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South Caucasus
Armenia, Azerbaijan, war


The Karabakh conflict is not war, numerous victims and destroyed towns and villages only; it is trying negotiation process, contacts, discussions between public figures, NGOs activists and journalists ofAzerbaijan and Armenia. Regretfully, until recently the military rhetoric prevails over all other possibilities to solve the conflict. This notwithstanding, a part of society both in Azerbaijan and Armenia still believes that talks and discussions, mere contacts between ordinary people are the only remedy to achieve the peace resolution to the conflict. In the meantime, the authorities of the two countries insist that talks and discussions are their exclusive prerogative to seek peace.

From the history of peacemaking in the Karabakh conflict

The conflict started in the last years of the USSR to take lives of 20,000 and wreck millions of destinies. The unsettled conflict prejudices the future of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Some activists of the two parties realized that the war was not a method to remedy the situation; it was essential to come to an agreement, so for this to happen an active dialogue was required.

Pioneers of these meetings were founders of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Azerbaijan and Armenia Arzu Abdullayeva and Anait Bayandur respectively. One of the first initiatives titled “Peace Caravan” and arranged in 1992 by the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian branches of the HCA created opportunities for activists of civil societies of Armenia and Azerbaijan to hold regular meetings on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in Qazakh/Idjevan and discuss prospects of conflict resolution and preparation of a joint peace appeal.

Other meetings were also held. In summer 1992 when cannonade thundered over Karabakh, some representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani clerisy met on the border. Purpose of the meeting was to terminate the war and start peace dialogue. Good neighborhood, friendly relations between the two peoples were still fresh. However, there was nobody to hear the intellectuals while the war was in full swing, and the peacemaking was not so popular topic as is now. In the years that followed even the hotheads began to realize senselessness of gaining victory by military means.

In the period under consideration the question of funding was not so severe as is today. Arzu Abdullayeva remembers that she expended her savings, bonuses of international organizations for business trips, transport and organization of meetings. Of importance was a personal attitude to the peacemaking process as was the case with Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, a head of regional office of the “Eurasia-Partnership” Fund in Armenia. In 1990, he set up one of the first NGOs of Armenia and using telephone contacts with his Azerbaijani counterparts, he learned Azerbaijani news and then conveyed information to local newspapers. “Nobody funded me”, he stressed.

It has to be kept in mind that the first peacemaking experience was far from system approach to the conflict resolution. Then came the first results. For instance, it was efforts of the first peacemakers that made it possible to release hundreds of captives when relatives on both parties came to know whereabouts of their dearest. Note that first politicians of the reviewed period sometimes met and even came to agreements with each other. But there was “a third force” that needed conflict. It should be noted that meetings of the earlier 1990s took largely place on the territory of Russia; that’s why these meetings were frequently moderated by Russian politicians and public figures. Meetings were held between representatives of popular movements and political of the two countries to discuss the conflict and find ways of mutually acceptable ways of its resolution. An oral agreement on mutual cessation of violence was reached in summer 1990 between the Armenian National Movement and the People’s Front of Azerbaijan; however, this agreement was foiled by “unknown persons”. Note that dialogue formats were different; meetings were arranged in the western countries following the dissolution of the USSR. Many experts regard the Dartmut conference to be the most memorable and prolonged dialogue.

It was American and Soviet diplomats that initiated the Dartmut conference. Earlier 1960s a real threat of the nuclear war came into view between the USA and the USSR. A level of mutual distrust was so great that Washington and Moscow did not trust even participants of official negotiations. Then some worldly-wise people suggested holding an informal meeting of “former” diplomats, servicemen and secret agents. The meeting was held in Dartmut. This meeting showed that none of the parties had any intention to start a nuclear war. As viewed many experts, the Dartmut conference played an important role in easing tensions between the USA and the USSR both in the reviewed period and earlier 1980s.

