15 Feb 2020
Banality of Nationalism in the South Caucasus: Pro-violence Practices of the Society in Georgia and Armenia
While the conflicts in South Caucasus have often been discussed in terms of state violence, ethnic conflict and “separatists” who seek independence, the more subtle narratives contributing to the maintenance of the status quo of war has not been questioned. In this article, we address the “banal” examples of nationalism in Armenia and Georgia that have been reproduced by civil society and businesses in each country. By analyzing advertisements and social media trends we illustrate how the nationalistic discourses of the state have found their way into the everyday lives of the citizenry. From cherries and bananas riding military airplanes to barbwire prints on socks, we examine visual and verbal content that contributes to an “us-them” paradigm. Commodification, repetition, humor, wit, references to the enemy, wide circulation on social media, and associations with other products and causes make banal nationalist discourses very hard to capture. By engaging ourselves and readers in the self-critical approach to everyday expressions of such nationalism we question the responsibilities and possibilities of civil society in Georgia and Armenia for future peace activism.
Maia (Nukri) Tabidze:
What do these numbers refer to?
I thought for a few seconds and then shouted with self-satisfaction:
That is the changing amount of welfare money for displaced people!
It was the 27th of September 2018 my friend and I were sitting in a park discussing the exhibition we had just visited when she half jokingly came up with this riddle. Only those whose lives had depended on this welfare money could guess it. It was witty and funny. But we were far from amused. We were angry. It was the day when Sukhumi fell. Earlier we had attended an exhibition and listened to several news and speeches commemorating this day. There was not a single reference to the displaced people. Some of the Georgian Dream party activists had organized the silent protest demonstration in Zugdidi near the Abkhazian border to protest the occupation. Their letter was addressed to Putin. He was the one blamed for hatred and confrontation between Georgia and Abkhazia. Abkhazians were not mentioned either.
When did displaced people and Abkhazians get excluded from Tbilisi-Moscow dialogue? Or were we ever even part of it? I kept asking myself these questions. And later, when I started to discuss it with my colleagues, fellow activists, and friends I found it hard to articulate the perspective of people whose lives have been directly affected by the conflict. I would like to write about this silence (Or should I say silencing?)
This article is an attempt of two co-authors from Georgia and Armenia to analyze the often invisible mechanisms that disguise pro-war discourses and justify violence and militarism. We will unite two voices into one perspective and address the insidious and subtle ways that the status quo of “frozen conflicts” is maintained and deepened. Even though conflicts in the South Caucasus have often been discussed in the context of the state violence, ethnic conflict, right wing nationalists, andand “separatists” who seek independence, more subtle ways of reproducing pro-war ideology and the responsibility of civil society and business have rarely been recognized.
By analyzing several examples of banal nationalism in Georgia and Armenia, we aim to explore the discourses supporting violence and exclusion that are produced and reproduced on a daily basis in above mentioned societies through online media and advertising. While advertisements and digital media are not the only areas where these discourses are articulated or where the civil society operates, we concentrate on these areas due to their wide coverage, and ability to reach thousands and form mainstream discourse. These cases are interesting as they provide insight into how business and the state’s militaristic interests meet in very unconventional circumstances and how such commodification of nationalistic ideology through repetition creates a vicious circle, where civil society acts as the consumer and reproducer of the pro-war ideology at the same time.
We use the concept of “banal nationalism” to describe pro-violence and exclusion discourses that contribute to and normalize “us-them” division between opposing sides of a conflict. The term “nationalism” has usually been associated with “those who struggle to create new states or with extreme right-wing politics” (Billig, 1995, p. 5). The producers of the discourses in question are far from stereotypical right wing nationalists. Some of them actively define themselves in opposition to it. To understand the complexity of this controversy we use Michael Billig’s concept (1995) of “banal nationalism”. The latter refers to the mundane ways of reproducing nationalism in everyday life. “Daily the nation is ‘flagged’ in the lives of its citizenry” (Billig, 1995, p. 6) and often without our acknowledgement we construct and reconstruct our own “nation” in confrontation with the image of an enemy. Visual content on social and mainstream media, display of flags and militaristic attributes, speeches and slogans, and advertisements can all be considered examples of the banal nationalism we attempt to assess.
