If we are going to push away from the question, to recognize or not to recognize, we will never find a common language. The fact that Russia wants us to recognize the Ossetian genocide is first of all an insult to the Ossetians themselves, and if Russia is going to use the question of the Armenian genocide for personal purposes then I apologize, it’s and insult personally to you and the Armenian people.

Aramais Mkrtchyan: Are you in favor of the Turkey - South Caucasus format, of the Caucasian safety platform? And the second question: what can we do in order to have more relations? Do you have friends who are Turkish or Azerbaijanian?

Temuri Kiguradze: That would be effective not only on paper but also in reality, and it would be the means for closer relations for nations who have serious problems with one another. As for personal contacts – I was educated in a Russian school in Tbilisi, and I had friends who were Armenians, Azerbaijanians, Jews, Assyrians, Kurds… it’s even difficult for me to count all nationalities. We were all friends. I have Armenian friends as well as Azerbaijanis and I know many Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Tbilisi who are friends. I often visit Baku, and I often visit Yerevan. I personally don’t have a problem to communicate with any nationalities. As for the youth, if they can be in good relations on neutral territory, don’t you think that it’s a good gesture for the two nations to be in good relations?

Yulia Adelkhanova: An economic union may be profitable, now a political union – I’ll be honest, I am against Georgia joining the NATO, and based on that, this particular format is somewhat warp me. Depending on what the conditions and what purpose the goals will be clearly discussed. I am simultaneously an Armenian, Georgian, Russian and Jewish and in Tbilisi we never had any arguments because of nationalities in school. I think smart people shouldn’t have any arguments based on nationality, religion or something else. Everything depends on the intellect and the social medium. It’s important for a person to have something other than Belonging to a nationality or a religion...

Irakli Chikhladze: I have friends in Baku, and there are people among them, who visited Armenia. I never witnessed any problems between Armenians and Azerbaijanis even in Tbilissi. As for the youth… organizations, which are interested, must invent a format, which would give them the opportunity for constant cooperation.

As for the Turkish Initiative - I have very little faith in that alliance. I don’t see the meaning of having a mini UN, which will talk a lot and do nothing.

Nino Aptsiauri: I’d like to thank Mr. Vanyan. I only wish there were few more people like Vanyan.... let there be more of you. Yes there are problems in Javakheti, but I think, that everyone in Javahetty must know as much Georgian as I know and speak Armenian. It’s impossible to solve problems and become a complete citizen without knowing the language. How can a senator solve problems if doesn’t speak Georgian? We don’t need to communicate in Russian. There was a time when we all knew each other’s languages. My son goes to school here in Armenia and he speaks fluent Armenian. Knowledge of a language is – respect. In reality we are so close yet so far away. But I think the ice is broken and is on the move. When I returned to Yerevan after the august events in Georgia, a simple woman told me that she lit candles and prayed for the entire Georgian people and our family, so that we are saved. If a simple woman says that – that means the ice has moved and that there are people like Mr.Vanyan, and that our people aren’t so far from each other after all. I wish for peace and prosperity for our nations.

Georgi Vanyan: There are future diplomats, internationals here today, there are problems, very important questions were voiced, and all presented questions must be looked at in depth, and to have the ability to discuss them. In concern to the alliance and the current Armenian – Turkish contacts, I already stated my appraisal in one of the interviews: there is no such element as Armenian – Turkish relations – it’s simply a docking of interests between Turkey and Russia, and I will gladly discuss those questions with you, anytime beyond the frames of this festival.

👤 What source would you advice us to use in order to receive information, which objectively reflects the events in Georgia?

Irakli Chikhladze: I will write down the names of a few sites in Russian and English.

Hayrapetyan Ruzanna, student at the Medical university after Amirdovlat Tamaseci: From what was said the conclusion is that the Georgians didn’t want war, just as the Ossetians. The idea is that no body wants any war – that means the governments need it. Now that the people want to call a truce, how does your government react to that? Is it prepared to regulate the conflict and go toward compromises?

Yulia Adelkhanova: The government doesn’t think about it yet, right now the government has done something terrible, and now it is watching in terror as to what it has done. They don’t know how to eat up, what they’ve cooked up.

