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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 (between 9th and 10th Avenues)

Room 109 McMahon Hall

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 1894 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 was 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 which 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 it has been over a century, 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:

understanding how the historical past affects the present
recognizing the heterogeneity of the other side: majority on both sides tend to perceive the other side as “all-bad”, and
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

Emrah Göker, PhD candidate in Sociology, Columbia University

Emrah Göker grew up in Ankara, Turkey. 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. He is member of Peace Initiative/Turkey (USA).

Dr. Aleksander Sargis Manasyan: Chair, Department of Theoretical Philosophy and Logic, 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).

Co-Sponsoring Organizations:

Fordham Psychology Association

Peace Initiative/Turkey (USA)

Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress & Genocide
Association for Disaster & Mass Trauma Studies

SPSSI

Organizing Committee: Dr. Anie Kalayjian, Dr. 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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