1545) Armenian - Turkish Track Two : Diplomacy Projects: Assessment of Best Practices

Yerevan, 2006

Local officials and their representatives, economists, business leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey met in Istanbul on December 12-14, 2003.

P a r t i c i p a n t s :
- Agreed to promote regional economic cooperation by exchanging information on issues affecting commercial activity, such as taxation, import-export laws and banking systems, and to develop a database of goods and services to stimulate trade.

H o w e v e r , p a r t i c i p a n t s :

- Recognized that conflicts between and within states limit commercial opportunities and adversely affect peace and prosperity.

T h e r e f o r e , p a r t i c i p a n t s :
- Call on the governments of the Caucasian countries to settle disputes peacefully and through negotiations, including establishing normal political relations and opening the borders.

December 14, 2003

This statement signed by forty Armenian, Azeri Georgian and Turkish public figures in Istanbul by and large marked the end of the most intensive period of initiating and implementing Armenian-Turkish Track 2 Diplomacy (T2D) projects, which lasted for nearly three years. This was a period characterized with mutual visits and concerts, a time of engaging in active discussions, publishing numerous articles and even whole magazines, shooting films, making statements, and conducting trainings and research. Actually, this list can continue for much longer. . .

However, the most important achievements of this period are the personal stories and memories which will continue to be spread and retold. These are the personal and institutional connections that will from now on unite many citizens and organizations of two unfriendly countries. One thing has definitely changed for at least representatives of the public in the two countries: the neighboring country is no longer behind an ice curtain; on the contrary, it is quite near and there live people who are just like us, who study, work, love their families and can make lasting friendships. At first glance these seem to be simple truisms, but they become meaningful only when communication is there.

Throughout 2001-2004 more than a dozen T2D projects between Armenia and Turkey have been implemented, mostly with the support of the US State Department and under the supervision of the Center for Global Peace of American University in Washington D.C. In terms of scope these projects considerably differed from a number of other projects and conferences targeting regional integration. The latter, though involving the representatives of the societies in the region, actually targeted issues of regional significance. Whereas the T2D projects focused specifically on Armenian-Turkish relations, and the activities implemented within the framework of these projects were aimed at the current realities in Armenia and Turkey.

Time proved that such activities were not only important, but were also extremely effective in the process of facilitating relations between two countries which practically lack any and create a conducive environment for regulating these relations further. This means that sooner or later the imperative of establishing and maintaining friendly relations between two neighboring countries will compel the representatives of civil societies in both countries to retrigger mutual communication and implementation of T2D projects.

It was this conviction that prompted the experts of International Center for Human Development (ICHD) to initiate a large-scale analysis of Armenian-Turkish T2D projects ever implemented. The goal of this initiative was to reveal the specifics of implementing such projects and to attempt to answer questions such as “How effective can these projects be?”; “What was common about the projects that have already been implemented?”; “What were the strengths and weaknesses of the projects?”; “What was their impact on the various groups of beneficiaries” and most importantly, “What lessons can be learnt?”

One thing is obvious: during the next phase of setting off new initiatives of cooperation between Armenian and Turkish publics, the implementers will not need to start from square one. There is already experience and this book summarizes it. It includes the analyses of the projects implemented in the mentioned period, which will give the reader an opportunity to come to conclusions, generate new ideas and avoid possible mistakes. The book is intended for non-governmental organizations, media, donor organizations and all those interested in Armenian-Turkish relations.

While analyzing the projects, ICHD experts have tried to possibly avoid the practice of finding “heroes” and “culprits”, and instead focus on experience, objective reality and cause-and-effect relations of phenomena through singling out all the implications which may be useful in similar future initiatives. . .

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