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NEW & SOCIAL MEDIA IN ARMENIA – AZERBAIJAN  CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION Onnik Krikorian   Caucasus Regional Editor, Global Voi...
What is Global Voices? Global Voices  is a community of more than 300 bloggers and translators around the world who work t...
Global Voices Family Global Voices http://www.globalvoicesonline.org Rising Voices http://rising.globalvoicesonline.org/ G...
Nagorno Karabakh <ul><li>1994 ceasefire
Approx 25,000 dead
Approx 1 million refugees and IDPs
14-16 percent of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenian forces
Border skirmishes and clashes still occur
Territorial integrity vs. Right to self-determination
Peace deal still elusive
Threat of new war  </li></ul>
Online Background <ul><li>Armenia February 2008 presidential election left 10 dead  Media censored during a 20-day state o...
Azerbaijan Foreign radio stations taken off the air in January 2009 Arrest and imprisoned of two video blogging youth acti...
Georgia August 2008 war with Russia Internet fastest and cheapest in region </li></ul>
Regional Developments <ul><li>Growth in Internet penetration and mobile Internet
Emergence of progressive youth movements in Azerbaijan as well as  alternative voices in Armenia and Georgia
Impressive use of new/social media by alternative voices in Azerbaijan as Internet penetration rapidly increases
$4 million USAID in Armenia for alternative resources in the media over the next four years </li></ul>
Obstacles to Peace <ul><li>Civil society ineffective in outreach
Mistaken notion that Armenians and Azeris are ethnically incompatible put into widespread circulation
Communicating with the 'enemy' discouraged
Political forces in  Armenia and Azerbaijan exploit Nagorno Karabakh conflict for short-term domestic political gain
Media generally perpetuates negative stereotypes of the 'enemy'
Media practices self-censorship </li></ul>
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Kobuleti

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  1. 1. NEW & SOCIAL MEDIA IN ARMENIA – AZERBAIJAN CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION Onnik Krikorian Caucasus Regional Editor, Global Voices Online http://www.globalvoicesonline.org [email_address] [email_address]
  2. 2. What is Global Voices? Global Voices is a community of more than 300 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. Global Voices is translated into more than 15 languages by volunteer translators, who have formed the Lingua project. Additionally, Global Voices has an Advocacy website and network to help people speak out online in places where their voices are censored. We also have an outreach project called Rising Voices to help marginalized communities use citizen media to be heard.
  3. 3. Global Voices Family Global Voices http://www.globalvoicesonline.org Rising Voices http://rising.globalvoicesonline.org/ Global Voices Advocacy http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/
  4. 4. Nagorno Karabakh <ul><li>1994 ceasefire
  5. 5. Approx 25,000 dead
  6. 6. Approx 1 million refugees and IDPs
  7. 7. 14-16 percent of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenian forces
  8. 8. Border skirmishes and clashes still occur
  9. 9. Territorial integrity vs. Right to self-determination
  10. 10. Peace deal still elusive
  11. 11. Threat of new war </li></ul>
  12. 12. Online Background <ul><li>Armenia February 2008 presidential election left 10 dead Media censored during a 20-day state of emergency
  13. 13. Azerbaijan Foreign radio stations taken off the air in January 2009 Arrest and imprisoned of two video blogging youth activists
  14. 14. Georgia August 2008 war with Russia Internet fastest and cheapest in region </li></ul>
  15. 15. Regional Developments <ul><li>Growth in Internet penetration and mobile Internet
  16. 16. Emergence of progressive youth movements in Azerbaijan as well as alternative voices in Armenia and Georgia
  17. 17. Impressive use of new/social media by alternative voices in Azerbaijan as Internet penetration rapidly increases
  18. 18. $4 million USAID in Armenia for alternative resources in the media over the next four years </li></ul>
  19. 19. Obstacles to Peace <ul><li>Civil society ineffective in outreach
  20. 20. Mistaken notion that Armenians and Azeris are ethnically incompatible put into widespread circulation
  21. 21. Communicating with the 'enemy' discouraged
  22. 22. Political forces in Armenia and Azerbaijan exploit Nagorno Karabakh conflict for short-term domestic political gain
  23. 23. Media generally perpetuates negative stereotypes of the 'enemy'
  24. 24. Media practices self-censorship </li></ul>
