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Al Jazeera English in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

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After a hectic two days accompanying a film crew from Al Jazeera English to interviews and locations I had planned for them before their arrival, time for a break now they're in Nagorno Karabakh. If the official representation of the disputed and self-declared republic had anything to do with it, the whole schedule would have been disrupted and their journey delayed until Monday even though they need to be in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday. 
Soviet style bureaucracy at its worst. Michael Andersen and Richard Gillespie had already sent their accreditation letters and application forms weeks before arriving on Thursday morning, and the Karabakh consul had confirmed to me by phone two days beforehand that everything was processed. Stupidly, we believed them. On Thursday we were instead told that it was necessary to complete the same forms again. 
They were also told not to travel to Karabakh on a weekend because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was closed. Instead they should cancel Friday's schedule and travel then or Sunday. Of course, the consul knew someone who could drive them for $300, but when it became apparent nobody was going to buy any of that, she changed her mind and let them travel as requested. No joy with arranging an interview with the Nagorno Karabakh President or Minister of Foreign Affairs, though. 
Nobody knew when they'd be back in Karabakh and we "needed to write an official request" for an interview anyway. Great, especially as Al Jazeera English ad already sent such an "official request" twice. We were needlessly delayed for an interview with former Karabakh commander Zhirayr Sefilian by 40 minutes as a result. Still, looks like we have an interview with the Armenian president, Serge Sargsyan, on Tuesday when they return to Yerevan to accompany one already held with former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
Armenia's a little bit more together when it comes to dealing with foreign journalists. Nagorno Karabakh, despite its small size, obviously isn't. Hope Michael and Richard have better luck on the ground. 

1 Comment

Onnik Krikorian | February 26, 2009 10:27 AM | Reply

Michael just sent me this -- the documentary will be shown this weekend and later available online:


Michael Andersen and Mulberry Media have produced a documentary on the latest developments in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, particularly looking at the impact of oil money - Azerbaijan's economy is quickly becoming one of the richest in the world. The Azeri President has used this new-found wealth to increase the military ten-fold in recent years. The Armenians are buying their weapons, at 'good prices' from their strategic partner, Russia.

Should war break out again, the risks are even greater than last year's Georgian-Russian dispute over South Ossetia... as Muslim Azerbaijan will be supported by Turkey, a NATO member, directly pitting West against East.

The frozen conflict betwen Muslim Azeris, backed by Turkey and its fellow NATO members, against Christian Armenians, backed by the Russians, is getting hotter.

Comments and feedback would be much appreciated via the al Jazeera English website, links at bottom of this message.

The documentary is being shown on al Jazeera English this weekend (28th Feb - 2 Mar) in the People and Power series, at the following times (GMT):

Sat: 01:30 12:30 19:30
Sun: 03:30 10:30 23:30
Mon: 07:30

If you don't receive al Jazeera English in your area, you can watch via this link:


What do you think?