Following the dissolution of the USSR the Dartmut conference focused on regional conflicts. The second topic of the dialogue became the civil war in Tajikistan. Ideas of the Dartmut conference participants contributed to the success of inter-Tajik dialogue and completion of the civil war in Tajikistan.

After the Tajik project the Darmut conference aimed to deal with the Karabakh conference. For a couple of years, American, Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats, experts and activists had numerous meetings and discussed ways of the Karabakh resolution. The meetings were financed by the US Catering Foundation and held on the Russian territory only. However, the Darmut conference participants failed to achieve a breakthrough on the subject.

As viewed by conference experts, one of the reasons of failure was unscrupulous, indiscriminate invitation for all and everyone to attend conferences of this sort. In other words, composition of conferences varied always, and new people arrive with their own distinctive views on the subject. So, it was very difficult to attain a general solution. For this reason, in mid-2000s this process had actually been suspended. Still, one successful step was, nevertheless, made. A concept of interim status for Nagorno Karabakh came on the scene at the Dartmut conference and later included in the latest plan of the Minsk Group. At present, this concept is one of the key items of the peace resolution to the conflict.

Worthy of attention is a process initiated by the American organization “Global Community Foundation” from California. The first meeting was arranged in 1993 when activists from Armenia and Azerbaijan came to California and discussed within a week various aspects of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and way of its peace resolution. American diplomat Harold Saunders was a moderator of these meetings. Assistant of the US Secretary of State, he is known to have organized successful meetings between public figures of Israel and Palestine in Oslo. The second meeting was held in California in 1994. However, even this experienced diplomat failed to draw positions of the parties to the conflict nearer. Suffice it to say that “Global Community” expended about $ 90,000 to hold these meetings and organize trips.

To Arzu Abdullayeva’s thinking, failures of negotiation process within the framework of civil society are explained as being due to the fact that no system approach is applied to the conflict resolution: “International organizations are holding conferences and workshops, and that’s all. He who devises projects is paid; he who works well but bad in paperwork stands aside”.

One of active participants of the dialogue with Armenian counterparts and head of the Azerbaijani Society of humanitarian Studies Avaz Hasanov objects to non-system approach of international organizations: “There is no concept. A kind of peacemaking project is financed once, and that’s all”.

Independent journalist, former participant of peacemaking projects Kamal Ali appraises the situation on the basis of his own experience: “In the first years of contacts between Azerbaijan and Armenia public, it was after 1999, western donors still funded trips of journalists and public figures from the two countries to hold meetings and conferences in Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert-Khankendi. Our western partners hoped that the people concerned would come to an agreement and would, upon return home, circulate peacemaking sentiments among their peoples. Scores of Armenian and Azerbaijani public figures and journalists took part in the projects of this type, however, while at home they either slightly changed their views and ceased writing insulting articles or did not change at all”.

Despite pessimistic conclusions, he considers a dialogue to be a mandatory instrument for problem resolution”. At least, Azerbaijani participants of meetings with their Armenian counterparts are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with an alternative view, acquaint neighbors with their position and elucidate position of another party in their mass media. Azerbaijani readers need in getting alternative information and thus conveying it to society’s consciousness”, Kamal Ali inferred.

Another active participant of dialogue projects with Armenian counterparts, chairman of the journalist association ”Yeni nesil” Arif Aliyev is prone to think that effectiveness of peacemaking projects is negatively affected by unavailing official peace talks, but there are other reasons as well. “The state mechanism gives no support to the peacemaking dialogue. Whereas prior to 2001 journalists could pay mutual visits, at present they dispose of no opportunity to do that. Besides, some NGOs are not ready for dialogue”, Arif Aliyev said.

