Thursday, 20 June 2019

E Editorial

Presentation-Discussion at ACNIS Dedicated to the Vision of Peaceful Settlement in Artsakh

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On December 4 the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) hosted a presentation on "Vision of Peace: Analysis of Opinions on NKR Conflict," which was attended by politicians, political analysts, accredited diplomats in Armenia, local media and members of the public.

The research materials, in Armenians and Russian, were sent to the seminar participants by e-mail. During the discussion, the Armenian version of the "Analyticon" magazine with the regional experts' observations was distributed among the participants.

The presentation-discussion was opened by the chief editor of the ACNIS, Gevorg Lalayan, noting that the research is aimed at demonstrating the possible alternatives to the war that originate from the societies in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh, ways to confront the conflict, as well as the opportunities and approaches that are not present "on the agenda of external mediators."

Stepanakert Press Club Chairman Gegham Baghdasaryan noted that the subject of the research was conducted in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh within the framework of the European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (EPNK). According to his observation, the results of the research confirm that there are various, widely spread versions of the conflict. "The same results simultaneously indicate that the three communities are united by a series of common trends. Of course, there are also significant differences concerning the issues of the conflict," the speaker noted.

According to him, the researchers identified three important features from in-depth interviews with different people. First, people began to think critically and in their own way comprehend the consequences of the conflict, targeting even official propaganda, distortion the meaning of the conflict and attempts to falsify history. Secondly, people have come to terms with the conflict, have intertwined with it, which in some cases is a consequence of creating an “image of the enemy” at the state level and propaganda of hatred. And, thirdly, a sense of duty and responsibility to the border population - people who deserve a more sensitive and attentive attitude, because, according to respondents, they "play a buffer role."

Speaking in critical response, Manvel Sargsyan, director of ACNIS research programs, noted that researchers ignored some of the key categories. In particular, according to him, the concept of the right has gone from experts' attention. "But any road leading to conflict-reconciliation and solidarity will remain indefinitely if conflicting societies and peoples are unable to recognize each other's rights," Sargsyan said, adding that for many years, the rights of the public in Artsakh were officially suppressed, which led to war.

According to the speaker, very often political and socio-economic upheavals begin with ignoring the rights of a given society. According to the speaker, the NKR conflict is one of the clearest evidence of this. “The confrontation in Artsakh clearly shows what can happen if, at the state level, the rights of the society are suppressed unilaterally for many years,” the speaker said, recalling the consequences that the provision of the right to use weapons to one of the parties'.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer session and a lively exchange of thoughts. Exhaustive answers were given to more than a dozen questions addressed to the co-rapporteurs. In their presentations, the workshop participants highly appreciated the merits of this study, while at the same time presenting their own comments and suggestions in the context of the Karabakh problem.

Expert-analyst Hrachya Arzumanyan is concerned about the protracted settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to him, if the problem has not been solved for decades, then either the tactics of the chosen solution are wrong, or the problem needs to be reformulated. “We need to have a full understanding of the problem and formulate approaches to the solution, a roadmap,” said Arzumanyan.

David Stepanyan, who was included in the group conducting surveys on these issues, said that the fact that the target of discontent and hatred of the majority of those affected by the Artsakh-Azerbaijani conflict was not their opponent, but their own leadership, was remarkable. “Oddly enough, the same tendency is noticeable even among the refugees who have lost their homes after seeing the pogroms,” he noted.

Editor-in-Chief of Edgar Vardanyan underlined the factor of awareness in the context of resolving the problem. From this point of view, people's moods, conversations with them can fill in some gaps, which are largely due to the indifference of state bodies. “People love when they are listened to, when their opinions are evaluated. If I were, for example, an interviewer, I would, of course, ask those citizens who were dissatisfied with their management, how they would act in their place, ”- Vardanyan said in his speech.

Armen Aghayan, the chairman of the “Armenian Choice” organization, an analyst, described the term “three sides” of the conflict as “ear ripping” and expressed his disagreement with the term. According to him, Armenia has never called for militaristic propaganda, hatred and national intolerance. “The objective reality is that all this is a “monopoly” of the Azerbaijani side, a part of its way of life, a syndrome of “unfinished war,” the analyst said.

Alexander Kananean, president of the NGO “Karvachar Research and Education Center”, sees no reason for optimism on the issue of peace. According to him, most of the ethnic entities around us do not tolerate our physical existence at all, not to mention that they could think of of resolving the conflict or concluding a peace treaty with us. Nevertheless, Kananean sees a way out of this situation: he sees it in the demographic, military, and economic power of our state. "Peace is possible if war is impossible," the analyst said aptly.

Ashot Melian, an employee of the Artsakh representative office in Armenia, positively assesses the views of the conflicting societies about the “vision of peace”, which, he said, is aimed at finding out the real picture of the mood of ordinary people and ensuring their participation in solving the problem. “This is also the experience of the realization of the right to participate,” said the Artsakh representative.

Expert Hayk Balanyan stressed the need to revise outdated, irrelevant theses, such as “Artsakh should participate in the negotiation process”, “Status instead of territories”, etc. “We must edit our text in accordance with the imperatives of time in accordance with our main goal, of what we want today,” the expert said, adding that Azerbaijan will never make concessions, “and tomorrow even more unlikely, especially since there is a growing generation educated in the Nazi spirit.”

“A1+” journalist Sergey Arakelyan, confirming Balanyan’s opinion, expressed confidence that a young citizen of a country that generates fascist sentiments and militant rhetoric at the state level cannot be a carrier of justice, the concept of rights and other democratic values. The representative of the public sector, Nikita Zarobyan, as a scientist, advised that the basis of the surveys should be not only expertise, but also scientific principles and methodology.

Naira Sultanyan, Adviser to Peace and Development Program at UN Armenia Office, Karin Marmsoler, the EUSR Representative, and Marina Aramyan, representative of the British Embassy to Armenia, as well as the founder of ACNIS, the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Raffi Hovannisian were also present at the presentation-discussion.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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Yerevan, Armenia


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