Azeri TV takes dim view of British NGO's reconciliation project

ANS TV, Baku
22 Sep 04

[Presenter] Those who want peace in the region have started a new
project.

[Correspondent, over video of news conference] ANS's regular viewers
are perhaps aware of the project. We have talked about this project
aimed at bringing peace to Azerbaijan subjected to aggression and
aggressor Armenia which are in completely different positions. The
fact that Britain is especially active in achieving peace between the
sides attracts attention. The point is that a special web page on
Karabakh launched by the BBC, which caused mixed reaction among the
public, is Britain's business.

This project was launched in Britain in the early 1990s. Three to five
minutes' long diaries are short stories written by ordinary people
without the intervention of journalists. It was launched in Georgia
nearly a year and a half ago. Those who want to implement this project
in Baku said that it was aimed at enabling people who have not been
almost heard on the air to express their opinion in public. The best
pieces from every region will be chosen, translated into English and
some other languages and broadcast in Azerbaijan, Armenia and
Georgia. The only country where this project has not been carried out
yet is Armenia.

We asked the project managers wishing those people's integration into
the world how well they were acquainted with the Karabakh problem and
how relevant the project was to our situation.

[Jonathan Cohen, Caucasus programme manager of the conflict mediation
NGO Conciliation Resources, speaking English with Azeri voice-over]
One cannot be fully informed about conflicts. Of course, we understand
it is important to collect information about the settlement of these
conflicts. For this reason, our project wants to study all the South
Caucasus countries.

[Correspondent] Then we drew their attention to the Armenian
occupation of 20 per cent of Azerbaijan which has over 1m
refugees. Asked if the project, regarded as successful in the
Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, was relevant to our reality, they answered
that radio channels broadcasting these diaries were choosing them
independently. Programmes running counter to the state and national
interests might not be broadcast, end of quote.

However, the project's representatives did not clarify what state and
nation they were talking about. Azerbaijan or Britain? Azerbaijan or
Azerbaijanis?

Leyla Hasanova, Ruslan Mammadov, ANS.