Caucasus Institute organizes various events, round tables, conferences, trainings and seminars. These events are aimed at strengthening the bond between science and society, fostering pluralism and stimulating the transfer of research results.
The EU, Turkey and the Caucasus: Current Stage of Relations
Moderator: Hrant Mikaelian, Researcher at the Caucasus Institute
Speakers: Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Institute, Angelo Santagostino, Jean Monnet professor, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University, Yildiz Deveci, Director of the Department of Caucasus Studies, Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University
Venue: Caucasus Institute
Date: April 5
On April 5 the Caucasus Institute held a workshop on the current stage of relations between the EU, Turkey and the South Caucasus. Looking at the EU’s involvement in the wider region comprising Turkey and the Caucasus, the workshop focused on a wide range of issues. Alexander Iskandaryan spoke of Armenia’s path towards deeper European integration, country’s bilateral relations with Russia and membership in Russian led institutions, including CSTO and EEU. Angelo Santagostino focused on EU’s commercial tools of building closer relations with eastern neighbors, including the DCFTA and its components. Yildiz Deveci examined the state of EU-Turkey relations in general, explaining what are the main issues and obstacles impeding Turkey’s deeper EU integration.
The presentations were followed by a Q&A session moderated by CI Research Fellow Hrant Mikaelian.
Prospects for Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh: International and Domestic Perspectives
Date: March 15-16, 2018
On March 15-16, 2018 the Caucasus Institute (CI) held an international conference on Prospects for Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh: International and Domestic Perspectives. The conference was part of a project on Engaging society and decision-makers in dialogue for peace over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict implemented by the CI with support from the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund. Speakers at the conference were leading experts on the conflict from the UK and Armenia.
In her opening speech, H.E. Judith Farnworth, Ambassador of the UK to Armenia, said, “We strongly support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs to facilitate the peaceful resolution of the NK conflict on the basis of the so-called Madrid principles. We see this project as a complement to those efforts, as an opportunity to generate a discussion within society and between society, decision-makers and opinion-formers on the benefits of peace and how it might be achieved”. Summing up the current status of the conflict, CI Director Alexander Iskandaryan argued that the April 2016 de-freezing of the conflict has caused the conflict to become more deeply frozen, with negotiations focused on preventing outbreaks of violence rather than brokering a peaceful resolution.
Speakers analyzed the difficult situation on the ground and the mutually incompatible positions of the parties in conflict. Laurence Broers from Chatham House described Azerbaijan’s evolving position with respect to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, explaining that regaining jurisdiction over Nagorno-Karabakh is the “foundational mission of contemporary Azerbaijani identity”, whereas ethno-nationalism provides a solution to the legitimacy challenge confronting Azerbaijan’s elite. Contrastingly, the official position of Nagorno-Karabakh, presented by ICHD Chairman Tevan Poghosyan, is that “international recognition of the Artsakh Republic is a matter of time”. The prevalence of non-compromising attitudes to the conflict in Armenia was reflected in presentations by Mark Grigorian, Director of Armenia’s Public Radio, who analysed Armenian media coverage of the conflict, and by Sona Balasanyan, Research Director of CRRC Armenia, who used sociological methods to sum up public perceptions of the conflict in Armenia.
Given the complexity of the issue and the risks of war, peace prospects and practical steps towards peace were the main focus of discussions. Thomas de Waal, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe, offered an international perspective on the conflict, pointing out crucial flaws in the international negotiation format and calling for “a fundamental strategic rethink to move away from the status quo”. The International Alert’s Caucasus Regional Manager Sophia Pugsley proposed recommendations to international civil society, including strengthening of regional ties, involvement of young people and social media, and “humanization” of the discourse. In a lively general debate, participants discussed the role played by domestic, regional and external actors in maintaining or upsetting the precarious military and political balance in the conflict, and in bringing peace back to the negotiating table and public discourses.
The Karabakh Movement 30 Years Later: Lessons Learnt
On February 28 the Caucasus Institute held a roundtable discussion dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Karabakh movement. The roundtable was part of a project on Engaging society and decision-makers in dialogue for peace over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.
The roundtable began with a presentation by Mark Grigorian, the Director of the Public Radio of Armenia. He spoke as an eyewitness of the events of 30 years ago: his presentation covered the period of 1987-1988. Mr. Grigoryan recalled the emergence of the Karabakh movement arguing that at the very outset, Azerbaijan was not mentioned at all: the protests were addressed to Moscow as the political centre. He also spoke of the motivation that people had for joining the movement: some considered it an attempt to correct historical mistakes, others, an effort to save the lives of Karabakh Armenians, and so on. Another topic addressed by Mr. Grigoryan was media coverage and information circulation during the movement. He pointed out that while Armenians were outraged by negative media reports about protests in Yerevan, they liked – and believed – negative reports by the same media about protests in Baku. In other words, the general public’s approach to information was one-sided. Among the lessons learnt he highlighted the fact that after the war, Armenians realized the need to act independently and stop relying on external actors.
Mark Grigoryan’s presentation was followed by an active debate moderated by CI Research Fellow Hrant Mikaelian. Issues debated by the participants included lessons learnt from the conflict and whether Armenia had indeed learned them, why the anniversary was not commemorated in Armenia on an official level, and whether something had changed in Armenians’ approach to media coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.