STEPANAKERT (Artsakhpress)—Over 30 bloggers from 11 countries took part in the International Bloggers Forum in the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Republic, taking place from March 19-21.
The forum took place at the initiative of the Artsakhakertum NGO and the Union of Journalists of Artsakh.
The forum’s main focus was the coverage of conflicts in social media and ensuring the freedoms of bloggers and journalists.
The forum was chaired by Artsakh Prime Minister’s spokesperson Artak Beglaryan and media expert Samvel Martirosyan.
During the forum, Hrachya Arzumanyan – Director of “Ashkharh” (“World”) Center of Strategic Research of Stepanakert, expert on military and national security affairs, presented the causes of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“It is necessary to help the Azerbaijani people get rid of the ‘Aliyev clan’ disease through the international court,” Arzumanyan said, adding that “It is less than a year that more than 100 young soldiers were killed as a result of military operations unleashed by Azerbaijan.
“They were killed because the center of geopolitical forces once again decided to play with the region. The experience shows that the geopolitical powers if they don’t want to deal with the issue, perhaps the bloggers, as a reality of newly formed public information, can have an influence on the situation.”
Artsakh Deputy Minister of Economy Sergey Shahverdyan during the forum presented about the tourism sector in Artsakh.
He relayed that Artsakh has over 15,000 tourists a year—from Russia, the US, Iran and the European countries—43 hotels, 3% GDP, and seven tourism companies and licensed tour guides.
“Tourism is a tool of intercultural dialogue, that’s why people must have freedom of movement,” he said.
The participants asked questions related to the recognition of Artsakh and Karabakh conflict, talk about their impressions.
After the Forum, the participants issued a statement.
Bloggers Anton Nossik (Russia), Anton Merkurov (Russia), Aleksandr Alimov (Latvia), Tarik Hafed (Algeria), Romain Mielcarek (France), Gilad Halpern (Israel), Aleksandr Hoishyk (Belarus), Irina Kovalchuk (Ukraine), Luciano Tirinnanzi (Italy), Petruška Šustrová (Czech Republic) attended the event.
He said the Stepanakert airport doesn’t work because of Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior and the apathy of international organizations.
Lapshin’s case badly impacted our country’s image. Blogger from Belarus
Belarusian blogger Hoishk spoke about the extradition of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin from Belarus to Azerbaijan.
He expressed confidence that this incident was a result of conflict of Russian and Belarusian leaderships.
“I am as well a traveler and understand well what it means to be a minor player in this big game,” Hoishk said. “Unfortunately, this game badly impacted our country’s image by the international community. It showed how meaningless it was. We didn’t receive any oil, and as a result we lost the game in all spheres. I, as a citizen of Belarus, can express my apology, but it is clear that we don’t decide such things,” he continued.
Blogger and journalist from Moscow Anton Nosik said he visited Artsakh for the first time despite the fact that he always wanted to visit. “There are many people who have no idea about the conflict but now they are here and it is presented to them. It is very interesting to me and my readers as well will be interested in what I have seen here,” he said.
Russian blogger Artur Merkurov said he is happy to be in Artsakh. “This is very important visit for me since I haven’t been here on the one hand, and this is a chance for me to inform the world what is happening here on the other hand. Artsakh surprises me with its cleanness. I think it has a great tourism potential. It is pleasure to visit Artsakh,” he said.
Forum Co-Chair Martirosyan said the reason the forum was organized was Lapshin’s extradition. “There are many goals to make Artsakh more visible, to make it recognizable through social media, to establish ties,” he said, adding that the bloggers were very impressed with the directness of the children by visiting TUMO Center for Creative Technologies in Stepanakert on March 19. They were also impressed with the great desire of children to achieve peace.
Video coverage of the forum, provided by Artsakhpress, can be watched below.