Another Year, Another One Caucasus

After covering last year’s One Caucasus Festival for Meydan TV there was no way I was going to miss this year’s. That was just as well as there was definitely more international media interest in the event that brings Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians together in a small, somewhat isolated village located about two hours away from Tbilisi.

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Alternative and Counter Narratives in the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict

No sooner than I’m back from Yerevan, where I presented my work on alternative and counter narratives in the context of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in general, than yet another exchange of fire has left innocent civilians dead on the Line of Contact (LoC) separating Karabakh forces, which include conscripts from Armenia, and the Azerbaijani military. As usual, emotions were high on both sides following the violence and also as usual, nationalist and extremist voices made attempted to drown out any voices of reason who instead called for progress in negotiations to end a conflict that has gone on for way too long and claimed thousands of lives after a ceasefire agreement that has been anything but.

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Unlikely Neighbours: Ethnic Armenian-Azeri Coexistence in Georgia

With peace still looking elusive, and all signs pointing to the possibility of renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Stratfor recently published my photo story on ethnic Armenian-Azeri coexistence in Georgia. Offering a much needed alternative narrative on relations between the two ethnic groups, it’s a topic I’ve covered continuously since 2009 for BBC Azeri, RFE/RL, and others.

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Tbilisi: A Regional Hub for Alternative Music in the South Caucasus?

Having moved from the UK to Armenia in 1998 to work for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) it was only natural that I started to take an interest in an alternative music scene that, while not really existing, was emerging at the time. From 2001 onwards the situation started to change, and bands such as Gyumri’s The Bambir really grabbed my attention. By the mid-2000s other bands started to emerge and those that had been dormant during the electricity shortages of the 1990s began to re-surface.

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DiHaj in Tbilisi, A Week Later in Baku Unveils Azerbaijan’s Eurovision Entry

I won’t pretend to be a Eurovision fan as it’s really not my thing. Until I moved to the South Caucasus from the U.K. I never ever watched it and actually thought it something best avoided. True, standards in the international music competition have increased considerably since Eastern Europe and other former Soviet republics have participated, and the often acerbic commentary on on Twitter can be fun, but in the few years that really hasn’t been enough. Last year did at least interest me a little given that a band from Tbilisi, the Young Georgian Lolitaz, represented Georgia as I’ve known their lead singer, Nika Kocharov, and photographed the band since 2005. This year has also sparked my interest given that another band I’ve been photographing for a year now, Baku-based DiHaj, is representing Azerbaijan, and pretty good they are too.

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BBC Azeri Interview with Thomas Goltz

After nearly 19 years of communicating online, I finally managed to meet Thomas Goltz, the American writer and journalist best known for his Azerbaijan Diary, Chechnya Diary, and Georgia Diary books. I also managed to interview him for the BBC's Azerbaijan Service on his latest project, On Aggregate: Champions Without a Home, the story of Azerbaijan's Qarabagh-Aghdam football team which has been unable to play home games since 1993 when their city was captured by Armenian forces during the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh.

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Woodstock Without Borders: One Caucasus Festival

I’ve been meaning to attend the annual One Caucasus festival since it started three years ago, but this year’s event, held 25-28 August in the Georgian village of Tserakvi, was the first time that I have. Naturally, I put together two video reports, in Azerbaijani for the BBC’s Azeri Service and in English for Meydan TV.

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