As an independent think tank, the Regional Studies Center (RSC) conducts a wide range of strategic analysis and objective research, and implements a number of educational and policy-related projects. As a leading think tank based in Armenia, the RSC is actively engaged in supporting the Armenian-Turkish “normalization” process and works closely with other think tanks, research institutes and civil society organizations in both Armenia and Turkey.
THE RSC TURKEY PROJECT
Since our founding as an independent think tank in 2012, the Regional Studies Center (RSC) has been actively engaged in support of the “normalization” process between Armenia and Turkey. The RSC Turkey project is broader in scope, however, and in terms of research and analysis, also addresses a wider set of issues related to Turkey, including democratization, economics and military security, as well as the linkage between Turkey and other RSC regional projects, such as those dealing with Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea region.
More specifically, the RSC Turkey project encompasses two specific areas: (1) support for the Armenia-Turkey “normalization” process and (2) research and analysis focused on the Wider Black Sea region.
I. SUPPORT FOR ARMENIA-TURKEY “NORMALIZATION”
As a leading think tank based in Armenia, the RSC has been actively engaged in supporting the Armenia-Turkey “normalization” process and works closely with other think tanks, research institutes and civil society organizations in both Armenia and Turkey. More specifically, in this area, the RSC pursues five strategic objectives:
- To sustain the momentum in Armenia-Turkey normalization by forging and deepening ties between civil society organizations in both countries, while seeking to shape the political context to foster a more conducive environment for the resumption of formal, state-level engagement, while offering innovative political and policy recommendations;
- To broaden the constituency for normalization, both in terms of geography, by going beyond the capitals to engage border regions, and in terms of issues, by widening the context of normalization beyond the bilateral dimension;
- To conduct, disseminate and promote research, analysis and publications, while also expanding the number of stakeholders through events and targeted outreach and raising awareness to elevate the level of discourse within each country;
- To cooperate and coordinate in presenting deeper analytical coverage of related issues by Armenian and Turkish media outlets, while also working closely with “opinion-makers” and “opinion-shapers” as part of a more sophisticated communications strategy aimed at confronting stereotypes and challenging the narrative, while also correcting misinformation within the media coverage;
- To leverage youth as a key “agent for change” in each country, by focusing on youth training and empowerment activities;
“Supporting Armenia-Turkey Engagement (SATE)”
December 2015-May 2016
Donor: German Marshall Fund Black Sea Trust
The RSC is currently implementing a project entitled, “Supporting Armenia-Turkey Engagement” (SATE), which seeks to support the process of “normalization” between Armenia and Turkey based on cooperation and collaboration between civil society organizations and youth groups in each country, with an added focus on the need to create a more conducive environment for the resumption of formal, state-level normalization engagement.
Project Objectives, Activities & Outcomes
There are two main project objectives of the SATE project: (1) to sustain the momentum in Armenian-Turkish normalization by forging and deepening ties between civil society organizations in both countries, while seeking to shape the political context to foster a resumption of official Armenian-Turkish diplomatic and political engagement; and (2) to broaden the constituency for normalization, both in terms of geography, by going beyond the capitals and the usual cities to engage border regions and more rural areas of each country, and in terms of issues, by reaching out to other specific niche groups.
Project activities are centered on three target areas:
- Media Cooperation. Based on our prior experience and current collaborative ties with the Turkish and Armenian media, the RSC is working to deepen the level of objective analysis among media professionals and provide more sophisticated analytical content;
- Supporting the Policy Process. Seeking to contribute to fostering a more conducive political environment for reengagement, the RSC is further developing and modifying a set of formal and informal policy ideas, initiatives and recommendations, which were first developed in September 2015. Aimed at both targeting decision-makers and helping shape public opinion, the RSC has implemented a process designed to facilitate a sharing and exchange of ideas and views, through a series of informal and formal meetings, “focus groups” and seminars in Armenia and Turkey;
- Youth Training. In order to both expand the constituency for “normalization” and to leverage youth as a key “agent for change,” the RSC conducts youth training and empowerment activities in each country. Based on our past experience in the field of youth-related activities, including two previous sessions devoted to Armenia-Turkey, the RSC is conducting a round of trainings based on a “train the trainer” methodology, designed to maximize the impact and outcome, and focused on empowering youth by offering civic training and advocacy workshops that can be applied to Armenia-Turkey normalization.
“Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process” (ATNP) programme
January 2014-June 2015
Donor: European Union Stability Instrument
As an integral component of our previous work on Turkey-related activities and research, the RSC previously served as an active member of an Armenian-Turkish consortium of eight civil society organizations within the EU-funded “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process” (ATNP) programme for the duration of that 18-month project, which ran from January 2014-June 2015.
Based on a unique model of collaboration and consensus among the eight Armenian and Turkish civil society partner organizations, the overall objective of the ATNP programme was to promote civil society efforts is support of the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia, including the opening of the closed Armenian-Turkish border and the establishment of diplomatic relations. The programme carried out a number of activities in support of this goal, including efforts to enhance people-to-people contacts, expand economic and business links, promote cultural and educational activities, and facilitate broader access to more balanced information within both societies.
For its part, the RSC implemented four specific projects within the ATNP programme: (1) media support and collaboration, (2) training & empowering youth, (3) the RSC “Speakers’ Bureau” for policy makers, and (4) exploring “new avenues and alternative venues” for diplomatic and political engagement between Armenia and Turkey.
II. THE WIDER BLACK SEA REGION
As a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization, Armenia is considered to be a component of the wider Black Sea region. For Armenia, the wider BSEC area, which also extends into the South Caucasus and Balkans, as well as the Black Sea littoral states, is also a significant strategic arena, for several reasons:
- First, with an area spanning nearly 20 million square kilometers, the BSEC region comprises a total population of more than 330 million people, with an important level of intra-BSEC trade that exceeds $300 billion in annual volume;
- Second, for landlocked Armenia, the BSEC region is the second-largest source of oil and natural gas along with its rich proven reserves of minerals, metals and other natural resources, after the Persian Gulf, and is rapidly emerging as Europe’s major transport and energy transit hub;
- A third factor underlying the significance of the Black Sea region for Armenia is an avenue to overcome isolation.
Moreover, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization offers Armenia an essential opportunity as a neutral platform to engage the other members (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine). Based on a charter that aims to foster “interaction and harmony among its members, as well as to ensure peace, stability and prosperity, and encourage friendly and good-neighborly relations in the Black Sea region,” BSEC serves as an important forum for Armenia to overcome closed borders and surmount geographic isolation.
From that wider perspective, the RSC conducts a wide range of research and analysis focused on issues related to the Black Sea region and focused on ways to maximize opportunities for Armenia to increase its activities, broaden its engagement and deepen its cooperation with the BSEC and its member states. These areas of RSC research and analysis include broader topics of regional trade and transport, structural impediments to regional reintegration, energy security and conflict resolution.
 The consortium partners included from Armenia: Civilitas Foundation (CF), Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), Public Journalism Club (PJC), and the Regional Studies Center (RSC); and from Turkey: Anadolu Kültür, Economic Policy Research Foundation (TEPAV), Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (hCa), and the Hrant Dink Foundation.
1915 olaylarinin yildönümü olan 24 Nisan Türkiye ve Ermenistan'ın zaten uzunca bir süredir sorunlu ilişkileri açısından kritik bir tarih. Ancak artık bu tarihe biraz daha kritik bir anlam yükleniyor, zira olayların 100. yıldönümü olan 2015 yaklaşırken, Türkiye Ermenistan ilişkilerinin normalleşmesi için önemli bir fırsat olarak görülüyor. BBC Türkçe'den Onur Burçak Belli, Ermenistan Bölgesel Araştırmalar Merkezi Direktörü Richard Giragosian'la iki ülke ilişkilerine dair beklentileri konuştu..
Interview with the founding director of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center (RSC) Richard Giragosian, who was in Istanbul for a conference at Kadir Has University. The interview is about Turkey-Armenia relations, the role and influence of civil society, how Davutoglu’s “just memory” was perceived in Armenia and among Armenian diaspora, what concrete steps could be taken to prepare again a rapprochement in the process leading to 2015 and what are the possible scenarios for Karabakh. Giragosian has not lost optimism concerning the bilateral relations and this optimism is based on the continuing efforts of both civil societies to prepare the ground for a rapprochement.
Under the leadership of its founding director, Richard Giragosian, the RSC strives to elevate the level of political discourse and deepen civic activism while broadening engagement in the public policy process. One of the core longer-term goals of the Regional Studies Center (RSC) is to serve as a catalyst for reform and sustainable development by contributing to the formulation of public policy through innovative and objective strategic research and analysis..