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On National Tolerance and Azerbaijani Films
I am among those who joined the Facebook group against the showing of Azerbaijani films in Armenia recently. Am I really that narrow-minded of a patriot that I would go against cultural interactions? Not at all. A few years ago when – as always, with foreign financing – a survey was being undertaken among Armenian social and political circles on the future of Armenia-Turkey and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, I myself proposed establishing and developing mutual cultural ties.
What has changed now, for me to be against such a thing? A very important factor. Justice has been violated, that is, the principle of reciprocity has been broken. If there is an intention of showcasing Azerbaijani films in Yerevan, apparently with American money, then a similar event must be organised in Baku as well, that is, a screening of Armenian films. If that is not taking place, then an incorrect message is being broadcast to the entire world; people would think that there is a need of encouraging tolerance only among Armenians.
I cannot claim that we are a tolerant society in the Western sense. Without a doubt, we ourselves have a lack of tolerance with regards to certain minorities even in our own society. We have yet a long way to go. However, the level of tolerance in Armenian society is quite a few rungs higher than the tolerance of Azerbaijani society. And this refers not only to interactions between our peoples.
The principle of reciprocity is a most important principle in inter-state relations. Its preservation is imperative. When it comes to international relations, any unjust compromise in our region is perceived as a sign of weakness and could lead to very dangerous consequences indeed.
One must not forget that the latest Azerbaijani film viewed by our society starred a citizen of the Republic of Armenia, Manvel Saribekyan.

Ara Papian
Head, “Modus Vivendi” Center
12 November 2010
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Modus Vivendi

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