Of the same view are Armenian experts. Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, a head of the regional office of the “Eurasia Partnership” Foundation in Armenia, maintains that most donors are lacking professionalism to implement peacemaking projects: “Very often and when necessary workshops and conferences have to be held for conflict participants. As a rule, this talking shop yields no results. Frequently, the reason of failures of conferences and workshops lies in methodological questions. The point is that the bilateral dialogue process at a level of civil society frequently repeats stereotypes of state negotiation process. The question is that the both countries are deficient in full-fledged democracy and civil society, so it is no mere coincidence that the representatives of the parties concerned do not risk saying their views unreservedly and, hence, are confined to finding new, creative ways out of the impasse. They prefer to focus on positional disputes, as diplomats do. A civil society representative, not official representative of his state, suddenly decides to speak on behalf of his state and nation, and start repeating catchwords like “territorial integrity of Azerbaijan” or “independence of Karabakh”; in other words, the both parties begin from the beginning and decline from practical proposals”.

Another expert, representative of the public organization “Internews” Arutyun Mansuryan considers 2000-2012 to be successful from peacemaking progress standpoint as saying that there was as a hint of peace in the earlier 1990s. As a target of peacemaking projects Mansuryan admits the establishment of peace via dialogue. “Programs are different, and it is impossible to say, how far they meet their goals. There are successful and not very successful ones”.

Mansuryan’s view that a real peacemaking process began earlier 2000s was shared by absolute majority of experts from the both parties. In Avaz Hasanov’s opinion, up to the end of the 1990s international organizations were engaged in holding conferences and seminars only, and starting with the 2000s they came to fund peacemaking projects.

Arzu Abdullayeva suggests setting up a peacemakers consortium to be made of experts group from Armenia and Azerbaijan, including residents of Nagorno Karabakh (Armenians and Azerbaijanis): “On the basis of this consortium we ‘d be able to create an independent civil Minsk Group co-chaired by well-known Scandinavian diplomats, for example, Swede Jan Eliasson or Finn Heykki Talvitie. The independent civil Minsk Group, like the OSCE Minsk Group, could act as a standing body in charge of conceptually based building of civic peace and organization of meetings of activists and ordinary people”. Who will fund the concept? There are no state, public and entrepreneurship structures in Armenia and Azerbaijan to fund such a project. The only way is to expect help from the West.
Aliyev, Medvedev, Sargsyan, 3 flags

Sponsors and their approaches

Later 1990s the US Embassy toAzerbaijan allocated $ 230,000 for video-bridges between representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani public. Note that 24 video-bridges were held and most of them in barren disputes. The most touching, sincere and useful proved to be a dialogue between the two friends-footballers Eduard Markarov and Valeriy Hadjiyev.

The Baku NGO “Institute of Woman” with the assistance of UN Women, Kvinna till Kvinna, Care International in South Caucasus within 1997-2012 jointly with Armenian and Georgian NGOs carried out above 20 projects to speed up the popular diplomacy among women and youth (summer schools for youth, meetings of women, issue of manual “Education in Gender and Peace”, etc.). Western donors appropriated two tranches for this purpose to the “Institute of Woman” – $34,860 and Euro 25,046.

A number of NGO “Concord” seminars in Armenia with the participation of public figures and scientists of all three countries of the region were devoted to the South Caucasian problems of integration and security.

Note that one of the most renowned joint projects was carried out by the Baku and Yerevan press-clubs. In Arif Aliyev’s words, some $225,000 have been spent for the implementation of the project. These included mutual trips of journalists, conferences, workshops, etc. It should be noted that there were projects with lesser funding. Kamal Ali remembers a Lebanese Armenian Vigen Chtryan who obtained citizenship of Switzerland, set up a public institution and received a grant of the Swiss Foreign Ministry for a project of financing business trips of journalists from three countries to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Kamal Ali was a head of the project from Azerbaijan, and about $ 10,000 had been assigned to him for Armenian journalists’ trip to Baku and holding a conference.

Joining the peacemaking process financing since are the European Union, British government, German Naumann, Ebert and Boll Foundations; American Soros and Eurasia Foundations. It was a Soros Foundation grant that enabled a group of peacemakers from Nagorno Karabakh to arrive in Baku in September 2001. However, the Azerbaijani authorities staged a provocation against the peacemakers and then imposed a ban on the arrival of Armenian NGO activists on the invitation of Azerbaijani NGOs and thus monopolized contacts with the Armenian party in Baku.

