International Debate In Tbilisi
In the context of Armenia’s foreign policy priorities, particularly the Armenia-Turkey relationship, it is crucial to address citizens’ concerns accurately and foster constructive dialogue between the involved parties. To achieve this goal, the “Institute of Liberal Politics“ NGO with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is currently implementing a project named “Addressing Concerns – Building Dialogue.” One of the project’s vitalcomponents is the development of skills required to create a platform for civil discourse on disputed issues. The liberal youth Turkey-based “3H Movement” NGO was involved in the project.
According to a project’s roadmap, educational courses were conducted for 24 youngsters in Turkey and Armenia. These courses covered various topics, including debate techniques, rhetoric art, the principles of effective public speaking, and the history of Armenia-Turkey relations. After these courses, national debate competitions took place in Yerevan and Istanbul, consisting of semi-final and final rounds. The winners of these domestic debates (six participants from Armenia and another six from Turkey) had the opportunity to participate in the international debate held in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, from October 19 to 21 of this year.
This two-day event facilitated civil discussions between Armenian and Turkish youth and encouraged the exchange of viewpoints, debates, and interactions on various topics. The topic of the debate was “Does history influence the foreign policy of states?”. The Debate was assessed by an impartial international jury members active in Eastern Europe. Armenian and Turkish participants were proportionally distributed across the teams to ensure fairness.
The jury consisted of various prominent figures, including the head of the South Caucasus Office of the Friedrich Nauman Foundation “For Freedom” Katrin Bannach, an expert of the “Control Risk” organizationIoseb Dzamukashvili, , Vice President of the “New Economic School — Georgia” NGO Gia Jandieri, Georgian politician and founder of the School after St. Goerges in Athens Nana Tokhvadze, and a representative from the “Liberal Youth of Europe” (LYMEC), Estonian politician Tuuli Helind.
Ultimately, the team taking the “against” position emerged as the winner, arguing that history does not significantly impact states’ foreign policies. According to members of the international jury, such informal gatherings are essential for advancing democracy at the grassroots level and stimulating discussions on complex subjects, without which the role of civil society cannot be enhanced.