Johan Galtung Lecture on ‘The European Foreign Policy of my Dreams’
TRANSCEND News, 14 Oct 2013
On 7 October 2013 Johan Galtung, the founding scholar of Peace Studies, opened the European Peace & Security Studies-EPSS 2013 Lecture Series. The Distinguished Opening Lecture was titled “The European Union Foreign Policy of My Dreams”. In it Professor Galtung shared his method of conflict mediation.
Galtung defined conflicts as the incompatibility of goals. Resolving a conflict situation thus necessitates respect for each goal, but requires additionally overcoming the deadlock in changing the context of the conflict in order to find a reality in which both goals can be made compatible.
The example Professor Galtung used was his participation in the 1998 Peace Treaty between Ecuador and Peru, effectively ending a border-delineation-conflict through the creation of a national park in the disputed area. The Transcend method of mediation, developed by Galtung, requires individual dialogue between the mediation and the parties to understand their goals, fears and wishes to explore space for common ground. The next necessary step is to offer a creative solution that transforms the conflict.
Professor Galtung expressed his appreciation for the European project as this process of mediation and integration essentially created and continues to maintain the European Union and lasting peace in Europe. His dream of European Union foreign policy is to share and promote the European experience to establish strong regional organizations worldwide. His ‘dream’ includes complementing the United Nations with an Organisation of World Regions. After discussing the structural dimension of desired EU foreign policy, Galtung stressed the need for a dialogue across civilizations and religions.
In particular, he emphasized the lack of understanding between Christianity and Islam, which currently results in the mutual fear of holy war. Focusing on his method for mediation, Galtung advocated starting a religious dialogue based on appreciating each other’s values. Based on his experiences Muslims value the diversity in Christianity, while Christians would be well advised to learn from the closeness and sharing Islam expresses.
Subsequently, Galtung provided a historical context to the current difficulty for dialogue across religions and civilizations. This included a reminder of European history as a largely Christian region, its responsibility as colonial power and its relations with Islam, Russia and China. In this context, he stresses the aggressive behaviour of European nations toward Russia under Napoleon and Hitler. Similarly, the British and Portuguese colonial expansion to Macao and Hong Kong destroyed the civilizational bridge of the ‘Silk Road’.
Moving on to the Middle East conflict, Professor Galtung stressed the importance of the origin of the conflict to understand the incompatibility of goals. The repercussions are still experienced today in Lebanon and Syria previously under the French, as well as Palestine and Iraq previously under the British colonial rule.
Galtung then explored a viable solution to the Syria conflict, modeled on the approach of the Ottoman Empire: Governing Syria as one country with one parliament but complemented by a second chamber ensuring a veto and participation of each of the ancient nations. Only by ensuring each nation can maintain their identity, language and history will Syria return to peace. This demands a government by the Sunni majority but requires them to moderate their approach towards the minority nations. Currently, Syria consists of over a thousand different groups and rebel forces, many of them turning to extremism and some affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Professor Galtung ended the lecture by sharing that one of his principal ideas was to create a trans-European security cooperation in the 1960s. After years, his idea had spread far with diplomatic circles and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was established. His key advice to participants was treat mediation as a medical science through diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy that is tailored to each conflict.
Levi Maxey, Intern at the Global Governance Institute.
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