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An unexpected visit to an Azeri village wedding

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It was a dream come true. Despite knowing each other for several months online, the chances of meeting regional analyst and superstar blogger Arzu Geybullayeva seemed remote at best and unlikely at worst. As Arzu is based in Istanbul, Turkey, and Baku, Azerbaijan, it's not easy for someone based in Armenia with an Armenian  surname to meet even virtual friends from the country's easterm neighbour in the South Caucasus.

Armenia and Azerbaijan still remain locked in negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the 20-year-old conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Rhetoric from the authorities in Baku remains as bellicose as ever and the situation is hardly ideal in Armenia or especially among ethnic Armenians in Karabakh itself. Meetings between those from either country on neutral ground are often frowned upon by the majority population in each.  


But always expect the unexpected in the South Caucasus, and a meeting of youth activists inTelavi, Georgia, saw the unlikely happen. With myself presenting a module on new media for the meeting, Arzu was also present as a facilitator for the Azerbaijani delegation. Picking her up from Tbilisi International Airport on Sunday morning, the two hour journey to Telavi provided a wonderful opportunity to finally speak in person, but the best was yet to come.

Ten minutes outside of Telavi was Karajala, a village Inhabited by approximately 8,000 ethnic Azeris in Georgia. As Arzu and I had often spoken about joint projects using traditional and new media to overcome the negative stereotypes of the other in play in Armenia and Azerbaijan, it provided us with the first of hopefully many projects along the same lines. What we weren't expecting, however, was to walk straight into an ethnic Azeri wedding.

An article accompanied by my photos on Karajala by Arzu Geybullayeva will soon be available on Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso while the both of us will blog more about the visit. Until then,  an audio slideshow put hastily together late last night is below. The whole experience was indeed a dream come true. Although I've interviewed Arzu by Skype for Global Voices Online before, little could I have ever imagined that not only would we finally meet, but we'd also work together.

Hopefully, the first time will not be the last.

All photos: Karajala, Georgia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2009


Dagen Valentine | October 1, 2009 7:44 PM | Reply

Onnik and Arzu,

Awesome. Collaborative efforts like this are what the region needs. Work like yours will help Azeris and Armenians recognize, accept, and celebrate their differences and similarities.

I enjoyed the slideshow.


Onnik Krikorian | October 1, 2009 9:55 PM | Reply

Back in Yerevan and on the desktop computer to watch Arzu's video interview. Once again, there's very obviously the need for an external mic for the Nokia N82. The noise from the wind is too much, and I can't actually remember it being much when it was being shot.

scary azeri | October 1, 2009 10:55 PM | Reply

Wow, I loved this! Well done, guys. Arzu- you are too cute! You need to do more video interviews. :)
On a more serious note, I have found this fascinating. I never KNEW there was an Azeri village in Georgia.

Nicolas | October 1, 2009 10:56 PM | Reply

external mic would be a very good idea ;)

very nice work Onnik & Arzu, and I don't find a better thing to say than Dagen Valentine wrote "Collaborative efforts like this are what the region needs"

Onnik Krikorian | October 1, 2009 11:05 PM | Reply

Scary, ethnic Azeris are the largest minority in Georgia -- 284,761 according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azeris_in_Georgia_(country)

Interestingly, the largest concentration (224,606) is in the Marneuli region which borders Armenia. Even more interestingly, not only does most of the traffic to and from Armenia pass through Marneuli without problems, but there are also some villages inhabited by both ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azeris. :)

Medea Georgia | October 2, 2009 6:28 AM | Reply

Hey, guys, great initiative...not only for Armenians and Azeris to get closer to each other, but for Georgians as well...Viva to integrated and strong South Caucasus

Narmina | October 2, 2009 9:31 AM | Reply

It is so nice that there are people who want to see South Caucasus united. I hope that one day end will come to war and hate between nations in Caucasus. We have to be united and support each other!

Onnik Krikorian | October 2, 2009 9:50 AM | Reply

Thanks, Narmina. Meanwhile, one person has reported that the video doesn't show or something (but they're in Turkey) and another in Baku says that the audio slideshow at the end doesn't. Is anyone else having these problems?

Narmina | October 2, 2009 10:01 AM | Reply

I also don't see any video or slideshow, only the first photo. By the way I am located in Baku.

Onnik Krikorian | October 2, 2009 10:14 AM | Reply

Seems like it might be a problem viewing this site with this content in Internet Explore. If readers can't see both the video and the audio slideshow, they're also available (and apparently work) at:



Lala | October 7, 2009 8:35 AM | Reply

Well done guys!!! This is exactly what we need in order to get some piece in the region! Thnx!

Efsane | October 10, 2009 7:20 AM | Reply

In this video Arzu the problems and life style of Azeri turks livin in georgia very good and concretly. Everything was cool. But there was a problem with sound of wind. It was interesting and wonderful church, but I would like to see the mosque too, Arzu. There are azerbaijani people living in Borchali in Georgia. I wish you only success in your activity. Good Luck.

Onnik Krikorian | October 18, 2009 10:13 AM | Reply

Arzu's article on the visit accompanied by my photos is now available in English and Italian on Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso:



Coincidentally, I was again in Tbilisi last week and paid a visit with two other friends from Azerbaijan to an Azeri tea house run by... ethnic Armenians.

IWPR recently ran a story on the place:


Ibrahim | March 2, 2010 2:48 AM | Reply

hey guys good work.i wish people of both side,mainly from armenian side understood that the peace is the only way to success in relationship. i hope in near future armenian government will release occupied azeri lands and nations again could live in peace. I am just wondering in everywhere apart from Armenia and Azerbaijan both nations people live in good relationship,even simply in Georgia.so why we can"t live in peace without killing,shooting???

What do you think?