After reading the article entitled “Freedom of Social Media in Azerbaijan. An Armenian Point of View” by Shushan Khachatryan, I can partly agree with her remarks. Yet it’s just hard for me to support the author’s conclusion, for we shouldn’t connect the issue of social media freedom in Azerbaijan to having Armenian friends on Facebook.
Yes, it may look a little strange that we, Azerbaijanis, usually don’t have Armenians on our friend lists, and in most cases just don’t add them. But it doesn’t directly concerns the freedom of social media in Azerbaijan at all. It’s our choice of having an Armenian friend and keep in touch with them via Facebook, Twitter or Skype. I agree with Shushan that having Armenians as friends on Facebook is considered surprising as well as confusing.
In fact, I also came across the comments mentioned in article ‘’OMG, you have an Armenian on your contact list, how come?’’ I remember when I was tagged in the photo by an Armenian who participated in one of the conference related to the Eastern Partnership. It was an unusual case for my Azerbaijani friends to see me in that photo. While the picture was widely commented by Armenians, there was only one comment by my friend from Azerbaijan, similar to the one described by Shushan. In the end, it just made me untag myself from the photo.
The reason was not the lack of freedom of social media – it’s just because of something connected with a citizen’s responsibility. Frankly speaking, it is too hard for me – and for most Azerbaijanis – to add Armenians to their friend list. It always reminds about our conflict regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, and that’s why I tend to keep my distance. On the other hand, I know fellow Azerbaijanis who have Armenian friends, tag them in photos, comment on their pictures – just quite openly keep in touch.
I, however, think it mainly depends on individual attitude towards our tense situation with Armenians. Such tensions may linger, but a change could be made by just avoiding such kind of attitude or comments mentioned above. Azerbaijanis will understand that Armenians on our friend list does not automatically mean that we support them or their side in regard to the Karabakh conflict. Let’s hope that not only we – Azerbaijanis – but also Armenians will comprehend the whole situation and just try to be more tolerant of each other.