I am a citizen of Georgia.
I was born and brought up here, never leaving its borders until two years ago. I have heard about the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but I have never felt it.
Well, everyday I see kids playing in the yard. Some of them are ethnic Georgians, some Azeri, and some of them are Armenians.
They play hide-and-seek. Sometimes they fight. And even if they fight, cry and run to their parents, the next day I still see them playing together.
I see the school where they go everyday, study, perhaps even cheat on exams, or help each other cheat on exams.
I see them falling in love, getting married, having kids, getting divorced. Or staying married until the end of their days (for believers of “happily ever after”).
No wonder that I see surprise in the eyes of an Armenian trader who works at the same table as an Azeri and Georgian trader in the Marneuli market when we ask her about relationships between the ethnic groups.
She is surprised why we are even asking. How could they have problems? They are friends, they work together.
And in Tsofi (Tsopi), a small village in Georgia’s Marneuli region mostly known for archeological finds. For some, it’s the symbol of diversity — ethnic Azeris and Armenians living together.
A friendly woman makes coffee for us and tells us about her son’s wedding: “Half of the guests were Azeris, half were Armenians,” she says.
Living conditions are terrible in Tsofi as in most Georgian villages, but perhaps even worse as they don’t have land which they can work on or rent out. In earlier days, they lived better, There was a marble quarry on the nearby mountain and even a rope-way to Sadakhlo, a larger village in Marneuli.
They complain about unemployment, but never about each other.
Sevil Huseynova, Positive examples of coexistance from the History of People and States of South Caucasus, Yerevan, 2009
I hope to see peace in South Caucasus.
If people from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia can coexist here, then surely they can coexist anywhere.
Maybe I am a believer of “happily ever after.”