In more general terms, we propose that nationalism be understood in alignment not solely with self-consciously held political ideologies, but with large cultural systems out of which — as well as against which — it comes into being. Nationalistic ideology usually “disguises” itself so well that we do not necessarily perceive the direct link between banal examples of nationalism and actual violence. They come across in everyday life as naive, sometimes funny and smart ideas, but they are far from being innocent. The nationalistic sentiment they produce can intensify differences between various groups and even set the foundation for justifying violence (Billig, 1995).
In both countries these discourses are usually produced and introduced by state actors. The conflicts of Georgia with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Armenia with Azerbaijan that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union, followed by further escalations in 2008 and in 2016, and their frozen status have created solid ground for the domination of militaristic and nationalistic discourses in state narratives. But with the “help” of civil society and business they gradually penetrated every aspect of daily life in Georgian and Armenian societies. Their reproduction by non-governmental actors like businesses, NGOs, activists, social media users, digital influencers, and regular citizens normalizes and neutralizes these discourses to the point when their original sources and harmful effects cannot be easily recognized. Even though we cannot speak of their actual empirical consequences, through reflection on what seems “natural” and mundane we explain how banal nationalism contributes to the maintenance of the frozen conflicts at the discursive and symbolic level. Since such reflection is a political act, and we must admit quite a painful one, we would like to analyze it in relation to our own lives.
When War Goes Bananas, Bananas Go to the War
It was mid 2015, when on a regular weekday, like all other days I took the metro in Yerevan that would take me from Baghramyan street to Yeritasardakan metro station. I was accompanied by a friend of mine from Europe, who was in Yerevan for a short visit. While the loudspeakers were still announcing the next metro station, we were slowly (as much as it is possible on Yerevan metro’s running escalators), driven up towards the bright entrance of Yeritasardakan. We were carelessly chatting about the hot weather, the new political developments, the Centennial of the Armenian genocide and related events when I heard my friend saying: “Why do they need to portray the juice box and those fruits on the tanks? Look, omg, there are cherries and bananas driving the military airplane, why?”. “What are you talking about?”, I asked, but he was already showing me the huge advertisement posters of an infamous and most probably beloved Armenian juice hung across the quickly-passing escalators. The fruits and juice boxes were ridiculously advertised on military airplanes and tanks, marching forward like heroes, all colorful and clashing with military grayness.
Indeed, I had been passing by them for several months already, and when I am on the escalator, I always check the advertisements. Had I noticed the tanks, the airplane, the slogans? Hardly. Apparently, I had been looking at the posters, but looking through them, with no feelings, without reflecting on how this is an unnecessarily militarized and exaggerated advertisement.
Such an attitude is typical for everydayness in nation states in the South Caucasus, a “form of life which is daily lived in a world of nation states” (Billig, p. 68) that becomes so normalized and taken for granted, rarely commented on and very rarely criticized (Skey, p. 332). Following Billig’s approach, in this context it is also significant to notice the “tendencies of one group, i.e. nation that treats the particular nation as a given in everyday life”. The example of the posters is only one among thousands of “banal signifiers” of nationalism (Skey, p.334). In this juice advertisement with fruit driving tanks, the image does not explicitly state who the enemy is; however, it definitely assumes the “other” as a target against which force can be used. In this context we can only guess that in most viewers eyes, the latter could be Azerbaijan.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been a frozen yet ongoing conflict for decades. It broke out shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union and throughout the first years of the establishment of the independent states. Even though a cease-fire was signed in 1994 to provide a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict, it has been violated on an almost daily basis. The military symbols in the advertisements contribute to the crystallization of the constant condition of conflict as something normal for these countries to have been engaged in for almost two decades.
