University of Michigan to Bring Together South Caucasus Diplomats and Scholars

International Conference will consider foreign policies and conflicts in Armenia–Azerbaijan–and Georgia

(UMich)–During four days in October–the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan will become the gathering point for diplomats and scholars who–for the past 15 years–have been involved in the shaping or study of the foreign policies and conflict resolution processes of Armenia–Azerbaijan–and Georgia .

The international conference–titled "Armenia/the South Caucasus and Foreign Policy Challenges," is being organized by the Armenian Studies Program at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor–and will be held at the main campus of the University on October 21-24. The conference is co-sponsored by the International Institute–the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies–the Center for Russian and East European Studies–The Department of History–the Near Eastern Studies Department–and the Political Science Department.

This unique gathering will bring together some thirty-five scholars–past and present diplomats–and conflict negotiators from over ten countries–including Armenia–Azerbaijan–Georgia–Turkey–Russia–Iran–the European Union–Canada–and the US to discuss the challenges faced by these republics in developing policies in a fast changing world–the path traveled in resolving outstanding conflicts–with special emphasis on the Mountainous Karabagh problem.

The goals of the conference are: to acquaint the University and larger community in the country with the specific issues and challenges that relate to a part of the world that has acquired increased significance in the last decade; to place in historical and international perspectives the path traveled by Armenia and the South Caucasus since the break up of the USSR; to reflect on the perceptions and policies adopted in the 1990s by the South Caucasus republics–their neighbors–and international actors; to assist the academic and policy making communities–in the region and in the international community–in redefining and refining their approaches to the region; and–possibly develop ideas and approaches that might enhance conflict resolution–regional cooperation–and long term integration of the region in the international community to the benefit the peoples of the region.

The South Caucasus region has acquired increased strategic significance since the collapse of the USSR. It has as immediate neighbors Russia–Turkey and Iran–each with its own interests and concerns. The US has projected its own strategic view on the region–while Europe considers it part of its extended neighborhood. Caspian Sea hydrocarbon resources and their export routes have added another dimension to regional politics–complicating further the challenges faced by the three republics in balancing the sometimes conflicting interests of bigger neighbors and the West.

The conference will be open to the general public. All sessions will provide ample opportunity for the attending public to participate in the question and answer and discussion segmen’s.

Details on the program and speakers of the conference can be found on the website of the University of Michigan Armenian Studies Program at www.umich.edu/~iinet/asp. Inquiries can be made by writing to Sara Sarkisian (sarkisia@umich.edu). All sessions will take place at the Alumni Center–main campus.

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