3d annual Best Practice Seminar on Minority Rights, Conflict and Reconciliation was organised by the EaPMN in Tbilisi on 17th of November, 2014 and attended by members from all 6 countries. Ongoing and unresolved conflicts have had great impact on national, ethnic and religious minorities and indigenous communities within these territories, leaving them highly vulnerable to humans rights violations. In many cases this pattern of conflicts is sparked and maintained by geo-strategic interests, which make it very difficult for small and unrepresented communities to play a necessary part in any reconciliation and peace processes. Conflict is only one of several critical issues which have led to many minorities and indigenous peoples in the region not being guaranteed basic rights and citizenship and has resulted in systematic cases of discrimination.
„Enabling the voices of minorities and indigenous peoples to be heard is essential to ensure that dialogue replaces conflict in the region and that minorities benefit from the association process with the EU. The Eastern Partnership Minorities Network is creating an important space for both,’ said Neil Clarke, Director of Minority Rights Group Europe.
During the seminar prominent experts from the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network talked about common patterns of conflict and the consequences for minorities, followed by discussion of best practices for overcoming these consequences. The best practice exchange visits are just one example of many activities that facilitate and enhance mutual learning among minority leaders in the region. Minority leaders are reaching across borders between countries once hostile towards each other and where travel has been limited, for example between Azerbaijan and Armenia. These activities reflect the mandate of the EaPMN to strengthen the capacity of minority civil society organizations.