In more symbolic terms, the advertisement aiming to promote a certain product reinforces a number of pro-violence associations: (1) It assumes that the war is something appealing and can “sell” a product; (2) it promotes violence and militarism through associating it with harmless juice; (3) iIt adds a consumerist touch to the process: even though, the producers of the advertisement in question cannot be held responsible for the introduction of nationalistic and militarist sentiments, the business has definitely capitalized and profited from it. Thus, it reinforces the pro-violence discourse, but also uses its existing popularity to sell the product. Eventually, (4) humor and wit serve not only the marketing purpose, but disguise the nationalistic ideology behind it.
Everyday circulation and repetition, the “hidden” origins of the content, an implicit reference to the enemy, humor, and a consumerist approach: these are the most widespread yet unrecognized mechanisms of banal nationalism articulated by the bussiness sector in the South Caucasus. Obviously, bussiness is not the only actor; civil society and citizenry also participate in the process of reproduction. It is important to note that just like bussiness, all actors easily gain attention on social media as they usually integrate marketing strategies: they are provocative, witty, and funny with, visual content and references to already well-known cultural images, concepts that make them even more appealing and memorable. But their message, sometimes even unrecognized by the content creators (usually designers and copywriters) “hides itself” even better.
Together with the explicit examples of using military symbols like tanks and military planes, there are a number of cases when the discourse excludes certain groups and prevents the peaceful resolution of conflict through more subtle reference to the war and enemy in everyday life. One such example is the anti-occupation narrative in Georgia articulated both by bussiness and civil society. Since 2018 the words “I am from Georgia and 20% of my country is occupied by Russia” has appeared on various online and offline platforms. In order to explain why we call it an exclusive practice, we need to better understand the context, utilization and historic background of the statement.
“20% of My Country is Occupied by Russia”
The narrative of Russian occupation started to gain power in the narratives of the former government of Georgia. Later it turned into a widespread campaign, mainly articulated through digital activities and by small- to medium-sized businesses. And recently it has slowly transformed into a movement.
The group consisting of (mostly) young digital and media influencers who call themselves the “Liberation Disseminating Society” has been actively engaged in demonstrations and digital activism against Russia. “20% of my country is occupied by Russia” has been the main slogan of all their online and offline activities and has been around for at least a year. Very soon after its introduction, this campaign detached itself from the one particular group and now it receives support internationally and is widely reproduced locally by various civil society actors. Black and red colors separated by barb wire stand as the visual sign for it. Even though it mainly started as an online campaign, the slogan quickly became a marketing and promotional strategy of various products and has aligned itself with other causes and ideas.
In the light of the imperialist approach of Russia, the anti-occupation movement seems to represent an attack on colonial forces. After all, in response to the anti-occupation movement Vladimir Putin tried to delegitimize them through false claims on history by framing the Soviet repressions of the 1930s as atrocities against Abkhazians by Georgians and portraying Russia as the protector of peace in the region. This narrative conveniently leaves out the Muhajirs of the 19th century and the fact that Georgians themselves were victims of same repressions by Stalin. We do not intend to question the imperial character of Russian politics in South Caucasus, but the major problem is that the current anti-occupation narrative excludes Abkhazians, Ossetians, and displaced people, as well as those living near the borders and directly affected by these activities as interested parties. Long before the introduction of this campaign, Georgia had successfully labeled the 2008 war as a “Russian-Georgian war” and it has been referred like this since then. Ossetians and their positions, losses, interests, and casualties have never been discussed and are not part of the mainstream narrative.
In the symbolic domain we can see a transformation of visual representation from peace attributes to martial ones. Since 2009 with the approach of the 8th of August many Facebook users in Georgia would change their profile pictures to the photo of poppy flower – the symbol of peace and death,. Thiswas a way of commemorating the five-day war of 2008. At verbal level in previous years “Samachablo and Abkhazia are Georgia” was the main slogan of civil society actors and the Georgian state. In recent years we have slowly observed how the words “Abkhazia”, “Abkhazian”, “Ossetia”, and “Ossetians”, and even “Samachablo” have slowly disappeared and are instaedreduced to the “20% of the territory”. 20% of the territory is deprived of face, agency and interest. It is invisible in the presence of a bigger threat – Russia. The latter is considered as the only enemy and obstacle to resolution of the conflict.
