Azeri and Armenian Sociologists Find Potential for Peacebuilding

Azeri and Armenian Sociologists Find Potential for Peacebuilding

Tbilisi Georgia, July 28, 2004

A joint study by Armenian and Azeri sociologists shows that the people in both countries would support more concerted efforts by their governments to normalize relations and move toward settlement of territorial disputes. The study was designed to determine the possibilities for reconciliation among the people of the two countries.

The findings suggest that although the divide between the two countries is strongly felt, cultural ties still unite the people on both sides of the border. Joint projects in areas such as academic cooperation are now taking place, and other joint activities are possible even before the details of an official peace plan are accepted by each government.

The research was carried out by the Azerbaijan Sociological Association and the Armenian Sociological Association in partnership with the Millennium Association for Education and Research ( Yerevan ). The American University Center for Global Peace supported the project.

The study took place during 2003, and included people from the capital cities, border settlements, refugee camps, and Azeri IDP populations, as well as Armenians currently living in Nagorno-Karabagh.

The study highlights the importance of the media in easing tensions. Roubina Ter Martirosyan, Director of the Millennium Association for Education and Research, says "If the media always gives the impression that the other side is inhuman, then how can our children get a realistic understanding of the people on the other side of the border? We have a whole generation of kids growing up with no first-hand knowledge of people just a few kilometres away. This is not a healthy situation and we need to demand more balanced reporting from our journalists. We also need to let our governments know that we want to see the whole truth about the other country. We need a free press if we want to live in peace."

The difference between older and younger research participants is clear. “The new generations in Armenia and Azerbaijan do not know each other,” says Dr. Gevork Poghosyan, Methodology Expert for the project in Armenia and President of the Armenian Sociological Association. “People my age, for example, have rich experience from the past before the war. But young people are very far from each other now. People in both countries really want to keep the peace, but reconciliation is very hard. That is why it is so important to develop communication and make contact between many different groups in both countries.”

Dr. Jeffrey Halley, a professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio , has advised the team of Azeri and Armenian researchers throughout the process, and has written the comparative analysis of both national surveys. "This research was done by serious social scientists,” Halley affirms. “People who understand social research will see that the study was done professionally. Some will want to criticize the findings and politicize the discussion without doing anything to advance the peace process. We can expect that. But I believe that the findings of this study will help lay the groundwork for meaningful dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan .”

Dr Halley continued “The surveys show overlapping attitudes and perceptions toward the conflict that can identify mutual areas of interest, which can be built upon for a sustainable peace and future cooperation between the nations. The citizens of both sides desire peace. They recognize that the active parties in the conflict are not individuals, but governments and national agencies, yet they also recognize that action by citizens and non-governmental agencies is essential if there is to be progress.”

“Unfortunately,” Dr. Halley added, “as the conflict proceeds, the structures that operate in regard to it become stronger and more resistant to citizen action. There are many areas for hope but political will is necessary to activate change. In its absence, however, it is clear that cooperation can grow, as it were, from the ground up, in the expansion of already existing areas of contact and exchange such as education, science and trade. That may be the most important implication for policy of this research.”


1. Contact: Dr. Sevil Asadova ( Azerbaijan ) 
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Tel: 994-50-331-6812

2. Contact: Roubina Ter-Martirosyan ( Armenia )
President, Millennium Association for Education and Research 
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Tel: 374-1-54-40-20

3. Contact: Dr. Gevork Poghosyan 
President of Armenian Sociological Association 
Tel: +374 (1) 530571, +374 (1) 531096
Fax: +374 (1) 530521 
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The complete reports are available on the website of the American University Center for Global Peace: www.american.edu/cgp/mpaa/mpindex.html

(All links below are in Adobe PDF format)

Please click here for a Summary of the research results.
Please click here for a comparison of the country reports.
Please click here for the Azeri Report.
Please click here for the Armenian Report.
Please click here for survey results from Armenia.
Please click here for survey results from Azerbaijan.
Please click here for survey results from Nagorno Karabagh.
Please click here for survey results from IDP's in Azerbaijan.

2004-07-28
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