Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Caucasus: May '07

Journalists from around the region receive conflict resolution briefing and get to talk to leading parties in Armenia on eve of elections.
By IWPR
The second training seminar by the Cross Caucasus Journalism Network was staged in Yerevan, Armenia, in advance of parliamentary elections on May 12.



The seminar gathered fourteen journalists from different regions of the Caucasus, including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria in the North Caucasus and Abkhazia, Nagorny Karabakh, South Ossetia, Georgia and Armenia in South Caucasus.



The training component of the seminar concentrated on conflict resolution. Yerevan-based trainer and expert Tevan Poghosyan gave the participants an overview of conflict resolution theory and practice, using practical exercises and role-play situations.



In a round table discussion with well-known political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan, the participants asked questions about the region’s various conflicts, with subjects and themes thrown up by the debate turned into stories in participants’ own newspapers around the Caucasus region.



“I got so much new information here. I feel like I look at conflicts in an entirely different way now,” said Zurab Makhriev from Nazran, Ingushetia, after the training session.



The journalists attending the session also had a chance to experience political life in Armenia on the eve of elections.



They met representatives of the Republican Party, Dashnaktusyun, the National Democratic Party, the Heritage Party, the People’s Party of Armenia and the National Democratic Party.



The politicians discussed their electoral prospects, the transparency of the ballot, the role of oligarchs in national politics and, more generally, the future of Armenia.



“This was very interesting, and it made me hope that next time there will be a seminar like this right around election day, so that we could report on the elections,” said Eter Turadze from Batumi, Georgia.



As a result of the training session in Yerevan, the participants came up with numerous new ideas for cross-border articles, including a Russian-Georgian-Armenian story about the struggle of Caucasus migrants in Russia and an Armenian-Azerbaijani story about Armenian exports to Azerbaijan and vice versa.



Further ideas are being discussed via email and telephone, and strong professional ties have been established between those attending these sessions.



As Zelimkhan Yakhikhanov from Grozny, Chechnya, put it, “I think that the Cross Caucasus Journalism Network is a useful and unique idea. It gives us a chance to widen our thinking, to get to know more about each other. I hope I will be able to see a training seminar like this in Grozny.”