For almost a decade, CMI has worked to contribute to a peaceful future in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia. We support ongoing peace processes in the region and help enable dialogue and enhance good governance in countries struggling with transition and violent conflict. Strengthening local, national and regional conflict resolution capacities are at the core of our support strategies. Our aim is to open and maintain stable channels of communication and to build confidence across conflict divides in the post-Soviet space and beyond. CMI’s regional experience and commitment to long-term engagement, and our impartiality and Finnish identity uniquely enable us to pursue private diplomacy and to remain honest brokers in support of the region’s most difficult peace processes.
Engagement in the crisis in and around Ukraine
CMI has supported Ukraine’s peaceful development since 2009, and since 2014 has facilitated high-level expert dialogue between political representatives and other influential public figures.
Ukraine remains in the process of transition from its Soviet institutional, economic, and socio-cultural legacy. Before the escalation of the current crisis, little attention was given to supporting and encouraging dialogue between and among elites and the wider society on building a shared vision of how Ukraine can, both as a state and as a nation, develop in the wake of its Soviet past.
Domestic and international dialogue
CMI has supported Ukraine’s peaceful development since 2009 in a regional Black Sea format. Since February 2014 we have been working to support high-level expert dialogue involving representatives of Ukraine’s political and intellectual elite. Since July 2014, this platform has helped in developing constructive and inclusive searches for solutions to existing contradictions and disputed issues between key socio-political groups, both within Ukraine and further afield.
The Dialogue Group consists of senior members of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament), heads of think tanks, and representatives of major corporations and local government. Members of the high-level Group represent a broad spectrum of political and community views and opinions from different regions of the country, including the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Group meets regularly in Kyiv, engages in peer exchange with relevant international actors, and studies experiences from other peace processes. As part of its international outreach, the group has met with senior representatives of the European Parliament, European Commission, EU member states, the OSCE, and high-level Russian experts.
Support for the official peace process
CMI works with negotiators engaged in the official Trilateral Contact Group subgroups, providing expert support and international expertise from peace processes and on focused topics related to Ukraine’s peace process.
Support for national peacebuilding capacities
CMI supports Ukrainian actors in strengthening their capacities for effective engagement in the peace process. We work with many official and unofficial stakeholders from Ukrainian civil society and the expert community, and with individuals in the executive and legislative spheres. In this component of our work we offer opportunities to examine international experience on political dialogue, decentralisation, peace process implementation, reconciliation, and other related topics. One practical way in which this work is carried out is through study visits to places of relevance to Ukraine’s current situation, by bringing international experts to Kyiv for briefings, and producing focused thematic papers upon request.
- Ukraine’s institutional, economic and socio-cultural transition from post-Soviet conditions has a long way to go, and still needs support
- CMI provides expert support and international expertise to negotiators from the official Trilateral Contact Group subgroups
- CMI also works with a range of experts and official and unofficial stakeholders from Ukrainian civil society to support better understanding of international experience in political dialogue, decentralisation, peace process implementation and reconciliation
CMI’s Ukraine work is funded through its Programme Partnership with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Irish Government’s Development Cooperation Programme, the Government of Switzerland and by corporate donors from Finland’s private sector and by Finnish private philanthropists who comprise CMI’s premium donors group. More information can be found in CMI’s latest Annual Report.
CMI supports dialogue across conflict divides and the capacities of government officials in peace mediation efforts.
A difficult process of transition that has continued since the collapse of the Soviet Union has left the South Caucasus deeply fragmented politically. With some of Eurasia’s major energy corridors and competing geopolitical interests, the region has major historical challenges and is also continually confronted with clashing geostrategic options, unstable economic development, and national and regional integration dilemmas. The three South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – have all chosen separate and at times opposing political paths, while trying to tackle severe domestic security and democratic development challenges.
Today, national and international actors are still searching for conflict settlement frameworks to address the unresolved statuses of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. In light of the general instability now stretching from Ukraine to Syria, the illusory convenience of the status quo is no longer an option. The need is more urgent than ever for reinvigorated peace processes and tackling highly militarized conflicts that have polarized and alienated societies for decades. In a region that has seen human relations deteriorating to a point of almost no return, international mediation efforts and support for official peace negotiations must be complemented with long-term social transformations.
CMI has been active in the South Caucasus since 2006, bringing discussions about conflict settlement to a broader constituency and enabling otherwise marginalized civil society actors to participate in dialogue and to contribute suggestions relevant to the official talks.
Dialogue efforts at civil society level – Youth Platform
Since 2010, CMI has been working with actors from all sides of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh to establish channels of communication and increase confidence between groups of individuals isolated or deeply affected by ongoing hostilities or by the lack of progress in official negotiations.
CMI has focused its efforts on the generation that grew up in isolation from each other after the 1990s war. This is a generation with very little positive experience of co-existence. More than twenty years of living alongside violence and personal exposure to military action have polarized these young people and profoundly challenged any shared vision they could have of how a potential settlement could be developed. The attitudes of the youth in these areas range from indifference to the conflict and its consequences, to aggression and polarizing nationalist stereotyping. In these circumstances, the chances of broad societal endorsement or support for official compromise grow increasingly slim.
More than five years of sustained engagement by CMI, with the support of the European Union (through the European Partnership for the peaceful settlement of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, EPNK) have resulted in the creation of a cross-conflict platform of emerging professionals. This platform may be able to come to terms with and positively transform their political and societal environment. The platform’s members are currently mid-level peacebuilding actors working within their respective institutions (including NGOs, mass media, and executive and representative bodies).
