In addition to participants from Azerbaijan and Armenia, the unique workshop was attended by journalists from Turkey and Georgia, as observers.
On 28-29 April 2023 Tbilisi hosted “GJC Workshop on Peace and the Role of the Media in the South Caucasus”. The event was organized under the leadership of the Global Journalism Council (GJC/KGK), the Turkey’s leading international non-governmental organization in the field of mass media.
Mehmet Ali Dim, KGK Chairman (Turkey) made the opening speech of the workshop, stating that the workshop proposal came first from Azerbaijan. He said: “We have worked on this subject for 3-4 months. It was very difficult, but we succeeded. I would like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who supported our efforts”. Mr. Dim stated that the determination of the peoples of the region for permanent peace has increased after the painful events experienced in the region during 35 years, especially after the second Karabakh war in 2020. “We met here today to talk about what we, journalists, can do to end a long and painful conflict. There is an urgent need for the language of peace in the media. I especially thank our colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia for their constructive behavior and I believe that at the end of this workshop, we will send a message of hope to the region and the world at a time when the world is experiencing great tensions.”
A journalist can change the world if he wants to.
Mr. Dim continued: “Some leading journalists from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia are also here. The common goal of all of us is to contribute to the establishment of lasting peace in the South Caucasus. A journalist can change the world if he wants to,” – he noted.
Turkish journalist Ardan Zentürk, who moderated the workshop, said: “It is a clear fact that the journalists gathered here do not have political aims. We, on the contrary, have gathered here as professionals who question politicians and raise tough questions against their attitudes and views that keep peace away from the agenda. We believe that this is a long journey and that deep-rooted thoughts can only be changed with patience.” In the workshop he opened, a total of 20 journalists from four countries took the floor one by one and expressed their views without time limit.
We have to channel the power of the media for peace.
Speaking on behalf of the Armenian delegation, Arminfo News Agency’s general director Emmanuil Mkrtchyan said: “People in the South Caucasus are not in favor of war. Now the desire to live in peace comes to the fore. Peace does not happen only when the people want it. Public pressure is also very important. We are ready to do whatever we have to do in this regard. We have to channel the power of the media for peace”.
Speaking on behalf of the Azerbaijani delegation, Yegane Hajiyeva, Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijan Press Council, said: “Mothers should not cry, children should not be fatherless. It is never difficult to establish peace if everyone does their part. We met here for the first time at the same table with our Armenian colleagues. We thank the Global Journalism Council for this. This is a historic step and we believe it will continue.”
As the Georgian nation, we are determined to do our best to solve the problems between our two neighbors and achieve a lasting peace.
Georgian journalist Avtandil Otinashvili, KGK’s representative in Tbilisi, stated that Georgia is proud of holding this important workshop in the capital of Georgia and said: “When we received the proposal, we accepted it with great honor, because Tbilisi is the most suitable place for our Armenian and Azerbaijani friends to come together. As the Georgian nation, we are determined to do our best to solve the problems between our two neighbors and achieve a lasting peace”.
Journalists have come to a consensus on the establishment of common mechanisms against the maneuvers of global powers over the media and social media in the era of “hybrid wars” and fake news that pose a great threat to peace. In addition, it was decided that the nations of the region should get to know each other’s cultural structures closely, and that supportive publications should be made on joint economic projects and investments that will form the basis of peace. Caucasian Journal, which was conceived as the South Caucasian regional media platform, offers full support to this initiative and is willing to contribute to these important initiatives.
The Workshop decided to adopt a Joint Statement (see scan), based on joint approval of the delegations of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the support from journalists from Turkey and Georgia. In particular, it included following statements:
- The parties have reached a consensus on the determination of publishing principles in order to end the propaganda of vengeful views by eliminating all kinds of hate speech in regional press/broadcasting organizations, and to make the next generations adopt the principle of living together in peace”.
- In line with this consensus, derogatory, marginalizing and inciting violence cannot be used against any nation. The parties underline their belief that the nations of the South Caucasus, which have lived together for centuries, will live together in peace and on the basis of mutual respect in the future.
- The parties believe that the accumulated problems in the South Caucasus can be solved by getting to know each other more closely. For this reason, they believe that the work of media organizations for the closer recognition of national cultures by other publics is of vital importance.
- The parties agree that one of the biggest threats to peace in the region is fake news. They believe that the fight against disinformation is essential. They strongly desire the establishment of a verification mechanism in this regard as quickly as possible and the involvement of Georgian colleagues in this process.
- The parties believe that warm and peaceful cooperation between the nations of the region stems from strong economic ties. For this reason, they decided that all national media organizations should increase the news coverage of common economic projects, investment plans, policies to increase production and employment, environmental problems and especially tourism, and increase the exchange of news on these issues.