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The Karabakh Conflict through the Lens of Georgian Media

The autumn of 2023 turned out to be unusually hot for the South Caucasus. On September 19, official Baku announced the commencement of an anti-terrorist special operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Military operations persisted for a day, resulting in the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh capitulating, and Azerbaijan regaining control over the region.

The Karabakh conflict, being a geopolitically and regionally significant issue, holds importance for Georgia and its society. Ongoing conflict situations in the near or distant neighborhood (such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas confrontation) provide opportunities for propaganda or disinformation groups to instill fear of war in society and manipulate emotions surrounding the conflict. Additionally, Georgia is home to Azerbaijani and Armenian ethnic minorities, representing opposing sides in the Karabakh conflict. Therefore, it is crucial for the population to receive comprehensive and unbiased information about the conflict to minimize the risks of tension and conflict.

We view the media as the primary source of information. This study aims to investigate how the Georgian media covered the Karabakh conflict, exploring trends, biases towards any side, the nature of information disseminated, issues emphasized, the presence of an anti-Western/pro-Russian narrative in the coverage, and how Georgia is portrayed. This research will provide answers to these questions and is noteworthy as the first study in Georgia dedicated to the coverage of the Karabakh conflict.

Selected Media outlets

To present a comprehensive view of the Karabakh conflict's coverage by Georgian media, a range of mainstream and propaganda TV and online media were chosen. TV media includes "Imedi", "Mtavari arkhi", the first channel of the Public Broadcaster, "Sezoni TV", and "Alt-Info". Online media comprises "Radio Freedom", "Netgazeti", "Sakinform", and "Georgia and the World".

Research results

Tv media

In covering the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, mainstream media emphasized Nagorno-Karabakh's status as an unrecognized, de facto republic. The broadcasters extensively covered the course of the conflict, the official statements of Baku and Yerevan, as well as international responses. The TV company "Imedi" cited the version proposed by Azerbaijan as the reason for the renewal of the conflict, labeling the military operations as an "anti-terrorist special operation" and de facto portraying the forces in the Republic of Artsakh as armed Armenian formations.

The primary focus of "Mtavari arkhi" was the role and influence of Russia in the coverage of the conflict. The TV company presented potential scenarios for the development of events involving Russia, including a coup d'état in Yerevan and the removal of Pashinyan from power. The first channel of Public Broadcasting covered the Karabakh conflict in the most balanced manner. The broadcaster attempted to present both sides of events in any story. When discussing Armenians displaced from Karabakh, it was also mentioned that in the 90s, Azerbaijanis took a similar path. The first channel covered the conflict in depth, giving attention to international responses and assessments, as well as the participation of regional actors in the post-conflict period.

Propaganda TV media actively discussed Russia's regional influence and significance. Simultaneously, they criticized Nikol Pashinyan's pro-Western foreign policy, contending that it led to Armenia losing Russia's support and being isolated in the face of Azerbaijan. It is noteworthy that these propaganda TV channels exhibit a moderate stance when it comes to supporting or criticizing regional actors. Specifically, "Alt-Info" expresses support for the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance without extensively promoting the pro-Turkish narrative. On the other hand, "Sezoni TV" critiques Russia without disseminating an overtly anti-Russian narrative.

Quantitative data

Online media outlets

Mainstream online media extensively covered the Karabakh conflict, providing detailed information and actively disseminating official statements and statistical data. However, in the case of "Radio Liberty," there was an observation of the dissemination of the Azerbaijani narrative, evident in the terminology used. Specifically, the online media de facto referred to high-ranking officials of Artsakh as "separatists" and military forces as "military formations supported by Yerevan." On the other hand, "Netgazeti" covered the Karabakh conflict in an impartial and balanced manner, avoiding any evident bias in its reporting.

Propaganda online media actively discussed Russia's constructive role in resolving the conflict, subtly implying the culpability of the West. These outlets highlighted Nikol Pashinyan's perceived misguided policy, leading to the loss of Russia's alliance with the West. Despite the varying stances of the selected online media concerning Azerbaijan and Armenia, there was a consensus on acknowledging the influence and significance of Russia in the context of the Karabakh conflict.

Quantitative data


Using qualitative content analysis, the narrative disseminated by the selected media was examined. To gather quantitative data, stories and published publications related to the Karabakh conflict were systematically counted. The research period spanned a one-month interval, from September 10 to October 10. Innovative tools played a crucial role in the research process. Mediaspeech, for instance, facilitated the transcription of audio materials. Additionally, artificial intelligence, specifically, was employed during data generation and analysis-categorization. This integration aimed to minimize the risk of subjective evaluations by researchers.

several hypotheses were formulated regarding propagandistic and mainstream TV and online media.

  • Mainstream TV and online media would maintain neutrality;

  • Propaganda TV and online media would be more on the side of Azerbaijan due to Armenia’s Western politics;

  • The Public Broadcaster of Georgia would maintain neutrality.

The research findings indicate a bias in favor of Azerbaijan, particularly evident in mainstream media outlets such as "Imedi" and "Radio Liberty." Propagandistic media consistently emphasized the role of Russia in the context of their bias toward the involved parties. In contrast, the Public Broadcaster maintained a neutral stance in its coverage of the conflict. Consequently, the developed hypotheses were partially validated by the research results.



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