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South Caucasus


Nikolay Torosyan
Nikolay Torosyan
student of RAU
Master-class of
Alekper Aliyev
“Why do Armenians not fly to the space? The reason is that all Georgians will die of envy, Armenians will die of pride, and the entire Caucuses will pass into the possession of Azerbaijanian”. This joke is perhaps the most harmless of all the series of stories, but it precisely reflects the mutual perception of the peoples of the regions. It is conditioned by numerous political, historical and cultural reasons. Very often Mass Media is to blame for the formation of this and even more hostile perception. How fair is it?

Some consider that Mass Media form the public opinion. And in effect, in western countries Mass Media is the most serious lever of pressure upon the public opinion. People in our country, certainly, also read newspapers, listen to the radio and watch TV. But in historical questions, the memories of a grey-haired aksakal are respected and welcomed more than all Mass Media taken together. And aksakal will convey their memories to their grandchildren, while they will pass onto their grandchildren. I think it is clear what memories our elders have. The image of an enemy in our consciousness was fixed long ago and will still exist for a long time. The Mass Media will be in no condition to win the image of the enemy, even if they strongly wish to do so; the reason is that they lack authority and power. We were living for 70 years in the country where we could be shot for any article directed against the “fraternal” nation! Still the negative attitude was preserved. New clashes on a national basis intensified. There is no end to the jokes of those times where we mock at one another and describe one another as monsters. But the joke is the form of the folk creation which disappears once it loses its urgency and significance.

Let me tell you one more joke: Once an Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijanian happen to find themselves in a deserted island. They get separated in search of food on the condition that they come to the former spot. In the evening a hungry Azerbaijanian comes back and sees that Georgian roasts barbeque. The latter starts eating it. The Azerbaijani says:
- Listen, between you and me, I don’t like Armenians, I don’t like them at all.
- But I like them.
- And I don’t like them!
- And I like them!
- And I don’t like them.
- Er…er… if you don’t like them, don’t eat!

It is not funny, is it? Most probably. The funniest jokes are not always the most harmless ones. It is not the joke here that matters, but the distrust which it reflects. Based on the everyday level, everything seemed to be OK with the porch neighbors. And as for the regional neighbors, to put it mildly, we have no special sympathy of them. One more joke based on this subject: Two friends, a Georgian and Armenian, are sitting in a restaurant. They drink and crack jokes. All of a sudden the Armenian says: “Armenians are better than Georgians”. The Georgian did not reply. After 5 minutes, the Armenian says again: “Armenians are better than Georgians”. The Georgian gritted his teeth. A minute later, he starts again: “Armenians are better than Georgians”. “Well, better at what?” – “Better than Georgians”.

Thus, the dislike for each other has long become the feature of a national mentality. And at the least during the nearest centuries it cannot be extirpated because the memory of the nations is better than that of the politicians’ and journalists’. As an example suffice it to mention the negative attitude in the mutual perception between the Englishmen and French, Poles and Russians which has preserved in spite of the closest connections of the states. Our Press failed to build the image of an enemy, more likely, it repeated very loudly what at least 80 people out of 100 were certain of. It is impossible to erase the image of an enemy from our consciousness. Should you write something about the fraternity of Azerbaijanians and Armenians, you will be blamed and damned and this will be fair.

Communism and demagogy of those times have died away and there is no use objecting to it. The Press should not prove that we are “friends”, “brothers”, or something of that kind. The only thing that should be proved to the society is that we can co-exist or at least we have to co-exist. Instead, the Mass Media does its best to bring the number of jingos to the maximum. What will happen when hatred for each other will turn into a total phenomenon? The only way out to establish peace in the South Caucuses is to drop bombs on the region and in a few centuries to inhabit peoples, for example, Argentineans and Vietnamese, who have never fought against each other.

The possibility of co-existence can be proved, for instance, by showing programs about creative friendship of Parajanov and Kuliev or by arranging space bridges of meetings with old neighbors. But we continue portraying each other on the screens in the way we are portrayed in jokes. As a result, the settlement of the conflict is protracted. Because of unsettled problems, unopened borders, even with all our oil, gas, quartz and other minerals we will become useless for a swiftly united world, or we will even begin to hinder its development. What if we will unexpectedly be destroyed by bombing and our region will be inhabited by Vietnamese?

Nikolay Torosyan