Hamlet Gyulzadyan, actor: What is the situation in Ossetia as well as in Georgia? And what is being planned for the near future?

Temuri Kiguradze: One of the main problems right now – are the refugees. A large number of people have left their homes during this conflict, 60 to 70 thousand as a minimum, not only from Ossetia, but also from the territories that were occupied by the Russian military. These refugees are placed in schools, kindergartens, and other facilities. Now they have started to return, but close to 25 thousand Ossetians refugees will not return. That’s one of the main problems, soon it will be winter and people will need roofs over their heads.

Yulia Adelkhanova: There is a suspicion, that sometimes the government almost sabotages the help that’s being sent for the refugees, meaning the foundations donate money, and the government doesn’t budge. Humanitarian mattresses are being sold in market places. A tent camp has been built in Gori, but there must be another solution. The government’s work in that direction is unacceptable.

Irakli Chikhaldze: The Russians occupied the Akhagorsky region, which was in Tbilisi’s jurisdiction. Right now they are confiscating people’s passports there, not too far away from Tskhinvali , the region Tamarasheni doesn’t exist anymore, instead there is a clear field which was made by Russian bulldozers.

Temuri Kiguradze: According to the statistics provided by the ombudsman of Georgia12000 homes were destroyed in bordering zones. And the current feeling can be characterized as solidarity. There are a lot of people who are not satisfied with the government, now that Georgia is under a hit everyone is united around the government.

Georgi Vanyan: I think, that with the declaration of Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence, we are to expect a 2nd and 3rd Chechnia – isolated space is developing. Our region within its development is thrown far back. And especially would like to address the future diplomats and ask: hypothetically speaking if Russia recognizes Nagorno Karabagh, what then? What kind of a tragedy will that turn out to be for us? I am hoping we will have a reason to talk about that during our upcoming meetings. And now I’d like to invite our guests to ask questions to the audience.

A question from Temuri Kiguradze: Have your feelings toward Georgians changed after the war in August?

👤 My feelings haven’t changed, but your desire to join the NATO after what happened puts me on guard.

👤 The nationality isn’t of any importance for me; the main thing is to be human.

👤 My relatives were in Tbilisi at that time, and I experienced that entire nightmare on myself, and to be honest now I have some fear left over in me, for example what did you, the Georgians, think is it a genocide or not, I cannot have any feelings about that since I don’t know what you think about it yourselves...

👤 Personally my feelings toward the people have changed, but not toward the government. I always treat it negatively.

👤 The majority of those present know very little about Georgians because they’re too young. After the Earthquake the first ambulances and cars with produce that arrived in Armenia, came to us from Georgia. And I will never forget what my brother who worked in and took electrical specialists to Leninakan, he said when they laid down to sleep at 12 o clock, Georgians came and brought a box full of mandarin oranges and told him: brother, please lets go there is work that needs to be done. And my brother said that he was shamed: so it worked that a Georgian must bring him a box of mandarin oranges so that he would dig in the ruins. Nothing changed for me because I understand that the information I receive is mostly false, and I urge of you, when we say that NATO is dangerous, please remember Nagorno Karabakh and the “rings” that were made by the soviet military over our city.

👤 I don’t have anything against the Georgian youth, and feelings didn’t change after the events, but in concern to the government, I can’t forget how in 1920-ies Georgians were saying, Armenia is choking, let it choke we are not going to help them - I can’t forget that…

👤 To be honest, I don’t have any direct relations with Georgians, but in such difficult times I am prepared to personally help those who have suffered and the innocent peaceful population, but I stand with my own republic in any case, and will defend whatever decision Armenia made, I will defend that position and my interests.

Elina Shahnazarova: I studied with Temuri and he is a close friend, and naturally my feelings – it’s not a question, I love the Georgian people, as much as I love my own people. When the war began I was here in Armenia and all my acquaintances were asking me about everything that was tied with Georgia, I became an involuntary ambassador of Georgia and everyone was asking me: OK, didn’t Sahakashvili understand what he was doing? I constantly noticed, even on the streets, that this war had made many people nervous, I think that says that Armenian people aren’t indifferent about what goes on there. I personally would be hurt if we became toys in wrong hands.