To experts’ judgment, statistically and quantitatively the EU, Great Britain and the USA sequentially are in the lead to finance the peacemaking process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

It should be noted that the EU allocated the first peacemaking tranche in 2006. The project lasted 2 years. In the reviewed period a couple of NGOs was revealed in Azerbaijan on tender basis to have earlier been involved in various peacemaking projects. The second stage of peacemaking process started in 2009 to last till 2011. The third stage is designed for 3 years. Over the whole period the EU allocated upwards $ 5 million for peace building.

As has been noted above, commencing from the 1990s the United States showed interest in peacemaking process in South Caucasus. Great Britain joined the process earlier 2000. As a result, the Foreign Office assigned funds for the consortium of British NGOs that had actively joined the peace building process in South Caucasus. Two of them – International Alert and LINKS had already operational experience with South Caucasian organizations. As for LINKS, independent Azerbaijani experts regard projects of this organization to be inefficient. Note that LINKS mostly dealt with civil servants and deputies of Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, deputies met in London or other European capitals, stayed at luxury hotels, but no results were obtained. The reason is that there are no independent deputies in Azerbaijan or Armenia authorized by the authorities to put forward sensible proposals for conflict resolution”, said journalist and veteran of peacemaking meetings Kerim Kerimli. Some Azerbaijani political experts remained dissatisfied with the results of meetings within the International Alert framework. One of the experts pointed out that he had for several years worked with the International Alert and realized that no system approach was applied here: “Attending meetings were hawks incapable of coming to any agreement, that’s why I had to decline from participation in the meetings of this sort”.

As distinct from these experts, Avaz Hasanov is an old partner of International Alert and takes part in its projects. The last project of International Alert was carried out in 2012. Conferences were held in Baku and Yerevan, as well as in Khankendi to study the experience of the Northern Ireland conflict. Direct participants of the conflict resolution process arrived to share their experience. Note that about $200,000 was allocated to implement the project.

Why is it Great Britain of all EU countries that takes so active part in the peacemaking process between Azerbaijan and Armenia? For instance, not less influential Germany is largely engaged in financing Georgian projects. As viewed by an Azerbaijani political expert, the London’s activity secret lies in Azerbaijan’s energy resources: “BP is the principal factor. Investments of this company in Azerbaijan have long exceeded tens of billion dollars, and profits much greater. BP is one of Great Britain’s largest taxpayers, so it is natural that London is interested in stability in South Caucasus and Karabakh resolution” – the political expert concluded.

In 2012, the British Embassy to Armenia financed 3 programs. For instance, 65,000 pounds have been allocated this year for the weekly information-analytical program “Crossroads” (public organization of mass media promotion “Internews”). Note that the British Embassy has allocated 139,059 pounds for three programs’ implementation. At the same time, amounts in the form of direct grant for British organizations proper are much greater: approx. 300,000 pounds. Upon termination of the project, the organization submits a report and a financial statement. Besides, a donor keeps on supervising activities of project participants even after the project termination to find out, if it had any effect on a participant.

None of the experts surveyed and representatives of various structures venture to assess effectiveness of peacemaking projects when adjusted for complexity of the conflict.

Let’s consider a peacemaking project “Cinema-dialogues which started in 2006 with the assistance of the British NGO “Resources of Reconciliation” and a Stepanakert press-club with the participation of public organizations to promote mass media “Internews” of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Prior to 2010 the project had been financed at the expense of British government’s grant via the Conflict Prevention Foundation. Then it was the European Union that assigned funds for project implementation within the framework of the European Partnership program for peace resolution to the Karabakh conflict.

