On August 18, 2017 the representatives of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE hosted the participants of the ARENA Summer School held from 14th to 21st of August, 2017 in the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR). Apart from the representatives of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE and the Arena network participants, the representatives of the Europe Integration Foreign Affairs Ministry of Republic of Austria and representatives of OSCE delegations from France, Italy and Finland attended the meeting.
The ARENA: Community Theatre and Public Art is an ongoing project organized by Peace Dialogue NGO and its German partner OWEN e.V. for the peace and human rights activists from conflict affected countries in the Eastern Partnership region and Russia. This was the second Summer School organized by Peace Dialogue NGO and its partners in the framework of the project Arena, the first took place in 2016 in Borjomi, Georgia.
During the meeting, the participants of the ARENA Summer Scholl, from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation and Ukraine presented to the hosts their views and concerns regarding the recent conflicts related to political dynamics and their impact on the civil society processes in their respective countries and shared their visions on how the project ARENA addresses those challenges. The ARENA network members also offered their expertise and knowledge in supporting the OSCE’s efforts to increasing the role of the civil society actors in confidence building and conflict resolution processes.
Katharina Wieser, Head of the Department of Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus and Central Asia at the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Republic of Austria was particularly interested in the number of members of the ARENA network, the cooperation of the network with other local and international civil society organizations, the types of activities that the network members do in their respective communities and countries. She expressed her great interest towards the activities of the project and level of commitment of the network members to the ideas of peacebuilding.
Currently Austria defined the priorities for its Chairmanship of the OSCE 2017 in response to the current threats and challenges in the OSCE area. Thus, contributing towards defusing existing conflicts and facilitating confidence building are the focal issues for the Austrian Chairmanship.
“Your efforts are inline with the Austrian Chairmanship priorities, we are very much interested in continuing our partnership with your group,”- said Jurgen Heissel, Deputy Head of Mission for the Human Dimension at the Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE.
The participating officials also expressed their political support to the ARENA project’s activities and asked Peace Dialogue and OWEN, as the coordinators of the ARENA, to keep them informed regarding the further developments of the project.