Since there is no explicit hatred towards Ossetians and Abkhazians, most Georgian authors and activists stay silent with the fear that it might redirect the resentment from Russia to Abkhazians and Ossetians. We would argue that recognition of the conflict as only involving the two sides of Georgian and Russian has led to the further isolation and disappearance of these groups from the mainstream narrative and has prevented the discussions of possible dialogue between Georgians, Abkhazians, and Ossetians. Such a narrative definitely serves Russian interests in the region, which remains and is seen as the only ally, by the Abkhazian and Ossetian side, and as the only problem to the conflict resolution, by Georgians.
There is no recognition of how the relations of these regions towards Russia vary either. For example, in terms of economy, security, and civil documentation South Ossetia is more internationally isolated and more closely integrated into its patron state Russia (DeWaal, 2018, p. 10). Although Abkhazia hugely depends on Russia too, it shows more resistance as well as more capacity to function independently with its government, banks, etc. Thus in 2014 when Russia proposed “integration treaties” for both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the latter accepted it while Abkhazia demanded a second version. This new document called the “Union Relations and Strategic Partnership,” denied Russian citizens fast-track of citizenship, which made acquiring property in Abkhazia harder (DeWaal, 2018).
In this context the term “occupation” becomes problematic, because while Russia has violently interfered in the conflict between South Ossetian and Georgia, and the Georgian government claimed that Russia started the war in August 2008, Ossettians do not necessarily see it the same way. The integration of South Ossetia into the Russian Federation has been actively discussed in South Ossetia. Leader of South Ossetia Anatoli Bibilov has announced that a referendum would be held on this topic and justified this sentiment with the fear of Georgian aggression. Even though Georgian political scientist Irakli Tskitishvili evaluated this statement as a “bluff” and as political blackmail against Georgia, one cannot deny that the pro-Russian sentiment is very strong among current Ossetian leadership and Georgia,not Russia, is considered to be the aggressor.
Even though the violent resolution of the conflict has not even been mentioned and has not been the subject of any public debates, we argue that anti-occupation should be understood not just as resistance against imperial forces, while advancing peaceful coexistence of Georgians with Abkhazians and Ossetians, but rather in the context of a “territorial integrity” narrative that has been around since the 1990s and that ignores the grievances of Abkhazians and Ossetians. The challenges to territorial integrity are often referred to by Georgian politicians as the major reason why Georgia cannot join NATO and the European Union. The visual and verbal content of the slogan does not directly justify violence, and is not considered as nationalistic and aggressive by its reproducers, yet it has normalized the vision of Georgians as separate group who in opposition to Russia have right to decide the fate of Abkhazians and Ossetians.
This change in discourse and shift from poppies to barbwires did not take place in one day or a year, but “took its time” until it found its language and visual materialization. With no single leader or group leading the charge, it slowly became seen as natural in the minds of most Georgians. The image of barb wire that was accepted with admiration slowly penetrated the everydayness of Georgians’ lives through repetition and commodification. First, it was a Facebook frame and a passport wallet and served as a means of communicating the message about Russian aggression in Georgia. At this point it was still associated with the performance of one’s national identity in relevant settings e.g. at borders and airports during passport check, or during important events such as the commemoration of the 5-day war. Later, it was printed on a wide range of products: socks, clothes, bags, it appeared at cafes, bars, banks, pharmacies, even the packages of the sunflower seeds in Georgia. Similar to the juice advertisement in Armenia, businesses like the one of sunflower seeds started to use the slogan to promote their brands and at the same time reinforce the ideology behind it.
The slogan is further normalized through commodification and follows the demand-supply logic of the market. Following the trend by Georgian brand Giovanni Mora, other designers and producers have started to integrate some variations of the narrative into fashion, consumer goods, food, and lifestyle. Now one can buy T-shirts with “Sokumi” and “Gagra” (towns in Abkhazia) printed on them discounted for the 27th of September. It is no longer a special event like demonstration or speech or even a Facebook post where we express and reproduce our opinions, personalities, and identities in public domain, but rather a consumer good like sugar, T-shirt or socks. It is part of our everyday online and offline lives.
