IsAG’s Partecipation at the International Forum “Caucasian Dialogue – 2018” by the Gorchakov Fund for Public Diplomacy
Between 10 and 13 September 2018, IsAG participated to the International Forum “Caucasian Dialogue – 2018” organized by the Gorchakov Fund for Public Diplomacy with the assistance of the Academy of National Economics and Public Administration under the Presidency of the Russian Federation (RF).
The forum is an annual scientific and educational project aimed at bringing together young specialists and journalists and graduate students from the whole ex-Soviet Caucasus area in order with renowned experts about the region and representatives of the Russian authorities. This edition took place in the beautiful scene of Arkhyz mountain resort, in Karachay-Cherkessia, one of the RF federal republics. Although unknown to most, this locality played a major role in European affairs in the past. First, in the Middle age, when it was the seat of the Eurasian Alan Empire and then in July 1990, when M. Gorbachev and H. Kohl hold here the final negotiations on German unification and the withdrawal of Soviet forces.
The panel of experts included personalities from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, coordinated as scientific director by Sergey Markedonov, Professor at Moscow State Humanitarian University and one of the leading Russian specialists on the Caucasus, with a unique knowledge of regional affairs.
The Forum participants included young professionals in the field of international relations, political scientists, economists, lawyers, journalists, representatives of non-governmental organizations engaged in international cooperation and public diplomacy, young diplomats from Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and South Ossetia, all the Russian subject of the region as well as specialists in Caucasian studies from other countries.
To be noted in this edition was also the participation of two high profile diplomats who played a direct role in the Caucasian developments of the last decades, Ambassadors Dieter Boden (first head of the OSCE centre in Georgia from Germany) and Feliks Stanevsky (former RF Ambassador to Tbilisi). Both diplomats stressed how the lack of knowledge and expertise about the region among European decision makers prevents the EU and its member states from playing a meaningful role in regional affairs, most blatantly for what concern the resolution of the protracted conflicts. As noted by Stanevsky, Western ignorance is exacerbated by the declining quality of journalism, more and more unable to provide a reliable picture of the events, rather prone to make appeal to the emotions of the readers.
The event was interesting also because participation was not limited to passive listening to the experts’ interventions. In fact, attendees were requested to work by groups to prepare presentations for the audience. Particularly topical were moot presentations on Nagorno-Karabakh and on the Geneva consultations related to Georgian separatist conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Although these exercises could not by no means bring about revolutionary solutions to problems afflicting the region since decades, they were nevertheless remarkable as representatives of the conflicting sides were sitting around the same table, striving to argument their positions in a constructive way apt to overcome standing stalemates.
I should say that along with the first hand knowledge provided by the experts, I especially appreciated the forum for the company and the fruitful exchanges of views tath I had with attending young professionals and journalists. This acquaintance on personal level allowed me once more to realize that the first resource of this wonderful region and of Russia as a whole are not natural resources, nor weapon or capitals but its peoples. Young Circassians, Chechens, Ossetians, Abkhazs, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Russians (and all other local nationalities) may well work and interact together and are waiting for their chance to overcome the division of the past in order to contribute to a peaceful development of the Caucasus. Such kind of events are effective platforms to work towards this end.
Overall, apart from numerous and fruitful exchanges of views with the experts, the participation allowed IsAG to establish a promising contact with an high level Russian institution like the Gorchakov Foundation, which is eager to consolidate its links with Italian academic institutions and think-tanks as our institute.