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Reconciliation through Democracy: Continued challenges for Armenia and Turkey

Reconciliation through Democracy:

Continued challenges for Armenia and Turkey

Symposium

On Wednesday

5 May 2004, 7 PM

Fordham University

155 W 60 St. NY NY 10024 (off 9th Avenue)

By Dr. Kalayjian

 

Introduction and Vision

Perception is vital to the interpretation of history, and yet perception of
the same events or relationships may vary so greatly as to produce controversy
even decades after the fact of the matter. One such relationship is that of
Armenians and Turks throughout history beginning from 1984 to present.

This panel discussion is the fourth in its attempts to bring Armenian and
Turkish citizens together and bring about understanding, empathy, validation,
healing and reconciliation. The first event occurred in April 2000, where Dr.
Taner Akcam, a Turkish social historian was invited to speak in front of over
150 both Armenian and Turkish attendees at Fordham University.

The second event was on 5 April, 2001 where a panel entitled “Psychospiritual
dialogue between people of Armenian and Turkish descent” took place. Four
Armenian and four Turkish panelist presented their own experiences, memories,
and insights around this issue of reconciliation. During the course of the
event, a myriad of topics was discussed, including the prospects of challenges
to Armenian-Turkish reconciliation from both a psycho-spiritual and educational
perspectives.

Furthermore, in addition to developing a deeper understanding and compassion
for one another, the panel laid the ground work for future dialogues.

The third event took place on 18 May, 2003 which was funded by the American
University. This all day symposium addressed Armenian-Turkish relations as they
have been in the past, present, and future. Among the forum’s distinguishing
features was the application of the Conflict Resolution Model by Chair Dr. Anie
Kalayjian of Fordham University. According to this model, the initial segment of
the symposium, were the keynote speakers delivering their insights and didactic
information, one Armenian (Professor Vahakn Dadrian of Zoryan Institute) and one
Turkish (Professor Muge Gocek of Michigan University); while the latter portion
of the day the participants were divided into smaller groups, two for Armenian
discussions and two for Turkish, in the presence of a third party group
observers.

During the afternoon roundtable, facilitators and observers of these groups
shared the outcomes with the larger audience. Among those were: Continued
education, shared programs, field trips to Armenia and Turkey, visits to museums
and libraries, and more panel discussion addressing current challenges for the
two countries.

Therefore, the current panel which will take place on 9 April 2004 at 7 PM
will address current issues of democracy and human rights as the road to
reconciliation.

We will have one Armenian speaker addressing issues in Armenia; another
Turkish person addressing situations in Turkey, and a third-party from Human
Rights Watch or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will address
issues concerning both countries on a global level.

Purpose and Mission

Foster understanding, empathy, validation, and healing through a panel
discussion. To draw commonalities between two countries who emphasize
differences. Ultimately, through this panel we seek to promote a higher level of
awareness, utilizing principles of United Nations Declaration for Human Rights.

Conceptual Framework

Although over 110 years have lapsed, the Armenian-Turkish conflict remains to
be a highly emotional one and lacks a reasonable relational space in which both
sides can engage in an empathic dialogue with the aim of reconciliation.
Underlying  this restricted relational space, there seems to be a
difficulty in:

1) understanding how the historical past affects the present

2) recognizing the heterogeneity of the other side: majority on both sides
tend to perceive the other side as “all-bad”, and

3) Unprocessed and unpleasant feelings on both sides: feelings of humiliation
and defensiveness on the Turkish side, and feelings of anger/rage and
helplessness on the Armenian side.

This panel aims to address these difficulties by focusing on current states
of democracy and human rights in the Republic of Armenia and in Turkey. Armenian
and Turkish speakers will critically evaluate the democracy and human rights
situations in their respective countries and a third-party (non-Armenian and
non-Turkish) will do the same from a global and international perspective.

Biographies of speakers

1. Emrah Goker, PhD candidate in Sociology, Columbia University Emrah Goker
grew up in Ankara. His major was sociology in his undergraduate years, back in
Middle East Technical University in Ankara. In 1999 he completed the MA program
in Political Science, Bilkent University in Ankara. His thesis was about the
post-1989 politics of the Alevi movement in Turkey and the movement’s promise
(or lack thereof) of social justice. In 1999, sponsored by a Fulbright
scholarship, he came to New York City to begin the master’s program in Sociology
at New School University. A year later he transferred to the doctorate program
in Sociology at Columbia University, where he is still a doctoral candidate. Mr.
Goker has published a number of articles in left-wing political journals, on a
various number of topics from religious movements to the Turkish university
system. For some years, he has been focusing on transnational political
contention and the sociology of social movements, with specific emphasis on
tensions between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Lately, he is preparing to
write his dissertation on comparative political economy, focusing on
state-capital relations under structural adjustment. Malaysia and Turkey during
the 1980s and 1990s will be his main interest.

2. Dr. Aleksander Sargis Manasyan: Head of Chair of Theoretical Philosophy
and Logic, at Yerevan State University. Dr. Manasyan received his postgraduate
studies from the Institute of Philosophy and Law of Academy of Science of
Armenia, and his Baccalaureate degree from Azerbaijan State Institute of
Pedagogic. Previously, he was the Head of Department of Philosophy at the
National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of more than 60 scientific
articles and books, has lectured in more then 16 international conferences,
including conferences on human rights issues and 6 rounds of Russian-American
Dartmud Conference on Karabagh conflict regulations in Moscow, Russia. His
publications include the following themes: The problem of growth of scientific
knowledge, Karabagh conflict consensus, Karabagh conflict in Keywords, the
Poverty reduction strategic program, etc. He is the Co-founder of NGO entitled
“Against the Violation of Law.” Dr. Manasyan had participated in Parliamentary
elections as a Candidate in 1999. He lives with his family in Yerevan Armenia.

Co Chairs: Dr. Anie Kalayjian, Professor of Psychology at Fordham University,
Treasurer of the UN NGO Human Rights Committee, Vice Chair of the UN DPI/NGO,
Executive Committee, in private Psychotherapy practice in NY and NJ.

Dr. Murat Paker, Clinical Director of Safe Horizon/Solace (Program for
Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma); Clinical Psychologist and Physician;
member of Peace Initiative/Turkey (USA).

Organizing Committee: Drs. Anie Kalayjian and Murat Paker, Dr. Natalie
Batmanian, Harry Milian, Dr. Yunus Tuncel.

For more information kindly contact Anie Kalayjian at 201 941-2266, or
E-mail:

kalayjiana@aol.com.

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