LINKS takes discussion on confidence-building measures to Baku and Yerevan

LINKS has taken the discussion on the role and importance of confidence-building measures in support of the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to Baku and Yerevan over the last few weeks – engaging with officials, politicians, civil society activists and academics on a topic that in the past has proven controversial in the region, but on which much work needs to be done. 

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Participants at the meetings held in Yerevan on 16 October and Baku on 6 November.

Brussels, Vienna and Oxford meetings contribute to developing ideas on the subject

The meetings were part of LINKS ongoing work on this important topic. Earlier, meetings on the same subject were held in Brussels (December 2016) and Vienna (June 2017) with the participation of Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats, experts and civil society activists, as well as representatives of the international community. The topic was also touched upon at a conference organised by LINKS at Oxford University in February 2017.

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The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus addressed the LINKS discussion on confidence-building measures in Brussels on 6 December 2016.

 

 

 

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Oxford Meeting, February 2017

 

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The meeting in Vienna was also addressed by the Special Representative of the Chairman in Office of the OSCE, Ambassador Beuchler.

After the Vienna meeting LINKS set up a working group with the participation of Armenian and Azerbaijani experts to develop the next generation of ideas and measures that may impact positively the process of resolving the conflict, which continues to take a heavy humanitarian, economic and political toll, on Armenians and Azerbaijanis and other nations in the region. The working group operates in the framework of the European Union initiative EPNK 3. It held its first meeting in Brussels on 3 October,

You can read more on the EPNK initiative here

A spokesperson for LINKS (DAR) in Brussels told the web portal commonspace.eu the Brussels meeting was held in a very business-like and constructive atmosphere, and the Armenian and Azerbaijani participants had made valuable contributions to the discussion, and a number of new possible areas of work were now under consideration. The spokesperson added that LINKS (DAR) has been working in support of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process led by the OSCE Minsk Group for more than two decades, and the aim of the working group is to bring together many of the past experiences and lessons to develop the next generation of ideas and measures that may impact positively the process of resolving the conflict which continues to take a heavy humanitarian, economic and political toll, on Armenians and Azerbaijanis and other nations in the region.

The aims of the working group are to explore and study how confidence-building measures (CBMs) can contribute to lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh by building trust between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the conflict area, in the wider region, and globally; to develop ideas and suggestions on different CBMs; to disseminate information on confidence-building measures among stakeholders, including through seminars and presentations in the region, through publications and through new media and social media; to interact with governments, authorities and other stakeholders directly affected by the conflict; to interact with the OSCE Minsk Group and other relevant international organisations on issues related to confidence-building in the context of the Karabakh conflict and conflict resolution process; to help inform the policies of the European Union on the topic; and to implement, if appropriate and feasible confidence building measures with the involvement of Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

Yerevan, 16 October 2017

The work of a recently established working group to help design, promote and implement ideas that can contribute to confidence-building in support of the process to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was presented in Yerevan on Monday 16 October at an event hosted by the Regional Studies Center (RSC), an independent think tank in Armenia. The event coincided with the Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential summit held on the same day in Geneva.

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Yerevan meeting on 16 Ocotber 2017

Participants included the Armenian Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman), Arman Tatoyan,  the Chairman of the Political Science Association of Armenia, Lt Gen Professor Hayk Kotanjian, the Ambassadors of Greece, Japan and Kazakhstan, and officials from the United Nations, the European Union and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Also present were representatives from the Embassies of Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ukraine, in addition to a group of Armenian graduate students, civic activists and young professionals.

RSC Director Richard Giragosian explained that the discussion was part of a broader effort undertaken by a recently formed “Working Group” comprised of Armenian and Azerbaijani members committed to “developing a ‘next generation’ of ideas and measures that may impact positively the process of resolving the Karabakh conflict.” The working group operates within the framework of the “European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh” (EPNK), a European Union initiative.

Dr. Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research) – one of the EPNK implementing partners – reviewed the specific aims of the Working Group, and highlighted the collaborative work to date to explore and study how confidence-building measures (CBMs) can contribute to lasting peace in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through activity that helps build trust between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the conflict area, in the wider region, and globally. He added that beyond this effort to develop ideas and suggestions on different CBMs, this meeting was also part of an outreach effort aimed at disseminating information on confidence-building measures among stakeholders, including through seminars and presentations in the region, through publications and through new media and social media.

During the meeting Richard Giragosian also introduced two other Armenian members of the Working Group, Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan of the Political Science Association of Armenia, and Ashkhen Grigoryan, an economist and analyst with the Regional Studies Center (RSC).

Baku, 6 November 2017

The role that confidence-building measures can play in support of ongoing international mediation to help resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed at a round table discussion held in Baku on Monday, 6 November.

Members of the Azerbaijan Parliament, political and civil society personalities from Azerbaijan, representatives of the IDP community and scholars attended the event which was organised by the Centre for Social and Economic Development (CESD) and LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research). Also present were Ambassadors and senior diplomats accredited to Azerbaijan.

Introducing the topic, the Director of LINKS, Dr Dennis Sammut informed the audience of the recently established working group with Armenian and Azerbaijani experts that is working on developing ideas on how CBMs can contibute to a resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The speaker explained how CBMs had worked in other contexts since the time of the Cold War, and how they can help support peace in Nagorno-Karabakh. Dennis Sammut called on Azerbaijani political and civil society leaders to engage in the process since this was an essential ingredient if peace was to be achieved in the region. He spoke of the high cost of the Karabakh conflict on the countries and societies of the region. He highlighted in particular the toll that the conflict had exercised on those displaced by it, as well as those who continue to live in the conflict region on both sides of the line of contact. He called for an inclusive engagement with the participation of all stakeholders in the process.

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Many participants also took the floor to address the issue. There were different views about the efficacy of CBMs and their timing. Some participants highlighted the negative role played by Russia in the region. Many participants made practical suggestions on measures that can be implemented, including through developing regional co-operation, through civil society initiatives, and through direct contacts between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Concluding the meeting Dennis Sammut thanked participants for their active participation and their suggestions. He said all ideas will be studied by the working group that was established recently by LINKS in the framework of the EPNK partnership – a European Union initiative to support the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Azerbaijani members of the working group are Ahmad Alili, Zaur Shiriyev and Ramazan Samadov.

The meeting was chaired by Dr Vugar Bayramov, Chairman of CESD.