In the summer of 2012, CSSP supported an activity in the South Caucasus for the first time by joining the “Tekali Festival of Art and Conflict Transformation” in the small village of Tekali in the region of Georgia bordering on Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Tekali Festival took place as the third gathering in support of the “Tekali Process”, which aims to strengthen the dialog between Armenian and Azeri civil society since the Upper Karabach conflict in 1994. In spite of rare ceasefire violations, the armed conflict is over. Still, progress remains frozen by unsolved territory claims and displacement of citizens in Karabach and occupied villages. The division between both countries is strong, as the conflict inflicted many wounds on both sides and erected barriers and psychological obstacles between them. Nevertheless, both governments use every possibility to strengthen the hostility between the two countries.
To avoid nationalistic and ethnically-driven disturbances, the festival was organized outside of both countries in the neutral area of Tekali in Georgia. Various artists, journalists, and peace activists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Germany met to discuss how peace can be brought into society and to share different ways on opening perspectives for peace such as art, political documentary theater (Teatr.doc), and mediation. During the five-day festival, these approaches were experienced by participants. Every festival day ended with a film produced by Armenian, Azeri, and Georgian filmmakers showing the conflict from different perspectives.
With the idea that art serves to promote kindness, humanity, and reconciliation among people, the participants had the possibility to experience peace and cooperation together. During this five-day festival, CSSP conducted a workshop about the basics of mediation. It focused on the following understanding of mediation: that every person can contribute to peace personally by living its ideals.
As part of the festival, CSSP was able to promote mediation activities and tried to assess to what extent its approach can add value to the local context. Based on the positive feedback we received, we are currently further assessing the conflict situation and support the promotion of the Tekali Initiative in Berlin in cooperation with our partners from the South Caucasus.