  25. 25. Stereotyping the 'enemy' [A] negative context [is set] in the public consciousness, which hinders dialogue and mutual understanding […] Without more accurate and unbiased information […] free of negative rhetoric and stereotypes, Armenians and Azerbaijanis will continue to see themselves as enemies without any common ground. Report on media in Armenia and Azerbaijan , Caucasus Resource Research Center
  26. 26. Perpuating hatred [...] people are often inclined to consider their existing attitudes and beliefs to be true and filter the news through this lens . Thus, they accept messages in order to maintain their original perceptions. […] bias in the local media [...] serves as a means to fuel and perpetuate hatred . This is a role the media has and continues to play with regards to the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. Report on media in Armenia and Azerbaijan , Caucasus Resource Research Center
  27. 27. Another Perspective Nowhere in the world can you find two groups of people closer to each other. That is why we often have these stupid disputes between Armenians and Azeris. &quot;This house is Armenian&quot; or &quot;this house is Azeri.&quot; Or &quot;this music is Armenian or Azeri.&quot; This is exactly because the two have so much in common. [...] I normally say, and people don't like this, that Armenians are just Christian Azeris and Azeris are just Muslim Armenians . That is how much they are alike. Azerbaijani journalist , Re-arming the Caucasus, Al Jazeera English
  28. 28. Digital media and conflict Throughout history, war has affected media, with conflict often creating an information void. In the 21st century, media has begun to affect war more than ever before. Digital media technologies [...] have increased communication and information dissemination in conflict settings [...]. These new tools can be used to foment violence or to foster peace , and it is possible to build communication systems that encourage dialogue and nonviolent political solutions. Ivan Sigal, Global Voices Online Executive Director, Digital media in conflict-prone societies, Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA)
  29. 29. Catalyst for change <ul><li>Increased use of Facebook, Twitter, and progressive youth blogs
  30. 30. Global Voices Online coverage
  31. 31. Arrest, detention and eventual imprisonment of Azeri video blogging youth activists, Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli
  32. 32. Discovery of existing, but unknown, Armenian-Azeri online/offline relationships and networks. Natural growth in communication
  33. 33. Potential use of online tools for fact-checking by journalists in Armenia and Azerbaijan </li></ul>
  34. 34. Crossing the ceasefire line <ul><li>Facebook, Internet chat, email
  35. 35. Skype for secure communication
  36. 36. Skype for interviews
  37. 37. Online discussion of common problems </li></ul>
  38. 38. Twitter Contact
  39. 39. Potential <ul><li>Viral nature of online, social media
  40. 40. Civil Society needs contacts for its conflict resolution, simulation, transformation programs
  41. 41. Increased communication and networking
  42. 42. Cooperation in Georgia and other third countries, such as a project on Armenian and Azerbaijani co-existence in Georgia </li></ul>
  43. 43. http://www.oneworld.am/diversity/
  44. 46. http://peace.facebook.com
  45. 47. Words of caution New media tools will certainly help in getting people better acquainted with each other, but at the same time can also be used to reaffirm existing biases. Just search on the Internet for Armenian and Azerbaijani web sites and you can find a lot of trash and very harmful discourse from nationalist websites. I’m mildly optimistic, but at the same time think we should be very cautious about what we find on the Internet as well. Bart Woord , International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) Secretary General
  46. 48. Holistic approach I think you can’t do it just with social media tools, but as we’ve seen over the past 15 years, you definitely can’t do it by meeting in Tbilisi for a weekend every summer. It becomes an “entertainment” and I’ve had experience with those conferences in Georgia where it’s just one big coffee break and a waste of money. However, I think that both approaches combined could propel things along . Micael Bogar , Projects Manager at the American University's Center for Social Media
  47. 49. What next? I would very much like to see more debate among bloggers in Armenia and Azerbaijan . We really need some kind of initiative for this because I would really like to see borders opened and conflict resolved. My mother says that when she went to school she had Armenians among her friends. I would very much like myself or my children when they grow up to be able to say the same kind of thing to their children. Arzu Geybullayeva, Regional Analyst and Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines blogger
  48. 50. Recent developments
  49. 51. http://threatened.globalvoicesonline.org
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