INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE IN ISTANBUL

The Coalition for Trust in the South Caucasus International Conference was held in Istanbul on June 8-10, 2015.

The goal of the conference was to establish the Coalition as a body brining together partner organizations from the South Caucasus, and to adopt its founding documents, based on which the Coalition would be later registered as a formal body, elect its board and start operating.

The conference was jointly prepared by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and partners of the Coalition for Trust project from across the South Caucasus region. Together, the partners worked on the founding documents of the Coalition that were to be discussed at the conference, including the Resolution on Establishment of the Coalition for Trust, the Statute of the Coalition and the Code of Ethics of the Coalition. A multinational working group communicated via email, putting together and editing the documents. Another working group put together the agenda of the conference and the lists of its participants.

The conference brought together over 55 participants from the entire South Caucasus, including the internationally recognized states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and de facto entities of Abkhazia, Nagorny Karabakh and South Ossetia. Participants included the staff and leaders of the project’s partner organizations, and actors interested in joining the coalition in organizational or personal capacity: journalists, scholars, human rights activists, civil society representatives. Stakeholders from the South Caucasus were joined by representatives of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and experts from the Balkans and the host country of the event, Turkey.

Opening speeches were made by the Director of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Mr Bjørn Engesland on behalf of the project’s implementing agency, and by the Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia Mr Oliver Reisner on behalf of the EU, which is the project’s donor.

The conference began with presentations of the Coalition project within the context of other peacebuilding initiatives unfolding in the South Caucasus and beyond, in the Balkans and in Turkey.

Participants of the conference discussed the concept and potential activities of the Coalition for Trust given the current situation in the region, the positions of players and the role of civil society. Various aspects of the operation of the future Coalition were debated, such as the prospects for its formal registration in Norway as an association and its future funding options.

The main session of the conference was dedicated to the discussion of the draft founding documents of the Coalition: the Resolution on Establishment of the Coalition for Trust, its Statute and Code of Ethics. The documents were generally approved by participants, with some improvements suggested.