Students Articulate Vision for a Peaceful Future
Letters for Peace (LFP), a project at the intersection of creative writing and conflict transformation, announces the publication of its full catalogue of letters exchanged between Armenian and Azerbaijani youth. A total of 54 letters — available in English, Armenian, and Azerbaijani — can now be accessed on the website www.lettersforpeace.org, and soon in a physical book published by Zangak Publishing House.
Participants in Yerevan and Baku wrote letters after a series of two-week workshops — two in the summer of 2018, and four in the summer of 2019 — involving guest lecturers, site visits, and exercises. Through writing and dialogue, LFP participants explored the possibilities for peacefully transforming the protracted conflict over Nagorny Karabakh. For most participants, LFP marked the first opportunity to have an extended dialogue with a citizen on the other side of the closed border.
“Although I was a kid at the time, I remember the war, the dark and cold years,” wrote Tatul, an Armenian participant from a border village in the northeastern Lori region. “Despite all this, I don’t consider you an enemy, but a like-minded person, and from now on, without any preconditions, without seeking the guilty ones, will seek only peace.”
We must think about future generations. I can empathize and understand the hardships of people who lost their relatives. Exactly for that reason we must stop the fighting...We are stronger together!
Letters for Peace belonged to a cohort of projects made possible by the ‘Peacebuilding through Capacity Enhancement and Civic Engagement’ (PeaCE) programme funded by the European Union under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Armenia (EPF-Armenia), Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Azerbaijan (EPF-Azerbaijan) through Caucasus Research Resource Centre in Georgia (CRRC-Georgia), and International Alert (IA) implemented the PeaCE programme since January 2017. The duration of the PeaCE program was 36 months.
The PeaCE programme aimed to re-engage Armenians and Azerbaijanis from geographic areas affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in peacebuilding activities, as well as revive the peacebuilding process within and between these societies. The PeaCE programme expected that interested civil society actors and grassroots would be able to contribute to bridging the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict divide via implementing innovative in-country, bilateral or multilateral peacebuilding initiatives. Letters for Peace represented one of those initiatives.
“We must think about future generations,” wrote Zulfiyya, an LFP participant from Baku. “I can empathize and understand the hardships of people who lost their relatives. Exactly for that reason we must stop the fighting...We are stronger together!”
The limited edition physical books will be kept in various libraries and institutions in the Caucasus, Middle East, Europe, and North America.
The Letters for Peace pilot project was made possible with support by the EU-funded ‘Peacebuilding through Capacity Enhancement and Civic Engagement’ (PeaCE) programme and Davis Projects for Peace. Additional institutional support was provided by Columbia University School of the Arts, American University of Armenia Center for Creative Writing, Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation, Impact Hub Yerevan, International House New York, AGBU Armenia, and a variety of partners in Azerbaijan.
The Letters for Peace project was founded by Raffi Wartanian (Fulbright Armenia, 2012/13).