With such wide circulation, narrative like this presents themselves as without history, because we no longer can point to their beginnings or origin. With such camouflage, a narrative can rewrite history, add, and cut it its own terms by excluding certain groups and solidifying images of “us” and “them” divided by barb wire. It can no longer be identified as an ideology or political statement. We eat and drink it, we wear it, we own it in every possible way to the point that the narrative becomes us.
These discourses are the “are more than ways of thinking and producing meaning. They constitute the ‘nature’ of the body, unconscious and conscious mind and emotional life of the subjects they seek to govern” (Weedon, 1987, p. 108). Therefore, they are not mere acts of speech or visuals, but are “dehumanized” (read as: human, individual factor taken out of them) in a very literal sense. Paradoxically, despite their dependance on individual material and verbal reproduction by people (like advertisers, internet users), the narratives have acquired a life of their own. Thus, be it juice in Armenia or sunflower seeds in Georgia, they do not simply sell the product, or communicate ideas (or ideologies), they hide them and contain them through integration into our everyday private domains until eventually they become trivial facts and common sense. And one does not notice or question banal truths like that.
They don't call it mother’s milk for nothing
Despite the fact that these narratives “disguise” themselves as ahistorical and “hide” their origins, we should recognize they have at some point been and still are intentionally produced, supported, and promoted by governments and state institutions. The investigation of their origins is neither our aim, nor can we provide ultimate solutions to the deconstruction of the pro-violence narratives. However, we would like to recognize the crucial role of governments and state institutions, as well as the role that similar challenges of building independent nation-state in the context of post-Soviet transformation have played in the construction of pro-war ideologies in Georgia and Armenia.
While all institutions education, media, state policies, academic scholarship, art, and even language have been in the service of building a nation state at varying degrees, ideologies manage to hide their origins best in cyberspace. Since social media trends are governed by domino principle, it is almost impossible to track how the threads start. Thus, viral contents distribute responsibility among such a large number of people that eventually the origins of the ideology behind it cannot be tracked. This repetitive character of social media content and the ability to blur the lines between public and private spaces creates favorable conditions for reproducing nationalism in the everyday lives of internet users while at the same time actively engaging the latter to contribute through comments, pictures, and posts. The anti-occupation narrative discussed was widely distributed as a Facebook frame. Similar trends can be observed in Armenia.
Photos of children dressed up like soldiers and given toy guns in hand went viral on social media in the years between 2015-2017 in Armenia. Harmless “cute” images of little children in military uniforms present little boys as representatives of the nation, while at the same time apply totally different standard to women, who are expected to mother and raise their sons as soldiers. Uniform and toy guns “harmless at the surface” are those material entities that can turn into violent nationalism (Billig, 1995). Feelings of ultimate national pride and unquestioned devotion to symbols, such as the flag, military uniform, etc. intrude into the everyday of the citizens starting from the most fragile group: children. As a piece of children’s clothes, military uniforms are neutralized. They are associated with harmless children; they bring a smile to our faces and through wide circulation such coupling cannot be perceived as something out of the ordinary.
If we look at the bigger picture, we will understand that this trend was “born” in these specific circumstances to justify state ideology and even actual violence. The militarist school events especially on the week of national holidays were supported and encouraged by the state, covered by local media, and were highly supported by the families of the pupils. In Armenia these were the years of the elaboration of the nation-army concept, which was developed and brought onto the agenda later in 2016, after the news of the breakout of violence in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone.
“Nation-army is a country where there is no soldier and citizen, but there is a citizen in a uniform and a defender of the nation in civil clothes”. These were the words of the Armenian Defense Minister in 2016 that found their fame on the streets of Yerevan, within the frame of the Army-Nation concept promotion. Soldiering and citizenship have been interrelated and characterized as male activity even during Soviet times. Military service both back then and also in modern Armenia is considered as a “key tool in the proper ideological socialization of men” (Eichler, 2011, p 21).