Goal of the project is to unite young people from Karabakh and Azerbaijan to create short documentary films about the Karabakh conflict. Over a past few years of the work over the project the young people from Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh shot above 20 films, of which 5 are joint ones. Films were not authored by all participants to the project, Arutyun Mansuryan reported. However, some participants from the two parties contrived to shoot 2-3 films.

Mansuryan found it difficult to submit lists of the participants, for the appropriate data are kept in archives and cover a period of 5-6 years of work. As for financing, at present the film production program budget is Euro 51, 268: it covers a couple of seminars with 5 participants; 6 seminars and practice; some to be held in Tbilisi, others in Stepanakert.

In an interview to Internet-portal Mansuryan, a “Cinema-dialogue” project producer, declared that films and the work over them did change people and their attitude to the conflict: “Films are documentation, recorded situation and human destinies… Some tens of people were engaged in the project, and something on their lives changed. Perhaps, not so much, perhaps, we have not reached tolerance we dreamt of, however, something must have changed in their world outlook. Result of the project is public discussions. All our films ask questions, and we want everybody to search for answers. Any answer a man finds will change the situation for the better”.
Aliyev, Medvedev, Sargsyan, 6 flags

Peacemaking: international conferences
and seminars, or meetings and discussions in loco?

It is impossible to predict results of the meetings, for the results are not frequently available; yet, representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani societies have to meet. This phrase is a peculiar formula of peacemaking, since practically every participant of a joint Armenian-Azerbaijani project considers it necessary to have direct contacts.

As viewed by Gevorg Ter-Gabrielayan, a principal difference between the two stages of peacemaking (1992-2000 and 2000-2012) lies in the fact that before 2001 Armenians could visit Azerbaijan within the framework of peacemaking projects: “Since then, Armenians may arrive in Azerbaijan on particular cases, while entry of Azerbaijanis to Armenia is more accessible, however, they do not want to go there in believing that they will find no understanding home. That’s why few Azerbaijanis dare to arrive in Armenia within the framework of projects, to say nothing of visits to Karabakh. In the meanwhile, the possibility of visiting another party is an important remedy to overcome stereotypes and establish any relations. “The fact that Turks and Armenians may freely exchange visits is a great contribution to confidence build up even despite the lack of diplomatic relations”.

“Building-up of enemy image both in Armenia and Azerbaijan became a principal method of shaping national and state identity; on the other hand, any dialogues of civil society that led to the understanding by another party and insignificant achievements were interpreted by the Azerbaijani authorities as a means of dragging the status quo out, i.e. secure in the consciousness of the international community and residents of the two countries and Nagorno Karabakh that Karabakh is Armenian and that this will never be changed”, – says Ter-Gabrielayan.

In his view, a creative approach and a feeling of freedom are required to get a dialogue between civil societies of the parties out of impasse.

That’s quite another story when the situation is aggravated by further tightening the screws, PR-, propaganda, Internet- and sniper’s wars, propaganda of intolerance in their own societies. The expert opines that those currently engaged in the peacemaking should apply incredible efforts to avoid being regarded as outcasts in their own society. Also, it is very important to take into account those holding meetings and establishing contacts together with respective discussions. This is a potential to decline from escalation, as well as a backlog for the future when more sensible goals will form the basis of negotiation process.

“In considering that Karabakh is an unrecognized territory, it is obvious that no international projects are underway there. Azerbaijan imposes bans on project implementation if projects come via Armenia. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan no access to the region, sometimes the Minsk Group officials or representatives of civil society only are in position to cross the confrontation line. Thus, Karabakh residents are cut from international projects, including democracy, human rights, civil society development, etc.” In Ter-Gabrielan’s words, the situation was identical with refugees. True, account has to be taken of the fact that Azerbaijani refugees are, to a greater degree, affected psychologically and ousted from their homes. The same is true of Armenian refugees: “Karabakh Armenians currently residing in Nagorno Karabakh feel justly satisfied with the fact that they have won the war. But where is development? Where is prosperity? Why are so many people leaving Karabakh? Why are so many people leaving Armenia? Why is the freedom of speech so restricted in Azerbaijan? We see that the conflict is far from its completion; that the both parties, including Karabakh residents, have to do much to overcome the deadlock. It is a great progress that, first, the British and, later, the EU consortium enabled Karabakh residents to directly join the joint actions”.

