The analytical researches, implemented for the two last years by International Alert international organization, were presented in Stepanakert, at the discussions entitled ‘Vision of Peace: Analysis of Views on the Karabakh Conflict’.
The project was implemented in cooperation with the Stepanakert Press Club (SPC). Foreign Minister of the Republic of Artsakh Masis Mayilian, MPs, representatives of public organizations, different structures and parties were present at the discussions. The speakers were SPC Chairman Gegham Baghdasaryan and independent expert Alvard Sargsyan.
The researches were conducted in Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan within the framework of the initiative ‘European cooperation for the sake of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict’. The International Alert organization has a 25-year-old experience of participating in the peaceful initiatives related to the Karabakh settlement. The military activities in April 2016 once again testified to the adversary’s readiness to resolve the conflict by force. In this sense, the international organization tried to carry out a research that would result in finding possible alternatives to war by the societies, ways of transformation of the conflict and joint efforts in achieving lasting peace, eliminating the root causes of conflicts, which supposes corresponding works by local societies and government structures.
Independent expert A. Sargsyan considered the research project unique, as the representatives of the three conflicting countries were included in it. Alvard Sargsyan, Narine Aghalyan and Zoya Mayilyan participated in the trainings for young researchers in the region, then conducted relevant analytical works. Within the framework of the project, 110 surveys were conducted in 41 geographical areas, both in capitals and in other towns, as well as in rural areas along the line of contact, in the settlements of internally displaced persons’ residence. The participants had the opportunity to speak about their vision of peace and, in parallel, the settlement of the conflict, mutual compromises and the problems arising from them. Psychologists worked with the experts, which gave them an opportunity to identify factors in the relationship between individuals and their environment.
SPC Baghdasaryan touched upon the specific views of the refugees revealed during the research, in particular, the state propaganda carried out in Azerbaijan that all their refugees want to return to Artsakh.
However, the research has shown that a significant part of these refugees does not want to go back and the Azerbaijani expert also voiced about it. In addition, the Azerbaijani society, especially among the younger generation, spreads hatred towards Armenians, and the surveys revealed that this is not acceptable for some circles in that country, they have already elements of critical thinking, which did not exist 10 years ago. The critical thinking was much weaker in Artsakh. The Abkhazian experts observed that people living in border settlements are always in danger and have no special privileges, i.e. the burden of the war consequences is not distributed equally in the society, and social injustice is created. The Georgian expert stated that living in conflict is difficult to break the people’s mindset in these conditions and they learn to live in extreme conditions.
In general, the surveys were conducted in late 2017, and the data was analyzed in the first half of 2018. The works showed that there are various and widely spread hypotheses of the conflict. The three societies had a range of similarities, but there were also serious differences related to the viewpoints on the conflict.
The project organizers hope that these studies will contribute to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, and who needs such studies was discussed in Stepanakert. The participants, in their turn, noted that the results should be reported to the authorities, the society, the mediators involved in the conflict resolution, and the co-chairing states. During the discussion, numerous opinions were expressed on various solutions to the conflict: possible options for mutual compromises, different negotiation processes, military solution to the issue, strengthening of the army, spiritual security components, proper guidance of the younger generation, and other issues of the kind.
The organizers of the project expressed hope that these researches would be useful to all the parties, and the formulated conclusions and recommendations would contribute to the search and prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.