Importance of overcoming effects of ethnocentrism in Karabakh

Importance of overcoming effects of ethnocentrism in Karabakh

An important aspect in the process of resolving interethnic conflicts is the overcoming of mental attitudes that hinder the peaceful interaction of peoples. These days, the achievement of peace in Karabakh is not limited to observing an indefinite ceasefire: in addition to restoration work, including the renewal of the region's transportation system, reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed by the war and occupation, it is necessary to overcome the manifestations of cultural intolerance resulting from the Armenian ethnocentrism.

Throughout history the South Caucasus has been at the junction of different cultures and civilizations. For more than a thousand of years Nagorno-Karabakh has experienced the collapse of empires, states and feudal principalities. It is impossible to pick out any nationality or nation in the conditions of the region's cultural diversity: toponymy is often mixed, not to mention numerous linguistic borrowings.

However, over the past 30 years, Nagorno-Karabakh has become a mono-ethnic region. The separatists sacrificed cultural ties between peoples, declared cultural incompatibility with their neighbors, relying on ties with the foreign diaspora. In the early 1990s, Armenian nationalists decided that the future of the region should be in the hands of one nation, or to be more precise, of one clan, around which the ethnic group's efforts to be consolidated.

It might seem that everything has been done: making the conflict more ancient, the mythologization of the genetic and cultural incompatibility of Armenians and Azerbaijanis, the isolation and subsequent removal of the Azerbaijanis from the history of Karabakh. However, over 30 years of separatist policy, foreign Armenians did not massively migrate to the former Azerbaijani autonomy, the region's housing stock was never restored, and its infrastructure in the majority of cases was hopelessly lost. Abandoned and devastated settlements and selectively restored villages are a typical scenery of Karabakh.

In the opinion of the world Armenians, the Karabakh conflict has never really been a solution to the national question. For foreign Armenians, Karabakh has been a hopeless business project. The "project" was so unprofitable partly due to the clan system and corruption of Armenia and the occupation regime in Karabakh. But more importantly, cultural intolerance and attempts to justify violence against the Azeri population of Karabakh and its surrounding areas have never contributed to making the region attractive. The world community has never shared the ethnocentric attitude of Armenian separatism.

Over 30 years of occupation, the superiority of one culture over others has taken root instead of diversity. Armenian culture began to be regarded as the only real one, superior to all others, and ultimately such ethnocentric reappraisal led to the Armenians' self-isolation.

Now there's a possibility of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities living in Karabakh peacefully. It is interesting that the Armenians of Karabakh call themselves "Karabakh people" or "Karabakh Armenians". Probably, in the long term, the demographic picture in Karabakh will change, but the representatives of Azerbaijan have repeatedly assured that they will preserve all the historical and cultural monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh, and all communities, including the Armenian one, will have access to them. If the representatives of the Armenian community manage to get rid of naive ethnocentrism, then the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities will be able to live together and achieve prosperity for the region.

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Vestnik Kavkaza

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