Azerbaijanis in Georgia ready to fight for Azerbaijan – report from Marneuli
Recently, the teahouses in Marneuli have been especially crowded. Here in the morning men gather, drink hot tea and share the news with each other.
The resumption of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh is the main topic of conversation here in the region, where predominantly ethnic Azerbaijanis live. The issue has overshadowed the upcoming parliamentary elections and even the coronavirus epidemic.
Information in the Georgian region of Kvemo Kartli comes mainly from Azerbaijani channels. Locals also watch Russian TV. Few people follow Georgian channels, as few know the language.
“We believe in the President of Azerbaijan”
Most local Azerbaijanis declare their support for the Azerbaijani authorities and President Ilham Aliyev.
“I support the war, because this war is not for the seizure of foreign lands, but for the liberation of our lands from the enemy. There are more than a million refugees in Azerbaijan from that war, and if we win, these peaceful people will return to their homes,” said 65-year-old Dilgar Ganiev from Marneuli.
“We believe in the president of Azerbaijan, very soon the Azerbaijani military will hoist our glorious flag in Karabakh. This is not the land of Armenians, this is not the land of the enemy, we are returning our land,” says 54-year-old Mazahira Aliyeva from the village of Kvemo Sarali.
There are many local Azerbaijanis who believe that the Karabakh conflict cannot be resolved without a war:
“I very often think about the old days, beautiful Shusha [ed. a city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where mainly Azerbaijanis lived. Armenians call this city Shushi]. How I want us to win and hear how Azerbaijani is spoken in Karabakh! I support the war, because otherwise Azerbaijan will not be able to return the land,” says Solmaz Yusubova.
She recalls that when she was a student, she often went to Karabakh for internships.
“It is a great injustice that this conflict has not been resolved for 30 years. The leading countries of the world should have been involved in this dialogue, but this did not happen. It is too late – Azerbaijan has only one solution – to return its lands by war. I support the war because I want the flag of Azerbaijan to be raised on the lands of Karabakh. Azerbaijan deserves this victory. In the 90s, the Azerbaijani people did not have the appropriate military equipment, which led to the seizure of our lands. However, today Azerbaijan is strong, we have military forces, and therefore victory is expected,” says 58-year-old Vagif Guliyev from the village of Kvemo Sarali.
“We are afraid, we are in pain, everyone who is killed is our pain. War is not good. Young people are dying. Cry from both sides. However, Azerbaijan had no other choice. We are expecting a victory. I am glad that Azerbaijan has support today, it means a lot. I wish the same support and strength to my homeland, Georgia. Today, when villages return to Karabakh, I want the same thing to happen in Abkhazia, and we could return to this wonderful land,” 52-year-old Takhira Memedova from Marneuli told us.
Ethnic Azerbaijani youth living in Georgia came to a rally in Tbilisi in support of Azerbaijan.
Young people discuss the war in Facebook groups
A rally was held at the monument to Heydar Aliyev in the historic district of Tbilisi.
The young people had banners with the words ‘Karabakh is Azerbaijan’ in their hands.
The participants stated that the Azerbaijani state has always supported its compatriots living in Georgia, therefore they are also obliged to show solidarity with Azerbaijan in difficult times.
The protesters applauded the fact that the Azerbaijani military had achieved success and, as a result of the hostilities, occupied several villages previously controlled by the Armenian side.
Young people attending the rally told JAMnews that although they are citizens of Georgia, they are ready to join the army and, if necessary, fight on the front lines.
“Georgian Azerbaijanis fought for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh war of the 1990s. Also this year, in January, in battles near Tovuz. Colonel Ilgar Mirzaev, who was killed in the battle near Tovuz, was from Georgia, from Gardabani,” protester Aygul Isaeva said.
According to her, should there be a general mobilization, Azerbaijanis living in Georgia will also express their readiness to fight.
Ethnic Azerbaijani youth, students living in Georgia are active in social networks. In these groups, they discuss a variety of issues, including planning demonstrations and events. Since the beginning of the Karabakh war, special activity has been observed here.
Here are some popular opinions from a discussion in one of the groups:
“In my opinion, this is not an issue that can be resolved through negotiations and peacefully.”
“We must not forget that our homeland is Georgia, we are citizens of Georgia who were born in Georgia. It is wrong for young people to join the war, I believe that this problem should be solved peacefully.”
“Many young people are neutral, but there is no neutrality in this matter. No matter what happens, we have Azerbaijani blood.”
“There is no peaceful solution to this conflict, the only solution is war.”
“Georgia must be neutral on this issue, otherwise it will suffer losses from both sides.”
“Georgia knows what it means to lose territory and therefore must support Azerbaijan.”
Georgian MPs are ready to fight for Azerbaijan too
Georgian parliamentary MPs from among ethnic Azerbaijanis actively make statements on Karabakh and express support for Azerbaijan.
An MP from the opposition United National Movement (the party of former President Mikhail Saakashvili) Azer Suleymanov has published an appeal to the President of Azerbaijan. The Georgian MP writes that he is ready to fight for Azerbaijan.
Suleimanov noted that Azerbaijanis living in Georgia “just as they took part in the wars in Abkhazia and Karabakh in the 1990s, are ready to accept any challenge facing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia.”
Ruslan Hajiyev, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, called what was happening “a successful military operation” and also drew a parallel with the issue of Abkhazia.