Armenian language: Why study it in Azerbaijan?

Mon 07 August 2017 12:41 GMT | 16:41 Local Time

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An article about a surge of interest in studying the Azerbaijani language in Armenia has recently appeared online.

A textbook has been published, there are Turkic studies chairs at the country’s universities and private courses are available for all those who wish to study the language.

The OC-Media, focused on the Caucasus region, told the story of 28-year-old economist from Armenia Ashot Asatryan, who has been taking private Azerbaijani language lessons for two months and has already mastered the language enough.

Ashot says that  he was inspired to learn the language of the neighbor country by the desire to understand what is written in the news.

"I read a lot of news on Azerbaijani websites. At one time it was just a hobby. Then I actively began to follow the developments in Azerbaijan, whether political or military. I translated the most interesting things into Armenian and published them on my Facebook page, " he says.

"Local websites quickly began to quote my posts. Over time, I turned from a consumer of information into its distributor and began to study articles in Azerbaijani. Then I realized that it was time to learn the language, because online translators cannot always be trusted,” Asatryan told OC Media.

The presence of specialists who speak the language of the enemy country has always been a strategic issue any time in any country. During the Great Patriotic War, people with fluent German were "worth their weight in gold."

And what is the situation with the knowledge of the Armenian language in Azerbaijan, which has been living in a state of sluggish but periodically erupting conflict with Armenia around Nagorno-Karabakh for already more than 25 years? Do Azerbaijanis want to know the language of the hostile country, which controls 20% of Azerbaijani lands?

Azerbaijan accounts for several professional websites with the version in Armenian language.

'Irevan' information and analytical center became the pioneer in this field, followed by Armenia.az, Armenian versions on CBC TV channel and AzVision news portal. There is also the Armenian service of Voice of Azerbaijan radio and AzTV channel, head of Irevan center Sohbat Mammadov said.

"Having a certain task, these sources managed to win the attention of a wide range of readers. But, perhaps, the main thing that unites them is bringing the objective information about the history and cultural heritage of the Azerbaijani people, the achievements of Azerbaijan over the past 25 years, as well as about Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and existing problems in this area and their reasons to the Armenian audience in their native language”, Sohbat Mammadov said speaking to 1news.az.

He believes that the effective work of these publications is proven by the reaction in Armenia. Thus, their publications, radio and television programs are often the subject of heated discussion in the Armenian media, says Sohbat Mammadov, who also works as an editor of the Armenian version of CBC television channel.

The issue of the need to suppress the signals of Azerbaijani radio stations broadcasting in Armenia on medium and short frequencies in analogue format has become the subject of discussion in the Armenian parliament.

Programs in Armenian in the Azerbaijani media are prepared by the staff, most of whom received secondary education, and some higher education in Armenian, says Sohbat Mammadov.

He also comes from Western Azerbaijan (currently the territory of Armenia), where he taught in a secondary school, and then worked in the system of Armenia’s Goskomizdat and in the Sovet Ermenistani newspaper. In January 1990 he was forced to flee his native land, sharing the fate of more than 200,000 compatriots who, as he tells, were lucky to escape the physical termination by Armenian Nazis.

Young generation also shows interest in studying the Armenian language.

"Beating the enemy with his own weapon is the most effective means. I always wanted to be useful to public, I always wanted to do something, for which my country could be proud of me," 20-year-old S.G. (she wanted to remain incognito), who decided to become an expert in the Armenian language, told 1news.az.

Studying in the fourth year of the historical faculty of the Baku State University, in her free time the girl works in the Armenian version of AzVision, which has its name - Hayatsk.info. In general, the website operates in eight languages.

According to S.G., such a project is a good platform for self-development, which young graduates of higher education specializing in the  Armenian language can take advantage of.

There are two such universities in Azerbaijan - specialists in the Armenian language are trained at the Faculty of History of the Baku State University (BSU) and the Faculty of Regional Studies of the Azerbaijan University of Languages ​​(AUL).

Academic efforts of universities to train specialists in Armenian studies are supported by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan: in military schools, Armenian is taught along with other foreign languages.

"At the Foreign Language Center of the Military Academy of the Armed Forces and at the Foreign Languages ​​Department of the Higher Military School named after Heydar Aliyev, the Armenian language is intensively taught along with other languages,"  the press service of the ministry informed 1news.az.

"Basic and intermediate level programs in the Armenian language are compiled in accordance with modern requirements, additional teaching aids have been prepared," the Ministry of Defense also said, adding that specialists in the Armenian language from the educational institutions of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan cooperate with other educational institutions of this profile both in the country and abroad.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at war since 1992, when the separatists of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan, with the support of the Armenian troops, unleashed an armed conflict, as a result of which 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions - were occupied by Armenia, and over one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons.

In Azerbaijan, there is a need for specialists who know the Armenian language well, and this need will remain in the foreseeable future, Azerbaijani political scientist and deputy Rasim Musabekov said

"Azerbaijan declares to the whole world that Nagorno-Karabakh was, is and will be an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and therefore it is essential to have specialists who know the language of Armenian compatriots,” he said speaking 1news.az

"Specialists with the knowledge of the Armenian language will also be required in the future, with the normalization of relations with Armenia and the restoration of economic and cultural ties. Today, such specialists are necessary for studying the enemy and conducting counter-information struggle," he added.

Armenia continues the armed aggression, despite the resolutions of a number of international organizations condemning the occupation and demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories. In particular, four relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council were adopted in the 1990s, but the Armenian side continues to ignore them.

Director of the ‘Irevan’  information-analytical center Sohbat Mammadov is convinced that there is definitely an interest in learning the Armenian language in Azerbaijan and this interest is gaining momentum every year. However, this issue requires a more serious approach.

"It is necessary to put an end to the tendencies of superficial attitude to the issue of studying the Armenian language," he says. "In this case, the initiative will not bring the desired results either to the country, in general, or to its scientific community.”

News.Az

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