Photo by mortsan. CC-Licence
The persisting “frozen” military conflicts surrounding the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno Karabakh regions restrict sustainable economic and social development as well as the establishment of free democratic civil societies in the South Caucasus.
Within the respective societies involved in the conflicts, the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBS) promotes public discussion on the cause of the conflicts, on each party’s own role and responsibility, and on approaches of non-violent settlement. The HBS is committed to the establishment and further extension of sustainable exchange and contacts between the conflicting parties on the civil society level in order to overcome mutual separation and compartmentalisation. It lobbies regional cooperation in the context of social democratisation and modernisation. In this context, it supports:
- discussion forums with decision makers and people that shape public opinion within the societies, with representatives of refugee and IDP organisations, and academics. The aim is to increase social demand for compromise solutions and enhance the transparency of political decision-making processes concerning the conflicts.
- topic-oriented dialogue between societies involved in a conflict: the purpose of these public and private meetings is the exchange of perspectives concerning various aspects of the conflict, as well as the development of sustainable contacts that secure the exchange of information on levels below the official negotiating authorities. The results of the meetings are published as documentation material in most cases.
- films, radio and TV transmissions, newspapers, and internet forums that penetrate information blockades between societies that are alienated from each other due to conflict. These projects enable the societies to perceive and become familiar with the “other party’s” perspectives and attitudes.
- publications that promote scientific as well as literary exchange between South Caucasian societies and their neighbours, and that look into issues such as “bogeyman” images and stereotypes in a critical way.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation focuses in particular on projects that place the bilateral dimensions of conflict work into a regional and international perspective. For this purpose, the South Caucasus regional office closely collaborates with the offices of the Foundation in Istanbul (http://www.boell-tr.org/) and Moscow (http://www.boell.ru/). Partners and other experts from Russia and Turkey are involved in dialogue and trialogue processes, whereupon the role of these countries in the South Caucasus is discussed and direct contact between scientists and non-governmental organisations (NGO) are established. Moreover, the Foundation cooperates with regional Caucasian NGO coalitions that are actively involved in conflict transformation.