Summary – The conflicts in the South Caucasus may indeed have frozen, however dialogue about them remains heated and in full swing
In the first week of November, the PfP Consortium Study Group on “Regional Stability in the South Caucasus” (SG RSSC) held its 20th workshop in Reichenau an der Rax in Austria. The event was jointly organised by the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, the Austrian National Defence Academy as well as the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute.
Held since 2012, the workshops in Reichenau and in the wider region (Tbilisi, Istanbul, Kyiv, Chisinau, Varna, Minsk and Berlin) build upon a Study Group which was already established in 2001. At every event the workshop brings together representatives and experts from all dimensions of the security-political spectrum from across the South Caucasian regions and from neighbouring countries as well as international scholars who have dedicated their efforts to this diverse and contested region.
As the region´s primary “track-two diplomacy” platform, the RSSC RG acts as an essential tool aiming to provide and stimulate confidence-building through dialogue among representatives and experts of the South Caucasian regions, to share and to test out new ideas about conflict resolution and management, and more generally to take important steps towards regional stability and peace in the framework of policy recommendations.
The main aim of the 20th workshop of the RSSC SG was to achieve the creation of concrete and constructive roadmaps for the major unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus that could provide a win-win situation for the involved parties in the future.
The heated, but constructive and rich discussions in Reichenau further highlighted that these days, the conflicts in the South Caucasus region are currently dealing with difficult times and are far from being resolved. That´s why it is even more important that such a constructive and empathetic dialogue takes place regularly.
The organisers as well as the participants tried not to ask exclusively for or present conditions and activities that the opposing side must fulfil in order to resolve the conflict, as is often the case in many conversations involving conflict parties. Most participants from the region concentrated specifically on what conditions and outcomes are in their opinion key to breaking current deadlocks and how their country could contribute to move in the direction of stability and peace in the region.
The participants highlighted the important role of a step-by-step rapprochement, involving not just the conflict parties, but all relevant powers, including Russia and Europe, in the South Caucasus. Such a rapprochement could have the aim of creating incentives and contributing positively to confidence-building among the involved countries and regional institutions, as it would provide an important platform for dialogue in an administrative, apolitical manner.
This step-by-step rapprochement could for example be reached by focusing on commonly agreed interests, risks and threats, regional and geopolitical, concerns shared by all countries in the South Caucasus. The aim of rapprochement could be targeted in the framework of a South Caucasus Public Chamber, which would act as an apolitical, public policy platform. This sort of body could be representative of all parties in the South Caucasian region and could provide consultation and advice officials with terms of reference, such as with issues of mobility facilitation, professional exchanges or academic mobility.
Upon concluding every workshop of the PfP Consortium Study Group “Regional Stability in the South Caucasus”, the 20th workshop resulted in the preparation of comprehensive and concrete policy recommendations that are oriented towards more than 800 decision makers in Europe, the United States, the EU External Action Service, the OSCE, and the NATO, as well as to local and national governmental and non-governmental institutions. Additionally, the procedures and results of this and each workshop will be published in the framework of academic papers in the PfP Study Group Information Series of the Austrian National Defence Academy.
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