While men are seen as soldiers, women are expected to discipline them as such. In 2018 another advertisement within the frames of the Nation-Army concept harked on women’s role as “signifiers of the traditionalism and reinforcers of socially constructed norms” (McClintock, 1993, pp 61-62). In the ad there was portrayed a milk bottle for a baby with a little toy tank floating inside the liquid. The text next to the bottle said: “Let’s disseminate patriotism from childhood”. It was a direct call to Armenian mothers as responsible for the upbringing of their sons (and only sons) as citizen-soldiers and a reminder of biological reproduction and motherhood as a priority interest of the state (Eichler, 2011, p 22).
The rise and fall of militarism
Fortunately, with the last revolution in the Republic of Armenia the concept of the nation-army did not receive enough possibility to expand. Despite the multiple misunderstandings between civil society and the post-revolution government, the extensive propaganda of militarism seems to have backed off. While the pro-violence slogans and calls reached their peak in the 2016 breakout of the Nagorno Karabakh war, in the post-2018 period the Karabakh conflict has been observed from the angle of peaceful resolution — yet not at every cost and only on mutual terms. On the contrary, the ideas of democracy and citizenship are articulated much more actively and seem to find a larger acceptance.
Interestingly similar to Armenia, in Georgia militaristic narrative of the state faded with the change of the government in 2012. A popular 2006 Georgian song “We Are the Georgia Army” could be an illustration of the state ideology that promoted the army and promised taking back of the lost territories. The army chanted:“We are a Georgian army, we will take back what has been lost.” This narrative repeated itself in speeches of Saakashvili and his party members. By contrast, in 2017, we see the signs of active resistance to obligatory military service when young Georgian men register themselves as priests of the newly established religious organization just to avoid military service.
Although the current anti-occupation and anti-militarist activism in Georgia seems to marginalize the violent expressions of nationalism, as the cases discussed above illustrate, the nationalist ideology transformed its expression to more hidden and subtle forms. We are challenged to grasp these hidden forms of nationalism that explain why they are pro-violence practices.A multiplicity of civil society actors and discourses are not necessarily aligned with the original nationalistic narratives of the state. These nationalisms come in many different forms, detach or attach to various commercial or social and cultural interests.
Obviously, this tendency is not unique to only the countries discussed in this article, but rather is an omnipresent phenomenon in the everyday existence of the nation-state. After all, Billig’s (1995) research and theory of banal nationalism derives from the idea that democratic countries of the West that tend to see themselves free from the mainstream definition of nationalism also reproduce nationalistic narratives in more subtle and hidden ways in the everyday lives of the nation-states. Since they do not necessarily result in or stem from military offensives, it is impossible to support this claim with empirical data or examine its scope of influence. However, in the Georgian and Armenian context they are directly related to supporting the status-quo of the frozen conflict at the discursive level and hinder any alternative discussion about the relationship between conflicted sides.
Furthermore, the lack of scholarship as well as the voices from the other side of the conflict definitely limit the scope of our analysis spatially and temporally. While writing this article we had to bear in mind the hypothetical argument against our self-critical approach. “But what about the atrocities by the other side?” So far in public discussions the main arguments of every actor in the dialogues suggest that their counterpart is or has been doing the same or worse. As a matter of fact, they might be right. However, we would like to unlearn speaking from this mistrustful position and take a risk. Maybe too much damage has already been done for communal coexistence. And yet we would like to ask “provocative” question: What do we long for? If we set peace as the one and most important aim in the region and place human lives and not the territories and interests of nation-states as our main priority, we might witness a different kind of peace activism in the South Caucasus.