A question from Irakli Chikhladze: What can be done in order to improve our relations to better them? Say you became president or prime minister of Armenia, what kind of solutions would you come up with?

Hamlet Gyulzadyan: Children must play together even if there is a conflict between the parents. Let’s socialize together more, and not only through the Internet.

👤 Not to be afraid to talk with each other.

👤 The history must be corrected and teach each other’s history in schools.

👤 If I were the prime minister of Armenia I would leave everything the way it is I wouldn’t change a thing, because our today’s position is dictated by our interests and the geopolitical settings.

👤 I would invite more people from Georgia to Armenia, and vice versa - would multiply the quantity of visits due to different occasions.

👤 I would renew the economical relations, if there were more business – then the relations would grow.

👤 I would only help to victims. And the rest is a business of Russia and other superpowers. Armenia here doesn’t decide anything.

👤 The exchange student program “Erasmus” is needed. Such foundations must be created for exchange between our countries.

👤 If I were a head of a government, I would meet more and conduct more discussions of two – sided relations in a two – sided format. This way the mistrust can be overcome, and there wouldn’t be the need for us to be protected with the help from third party governments.

A question from Yulia Adelkhanova: Who makes up the anecdotes about Armenians, and to what level can an Armenian laugh about him or her self?

👤 The evil hand of Moscow!

👤 But seriously, all anecdotes Armenians made up about themselves.

👤 And there is proof of it – no other nations can understand Armenian anecdotes.

Temuri Kiguradze: If the situation in Georgia remains the same as it is now, tense, would you go to vacation at the Black sea on your next vacation?

👤 Maybe not for rest, but to visit relatives.

👤 Besides going I will do something useful for the friendship of both our people.

👤 I think that people from Armenia will go to Georgia anyway, to visit friends, relatives, to vacation, for business. And I’d like to say that it is very valuable that you have come to us right now at such a difficult time.

👤 I never had any negative feeling toward any nations except for Azerbaijanis… I am convinced. In regards to Georgians – there are no problems it’s a fraternal Christian country. And during the communication with you I understood that the majority in Georgia is for peace.

👤 My treatment didn’t change. I simply understood how bad it is that we don’t know anything about each other.

Georgi Vanyan: I would like the audience to avoid common phrases and to see some people who can finally answer: Why is a Georgian worse then an Azerbaijani? It’s been said quite often among us Armenians.

👤 Because throughout history there were not only facts of cooperating but facts of the contrary as well. There are a lot of examples when Georgia was playing to favor our enemies. And Georgia must initialize the improvement of relations. We are already forced to cooperate due to the geographical position. We did everything to be prepared to cooperate. And Georgia is taking advantage of it and doesn’t fulfill its duties in the balancing of the region. We either need to be good enemies or good friends; it’s impossible to be in between, because hypocritical friend is worse than an enemy.

👤 I don’t want for a wrong opinion to be formed that Georgians are worse for us than Azerbaijanis. No one is worse for us than Azerbaijanis.

Edvard Antinyan: Thank you for the honesty. I would just like to say – are we prepared to listen to someone else’s opinion and not think how bad it is that NATO is bringing its army into the region. The decision to join the NATO – it’s the same situation with some one installing an alarm system and the neighbor complaining for being accused for thievery. Russia says we must stand by the thief’s house but that doesn’t insure any safety. Nothing prevented Bulgaria from joining the NATO not even its ties with Russia. And that’s his or her decision, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. You can’t look at everything through Russia’s perception. These people are afraid of Russia the same way you are afraid of the Turks and they have to insure their own safety.

Temuri Kiguradze: I would like to say just one thing. After returning from Ossetian captivity the first house I saw and I entered was not my own, it was here in Yerevan and it was my girlfriend’s house. I hope that there will never be any problems between our nations. I’d like to thank the organizers for inviting us.

Recorded by Luiza Poghosyan
South Caucasian Documentary Film Festival of Peace and Human Rights in Armenia implementing by Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives with support of Eurasia partnership foundation - Armenia and the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

So-organizer of festival in Yerevan:
Edvard Antinyan