TEKALI PROCESS
Peace and security can only be achieved by the openness,
freedom of speech, breaking taboos in dialogue and actions
ABOUT
The idea the of creating the peacemaking, freedom and cooperation zone in Georgiain Georgia at the intersection of borders of three South Caucasian republics emerged in Yerevan (February 27, 2010) during the meeting of civil society members entitled "South Caucasian Integration: Alternative Start", which has made two conclusions:

- To turn aside the six party format (3 Republics + 3 Self-proclaimed entities). Based on urgent objective reasons which representatives of the conflict countries have pointed at (the consequences of the events of August 2008), participants have decided to continue this initiative while preserving the principle of openness and focus on the change in public opinion, in a six-partner format – which later proved itself impossible. As a result, participants from all three unrecognized communities have withdrawn from this initiative.

- All participants supported the idea of implementing activities in Georgia, to a place, located closest to the point of intersection of the borders of three South Caucasian republics, which would enable the involvement of borderline/ frontline residents in peacekeeping activities. Through the establishment of a free platform for civil actions, the participants set a goal - to draw the attention towards the human rights violations in frozen conflicts, the restrictions of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly in the field of cross-border, front-line in the South Caucasus.

During years these ideas emerged within Tekali process. Several NGO initiated projects on regional cooperation and conflict transformations in the village of Tekali, which is the closest location to the intersection of the borders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.

The Tekali Process has launched its public activities on March 9, 2011. Since then the initiative has organized 11 public hearings and two festivals (The South Caucasian Movie Festival, (2012) and Tekali Art Festival (2014). The sponsor of public hearings is the National Endowment for Democracy (USA), implementer is the NGO- the Caucasian Center for Peace building Initiatives (Armenia). Festivals have been implemented with financial support of Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation of the German Marshall Fund (BST). The implementer of the project is the NGO Regional Center for Cooperation and Development (Azerbaijan). In 2013, the Caucasian Center for Peace building Initiatives with the support of BST has implemented a project «Tekali Process – as a social model of conflict transformation». Tekali working group comprised of Azerbaijani, Armenian and Georgian experts have conducted series of discussions in Berlin together with the members of civil society, NGOs and students moderated by Berlin Center for Integrative Mediation (CSSP). With the invitation of German MP Viola von Cramon, the CSSP organized an introductory meeting in Bundestag for presenting the concept of Tekali Process as well as exchanging ideas with German experts, scientific community and government structures followed by two civil hearings conducted in partnership with German NGO “EuroKaukAsia”.

After the Berlin events, the Center for Integrative Mediation officially became the partner of Tekali Process and continued the needed consultation and support in formalization and institutionalization of the initiative. Along with CSSP, The Documental Theatre (Moscow, Sakharov center) as well as Dana Rupholo (The Theater Research Institute of Europe) have conducted several Master-classes for the initiative. In 2012, the cultural expedition of the project “Cultural Caucasus” covering South Caucasus and Turkey, visited Tekali followed by which published materials on the history and culture of the village. In 2014, Tekali is expected to be one of the festival centers of “One Caucasus” (Poland and South Caucasus). A program for launching interdisciplinary, scientific-educational center in Tekali is being developed at the moment.

Group of regular participants of Tekali Process are also involved in advocacy on specific issues related to violations of human rights of those living in the borderline of three countries (Pelengov, Khojoyans’ case etc.). Public campaigns are being conducted on protection as well as establishing control over specific cases. Currently, a program for the creation of the South Caucasus Institute of the Ombudsman and the rapid response team of human rights violations is being developed.

What’s unique about the project is that, Tekali process conducts all its activities in random houses of Tekali villagers, participants also eat and sleep at their houses, in the same houses have organize luncheons for about 80-100 attendants of public hearings. Tekali villagers (about 8-15 people) also attend events as participants and almost as many people becomes part of the logistics team helping to organize, plan and carry out accommodation, or arranges catering. This module, in our opinion creates an important experience of interethnic and cross-cultural communication (in Tekali there are people from the capitals of the three countries, from different cities of Georgia, from the border towns and villages of Armenia and Azerbaijan, from European countries, USA, Russia). This format allows the exchange of information in both ways- through formal, informal, and networking.

However, the development process requires a "office space" and the idea put forward by shareholders who represent the sphere of art. Obviously, overcrowded cultural events - film screenings, exhibitions, concerts, installations requires to stay a little further from living areas. Tekali villager Mushvig Namazov, constant and active participant in all of our activities, a member of the Association "Tekali" proposed his 4 acres of private land for the use of Tekali Process. Participants in the process, decided to find opportunities for infrastructure development on this land, and proposed to start doing it during the summer season. Already this year that land will be effectively used a camp space for Tekali Youth Platform’s a speech competition event “Tekali Mic”. This project is supported by the initiative of 5 European NGOs within- European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (EPNK), which is funded by the European Union.
Main principles of the Tekali Process are:
- Transparency: the theme and program of each meeting is communicated in advance, participants are not obliged to register, journalists without accreditation are allowed; trainings and workshops held in Tekali are open for public observant.

- Openness: the presence of "open mike", which means any participant can present his/her own project, and speak up outside of the main theme. Any organization can use resources of Tekali Process to promote and implement their projects in the region.

- Documenting: videos, photos and briefs are published.

- Pluralism: importance "of uttering" problems; submissiveness of the meeting format and speakers functions which requires continuous dialogue with different positions and opinions on the theme.
Comments

Author:
Many thanks to Mamuka Gongadze,
Deputy Chairman of the State council
of heraldry at the parliament of Georgia,
for the logo design.
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