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South Caucasus
Festival in Yerevan


Logo of festival
"Nationality Human" South Caucasus Film Festival of Peace and Human Rights
Disregarding the fact that the capital of Armenia was the third city of the festival, here took place the factual opening of the festival. As expected the opening was held in a luxurious hotel “Golden Tulip”, with a podium, with speeches of artists, politicians, diplomats, senators, and of course a sea of press and cameras.

But we’ll return to the opening of the festival.

I’ve been in Yerevan several times that’s why it’s difficult to say anything new about it. Perhaps it’s because like everywhere else with every year there are more automobiles, lesser of soviet and Russian models. The roads are slowly being restored and the city is being reconstructed. For example in the center of the city an old region has completely disappeared. In their place there stand elite buildings, which are covered with pink tuff on the exterior. Rumors are, that apartments are very costly in those buildings, which is why the main population that purchase them are the representatives of the Diaspora.

Before that there were little stone buildings, maximum three stories in height left from the beginning of the last century. Oh well, the constructional boom has devoured them without a trace.

During these in Yerevan days they were celebrating the 17-year anniversary of independence. That’s why the city was full of guests and international delegations. The celebration went on as it would anywhere in the Caucasus – official speeches, fireworks, concerts and mass festivities.


Edvard Antinyan
Organizer of the festival
Edvard Antinyan
leader of the
Liberal-Progressive Party
of Armenia
Like in Vanadzor, the television became interested in us – the T.V. channel “Yerkir Media”. As I was told it is an independent channel that’s being controlled by the “ constructive opposition”, meaning the “Dashnaktsutyun Party”.

The subjects of the talk show were the August events in Georgia and the rest that was one way or another tied with them. Besides the author of these lines, in the show also participated – the president of CCPMI Georgi Vanyan, a journalist from a Georgian newspaper “Messenger” Temuri Kiguradze, who was wounded during the military actions in Tsikhinvali, the leader of the Liberal-Progressive Party of Armenia Eduard Antinyan.

It was very hot and humid in the studio. That was probably the reason why the host was sweating through the thick layer of make up. But I thought that he was a bit nervous.

The host was asking us with Temuri about the August war and the situation in Georgia. We obediently answered the questions. Then we transferred to Javakheti. The host and mr. Antinyan did most of the talking When Edward Antinyan used the term Javakheti the host interrupted him and corrected “Javakhk!”. A judge by title, a leader of a progressive party liberally agreed with the correction. The word “Javakheti” wasn’t heard in his speech afterwards. Mr. Vanyan during his turn attempted to clear the pronunciation of the name, offered to call the following region in Georgia specifically “Javakheti”. The host nodded his over powdered head and the shooting stopped.

A couple of days later we were sitting in a hotel room and watching the above mentioned talk show. The independent television channel released the program in a “decolletage” format. In the block where the questions were answered, on the subject of whose fault is the august war in Georgia, any thing that was mentioned about the “third side” that was interested in the war, were removed. I should mention that the “side” was mentioned abstractly, without the mention of the country or its geographical location.

And on that the editing out ended. On the show there wasn’t a trace of Mr Vanyan’s offer Javakheti to be called Javakheti.


 Armen Ashotyan
Senator Armen Ashotyan
a member of ruling
Republican Party
of Armenia
 Festival in Yerevan Festival in Yerevan  Festival in Yerevan  Festival in Yerevan  Festival in Yerevan
Let’s return to the hotel “Golden Tulip” on the grand opening day of the festival. As I mentioned the society that was gathered there was solid and multiple. Those who were present were drinking tea and coffee, hob knobbing, basically having fun. The politicians and the diplomats were giving interviews after their great speeches, with great pleasure. Journalists in bunches kept running from diplomats to politicians and the local bohemians.

The director of an educational center “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” touched the subject of “terrible” international conflicts of countries neighboring Armenia. In his opinion, such festivals will help people of different nationalities to find out about one another and under stand each other, which can provide ground for prevention of conflicts in the future.

The co-organizer of the festival from Yerevan, is the director of a public organization «Dempros» as well as a leader of the Liberal - Progressive political party, Edward Antinyan. He said that it is necessary to see yourself on other peoples problems and conflicts. Other people’s conflicts should serve as a purpose for discussions of Armenian-Azerbaijanian and Armenian- Turkish problems and conflicts.

But Armen Ashotyan made the most interesting announcement. He is the head of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on science , education, culture, sport and youth, a member of currently ruling Republican Party.

«Our youth does not only need governmental, cultural and social politics, but it also needs national education and national relations toward themselves », - he began.

Then this young man with a shaved head and sportive complexion pointed his hand toward the poster of the festival: The slogan of this festival “Nationality - Human” is undeniably important, but I think the understanding “I am Armenian” is also important for the youth living in Armenia. Where the word Armenian is not any lesser of an authority, a sound or a hue of life to the image of thought of any young person”, - announced he.

The majority of those who were present read the same words on the poster again. Ashotyan wished the festival good luck and continued: «I believe that the young people, who will have the opportunity to view these documentary films, as the least, will not forget about the national component in the upbringing of youth, it’s just as important as the civil upbringing».

As he left the podium, Ashotyan gave a couple of other short interviews, as I understood specifically on the subject of “national components” in the upbringing and national understanding then left.

There were other speeches after Ashotyan but in comparison with the unforgettable performance of the republican senator and sportsman, they all seemed pretty standard and gray.

Seeing how the central hall of the hotel was literally stuffed, I started wondering how will all who came fit in a small auditorium for the show. My worries were at vain. After the politicians, diplomats and artists along with the press fed themselves full of coffee they left from the luxurious hotel without being noticed, English style. And as usual the most active part of the population, the students were the ones who stayed.


Once again we’re on the road. Except this time its a strait as an arrow highway through the Ararat valley. On the left and right mountains of watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, pears and other fruit are visible. Just once In a while we would see rusty containers with the writing “live fish” on the sides. Fields, gardens, etc…

There is the fork near the southeast border of Ararat valley. On the left it’s a road to our next city of destination, Eghegnadzor. Further it’s Karabakh. The road to the right is all in crevices and potholes. Somewhere beyond the horizon it’s Nakhichevan. That means a dead end.

We stopped near a row of improvised mini-markets, which were built out of anything that was under hand, to buy mineral water stretch our legs. Georgi Vanyan approaches a couple of young people playing backgammon near a store. A conversation starts between them. Here is a short example of the translated conversation.

- Where are you headed, to Karabakh? – Asked the fellows.

- To Eghegnadzor, - explains Georgi.

- Are the foreigners with you?

- No, they’re our neighbors – Georgians.

- Yeah they’ve come a long way...

- What are you talking about, Georgia is right next to us! – Georgi exclaims with a surprise. – What’s the matter you haven’t ever been there?

Never, - they agreed. – It’s so horribly far from here, a few thousand kilometers.

- No! It’s only a few hours by car from Yerevan to Tbilisi, close to 300 kilometers.

- No way, is it really that close! – The players honestly wondered. And immediately offered the Georgians to play some backgammon ...

We referred to not having enough time and continued our voyage. The last city in Armenia where the last week of the festival “Nationality - Human” will go on.

Irakli Chikhladze
Yereva - Ararat plain
September 2008

Published: 23-01-09
This article is made during the South Caucasus Film Festival of Peace and Human Rights in Armenia implemented by Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiative by support of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)