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Tsopi: harmony despite ethnicity

29 December 2009 No Comment

Yaxşı yol, yaxşı yol” (Good way, good way!) – Susanna Petrosyan saying goodbye to her guest in Azerbaijani…

They live in Tsopi, a village not too far from Marneuli, Georgia. There are three men in her family, but none of them has work. They earn 20 Lari – about $11 a day —  by selling pig and wood from the forest. Petrosyan says they go to the forest three times every month.

“I don’t have even one tetri in my pocket”

The same problems exist for other ethnic groups too. Mustafa, head of the village, says that now only 160 families remain. “Greeks, Georgians and a lot of other families left the village,” he says, explaining that the reason is unemployment.

Ahmadov Faiq has two children. He says they live only on his father’s pension of 100 Lari (about $60).

“I am young — 34 years old — but I dont have even a tetri in my pocket. If someone invites me to their home, I can not buy a box of chocolates to visit my friend,” says Ahmadov. He is going to leave Tsopi for Baku where he hopes to find work.

“They are living one side of the spring, we are on the other…”

Mustafa says that  60-70 percent of the village is ethnic Azeri and then comes the ethnic Armenians. There are places where both live together side by side.

“Until now we didnt have any problems among Azeris, Armenians and Georgians. We are going to each other’s weddings and holidays. Even when I was talking with an Armenian in his own language, he replied in Azerbaijani. There are no problems, we are united and will remain like this. Other issues are political and not related to ordinary people. I am very pleasant with Armenians in Tsopi and other villages.”

However, 39-year-old Ilham Eyvazov says that ethnic groups in the village mainly live separately. “There is a spring there and they are living on one side, we are on the other,” he says. But Faiq Ahmadov doesn’t agree and replies. “Near the market there are buildings where Armenians live on the first floor and Azeris on the second. They areall mixed. Only this street exists where most of the Azeris live”.

“Common marriage? Why not?”

Five month ago Susanna Petrosian’s son was married. Fifty percent of the guests at the wedding were her Azeri neighbours.

“We are living together in friendship, but there is no intermarriage between us,” she says, adding that this has always been the case and continues as if tradition.

Nevrtheless, she continues, she wouldn’t mind if her son was married to an ethnic Azeri girl. “We are in good relations,” she says, pointing to the house next to hers where an ethnic Azeri family lives.

“They are my neighbours and they are Azeris. We will celebrate New Year at our home together,” says Petrosyan.

Ethnic Azeris who live in Tsopi say the same – it is tradition not to get married with boys and girls from another nationality. However, Faiq Ahmadov says Azeris and Armenians are still as sisters and brothers here.

“For instance, if my son wants to have an Armenian girl as a wife I wouldn’t mind. If their family is friendly, frankly, why not? So what, they are Armenians? Bad is everywhere bad,” he says.

He also adds that the desire is something different. It doesn’t differentiate between nationalities.

Vusala Alibayli

This post was originally published by Transitions Online.

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