Breaking the Impasse
The Breaking the Impasse series have been analytic meetings of conflict resolution experts where Armenian, Azerbaijani, OSCE, the US and other diplomats and civil society representatives have also been welcomed in order to facilitate the coordination of Track I and Track II efforts in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The first meeting of the series was held in April 2008 at Columbia University in New York and since then the Imagine Center with the support of various partners has been holding the series. A special issue of the International Negotiation Journal devoted to Nagorno-Karabakh was published featuring articles by the participants of the symposium.
The following meeting was held in September 2009 in Boston at the Fletcher School of Law and had two components: an open door symposium on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict called “Reassessing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the aftermath of Russian-Georgian War” with the participation of eight Armenians and eight Azerbaijanis, including diplomats, analysts and peacemakers, as well as a closed-door workshop for the participants of the symposium using the problem solving workshop methodology.
The third meeting was held in Washington DC in October 2011 at the George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace with the participation of Armenian, Azerbaijani, UK, US and OSCE diplomats, and peacemakers from both sides. This meeting was focused on reassessing the deadlock in Track I negotiations, on how to expand the Track I and Track II collaboration, and on the need to bring the Nagorno-Karabakh population into the conflict resolution process. Plans for two specific initiatives were developed during the meeting: establishment of regular coordinating space between representatives of Track I and Track II levels and formation of an Armenian-Azerbaijani expert group that will develop a joint platform, produce policy papers, and serve as a consulting body for the governments and the mediators. The pilot meetings of the expert group took place in Tbilisi in January 2012 and January 2013 where the vision for the future rounds of the series was developed.
The subsequent meetings of the series took place on June 15-18, 2013 in Tbilisi, on September 13-17, 2013 in Berlin, and on December 14-17, 2013 in Vienna supported by the UK Conflict Prevention Pool. During the meetings, the group of Azerbaijani and Armenian experts from the region of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict produced documents through consensus with policy recommendations regarding the format of dialogue platforms, security issues, and confidence-building measures for international organizations and institutions, local governments, donors, and civil society.
A new expert group had meetings on August 11-13, 2014 and on December 1-5, 2014 setting a new agenda for the Breaking the Impasse Series. While the focus of the conversations has previously been the possible short-term confidence-building measures between the societies in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the current direction of work suggests a quantitatively and qualitatively more advanced step. Currently the purpose of the project “Breaking the Impasse: Prospects for Conflict Transformation and Regional Cooperation in the South Caucasus” is to provide conflict transformation scholar-practitioners and analysts from the South Caucasus with a sustainable platform – a regional think tank – to engage in ongoing constructive dialogue and systematic joint analysis of the region, and to develop and advocate for a common vision, strategy, and action for regional peace and development.