From Armenia

Monday, 05 May 2008

Image The role and importance of youth organizations of the Southern Caucasus countries in forming atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the nations of Southern Caucasus

Currently the problems which the conflicts caused in the region of Southern Caucasus brake the development of civic society and democratic freedoms. All this in the aggregate threatens the regional security and stability.

The problem becomes complicated with the fact that even if the power structures develop the scheme of settling the conflicts our societies are not ready to accept the compromise.

When we talk about the role of youth in any political processes in any country or region, we encounter a problem of youth upbringing and education.

Youth as a socio-demographic group is a raw material, which can be easily shaped into any form we like. Also, youth is a serious political resource.

Different powers try to have an influence upon the young people and use them on behalf of themselves. As young people are less cynical and more patriotic than adults, and more easily come under provocations, so opposition politicians, for example, treat the youth as a mean to come to power. Youth can be used as a factor in demonstrations, which can pave the way towards coming to power for any candidate who can with the sympathy of youth. Young people, who don’t have a job can spend days and nights on a square and thus to force the ruling elite to loose a position etc. The authorities in contrary would like to see agnostic and apolitical youth which don’t even participate in elections. Besides, youth is a personnel (human resources) reserve of a country. These are the people who soon are going to lead the foreign policy of their country.

In any event young people are subject to different influences, because every young man is in the stage of forming its personality and it is very important from who we learn and whom we consider as our teacher. The same is in case of young generation. I mean it is very important what we will choose, because the point is that whatever young people take in today this will echo in their fortune which means that this will echo in the future of the country. That is the main reason why it is so important to bring up and educate the young generation. Just like in case of a child. As you know even a very talented child will not succeed if its parents don’t educate him properly.

Today the youth in our countries doesn’t take an interest in neighboring countries. They are more informed about ongoing processes beyond the Ocean than in neighboring country. This is an abnormal situation and mostly this is subsequent upon propaganda coming from above.

Young people should be included in delegations which are being invited to the other countries of the region, for they could learn how to participate and adequately present their countries on regional conferences, seminars and trainings. Journeys and participation in regional programs play an important role in forming the world-view of a young man. Knowledge of foreign languages, openness and an active social position play a big role for the participants of regional projects. Broadening of regional youth cooperation is a guarantee of peace and stability in the future. The participation in regional youth organizations allows keeping always abreast of actual events in youth sphere, share operational experience and make the acquaintance of peers in neighboring countries.

Today we see that the joint regional projects are being implemented on the level of NGOs (seminars, trainings etc.) with the participation of young people from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. But unfortunately we have to admit that these projects are not so efficient because they don’t have a continuation. This is the main reason. I.e. these project have a time period, during which young people get a chance to meet, share the ideas, but after each project they return home (Baku, Yerevan or elsewhere) and after some time the again become the victims of propaganda in their own countries. That is the reality.

Does this mean that there is no need to conduct this kind of meetings and implement this kind of projects? No! We just shall acknowledge that this kind of joint regional youth projects has played out. I mean the internet forums, seminars and meetings at which the young people from the countries of our region meet and argue with each other, speaking about politics, history etc.

If we talk about forming an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the nations of Southern Caucasus and the role of youth in this process, so I suppose we shall give consideration to those youth projects which bears the idea of setting just friendly personal relations and constant dialogue on interests between young people in the region. Hence, appeared the idea of creation the Wheel Club, which is a nonpolitical, nonreligious youth club, created by Azerbaijanis and Armenians with the aim of making acquaintance with the culture, way of life, traditions of each other, communicating on interests, as well as settling friendly personal relations between the representatives of youth. Today the Wheel Club has its members in Yerevan and Baku and we hope that soon our compatriots in different countries of the world will join our ranks.

Just similar youth organizations and clubs, aimed at setting long-term relations between the members of these clubs and organizations can contribute and pitch in forming atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between our nations.

Armenak Hovhannisyan
Political Expert
Founder and Member of
The Wheel Club of Yerevan