Armenia-Azerbaijan Dialogue Through Respecting Each Other’s Culture: Opinions
To restore cultural Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, instead of talking about “false unity,” people should be found in the two societies between whom contact will be possible, said theatre critic, publicist Ara Nedolyan (pictured, left) Sunday in a discussion organized by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation titled “Line of Contact: Culture — A Source of Conflict or Reconciliation?”
False unity, Nedolyan said, lies, for example, in the similarity between mugham and rabiz (a popular type of music among Armenians), which cannot become the basis for reconciliation. This basis, he continued, can be those movements which have people, and not a national or religious ideal, at their center. Such civic movements, Nedolyan noticed, exist in not only Armenia, but also Azerbaijan, where participation, however, is associated with greater risk.
“We need to find progressive forces in Azerbaijan, and those progressive forces that don’t have an Islamist or national ideal have to win,” he said.
In the opinion of former Ombudsman of Armenia, Heritage Party MP Larisa Alaverdyan (pictured, second from left), also participating in Sunday’s public discussion, the Armenian public, in contrast to Azerbaijan’s, has never been closed to dialogue. According to her, there are civilizational differences between the two societies, but she welcomed the cultural dialogue between the two countries, noting that joint cultural projects can be beneficial.
Filmmaker and member of the Armenian civic movement Sardarapat, Tigran Khzmalyan (pictured, right) said that society in both countries have fallen victim to the class struggle, from which the elite benefit, while the problems that impede reconciliation remain unknown due to lack of dialogue — which, in turn, is a consequence of the lack of democracy in Armenia and Azerbaijan
Khzmalyan, however, expressed confidence that in the end, “we will liberate our country from the occupiers, then we’ll help the Azerbaijanis and other neighbors.” Writer Vahram Martirosyan (pictured, second from right) agreed with this view, adding, however, that the struggle should not be carried out on ethnic grounds.
In Martirosyan’s view, Armenians and Azeris can find opportunities for contact only by getting to know each other well, and this is why it is necessary to instill respect for each other’s culture.
“Dialogue is possible only through the language of politics, not in Azeri, not in Armenian, but in that language that leads from captivity to freedom and democracy,” the writer said.
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