Is the democracy the reliable way to resolve conflicts?

Democracy is not a panacea to resolve conflicts, but it is the most reliable means of finding solutions to problems, this was a leitmotif of the roundtable organized on Tuesday by the Centre of National and International Studies with the support of NED.

The participants of the meeting  held discussions around two themes: “The democratic approach to  the settlement of conflicts in Turkey” and “Look at Democracy and Conflict Resolution from Azerbaijan.”

Speaking on the first topic, Sezin Oney, the Doctor of Bilkend University, a columnist for the newspaper “Taraf” (Kurdish newspaper) focused attention on the Turkish government’s approach to solving the Kurdish problem.

Despite the fact that over the past ten years Erdogan’s government  has taken a number  of  measures to  solve this issue (including the opening of the  TV channel in Kurdish), the discontent among the Kurds remains. The expert explains  it by the “backwardness” of steps the Turkish government,  and the payback for the “mistakes of the past.”

In addition, Oney criticized the attempts of  Erdogan’s government to solve the Kurdish  problem on the basis of a common Muslim identity of the  Turkish and Kurdish peoples, pushing back the national aspect. At the same time, Oney noted the growth of radical nationalist moods  among  the Kurds.

She sees the solutions to the problems of Turkey in the future removal of the army’s influence on political life in the country. Concerning the prospects of  the “Kurdish issue”,  Oney  considers  the possibility of borrowing approaches to solving problems in Spain with Catalonia, or Canada on the issue of Quebec.

Deputy of Milli Mejlis Rasim Musabekov  considers it  is wrong  to accuse the Turkish government, because  similar problems exist in Iraq, Iran and Syria. In addition, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party was created with the support of the KGB USSR.

In general, according to Musabeyov, the agreement between the majority and the minority is easily achieved if they are  internal problems. As examples, he mentioned peaceful solutions to the problems of Tyrol and the Aland Islands.

It is easier to solve problems in the countries with established democracies. Another thing is the countries with transitional period, when the radicals prevail.

The expert considers it wrong that the Karabakh problem may be solved if democracy is established in Azerbaijan and Armenia, because external forces influence the conflict. 

Musabekov does not agree with the opinion that we must first resolve the conflict, and then  build democracy; or  first build democracy, and then solve the conflict.” He believes that both should go hand in hand.

Co-chair of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Arzu Abdullayeva believes that establishment of democracy does not mean automatic elimination of the conflict, but expands the capabilities of the settlement.

 With regard to the Karabakh conflict, she noted that there is a pluralistic society in Azerbaijan, the country would have more friends in the world. On the other hand, democratic Azerbaijan would increase the attractiveness of living in such a state.

Abdullaeva noted with regret that the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, more exploit the conflict, that  want to settle it. According to Abdullayeva, the world’s  power centers  have “double standards” of democracy. Concerning the domestic situation, they have democracy, but in foreign affairs geopolitical interests dominate.

Head of the Public Forum “For democracy” Eldar Namazov unambiguously called for the positive impact of democracy on factor Karabakh settlement. In his opinion, the Karabakh settlement has three planes- the impact of geopolitical forces, negotiations  of political elites, and the willingness of societies.  Under non-democratic regimes, political elites have talks on the basis of their narrow corporate interests, not national. Therefore, they avoid compromise. The consensus within societies can be achieved in a democratic atmosphere.

As for the role of democracy in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Namazov linked it with the prospects of democratization in Russia. Democratic Russia will be able to perform a true peacekeeping role in the settlement, said on.

March 16, 2012