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Aravor․ “Բաքվում թեյ ենք խմելու, Ալիևն էլ թեյ մատուցելու”․ Արցախում խուճապ չկա”.(“We will be drinking tea in Baku and offering a cup to Aliyev” “There is no panic in Artsakh”). https://www.aravot.am/2016/04/02/673942/ (accessed on November 30, 2019)
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Karine Simonyan. “Աննա Հակոբյանը խաղաղության ուղերձ հղեց ղարաբաղա- ադրբեջանական հակամարտ ուժերի շփման գծից”. (“Anna Hakobyan sends a peace message from the Nagorno-Karabakh – Azerbaijan contact line”. https://www.azatutyun.am/a/29530253.html (accessed on November 30, 2019)
News Armenia. “Ղարաբաղյան հարցի շուրջ բանակցությունները ձևական բնույթ են կրում. Փաշինյան․” (“The negotiations around Nagorn-Karabakh are a farce. Pashinyan.” https://newsarmenia.am/am/news/nagorno_karabakh/-gharabaghyan-harci-shurj-banakcutyunnery-/ (accessed on November 30, 2019)
 While most of the article is co-authored by Maia (Nukri) Tabidze and Arpi Atabekyan, some sections are authored by one of author individually and therefore start with that person’s name.
 Sukhum, in the Abkhazian version (eds.).
 For further analysis of the speech visit http://open-archives.org/en/newsblogs/interestingnews/27 (Accessed on November 20, 2019)
 Since South Ossetia cannot be excluded from the analysis of this war, we will refer to it as the August War.
 Georgians call South Ossetia Samachablo, but the term is not internationally recognized.
 For more information, please visit https://reginfo.ge/politics/item/793-samxret-osetis-de-paqto-respublikis-rusettan-miertebaze-reperendumi-shesawloa-gadadon (Accessed on Nivember 30, 2019)
 For Georgian translation of the quote, please visit: https://www.radiotavisupleba.ge/a/tskhinvali-rusettan-sheertebas-cdilobs/27316014.html (Accessed on November 30, 2019)
 Online shop for the “Abkhazia”-themed t-shirts: https://www.facebook.com/pg/lacoajgeorgia/shop/?ref=page_internal (Accessed September, 2019)
 Union of informed citizens. «Ազգ-բանակ» գաղափարախոսության քարոզչությունը ուսումնական հաստատություններում․ զեկույց. https://uic.am/4557 (Accessed July 13, 2016)
 Armedia. “Defence Minister of Armenia Elaborated on the “Nation-Army” Principle”. http://armedia.am/eng/news/40901/defense-minister-of-armenia-elaborated-on-the-nation-army-principle.html (Accessed, June 3, 2019)
 For more information please visit: http://www.mil.am/hy/pages/21
 Լիզա Ճաղարյան․ “Փոքրուց խմենք տանկ ու խանչալ”. https://www.ilur.am/news/view/66134.html (Accessed March 17, 2018)
 Առավոտ․ “Բաքվում թեյ ենք խմելու, Ալիևն էլ թեյ մատուցելու”․ Արցախում խուճապ չկա”. https://www.aravot.am/2016/04/02/673942/ (Accessed April 12, 2016)
 Կարինե Սիմոնյան․ “Աննա Հակոբյանը խաղաղության ուղերձ հղեց ղարաբաղա֊ադրբեջանական հակամարտ ուժերի շփման գծից”. https://www.azatutyun.am/a/29530253.html (Accessed July 2019)
 Նովոստի Արմենիա․ Ղարաբաղյան հարցի շուրջ բանակցությունները ձևական բնույթ են կրում. Փաշինյան․ https://newsarmenia.am/am/news/nagorno_karabakh/-gharabaghyan-harci-shurj-banakcutyunnery-/ (Accessed July 2019)
 Follow the link to listen to the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF9DJFOWoLU (Accessed July 2019)
 In 2010 former Mayor of Tbilisi speaking about taking back territories by force or peace can be read here: https://www.radiotavisupleba.ge/a/1944484.html Later, in 2011 Saakshvili articulating same narrative can be read here: https://www.ambebi.ge/article/35141-mikheil-saakashvili-saqarthvelo-teritoriebis-dabrunebas-shedzlebs/ (Accessed July 2019)
 The political party Girchi has registered organization Biblical Freedom just to let young people avoid military service https://bit.ly/2pYbJR2 (Accessed July 2019)
*The featured photo is taken from Gettyimages. The photos portrays a woman with the sign of the 20% occupied movement in Georgia.
** This article was written within the project “Building Sustainable Trans-Border Communities in the South Caucasus”, funded by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) / Funding program zivik with resources provided by the German Federal Foreign Office.