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Rotarians meet for planting seeds of regional peace

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

Ankara hosted a three day “peace conference” last week where all participants came from the disputed region of Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi. International Rotary’s 2430th District Governor Erhan Çiftçioðlu brought together members of the Turkish, Azerbaijani, Armenian and Georgian Rotary clubs within a program called “Caucasus Friendship Days.”

“What we have done is the beginning. We’ve opened a window,” Hovsep N. Seferian, term president of the Rotary Club of Yerevan, said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News. He believes that the International Rotary’s initiative is particularly important for its possible impacts on public opinion, not only in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey but for all public opinion in the world. Because public opinion needs words and slogans of peace, he emphasized.

Kaan Soyak from the Rotary Club of New York, who co-chairs the international division of the club, said they haven’t directly aimed at influencing governmental policies. “Yet, what we’ve been doing may make things easier for governments. In addition; the United Nations is very much interested in and overwhelmed by our initiative,” he said. Ali Musayev, from the Rotary Club of Baku, pointed out the importance of such a meeting for future generations.

Rotarians of the four countries during the three day discussions focused on adopting a set of decisions that will take the project to a new dimension. They planned youth and culture programs with Rotary Clubs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey as well as programs for increased exchanges between business and academic circles of the four countries and establish some sort of a consultation mechanism to explore what can be done to boost economic and commercial relations between their countries.

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