Report from South Caucasus meeting

Strengthening the cooperation in the region

The annual regional meeting with participants from Southern-Caucasus was held in late october. It is a meeting to strengthen the cooperation in the region, and to support each other in their political struggles.

The theme was activism and how political participation works in the different countries of the region. The group consisted of activists from Azerbaijan and Armenia face suppression from the government and opposing the government is hard to do publicly, as well as activists from Georgia where democracy has made it easier to get your voice heard, but where it is still hard for green voices be heard in the mainstream public space.

Beside the Georgian Young Greens, various organizations represented themselves and how they reach out to the public space. For example, Vegans Georgia, presented themselves at the regional meeting. They spoke about their educational activities to promote a vegan lifestyle, how they push for amendments to legislation to save animals from suffering, running a vegan restaurant and about initiating various protests. There was also the Student Self-Organizing Movement, who presented their ambition to build a movement that can change the discourse in the society about issues such as environment, gender, democracy and education. They work hard on social inclusion and on the empowerment of people.

An LGBT activist in from Azerbaijan spoke about the difficulties they are facing in everyday activism and that you, for example, could suddenly be thrown out of the university or get sent to prison because of your activism and opposition against the government. Amongst other things he spoke about an organization he had been a part of called: the Civic Movement of Azerbaijan, which functions as an umbrella organization for various activists with different values that cooperate to be able to have more strength as an opposition. Everything from greens, leftists, LGBT activists to even some fascists.

-We simply had to stick together to be able to survive as an opposition. And it´s nice to be here at the regional meeting as a LGBT and green activist since I feel that I can express myself and share my thoughts more freely.

A strengthening aspect with the regional meeting is that regardless of conflicts in the region, geo-political intrigues or orientations, the participants all agreed on the strong bond between the people in the region and saw the borders as a social construct dividing them from fully cooperating to bring their values to fruition. The regional meeting shows a way to promote conversation and cooperation between borders; to share and unite the struggle for a pluralist, democratic and sustainable society in the region.