In November 2007, the Analytical Centre on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation together with its partners, Public Union of the Azerbaijan Historians and Caritas Georgia, initiated a meeting of historians and civic activists of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The meeting was organised with assistance of Caritas France.
Such a framework for cooperation was chosen because the experience of the recent few years’ developments in the South Caucasus had showed that many problematic issues in relations between the peoples of the region arise because of different interpretation of historical facts, different views and approaches to events that occurred in the South Caucasus. Therefore, it was needed to organise regular meetings and to develop cooperation between historians and civic activists of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The main result of the aforementioned meeting was the communiqué adopted on 13 November 2007. In the communiqué it was, particularly, said:
After having the debates and discussions we, participants of the working meeting, state that it is important and beneficial for the peoples of the South Caucasus:
- To organise meetings of civil activists and historians of the South Caucasian countries on regular basis that helps to create an atmosphere of tolerance, respect, and mutual understanding;
- We are interested in publishing joint articles and essays in scientific journals and non-affiliated magazines, as proposed by some of the participants of the working meeting;
- The Tbilisi initiative of the Council of Europe, providing for a joint project on Caucasus History, is a positive example of cooperation of historians from the South Caucasian countries;
- This format is one of the directions for continued efforts of our countries’ citizens aimed to the development of civil society, finding historical factors that keep us together, democratisation and European integration of the South Caucasian countries.
During the aforementioned meeting, the participants showed great interest for the working session dedicated to the experience of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian historians who had worked together on a book titled The History of Caucasus. That project was frozen in 2003 because of several disagreements between Armenian and Azerbaijani experts (we consider that one of the main reasons for such a failure had been the extremely different task assigned to the experts – to write joint history of the South Caucasian countries and to overcome all differences in approach). On the other side, the work that was done deserves close attention, because it was a positive example of cooperation between historians of three countries. We offered the authors who had worked on that project – Armen Khachikyan from Armenia, Aydin Aslanov from Azerbaijan and Paata Ramishvili from Georgia – to go back to the accomplished work and, using the experience they had gained, to prepare new essays on history of their respective countries, centred on a multi-perspective view. New essays would be based on the previously used materials, as well as would count on the new factors that emerged during the recent 10-12 years. In fact, that meant publishing the first comprehensive joint work of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian historians.
The newly-published book, Essays on History of the South Caucasian Countries, contains essays about the historical past of the peoples of the South Caucasus, from the ancient times till the establishment of the Soviet authority in the region. We hope that the book will be interesting and useful for the readers. The first part of the book reveals the historical context of the development of the South Caucasus from the ancient times till the establishment of the Soviet authority in the region, and the second part presents the cultural treasures of the South Caucasian countries. The book contains a number of illustrations.
Being addressed to both scientific and popular audiences, Essays on History of the South Caucasian Countries is addressed to a wide circle of readers, first of all, to civil society institutions, academics, state institutions, younger generation, as well as international organisations concerned with peacemaking and development of cooperation in the South Caucasus.
The authors worked on the book for near two years. They attempted to let the readers know about the main instances in the history of the three countries. It was important not just to provide some information, but also to introduce the readers to the neighbour peoples’ views to the same events, so the peoples of the region might develop tolerance and mutual understanding. Besides, the book provides different interpretations of a number of regional events, using a multi-perspective approach; in fact, that means having three different viewpoints on certain historical events. That is also important for readers living in the region, as well as outside, because they may see how contemporary historians from the South Caucasian countries interpret the historical events. It is natural that historians from different countries have different approaches according to their personal, cultural and national identities.
Such an approach has important characteristics:
1. The society of each country may get familiar with the viewpoints of others on the same historical events.
2. Historians from each country may have an opportunity to discuss the viewpoints of their colleagues from other countries within a scientific framework.
3. Being better informed will let the societies of three countries to develop dialogue.
So, the essays in the first part of the book may not match each other. Sometimes they may contain conflicting statements. As a result, any impartial reader will have to think. Any reader may choose one of the explanations for historical events, but it should be remembered that other explanations, which lead to other interpretations, also have the right to exist.
Finally, let us congratulate the historians and civil societies of the South Caucasian countries for publishing of the book, which is the first example of joint scientific work of academics from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the period of independence of our countries.
Chairman of the Analytical Centre on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC)