As it has already been reported by media, on October 29 – November 1 at “Gandglik” resort near Baku a group of journalists from Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh met their Azerbaijani partners on the project titled “Karabagh Conflict in the Mirror of Media and Public Opinion in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mountainous Karabagh", implemented by Yerevan and Baku Press Clubs with the participation of Stepanakert Press Club (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 3-9, 2001).
This was the third finalizing meeting of the project participants, where the results of the opinion polls and media monitoring held in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mountainous Karabagh were discussed. Thus, the visit was of purely working nature. While in general opinion of the participants, including the representative of the donor organization, the Open Society Institute, the project was a success, and the work done is of great value, this was not the subject that interested some Azerbaijani media. Someone seemed to be pursuing quite a different objective: to use the partner meeting as another occasion for inducing anti-Armenian hysteria, on the one hand, and to accuse the Azerbaijani project participants of treason and toadying “the enemy who is not satisfied with 20% of occupied land, who needs to send his envoys for espionage”, on the other.
The last part of this sentence is a quotation from “Zerkalo” (“The Mirror”) newspaper of Baku, which probably outdid the other media, having published on November 2 this essay, forcing one to recollect the Soviet times of “spy mania” and anti-imperialist propaganda. The headline is adequate: “Armenian Terrorists Visited Baku.”
The authors of the pathetic article quote “Olaylar” news agency, which allegedly conducted its own investigation and found that at least three Armenians out of the group visiting Baku are members of various terrorist organizations. Thus, the expert of Yerevan Press Club Ashot Melikyan, as it has turned out, is a member of “Tseghakron” organization (called “Chegakron” by the distorting “Mirror”), where he has been participating in the unit called “Chambarak” ever since 1999 (this date was expected to reinforce the validity of the information) – not earlier and not later. Another meeting participant Hrair Avetisian (called Khraer Ovetisian by the newspaper), an employee of Artsakh TV company, is, as “the investigators” maintain, Melikyan’s colleague in the terrorist organization and is specialized in gathering intelligence information. The cameraman of the same TV company Beniamin Karakhanian (“Zerkalo” spelling is Benyamin Garakhanian), is no one else but the assistant to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Ruben Shugarian, allegedly in charge of information gathering on energy and oil resources of Azerbaijan. Moreover, the authors of the so-called “investigation” even took pains “to investigate” the families of Avetisian and Karakhanian, claiming that the uncle of the former is an employee of the Security Service of the RA President Robert Kocharian, and the uncle of the latter is the leader of Karabagh division of “Hay Dat” (“Zerkalo” spelling is “Khaydad”). That is, here come the “terrorists” and “spies”!
Certainly, a lot of other “gems” could be cited from other publications devoted to our visit to Baku. However, these are hardly worth paying attention to. Let the cursing and demands to punish the visitors be judged by the conscience of the authors. However, one cannot but react, when lies are made up about people, and these intended lies are disseminated through all possible channels.
By the way, knowing very well the colleagues who were in the group that visited Baku and being certain that none of them is engaged in anything besides the journalistic profession, we decided to double-check if at least the information about their relatives is true. However, it appeared that these data are not even somewhat close to reality.
Apparently, this time “Zerkalo” applied the principle of the more outrageous the lie is, the harder it is to refute. And truly, how can Ashot Melikyan deny his membership in “Tseghakron”, if he has never been its member and even has no idea as to what its activities are? Or – how can the simple Karabagh cameraman Beniamin Karakhanian (by the way, born in Baku) prove that he has only seen the Deputy Foreign Minister Ruben Shugarian on TV or during shootings for his TV company, and the Deputy Minister himself is not even aware of the existence of this cameraman?
The Azerbaijani journalists seem to have either dreamed about the arrival of terrorists and spies in their country (this may occur, when the spy mania becomes an epidemic), or else those who do not wish a civilized dialogue to take place have put “Zerkalo” on a false track, and the newspaper did not find it necessary to re-check the data. Apparently, some of our colleagues are so obsessed by longing for an information war, that any dirt thrown at the counterpart seems a sweet pie to them. The professional level of the lance-knights with their pens atilt, their treatment of facts can be assessed by circumstance that the majority of names of individuals and organizations are misspelled. But this is only a remark in passing…
The most important idea underlying the publications of the hostility-breathing Azerbaijani media is really worth paying attention to. In the interpretation of “Zerkalo” this idea sounds as follows: “We have at our disposal everything for a victory, the only thing lacking is the order of the General Commander…”
One cannot help answering this: if the information about the availability of everything needed for victory is as precise as the data about Azerbaijan being visited by spies and terrorists from Armenia disguised as journalists, the order of the General Commander may be somewhat premature.
Yet, we will abstain from further comments, especially in the view of the fact that a number of media were objective enough in covering the visit of Armenian colleagues. This means there is still hope to continue the constructive contacts and dialog.