Supporting official actors
Since 2015, CMI has also focused on supporting key actors from official institutions engaged in conflict resolution in Armenia and Georgia. This support is designed to enhance peace mediation competences and to enrich the debate on these issues within each of the respective institutional systems.
Peace mediation is a very cost-effective means of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and its value to local and regional peacemaking is widely recognized. Of vital importance to sustainable peace agreements is the ability of state actors and institutions to analyse complex conflict scenarios and explore inclusive pathways for settlements. For the official peace processes in the region to progress, the South Caucasus countries need a broad base of competent and experienced official actors who fully understand the complexities of mediation and peace processes. These actors must be able to provide analyses and recommendations within their institutions, and to the negotiators in the official talks.
In 2015, CMI together with partners in the region (International Centre for Geopolitical Studies – ICGS, Tbilisi and NGO “European Integration”, Yerevan) and with the support of the Finnish and British Governments, worked to help Armenian and Georgian officials to learn international best practices from peace processes in Europe and elsewhere. This learning model is now being piloted in other peace processes in the region.
- CMI has been active in the South Caucasus since 2006, promoting broad-based discussion on conflict settlement and enabling participation by otherwise marginalized civil society actors
- Since 2015, CMI also works to support key actors from official institutions involved in conflict resolution in Armenia and Georgia
- An essential element in sustainable peace agreements is the capacity of state actors and institutions to analyse complex conflict scenarios and explore inclusive solutions. CMI provides support in precisely these areas
Supporting the efficient exercise of Gagauzia’s autonomy within Moldova
CMI works to facilitate informal and official dialogue processes between the Parliament of Moldova and Gagauzia’s People’s Assembly to improve mechanisms of center-autonomy relations.
In the early 1990s, the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region was established in southern Moldova to safeguard the rights of the Gagauz minority. In 1994, Moldova passed a law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauz Yeri, which includes a legislature (the People’s Assembly, with 35 members) and an executive branch headed by the Governor (the Bashkan). International experience has shown that establishment of autonomy is often a successful conflict resolution model. However, implementation of the 1994 law has been inconsistent, resulting in frequent disputes and growing tension between the Moldovan central Government and the executive branch of the autonomous region.
To address these challenges, in 2015 CMI convened an informal dialogue group of legislators from Chisinau and Comrat to work on making the autonomy more functional. The initiative is funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Moldova. CMI facilitates the joint meetings between the two sides and organizes study trips to learn about other models of autonomy and other centre-autonomy dialogue mechanisms.
Following increased attention to the question of Gagauz autonomy, in November 2015 the Moldovan Parliament launched an official initiative to create the first permanent working group on improving the functionality of Gagauzia’s autonomy within Moldova’s constitutional framework. The members of this group are Members of the Moldovan Parliament and the People’s Assembly. The group held its first formal meetings in early 2016.
CMI will provide good offices to this parliamentary platform, while our informal dialogue group consolidates its work through joint analysis and problem-solving. Both official and unofficial dialogue processes are used to establish mechanisms for efficient and effective centre-autonomy relationships, and to develop a roadmap for harmonizing legislation. This process is implemented in cooperation with key international actors, including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the European Union.
- The Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region was established in southern Moldova in the early 1990s to safeguard the rights of the Gagauz minority
- In late 2015 the Moldovan Parliament launched an official initiative to create the first permanent working group to improve the functionality of Gagauzia’s autonomy within Moldova’s constitutional framework
- CMI provides good offices to this parliamentary platform, and our informal dialogue group supports the platform’s activities through joint analysis and problem-solving
Transdniestrian settlement process
Since 2011 CMI has contributed to efforts towards a peaceful and equitable settlement to the Transdniestrian conflict.
The Transdniestrian conflict zone is less than 100 kilometres from the EU’s Eastern borders. Since the war in 1992, the Republic of Moldova and Transdniestria have been engaged on and off in negotiations towards a political solution for the inhabitants on both sides of the River Dniestr / Nistru. The tensions have had a serious impact on the population of both sides and have hampered the whole region’s socio-economic development. Despite years of international mediation efforts, the conflict remains unresolved.
CMI’s work in the region includes support to the peace process on multiple levels, focusing on building confidence across the conflict lines, providing support to the conflict settlement process, and engaging with conflict sides on key issues where international and local expert support can be of most help.
Since 2011, CMI has worked to support the conflict settlement process by convening and supporting ongoing dialogue between high-level independent experts and former officials specializing in the conflict. The Dialogue Group includes political analysts, former negotiators in the official political process, former senior diplomats and current advisers to the political leadership in Chisinau, Tiraspol, the EU, Moscow, Washington, and Kyiv. The members of the Group engage in regular exchanges and joint analyses of the major long-term political, economic and social trends that influence the settlement process. The outputs of this strategic identification of risks and opportunities have been developed into joint recommendations, and have been provided in briefings to participants of the official negotiation process and international actors. The Group also engages with the key international actors influencing the Transdniestrian settlement process and makes regular visits to Brussels, Moscow, Berlin, Vienna and other key capitals.
CMI also engages with Chisinau and Tiraspol on a regular basis, focusing on issues and actors that are most central to the settlement process. This has led to provision of tailored support to the political negotiators and to Track 1 working groups, particularly in the areas of education and trade. All these efforts make use of relevant international experience, peer exchange events, and development of analytical materials. Most recently CMI has also begun analysing the role and potential of parliamentary cooperation within the conflict settlement process.
- CMI’s work in the Transdniestrian region includes a wide range of activities in support of the peace process
- CMI facilitates an ongoing dialogue process among former officials and high-level independent experts on the conflict
- Most recently, CMI has also begun analysing the role and potential of parliamentary-level cooperation within the settlement process