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Americans for Artsakh Delivers Capacity Building to Artsakh Government

March 19, 2009
Contact: Sarah Ludwig

Nagorno Karabakh — Americans for Artsakh recently completed a training project in good governance at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stepanakert. The project focused on two primary subject areas: communications and conflict resolution. It took place from February 26 to March 7, 2009, and was conducted by Mr. Garbis Korajian, who is an expert in governance training and has run similar courses in several other countries. Funding was provided by the Armenian General Benevolent Union.

There were a total of twenty-two participants in the course, representing not only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also four members from the Office of the President, two from the National Assembly, and two from the Staff of the Government.

The subject areas covered are the first two of six planned components. Although the course as a whole was primarily intended for staff members at the Ministry, participants were also invited from other governmental offices because of the wide applicability of these fields to many aspects of governance. Special support was provided by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vardan Barseghian, and First Secretary, Mr. Karen Kostandyan.

The goal of the communications portion of the training was to give the participants hands-on experience in critical communication skills, from making public presentations to dealing with the media. The emphasis was mostly on the practical aspects of communication.

At the end of the course, the participants selected topics to present to the group as a whole, each of which had a specific, pre-determined intended audience.

Some of the topics included, "The Role and Importance of Creating a Just Society," "The Problem of Unemployment in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic: Causes," and "The Role and Structure of Standing Committees in the Parliament of Artsakh." The broad range of subjects generated lively discussions among the group, and allowed the participants to fully appreciate the overall purpose of the exercise.

Several of the students commented upon the essential nature of this type of skills acquisition during this critical period in Artsakh's history. Artak Nersissyan, a staff member at the Ministry, was extremely pleased with the outcome of the course.

"We took many classes in public presentations in university, but I do not think I learned or benefited from [all of] them as much as I did in the last two weeks. I would like to thank all of you, friends and colleagues for making this learning experience an enjoyable one, and also our instructor, who gave us an excellent lesson in communications. Please let's continue with more topics in the future. We do not want to see our capacity building training end here."

In the second portion of the workshop, which was titled, "Understanding Conflict and Conflict Resolution Methods," the participants were introduced to the concepts of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, consensus building, and reconciliation.

In addition, they were given the opportunity to simulate negotiations over the conflict in the region. In this simulation, roles and fictitious titles were assigned to specific members of the group, creating an atmosphere that was as close to reality as possible. Although some noted the psychologically strenuous nature of this task, the fact that it was presented in such a realistic manner proved rewarding in the end as it brought home the importance of solving the conflict.

Mr. Korajian, an ethnic Armenian who grew up in Ethiopia and currently lives in Canada, found the course both professionally and personally enriching. Upon its completion, he commented, "I can say from the bottom of my heart that this was one of the most interesting trainings that I have conducted in my career. The participants were wonderful and had a strong desire to learn. I also felt that the workshops were very important and a necessary tool for the senior staff to have at the Ministry."

AFA plans to expand upon its series of training courses for the government and eventually offer courses in several governmental offices in a variety of areas, including law, public administration, management, and other fields.

Americans for Artsakh is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established to preserve freedom, strengthen democracy, foster economic development, protect the cultural identity and promote the heritage of the people of Artsakh.

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