Hammargren between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Bitte Hammargren

Bitte Hammargren is a correspondent for Svenska Dagbladet who writes about Middle East countries like Turkey, Armenia and Georgia (sense the irony?). Recently, she wrote an article titled A big conflict around a small enclave, which I do not find neutral, which the Western press strives to be, right?

It is not only Armenians that see mountain Ararat as the Armenian national symbol, though it is situated in the present-day Turkey. My dear mother, for example, a much more relevant representative of the Soviet era than I, would agree with me that even from childhood, the “Soviet people” associated Ararat with Armenia. And probably duly.

Even though in the article, she includes photos from and reports from Nagorno-Karabakh, which “regular Armenians and occasional foreigners” can access by one route, according to Hammargren, and one route only, the article seems a bit one-sided and implicitly in favour of Azerbaijan. (Btw, as far as it is known, there are two, not one, routes to Nagorno-Karabakh, one of which has indeed, as Hammargren reports, been funded by the Armenians in the Diaspora.)

Skärmdump av artikeln Stor konflikt runt liten enklav

Very interesting to me seemed the SvD editors’ choice of captioning the bannerimage of the article. The image shows a wall of twenty-seven black-and-white photographs with some flowers in front and the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh and a line of text above. In the paper edition of the article the image is captioned Place of honour for the Armenian casualties in the war. Online, the same image is captioned Armenian casualties in the war against Azerbaijan 1993-94.

To me, both captions, especially the one published online, frame in the twenty-seven casualties as the only ones on the Armenian side between 1993 and 1994. By the way, the war was not a one year, but a six year long war (between 1988 and 1994). The caption seems to say, “There were only 27 casualties on the Armenian side,” while “hundreds of thousands of Azeris count themselves as war refugees,” according to Hammargren.

A simple look at Wikipedia.org article on Nagorno-Karabakh War, however correct or incorrect the data there is, makes it clear that the number of casualties was almost proportional to the number of war-participants involved in each of the war-waging countries.

It is a shame really that these kinds of subtleties were not noticed by the editors of Svenska Dagbladet (or maybe the editors were behind them?). Bitte Hammargren received a great prize from the Publicist Club (SEK 30000 = EUR 2911 = USD 4334) for the coverage of the Middle East. Well deserved! (sense the irony?)

(The photo of B. Hammargren is taken from SvD.se)

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