German conflictologists help to reconcile “Maidan” and “Antimaidan” inhabitants of Odessa


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Odessa, October 12, 2014

Christophe Lutmann, Julia Krikorian (Berlin Center for Integrative Mediation), Anne Isabel Kraus, the director of the Center for Peacekeeping Mediation told at a briefing about the need of dialogue as a necessary mean to stop and prevent violence between rival groups.

Conflictologists came from Germany and represent different organizations. According to Christophe Lutmann they arrived to Odessa on purpose. Not only public in Germany, but politicians are interested in not only the general situation in Ukraine, but also separately in Odessa. The reason for this is that Odessa – is a special city for several reasons. First of all, Odessa has long and rich history, it is home to many different ethnic groups and people. The events in May blasted city and notwithstanding outward calm atmosphere, it is not the same that was before those events. In Germany there is a strong interest in ensuring that special atmosphere of a peaceful coexistence of different nationalities in Odessa. First of all, it will make themselves residents of Odessa, and the task of the German mediators – to help them in this.

Now the specialists face 2 main questions:

1) What can we do to bring the peaceful life in future

2) How can help exactly German mediators.

Christophe Lutmann said that their delegation does not represent the German government, they were sent here by social non-governmental organizations and research centers.

But German Foreign Ministry has given them a mandate to assess the current situation in Odessa and the determination of the steps necessary to conduct a dialogue.

According to Christophe Lutmann they have the necessary experience in the field of mediation and dialogue. Their team worked with the peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia and South-Eastern Europe.

In this case, as was stated by German mediator, they are well aware that just take and copy the experience on Ukrainian soil is impossible. So now their goal is to meet with a greater number of people who represent the public of Odessa.

Christophe Lutmann says that in our city, they have collaborated with the Odessa mediation group, psychologists, and other public representatives of Odessa. And they are grateful to all those people who provided them with information.

The plans of the German group are to continue the work of mediation in Odessa before the end of the year, maximize the dialogue in the city and rebuilding the lost trust.

At the present time there is a dialogue on a national, all-Ukrainian scale, but the German mediators want to focus their efforts on Odessa and restoration of dialogue here. Now in Odessa there are no open conflicts and violence, but this must be prevented. In Odessa there are many organizations and people who work in this direction – the restoration of dialogue and violence prevention. Participation of German experts here is to help these people and organizations.

Anne Isabel Kraus believes that dialogue – is the exchange and give participants the opportunity to see the dialogue, the way other participants see the situation. The task of the mediators – give opponents the opportunity to look at the situation from the perspective of the others. Yesterday there was a meeting with a representative of one of the groups. Anne Isabel Kraus told of her encounter with one of the representatives of the groups that participated in collisions. Because of this, she said, she was able to personally know what experience gained by those who have a direct impact on the violence. She realized it when people shared their experiences with her, she felt what the person had experienced, learned what victims of violence feel.

And even if it is the people’s position that we do not share, showing that we understand them, we give them the opportunity thereby continuing the dialogue, the opportunity to share their feelings.

And in the long run, if people with different points of view engage in dialogue, will state their positions and try to understand each other – they will stop fighting. German volunteers impressed how many people in Odessa are working hard to make such a dialogue could take place. For mediators from Germany, as people from the outside, the main thing here – is to assist them. As specialists with great experience, they will hold the seminars and exchange the views with the Odessa experts.

And in the case of absence of resources in some groups, they are able to mediate between them and those who are willing to provide such resources.