Practically all the experts involved in meetings and talks regard mere contacts between citizens of Armenia and Azerbaijan as a great achievement. Finding it difficult to speak about specific achievements in the peacemaking, they emphasize importance of contacts even if it takes place on a territory of a third country.

“It is good when people meet and establish contacts; when they involve those directly affected by the conflict; when people meet not for accusing one another but accusing themselves for misdoing, for tolerating thousands of victims – that’s good. It is always positive to blame oneself; it is always negative to blame others. It is negative to seek projects for money. Everything is dependent upon one’s conscience; whatever happens people should ask their own conscience”, – Ter-Gabrielan insists.

In experts’ opinion, undermining confidence is the fact that the broader public is not kept informed about project results. It is negative that some people are becoming project partners and receiving funds for years but nobody in society is aware of what they are doing.

“If you try to please a donor in order to get money instead of doing what is needed – it is negative. Also, it is negative if a project comes from “above”, without participation of parties concerned or representatives of civil society and then is handed them on plate. It is negative if a project is devised by one party without participation of another party: such a partnership is defective. When new generations come and start initiating peacemaking projects ignoring results of previous projects, it is negative. This will do no good. Before launching a project, it is essential to study the background: what has been done? By whom? What is being done now?

Profound democracy and transformation of the Karabakh and other conflicts in the region are expected to take place simultaneously. If there is no qualitative democracy, no progress will be made in peacemaking, and vice versa. Especially if the youth is concerned. They must move ahead! Follow one advice only: sometimes they misbelieve that stamping out and destroying the adverse party is a method of conflict resolution. Well. It doesn’t make sense. Resolution or transformation of conflict is a process where coercive actions are tabooed. And finally, earnest talks begin”, – concluded Gevorg Ter-Gabrielan.

Contacts of the Chairman of the Armenian Committee of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Natalya Martirosyan with her Azerbaijan counterparts began earlier 1990s when the HCA was engaged in settling conflicts of this sort and tried to look for partners.

"Scores of those launching civil initiatives studied at Moscow, while my colleague and founder of our organization Anait Bayandur, literary translator from Armenian into Russian. Among our Azerbaijani colleagues there were people who had known one another very long and even collaborated in the Soviet period. The first we are allied in this matter is emotional impulse and the necessity to act, stop war, end with violence and render urgent humanitarian aid to refugees, missing, their families, prisoners of war from both parties."
Aliyev, Medvedev, Sargsyan, 9 flags

How we managed to maintain ties

Our European colleagues from the HCA helped us very much in this matter. A forum of this organization was held in 1992 in Prague attended by about 1000 representatives of European and South Caucasian countries. Some important peace initiatives were arranged, one of which had been realized as far back as in 1992 when the war was still underway. It passed a decision to set up HCA national committees in South Caucasian countries.

They paid traveling expenses but never gave money to us. It is the fact that the so-called Peace Caravan was arranged in 1992. People came from France, Finland, Holland. They were joined in Armenia by Arzu Abdullayeva; there were meetings with journalists and the general public. Anait Bayandur arrived in Baku as well, not alone but together with our international friends. At that time, it had a great effect.

It has to be kept in mind that the Helsinki Citizens Assembly was registered in 1992 as a local non-governmental organization. It received the first grant in 1996 to expand the network. “We set up 4 groups in Vanadzor, Kapan, Charentsavan and Idjevan. I regard this as a great achievement – Vanadzor office of the HCA; they are registered as a separate organization. But in due time they were established as our office in this town”.

