15 Oct 2010
The war in Nagorno Karabakh ended 16 years ago- on paper the least. In reality, the war ended in minds of only very few, while for many it remained alive as ever. It is in the hands of these people that the conflict and post- war period became leverage; a bargaining chip used anywhere and everywhere.
This has been the case in Azerbaijan, especially on an international scale, where over the years, every report notwithstanding its nature would have a paragraph at least, a page or two the most on the war and its consequences on the general public.
Every government statement on holidays and every official speech at international events touch upon the issue of Karabakh war, its devastating effects and results on the country, its economy and population.
The war rhetoric is taught at schools, the massacres are embedded into memories of new generations, making it hard to fight and replace with something more valuable, something positive.
And yet, there are also those, who have managed to resist, opting for an alternative. Re- connecting with people that were once neighbors, friends, acquaintances and partners have become another way to deal with the conflict and what was and is left of it.
Occasional meetings among NGOs, individual cross- border initiatives, new ideas for communication and reconciliation became hopes for those wishing an end to the hostiles and never- ending negative rhetoric hunting every single person living on both sides of the border.
It is the result of such initiatives that today, Armenians and Azerbaijanis engage in dialogue, share their grief and anger, and most importantly frustration with unresolved conflict. In fact, I have seen more interaction in cross- border projects and initiatives I have been involved over the last two years than any kind of progress in dialogue as a result of any of the official talks between the two countries over the last 16 years.
Sadly, our world of dialogue occupies only a tiniest fraction of a bigger world- where governments preach their own agenda, media rant more hatred day-by-day, and public at large believes what they are told and turns a deaf ear on any alternative rhetoric that is not focused on war and aggression.
And so, looking to the future, finding alternatives to existing war prone agendas, is the only way out. As naïve as it might sound, it took sixteen years not to reach any conclusion on the conflict and in fact, make the situation worse. Let us hope we don’t lose track of time and find ourselves in the same position as we are now another sixteen years later, exhausted and lost, still talking of war and no reconciliation. I was a child when the war ended. I lived with this war as an adult. I don’t want to grow old with this war still on- going…