Introducing Fireside Peace Chats

The Hague Humanity Hub is happy to have joined forces with the Fireside Peace Chats organised by Leiden University College (LUC) and the Knowledge Platform for Security and Rule of Law (KPSRL). We kickstarted the collaboration as a trio with a Fireside Peace Chat highlighting the peacebuilding and civil society in the Caucuses.  

Are you interested in the insights from the conversation? You can find the blog post below. Keep an eye on the event calendar for upcoming editions of the series.  

Fireside Peace Chats – Peace and Democracy in Georgia and the South Caucasus

This edition focused on Georgia and the Caucuses, and featured Arnold Stepanyan who is founder and chair of one of the oldest civil movements in Georgia, the Public Movement for Multinational Georgia (PMMG). He was joined by Anar Ahmadov (LUC) who discussed his research on Western institutions and democracy as well as Elvin Yusifli, a PHD student (LUC) focusing on the democratization in Azerbaijan.   

Arnold Stepanyan discussed the role of civil movements in Georgia to support ethnic, religious and linguistic minority groups residing in Georgia. The Movement seeks to establish tolerance and diversity as natural conditions of the democratic society in Georgia.  

By initiative of questions from the audience, the three speakers joined together in discussing intergenerational divide in Caucuses where the younger generations are affected by alienation and propaganda the most and how this impacts democracy development.  

The conversation touched upon Georgia’s geographical position in the “Great power neighbourhood” among Russia, Iran and Turkey. Emphasising the costs associated with democracy and defending democratic development, the speakers underlined that while Russia’s negative influence cannot be understanded, Western influence brings its own set of problems.   

Anar Ahmadov mentioned that the Western shift from a value-based to a pragmatic approach to the Caucuses has become even clearer with Georgia’s EU candidacy status with EU recommendations focusing on measurable improvements rather than strenghtening democtratic values. Arnold highlighted that Georgia needs to hold on to the values that embody human rights as the trust in values is crumbling. The upholding of values, the judicial system and institutions will create a climate where people believe that their voices matter and that minorities are paid attention to in minority dense regions, reemphasising the role of PMMG. Therefore the speakers concluded, it is not only a question of which type of democracy these country should work towards in technical terms but also how to ensure that young people can see their future in the region.  

At the end of the discussion, the speakers joined together to give a couple of movie recommendations to learn more about the history and the culture of the Caucuses:  

  • Shadows of forgotten ancestors (1995) directed by Sergei Parajanov 
  • The colours of pomegranate directed by (1969) Sergei Parajanov
  • Mimino (1977) directed by Georgiy Daneliya  
  • Parts of the circle – Nagorny Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia  

The next edition of the fireside peace chats will take place early this year. Stay tuned to The Hague Humanity Hub newsletter for more information.