Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: creating conditions for building peace

<p>International Alert recently organised a public round table on <em>Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Creating Conditions for Building Peace &ndash; the Role of Russia</em>, together with the Russian Centre for Strategic Studies of Religion and Politics of Contemporary World and the Russian Media Centre Izvestya, and with the participation of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The round table aimed to discuss the opportunities for advancing the Nagorno-Karabakh peacebuilding process and public diplomacy attempts, and the role that Russia and its society could play in improving the conditions for building peace between societies across the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict divide.</p><p>Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani experts and analysts took part in the debate. Amongst the Russian and international participants were Leonid Ivashov, Vice-President of the Academy for Geo-Political Issues; Sergei Markedonov, Deputy Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis; Gaidar Jamal, Chair of the Islamic Committee of the Russian Federation; Sergei Kurgenyan, Director of the Institute of Social Systems at Moscow State University; Vladimir Kazimirov, former diplomat and Russian Co-Chair of the Minsk Group; Maxim Shevchenko, Member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation and TV Host on Channel 1; International Alert&rsquo;s Director of Programmes Phil Champainand Eurasia Programme Projects Director Dessislava Roussanova. Amongst the Armenian and Azerbaijani participants were instead distinguished annalists and civil society activists like Alexander Iskandaryan, Avaz Hassanov, Karen Bekaryan, Masis Meilyan, Rasim Musambekov as well as Aghavni Karakhanyan, Arzu Abdulayeva, Rauf Rajabli, Saadat Benyanarly and many others.</p><p>This initiative was aiming to respond to recommendations and suggestions from our colleagues and partners from the South Caucasus highlighting that Russian society could play an active role in improving conditions for building confidence between societies across the conflict divides and in the Nagorno-Karabakh context in particular. &ldquo;Without any doubt we could say that there is space today for wider sectors of societies to be involved in peacebuilding. When people communicate, they look for common interests. These interests could be in the field of culture, language, or in other areas&rdquo;, said Alert&rsquo;s Director of Programmes for Asia and Eurasia, Phil Champain.</p><p>&ldquo;Cooperation between European and Russian organisations in the South Caucasus on issues related to the existing conflicts is important in order to improve and create better conditions to build confidence and peace in the region&rdquo;, comments Alert&rsquo;s Eurasia Programme Projects Director Dessislava Roussanova. &ldquo;In the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, many of our Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues feel that this round table in Moscow, on the possible role that the Russian society could play in this area, organised together with our Russian colleagues, was a positive step in this direction&rdquo;, adds Roussanova.</p>