Armenian-Azerbaijani Peace: It Takes a Village
In the nationalist Caucasus, many people often view the term "peace activist" as a synonym for "traitor." But, in the case of Armenian theater actor/director Georgi Vanyan, promoting peace is all about promoting ordinary well-being. Vanyan plans to set up a peace village in Georgia, where the Caucasus’ most implacable foes -- Armenians and Azerbaijanis -- can interact free of government restrictions.
The free communication zone would be established in the Georgian village of Tekalo, located not far from the Armenian and Azerbaijani borders. Vanyan, who has also tried to stage Azerbaijani film festivals in Yerevan, hopes that the site would become the venue for all confidence-building projects involving the two countries, Global Voices South Caucasus Editor Onnik Krikorian reports. The project proposes capitalizing on the precedent of peaceful coexistence between ethnic Azeris and Armenians in Georgia.
Underlying the initiative is also Montesquieu's premise that "peace is the natural effect of trade" -- a notion reflected in Georgia's current push for a pan-Caucasus free trade zone.
Not long ago, many Armenians and Azerbaijanis, indifferent to bombastic war rhetoric at home, actively exchanged goods at a market not far from Tekalo. The project will try to bring some of that back.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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