In Vienna Armenian-Azerbaijani Forum supported by International Alert has finished
Azerbaijan, Baku, 27 March / Trens News corr. E.Rustamov /
The Armenian-Azerbaijani Forum titled "Security: challenges and opportunities, as well as mechanisms to establish trust" , that was taking place in Vienna between 24-27 March, came to an end. According to information provided to Trend by International Alert's representative Dessislava Roussanova the Forum defined three main areas in which confidence building initiatives and measures should be strengthened and actively implemented. According to her, these areas are: internal work within each society, work to initiate and support direct people-to-people contacts and work to implement joint initiatives between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in areas where this is possible today.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani Forum is being held under the mediation of International Alert in Vienna. Participants of the forum are Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders of civil society, experts and intellectuals from all sides in the conflict. The forum is also attended by the OSCE Minsk Group Matthew Bryza (U.S.), Bernard Fassier (France) and Yuri Merzlyakov (Russia).
As it was noted by Roussanova, the Forum also provided an opportunity for direct discussions with the international mediators that have been working on facilitating political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to her, this framework for discussion marks a very important step in engaging directly civil society in the peacebuilding process. "It is a step that should be welcomed and appreciated. Many civil society leaders across the region welcome opportunities for such direct engagement and I hope that this engagement will continue in one form or another in future. Experience in successful peace processes in other places in the world, and International Alert works in other regions in the world that have been affected by conflict, show that civil society can play very important role in peacebuilding processes," - she said.
Roussanova added that International Alert, together with Armenian and Azerbaijani partners is going to work on some concrete initiatives: "The aim of these initiatives is to create a platform for dialogue where civil society leaders could discuss wide range of issues."
According to her, the next Armenian-Azerbaijani Public Peace Forum will take place in July 2009.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost all of Nagorno-Karabakh except for Shusha and Khojali in December 1991. In 1992-93, Armenian armed forces occupied Shusha, Khojali and 7 districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.