“Choven” publishing house presents a book by a Polish writer Wojciech Górecki about the Caucasus. “A Toast to the Ancestors” is a collection of stories about Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia – three countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union and that are now building their own states. Wojciech Górecki traveled these territories for more than twenty years trying to understand the essence of the Caucasus. In his reportages he writes about the long historical conflicts and traditions that explain the context of this ethnically diverse region, as well as about the current state of affairs in South Ossetia or Abkhazia.
“How can one aspire to join NATO and at the same time believe that Stalin and Christ are the most influential personalities in the history of the world?” Polish journalist Maria Przełomiec writes about “A Toast to the Ancestors”. “Why was South Ossetia invented in the Soviet Union and why did the Georgian war break out? And finally, is the South Caucasus with the most ancient Christian countries – Armenia and Georgia – still Europe or already Asia?”
This is only part of the questions that Wojciech Górecki is trying to answer in his book. He saw the Caucasus from different perspectives, since he has been there as a journalist, as a diplomat, and as an analyst. At first, the reporter published his texts about the region in “Gazeta Wyborcza” and “Tygodnik Powszechny” newspapers. Then he lived in Baku for five years, working as an advisor at the Polish Embassy. Then he was an expert in the mission of the European Union, which investigated the circumstances of the war in Georgia in 2008.
A book triptych – “Planet Caucasus”, “A Toast to the Ancestors”, and “Abkhazia” – came as a result of Górecki’s prolonged stay in the Caucasus. In each of the books the author is looking for answers to questions about the countries that are close to us, that, just like us, have felt the pressure of a huge neighbor for many years. Flexible identity, different religions, traumatic history – how is the Caucasus coping with this?
There are various stories on the four hundred pages of the book: about President Heydar Aliyev, an Imam’s granddaughter who cannot marry a non-Muslim, or a small village of Sadakhlo, located in Georgia near the border with Armenia. Representatives of three nations – Armenians, Georgians, and Azerbaijanis – have lived there for centuries, and each of the peoples of this small village dreams of its own Great State.
“The birth of new states was accompanied by wars, takeovers and coups,” writes Wojciech Górecki in the book, “the mafia flourished, ordinary banditism thrived, poverty reigned. Over time, an armistice was signed, power was distributed, bandits legalized their profits, and national currencies strengthened. But of course, this was no “end of story”. The tragic events in Georgia in August 2008 were the proof of this.”
The publication will be interesting to a wide range of readers – both to those who want to learn more about the culture and history of the Caucasus, and to those who want to better understand the current conflicts.
The text is translated into Ukrainian by Halyna Kruk.