Looking forwards in 2011…
It’s been a long hard slog to open up communication between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, despite the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, on the need for peaceful coexistence in the past two and half years, but my personal project, Conflict Voices, has managed to do just that even if others said that it would be impossible. From first making contact with Azerbaijani bloggers in Tbilisi in June 2008, through special coverage on Global Voices and a guest post for the World Bank’s World Development 2011 blog on Conflict and Development, to a recent e-book and experimental article for Ararat Magazine, the project managed to prove that it was very possible indeed.
Without funding, aside from a £500 travel grant from the British Embassy in Yerevan for field work among ethnic Armenian and Azeri communities in Georgia, it set the precedent and created the environment for others to do the same. That’s why it’s always nice when all that hard work is acknowledged, as Thomas de Waal, author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War and Senior Associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), did this week on openDemocracy.Net.
The area of the world I deal with, the Caucasus, is still poised on the brink of conflict and faces a very uncertain 2011.
In this bleak environment I nominate as voices of inspiration courageous Armenian and Azerbaijani bloggers. […] bloggers such as Onnik Krikorian are overcoming intense nationalist propaganda to establish contact with the other side of the Karabakh conflict divide. It is still a small movement but it is an inspiring example of how a few people are using the space the internet creates to stake out a forward-looking agenda.
And for my part, it also has to be said. The project would not have been possible or successful without the contribution of others which is why I think it’s also time to acknowledge them. So, as Conflict Voices gets ready to expand in 2011 in many ways, a big thank you to Aygun Janmammadova, Marine Ejuryan, Zamira Abassova, Arpine Porsughyan, Vusala Alibayli, Khanim Javadova, Liana Aghajanian, Yelena Osipova, Kevork Oskanian, Scary Azeri, Sasun Khachatrian, Dodi Kharkheli, Arzu Geybullayeva, Mika Artyan, and Hrag Vartanian. At the same time, I would also like to thank Charles Lonsdale, the British Ambassador to Armenia, and, for their incredibly important moral support, Ethan Zuckerman, Hans Gutbrod and, of course, Thomas de Waal.
Now, with some major groundbreaking developments for Conflict Voices planned for 2011, it’s time to continue to set even more precedents on how new and social media as well as ICTs in general can be used in cross-border communication and cooperation in conflict zones such as those in the Caucasus. As part of that increased activity this year, there will also be many more posts on that particular subject alone on my Peace and Collaborative Development Blog.