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Thoughts on the ultimate peace

11 June 2010 One Comment

For those of you that know me, but didn’t when I was still a freshman or sophomore, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that just four years ago I was one of those to be found among young Armenians shouting anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani slogans during commemoration events. I was also the same person writing articles for my university newspaper with titles such as “The big hoax, Azerbaijan.”

In retrospect, when I look back at those perhaps ‘dark’ years, I know that it was simply the time when I was at the peak of a process searching for myself, determining my own ideology and finding my own path in life. I can also assume that there are many other young people and teenagers in our countries who have also been through this before finally ending up where they are today.

And now, having just graduated with a MA in International Relations, I have also turned into someone who has dozens of Turkish and Azerbaijani friends. Among them, I have to say, some are very close indeed. I’m also someone who listens to Turkish and Azerbaijani music, reads books by authors from both of those countries, and finally a person who supports every genuine initiative that will lead to peace and a resolution of the conflict which keeps others apart.

Some might say that all those regional youth trainings, peace conferences or other related events are simply a waste of time as they change nothing in the current stalemate, while others consider them simply a source of money for organizations or groups involved in those activities. However, from my own experience, I can say that they were instead a turning point which have shaped my current views and opinions.

It was during such events that I first met young people from Azerbaijan and Turkey, talking to them about various issues from history to politics and ending up finding similarities in our culture, traditions and mentality. This dialogue also helped me to look at the same things from a different points of view, breaking stereotypes that I had which led to a change in my thinking on many different issues.

Another way I became acquainted with young Azerbaijanis was via Facebook, which has now become not only a place for us to remain in touch, but to also discuss politics, culture, and mentality. These virtual friendships have also later become real life meetings which, I have to admit, were really exciting for me. Don’t ask me why because I probably won’t be able to explain it, but I feel an inexplicable closeness to these people and everything related to them.

During one of the meetings with friends from Azerbaijan in Tbilisi, where I went for vacation in winter, we decided not to go back home with “empty” hands and held a flash mob, walking peacefully to the Georgian Parliament with a message of peace in the South Caucasus written on large posters in six different languages (Armenian, Azerbaijani, English, French, Georgian and German).

Actually, an interesting incident happened during the flashmob when the police stopped us to ask what we were demonstrating for. When we told them that we were simply young people from Armenia and Azerbaijan calling for peace in the region their answer, as I’m sure my friends will agree, was inspiring. “Well done, guys!” they said. “You have no problem. Continue!”

And that wasn’t the only refreshing incident. When hanging out in a Georgian restaurant the waiter serving us asked if were from Azerbaijan, probably after hearing Azerbaijani being spoken at the table. “Yes, we are,” a friend answered. “Except her. She’s from Armenia” (yeah, I was the only Armenian that day). “That’s already huge progress,” the waiter responded looking serious.

There are many other such stories too, but what crosses my mind is the following. What is the point in just investing all our efforts into trying to prove to the whole world that we are right and the other side is wrong and must be blamed. What?

Nothing.

Nothing, but waste of time and effort, while unresolved conflict continues to incur greater economic, political and social losses and while the general population, which is the direct victim of the conflict rather than politicians, suffers from its myriad negative consequences. So, let’s put aside for a while all those sensitive issues and conflicting interpretations of the past and try to talk about other common things. I’m more than convinced that these are many.

Dialogue.

This is the only path before us, just as it was in my case when talking with Azerbaijanis changed my view on many things. Talking and moving on. Cooperating and moving on. Only with this approach can many other sensitive issues find their ultimate solution as well. Instead, I always keep in mind this sentence, which I read in a book some years ago and want to share with you now.

“The opinion that neither side of the conflict can get “everything” is right. But this rightfulness is, so to speak, political. From a humanitarian aspect, both sides can get everything, as this “everything” is the ultimate peace.”

Marine Ejuryan

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