One Year On: Building the Future between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Post- Conflict Era was an in-person discussion taking place in Berlin on November 10, 2021, with participants from around the world also joining via Zoom. The discussion brought together top intellectuals for a candid, challenging, and substantial discussion. The speakers were Dr. Arman Grigoryan, Professor of International Relations, Lehigh University, and H. E. Tofig Zulfugarov, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Azerbaijan. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Jeanene Mitchell, co-founder and Executive Director of Restart Initiative.
On the one-year anniversary of the cease-fire agreement ending the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the objective of this panel discussion was to take stock of the progress and the roadblocks in Armenia- Azerbaijan relations over the past year.
The discussion focused on the prospects, opportunities, and challenges for cooperation, economic connectivity and peacebuilding in the region.
The event took place with the co- sponsorship of the Hertie School in Berlin, the Candid Foundation, and zenith Magazine. To our knowledge, this was the first in-person discussion of this nature that has taken place since the war. Attendees in person and on Zoom included representatives of the European Union and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.S. Department of State, the OSCE, the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, members of the diplomatic corps from the Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Turkish Embassies, international universities, the United Nations, International Crisis Group, the United States Institute of Peace, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of Europe, RFE/RL, and numerous international foundations and non-governmental organizations.
The discussion was live tweeted by zenith Magazine as well as Restart Initiative. The full YouTube video of the event is available below and on Restart Initiative’s Daha Yaxşı YouTube channel, with full subtitles in both Russian and English coming soon.
Meeting with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, November 9, 2021
Prior to the November 10 panel discussion, Restart Initiative and H.E. Tofig Zulfugarov were hosted by Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), at the MSC office in Berlin.
During the meeting, which lasted approximately one hour, Ambassador Ischinger welcomed Ambassador Zulfugarov and Restart Initiative and expressed his support for our initiative and our joint projects with the Hertie School. Ambassador Ischinger stated that “if there is anything the Munich Security Conference can do going forward in order to create a dialogue again and efforts toward reconciliation and peace in the region, overcoming the recent conflict, we’re ready… We stand ready to help if and when we can.”
Ambassador Zulfugarov shared the Azerbaijani perspective on the conflict and peacebuilding in the region and said that he would convey Ambassador Ischinger’s message back to the Azerbaijani government.
In a brief video interview between Ambassador Ischinger and Dr. Jeanene Mitchell, the Ambassador emphasized the importance of Europe’s constructive engagement as well as the role of more informal platforms for dialogue such as the Munich Security Conference in the establishment of peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of the broader European neighborhood.
In addition to offering the MSC platform for the promotion of dialogue and peace in the region, Ambassador Ischinger also invited Restart Initiative to organize a side event in the context of the 2022 Munich Security Conference taking place in February. We have informed Ambassador Ischinger that we will accept his invitation and are in the process of putting together a program in line with the MSC theme of regional security. Meeting with Ms. Anke Konrad, Head of Division for South Caucasus and Central Asia, German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 11, 2021
Following the November 10 panel, Restart Initiative met with Ms. Anke Konrad, the head of division for South Caucasus and Central Asia at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ms. Konrad watched the panel discussion with Dr. Arman Grigoryan and Ambassador Tofig Zulfugarov and requested a meeting to further discuss the potential for developing dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
During the meeting, Ms. Konrad noted that such opportunities to sit together and speak informally did not often occur, and that she welcomed the opportunity. She conveyed the interest of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs that such conversations between representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani perspectives become normalized – that the populations of each country see that it is ok to appear together and engage in dialogue without necessarily having to agree on everything. Dr. Grigoryan and Ambassador Zulfugarov shared their views with Ms. Konrad, with the issue of demining being a particular area of interest to Azerbaijan.
Ms. Konrad also emphasized the interest of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support concrete, practical projects that have real impact on the lives of people in both countries, as well as using the framework of the European Partnership to continue working on peace in the region. She welcomed the opportunity to keep the conversation going and to meet again whenever Restart Initiative, Dr. Grigoryan and Ambassador Zulfugarov were present in Berlin.