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Anzhelika Zakaryan

Journalist from Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh and Consultant to YMCA Europe in the the Roots for Peace project

Blog Series 2021: Forging Partnerships for Sustainable Peace

How can we build efficient and inclusive partnerships for sustainable peace? Our PBF Voices Blog series entails pointed, (self-) critical, subjective and opiniated remarks on the current opportunities and challenges in peacebuilding. Where are the gaps? How can we strengthen our efforts further?

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of FriEnt.

Dreaming about Peace

Interview with Anzhelika Zakaryan, YMCA Europe Armenia
21 April 2021
Levi Meir Clancy I Unsplash

How do we make plans for the future? Anzhelika Zakaryan, YMCA Europe Armenia, emphasises the lack of vision for young people in Nagorno Karabakh and determines the barriers to building sustainable peace.

What is the situation like for youth in Nagorno-Karabakh?

The situation in Nagorno Karabakh is very difficult today. It is completely new for young people like me because we were born after 1994, we were already born in independent Artsakh, we lived in that spirit. It is difficult for us to adapt to the fact that we have lost a lot of territories and lost our young friends. The biggest problem for young people in Karabakh today, however, along with security, is the lack of a vision for the future. Why security? Because almost every day we hear the news that in this or that village the Azeris shot at our Armenian people, threw stones at their cars ․․․ Besides, after the war, almost all the territories became the border. As for the vision of the future, how to make plans for the future, when we have only a 5-year guarantee of the presence of peacekeepers, even those 5 years, as we see, are not so safe.

What do you think is needed for young people to join forces across national borders to build peace? What would you define as the main barriers from the different sides to that?

At the moment, people in Karabakh are in a very difficult psychological situation. I think they need professional psychological intervention. But that is not the only issue. We can not think of peace when Azerbaijan creates a museum of victory in the city of Baku, where it creates disgraceful, very insulting statues of Armenian soldiers. When they throw stones at us, they shoot at the civilian population while working in the fields. I think the biggest obstacle for us to think about peace at the moment is the continuation of the hate propaganda of Azerbaijan. Violence creates counter-violence. Enmity and hate speeches are the problem of both sides. If we want to live in peace with each other, we have to overcome this. We will only be able to see a positive future if hate is overcome and attitudes towards the other side can be changed. But we need signs of goodwill for that.

You do a lot of journalistic work in border villages through storytelling. How can it help to build bridges across cultural divides? What has been your most important takeaway? What do (young) people most hope for?

I work as a journalist, but my goal is to show that people live everywhere with the same problems, the same desires, the same daily life. I want the world to know the historical way of these people, to archive it for history. I think that with every peace lies the human, the human emotions. Today it is very difficult for me to talk about peace because I have no idea what it will look like in such conditions, how much it is possible. But I assure you, peace is the only thing that the people of Artsakh dream about today.

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