How Armenians and Georgians see each other; the Caucasus mind

Submitted 2 years 6 months ago by Aleksey.

In summary, Georgians have certain similarities to Klingons and orcs, whereas Armenians display similarities to Romulans and dark elves. Due to the presence of inherent variations within any given group, it is important to acknowledge that general statements made about the group may not hold true for every individual inside it. Consequently, when discussing the group, it is appropriate to infer a "statistically high probability of encountering specific traits in a randomly selected individual."

Georgians are widely regarded by intellectuals in Armenia as a culturally significant group within the Caucasian region, known for their exceptional artistic talents. Armenians are characterized by their inclination towards meticulousness, rigidity, and a preference for systematic approaches, which can be attributed to their historical involvement as traders within the Ottoman and Iranian spheres. In contrast, Georgians are renowned for their spontaneity, artistic inclinations, cultural richness, and overall enjoyable company. Georgian cuisine exhibits distinctive and sophisticated characteristics, whilst Armenian business acumen is characterized by its uniqueness and refinement. A cultural struggle ensues between the Armenian and Georgian communities, culminating in a victory for the Georgian Armenians.

In my perspective, both Armenian and Georgian cultures are characterized by individuals who exhibit a notable degree of self-satisfaction and arrogance. The manifestation of this phenomenon can be observed within Soviet and Russian popular culture, exemplified by the renowned Soviet film "Mimino," directed by Georgiy Daneliya, a Georgian filmmaker. The portrayal of an Armenian and a Georgian engaging in a transaction with artists to have a song dedicated to themselves, while they compete in a vanity fair, serves as a representation of the covert cultural values inherent in both nations.

It is possible that a mutual understanding may never be achieved between two nations characterized by arrogance. However, the formation of final ideas about each other is influenced by certain distinctive features that are peculiar to each nation. Throughout history, it has been seen that the state of Georgia has achieved greater success compared to Armenia. This discrepancy can be attributed to several factors such as the Armenians' inclination towards self-centeredness and a strong attachment to ancestral traditions, which have hindered their ability to construct a resilient state capable of withstanding significant invasions. This is the reason why Armenians tend to exhibit relatively lower levels of success in team sports, while demonstrating comparatively higher levels of success in individual activities such as chess, weightlifting, and wrestling.

On the contrary, Armenian mentality made it possible to develop a successful diaspora all over the world and in Georgia particularly. To establish a durable diaspora that would stand assimilation with the dominant culture a mentality of superiority is required (Georgians are good at entertainment, cheerful but careless, and often fail when it comes to solving an issue or problem) - hence Armenian nationalism and self-complacency but more openness in contacts with other nations required for trade and networking.

Georgians, on the other hand, are less diaspora-oriented and instead have had their culture protected by their own state. As a result, at the turn of the twentieth century, Transcaucasia had only two major cities: Tbilisi (Tiflis) and Baku. Yerevan's modern size and architecture arrived much later, after communists took control of Armenia. As a result, pompous Georgians living in their own country were constantly confronted by pompous Armenians living as guests. So Georgians felt superior to "migrant" Armenians, and Armenians responded with a pan-Armenian sense of superiority tinged with insulted dignity. BTW, when they moved to Armenia, Georgian Armenians inherited Georgian superiority over non-Georgian Armenians and are, on average, more pompous than locals.

Interestingly enough, although both nations have coexisted in the same region for centuries, there are almost no borrowings in Armenian from Georgian - neither in literary, nor in colloquial language. The only word depicting something different from traditional Georgian dish (such as khachapuri or puri) used in Armenian that I am aware of is սիմինդր (simindr) from Georgian სიმინდი (simindi) for “corn”, used by my grandmother who came from Lori - a region neighboring Georgia. On the contrary, colloquial Armenian teems with Turkish words, and it is a little bit difficult to call Turks friends of Armenians.

I can say there are generally three ways Georgians look at Armenians.

With humor. This is by far the most common one. Georgians simply love jokes involving Armenians and routinely tease them (similar to how Americans tease Canadians). Besides, Georgians tend to find Armenian language somewhat amusing. There is an Armenian song about rain, Andzrev, which literally means “you are jerking off” in Georgian. Unsurprisingly, its video on YouTube was flooded with agitated comments from Georgians.

With Suspicion. This one is common among nationalists. The thing is, when the current Georgian national identity was being formed in the second half of the 19th century, Armenians were seen as ‘the other’; clandestine and mercantile, trying to appropriate Georgia (Imperial Russian authorities settled Armenians in certain areas of Georgia and this further exacerbated fears). Relations in Soviet times stabilized significantly, but considering that Armenian Bagramyan Battalion fought in Abkhazian war on separatist side and there were speculations about possible secessionism in Javakheti region (where ethnic Armenians currently form majority), some nationalists brought back unfavorable rhetoric.

Neutrally. Georgians in this category see Armenians as neighbors with somewhat related background who had to endure a lot of hardships. Relations between the countries are normal.

So, concluding, I think that Georgians and Armenians just dislike each other. Not enough to be enemies but enough to keep away from each other. There were territorial disputes between them which even led to a war in 1918 but now it’s time to move on and look at the future.

Georgia, Georgians, Armenians