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ETHNIC MINORITIES / Analytical Documents

The Implications of the Second Karabakh War on Georgia's Non-Dominant Ethnic Groups

On September 27, 2020, the second Karabakh war broke out between the countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The military conflict lasted for 44 days and ended with the signing of a trilateral agreement between the President of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of Armenia, and the President of Russia on November 10, 2020, after the takeover of the city of Shushi by the military forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This war had significant ramifications not only on the countries involved in the war but also on the region as a whole and impacted the balance of power in the region.

With regard to the implications of the second Karabakh war, the context of Georgia should be considered separately, where the ethnic Azerbaijani and Armenian communities are the two largest ethnic groups in the country, after the ethnic Georgians, and reside in the same regions, municipalities, and villages. The resilience of these groups to conflict is significantly affected by the fragmentation and perfunctoriness of state policy in Georgia toward civic equality and integration, as well as institutional, systemic administrative, and social barriers at the central and local policy levels, due to which these groups are not fully able to participate in the public and economic life of Georgia. Experiences of inter-ethnic-religious dialogue and cooperation in shared social practices are even more feeble at the local level.

It is noteworthy that during the Second Karabakh War, the ethnic Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in Georgia frequently held rallies and demonstrations in support of their respective countries in war. Georgian citizens, due to their ethnic belonging, also wanted to go to fight in Karabakh during the war. There were reports of separate experiences of confrontation between these ethnic groups in Georgia. Moreover, ethic-Azerbaijani and ethic-Armenian Georgian citizens often argued and exchanged insults on social media on the topic of war. The conflicting positions of local ethnic groups were largely focused on the theme of war, and there seemed to be excessive identification and emotional involvement in the politics of the neighboring country. At the same time, the language of the representatives of these ethnic groups clearly emphasized their connection with their country citizenship namely Georgia, which nudges them toward peaceful strategies and actions on the territory of Georgia.

The presented document aims to investigate the effects of the Karabakh war on Georgian citizens. It should be noted that in the process of working on the document, more than twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with members of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in Georgia. The authors of the study observed ongoing discussions on social networks and in public and closed groups. In addition, informational and analytical materials disseminated through the local media as well as that of neighboring countries were analyzed during the preparation of the document.

The document consists of four main parts. The first part provides general information about the ethnic Azerbaijani and Armenian communities living in Georgia. The second part describes the narratives of the states of Azerbaijan and Armenia around Karabakh. The third part entails Georgia's position and its assessment from the perspective of both neighboring countries and Georgian citizens from non-dominant ethnic groups. The fourth part presents the attitudes of Georgian citizen ethnic groups around the Karabakh war. In the last, concluding section, recommendations are proposed with regard to the change of the current situation.

The document is a working report and it aims more to depict the primary trends and dynamics of the presented issue.

The full document can be found in the attached file.


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