When I moved to Estonia to study at the University of Tartu, one of the best ways to take a break and relax was by chatting with my grandma over Skype. She would ask me all kinds of questions: Is it too cold? Do they sell lavash there? Who are you friends with? She was alarmed every time she heard about fellow international students from Azerbaijan: “Are you careful?”
I don’t judge my grandma harshly for this last question. Ever since Armenia and Azerbaijan froze a years-long war over the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1994, the two nations became ghosts to each other. Borders closed down, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced so the two neighbours could “clean” their lands from each other, travelling became forbidden or too dangerous. Even the products made in the neighbouring country were prohibited from entering the domestic market.
Armenians and Azerbaijanis disappeared from each other’s lives. Only one single connection remained: the war.
For 26 years, the two nations failed to resolve the conflict and violence occasionally broke out on the border. From time to time, we heard reports about attacks from the other side and soldiers dying. As a result, for Armenians and Azerbaijanis their neighbouring country shrank and became nothing more than a dangerous bully at the border.
Two weeks ago, on 27 September, a full-scale war resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I am a journalist, so I have to constantly monitor the news and report on important developments. This task has not been easy, neither technically (propaganda lies need to be addressed in times of war) nor mentally.Continue reading