Youth magazine “Collage” (sponsored by the “Eurasia” Foundation and Unifem Program) – a team of editors from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. In Martirosyan’s words, interesting thematic publications were issued. Two issues of the magazine appeared, and an E-mail portal operated. For this to happen, $ 25,000 was assigned. The US Embassy allocated $ 11,000 to support web-portal (2005-2006).

“There were some tiny projects, effective though: The Danish Refugee Council funded a small-scale program (EURO 15,000) titled “Where are you, my friends?” The program was realized jointly with a colleague from the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Arzu Abdullayeva. We looked for people under inquiries of refugees – friends, acquaintances neighbors. Then we had meetings in Tbilisi, among them there were a mother and a daughter – one, on the one hand, another, on the other hand”.

Martirosyan touched upon the Independent Civil Minsk Process as a very challenging idea which is unlikely to be realized for lack of funds. “It was financed within a year only – approx. Euro 23,000. Attempts were made at expert, scientific or political levels to create general outlines as an alternative to the slow-moving Minsk process, our civil joint forum. We have adopted a number of important documents, the so-called Tbilisi declaration and identified our status. We announced our plans, however, regretfully; nobody is supporting us so far”.
Aliyev and Sargsyan

How to make people ready for peace

“All, including European structures, insist that peoples have to be made ready for peace. How can one attain this goal? Who will do that? The situation around activities of international organizations is very interesting. Donors dispose of conventional organizations, international as a rule, with which they collaborate for a long period. There are the International Alert, Links, etc. for whom no admission is admitted. When you say that “we have a good idea, alternative Minsk process”, they reply that “they have already adapted to them”. They avoid excesses, burning questions. Donor relations are not honeymoon. It is natural that everybody is interested in collaborating with those recommended by the local government. But we are not in despair, because it’d be better something than nothing at all”.

Martirosyan considers wrong a thesis under which governments are ready for peace, societies are not. “Everything depends on how you present it and to what extent you enjoy confidence, respect and legitimacy of your people. It’s very easy to refer to the fact that society is not ready for peace, and that we, top politicians, are ready for peace. The question is that nobody asked or tried to understand society’s concern. Following our studies we came to a conclusion that the most important thing is the lack of confidence; distrust both to domestic authorities and the adverse party”.

When appraising the traversed path over 1992 to 2012, Martirosyan noted that even during the military operations the parties to the conflict confided each other to a greater degree than now. “In the reviewed period the goal was very clear: it was imperative to stop the war and violence. Now this goal is eroded. Now there is a greater number of people and projects involved; however, the confidence is lesser”, – Martirosyan inferred.
Suren Abovyan
Alla Manvelyan
From authors: We cannot counsel donors and NGOs, for it is difficult to check effectiveness of projects as a whole. Also, it is not easy to judge about interest of organizations in their projects. We are skeptical about assurances of donors and NGOs of their desire to seek peace resolution.

What should journalists do? – remain as they are within/outside projects.

Virtual making of an article together with Azerbaijani/Armenian colleagues has its own nuances. It takes a lot of time to discuss either issue, find out who of us and what he meant. It is very easy to get enmeshed. However, it is time for us to come to an agreement between ourselves rather than with officers in charge of project.

Methods of joint action. For a start, we exchanged views on questions to be addressed to experts, and then made a list of questions. Suffice it to cite correspondence as example. Perpetual refinements of the matter to avoid misunderstanding. In the meanwhile, the point is about niceties of Internet-communications. The joint work is a sort of test for a journalist. It is interesting if you’d succeed or fail. I think the test is successful. Some misunderstanding at first notwithstanding, everything fell into place with the lapse of time. Of top priority is your preparedness for problems and methods of their solution.

Elkhan Kuliyev, Alla Manvelyan
September-December 2012
Baku - Yerevan

Photo: Presidents' offices of Armenian and Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS / Photolure, RIA Novosti

This publication was made during the "Jourkalists and PeaceMaking" project organized by Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives, Armenia and Baku School of Journalism, Azerbaijan by support of German Marshall Fund (USA)
Stone with the cross
Elkhan Kuliyev