More foreign journalists, experts are under fire for traveling to Karabakh
    Another wave of anti-Azerbaijani sentiments

    KARABAKH  23 November 2022 - 13:08

    Investigations Team of Caliber.Az

    In the aftermath of the second Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, official Baku announced mass reconstruction in the war-torn region, allocating a vast budget to mega projects such as smart villages and solar energy power. The general idea behind Azerbaijan's heavy investment in the war-torn region is to demonstrate the Karabakh region's scale of destruction and neglect for almost three decades. As a result of the completion of the first phase of reconstruction, some residents returned to their homeland in Zengilan’s Aghali village, which has been rebuilt as a smart village.

    The post-conflict reconstruction in Karabakh enabled Azerbaijan to attract foreign countries and companies to contribute to the rebuilding process and reach out to the international community for more empathy. Although it is hard to claim that the entire world community demonstrated solidarity with Azerbaijan to address its grievances following the end of the most protracted conflict in the post-Soviet region, there are some cases when foreign bloggers, academicians, and journalists took a short visit to the recently de-occupied territories in Karabakh to witness both destruction and reconstruction scales.

    In December 2020, July 2021, and 2022 various foreign journalists’ groups visited the ruined Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Shusha cities, including damaged historical and cultural sites. However, the reaction to foreigners' visits to Karabakh has not been usually welcomed in certain Western circles that take a strictly anti-Azerbaijani stance.

    Numerous foreign media outlets are closely linked with well-known Armenian lobbyists. As a result, some journalists who decided to travel to the Karabakh region came under fire and harsh criticism, sometimes even facing death threats by ultra-nationalist groups. While such criticism and issued death threats do not contribute to confidence building between Azerbaijani and Armenian communities, it fuels enmity and hatred.

    As such, on November 16, 2022, a group of Canadian bloggers visited the Karabakh region and shared their impressions on social media. Traditionally their content became an object of harsh criticism, mostly by foreigners of Armenian origin from Western countries, including members of ultra-nationalist groups.

    The situation worsened when one of the Canadian bloggers, Shai de Luca, announced on social media that he was closing his account for a while due to numerous death threats from Armenian ultra-nationalists.

    According to Luca, who is also a member of the LGBT community, "Twitter platform is not safe and sane for Jewish anymore due to hate speech against himself".

    During this trip, Shai de Luca visited local Jewish cultural and religious sites based in Baku, and Guba, which is home to the ethnic Jewish community. In his Facebook post, Luca said that "the stories of the Caucasus as it pertains to Jews are certainly Complicated. But, if Jewish history was silenced from the various lands we found refuge in, we’d have no stories to tell".

    His trip was concluded by a visit to Aghdam and Shusha cities in Karabakh.

    Other Canadian bloggers also were harshly criticized for accepting the Azerbaijani government's invitation to visit Karabakh at the expense of "undermining of ethnic Armenians' rights."

    Obviously, accepting the invitation of the Azerbaijani side to visit Karabakh should not be a tough thing as this is another way to get acquainted with the results of the violent ethnic conflict that purged around 700.000 ethnic Azerbaijanis from the region and erased their cultural heritage. Similar trips have once been arranged by Armenian authorities for other foreigners illegally travelling to Karabakh to see the scale of the first Karabakh war.

    The reason for such visits to Karabakh organized by Armenia was to address the “concerns of the ethnic Armenian community” and create an international defence line against Azerbaijan, albeit unsuccessfully. As a matter of fact, international law was on the Azerbaijani side in the Karabakh issue, strengthening its position and neutralizing all following anti-Azerbaijani statements and sanction documents.

    Hence, with the military victory in a 44-day-long war, Azerbaijan now restored its internationally recognized territories, and its attempts to present the outcomes of the long-term conflict to foreign experts and bring the case to the attention of the international community should not come as a surprise.

    Caliber.Az

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