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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In Georgian Village, Armenians And Azeris Find Common Ground

Published 24 July 2013

The Georgian village of Tsopi, located just a few kilometers from the Armenian border, is home to both ethnic Azeris and ethnic Armenians. Although tensions linger between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh war of the 1990s, the two groups coexist peacefully in this remote Georgian setting. British journalist and photographer Onnik James Krikorian, based in the Caucasus region since 1998, has been documenting instances of peaceful cohabitation between the two sides in an effort to create a new narrative of reconciliation at a grassroots level. He also uses his work to train journalists and engage young activists in discussing the unresolved conflict. For more photos by Krikorian, see his website. (14 PHOTOS)


Ethnic Armenian residents of the Georgian village of Tsopi, where some 80 percent of the population is ethnic Azeri


Economic conditions are poor in the village, but life here is peaceful.


The ethnic distinctions in the village are not immediately obvious, and members of both communities speak one another's language.


With the local quarry no longer in operation, many men are unemployed and often seek temporary work elsewhere. Ethnic Armenians look to Yerevan while ethnic Azeris find work in Baku.


Ethnic Armenian and Azeri children attend a friend's sixth birthday party, where everyone shares a table with regional dishes.


An ethnic Armenian teacher, fluent in Azeri, teaches the Georgian language to a class of Azeri first-graders.


Ethnic Armenians and Azeris study in separate classrooms, but often help each other with homework after school hours.


An ethnic Armenian pupil in a dilapidated classroom. Students and teachers are waiting for the Georgian government to fulfill its promises to help repair the school.


Children play together after school.


Although most inhabitants claim one ethnicity, some residents have a mixed background, like this woman, who is half Armenian and half Greek.


Preparations for an ethnic Azeri wedding. Neighbors help out regardless of ethnicity.


Ethnic Azeri relatives of the bride wait for her to arrive.


Although most of the wedding guests are ethnic Azeris from the surrounding Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia, some are ethnic Armenians from Tsopi.


An ethnic Azeri in the village of Khodjurni, neighboring Tsopi. There, the numbers are reversed, with ethnic Armenians making up 80 percent of the population, and ethnic Azeris in the minority.