1 Aug 2010
Dialogue and Future
Looking up to the blue sky and staring at high ranges of green mountains around us, I imagined how irrelevant and blunt it was to break the magnificent and divine harmony of peaceful coexistence. The nature was a very positive sign about how productive the next Imagine Dialogue was going to be…
I applied to the Imagine program with an abundance of hope. I hoped and believed to a certain extent this program would make a small but determined step on a long path of reconciliation between two nations– Armenians and Azerbaijanis. I wanted to gain the trust of the Armenian guys who were to attend this program, and I eagerly desired to overcome the dark stereotypes filling my thoughts by means of learning to trust them.
I also wanted to be part of the group from Armenia, mentally and spiritually. In doing so, I hoped to understand the Armenian point of view on and approach to Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, and particularly, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Nevertheless, until the moment I met representatives from Armenia, I had not expected to be a part of a very complicated and comprehensive dialogue program–one that would hugely contribute to the emergence of cohesive understanding of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations within my mind.
The greatest success of the program was the willingness of organizers to let participants direct the flow of process, interfering only in moments of necessity. Thanks to this opportunity we were able to think and act together with common efforts of both sides. We were leading a process that involved the two parties of opposite approaches with both of them trying to make their voice heard by the other side. We were at the helm of the process; this is why we were willing to make commitments to see it through successfully.
In this free and rather uninterrupted atmosphere, the individual initiatives and ideas easily found their ways through the conversations. With the above-mentioned commitments also came individual responsibilities to get different ideas across to the participants–the ideas that smelled of creativity and embodied optimism regarding the common future of both nations.
I witnessed amazing diversity of thoughts, approaches and evaluations in both sides. I could feel that the way discussions went was perfectly suitable to intensify efforts even further to come closer to the permanent solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. What we need in reality is to apply this notion of pluralism and diversity into dialogue between the two nations. One of the severest causes of the hostile attitude observed in our relations is the presence of abundant stereotypes in both societies, which are a natural outcome of not being in real communications. By this very program, some of us were given an incredible opportunity to overcome this barrier of miscommunication or rather non-communication.
Another important moment that should be underscored was the encouragement of both sides to fully express their concerns, fears and hopes. Up to that moment, I had usually been reluctant to focus on the points that were dividing by nature rather than uniting. During this process I realized that we have to fully address our concerns and fears in order to build a successful common future. A rather murky chronology of our common history is mostly due to the reticence of both sides to come together and share their concerns with each other without giving a chance to third parties to be at the helm of decision-making.
In many ways, this dialogue reminded me of fervent efforts of two strangers with rather similar destinies to build trust between each other. The more we talked, the more we saw ourselves in the persons in front of us. The more we saw ourselves in the shoes of those guys from the other side, the more we wanted to trust them. I assume everybody could feel how fragile the trust-building steps were, because each individual in this project did their best to make those steps gently, with utmost care and attention.
This program was very effective in achieving its short-term goals–the goals that would positively influence, at least, certain part of people in their way of looking at the things around the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The objective of the program was unambiguous–there was an urgent need for the folks from both sides of this conflict to realize that if they want to find a long-lasting resolution of this problem, they have to learn to see and share their views, perspectives and concerns with each other.
For the first time in my life, I somehow felt the harmony even in the fears and concerns expressed by individuals from both sides. I felt those grievances were most peculiar to human beings. I sensed that I could understand those grievances of the Armenian people. I also reckoned that the Armenian guys saw something similar in our fates and understood our grievances.
It was a very meaningful moment when I began realistically to think about a positive resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and candid rapprochement between these two nations.