The meeting started with a short introduction of Peace Sprit Foundation by its President Mr. Hamid Reza Gholamzadeh including the efforts to connect cultures and to use public diplomacy as a means for developing peace. The introduction was followed by Ms. Bauer presenting Berghof Foundation generally; “this is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit German foundation, which follows certasin values, organizes different projects and tries to support people in achieving sustainable peace and conflict transformation; Based in Germany the foundation works in different countries specially in MENA region.”
She then continued to talk about the history of the foundation, which was established by Professor Georg Zundel in 1971 and named after the founder’s former residence near Tubingen. She noted “a small part of the budget comes from Zundel family while the rest is provided by government and public funding.” Ms. Bauer underlined that the Berghof Foundation as we know it today was formed by joining of three independent institutions; Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies with its operational arm, Berghof Conflict Research, Berghof Peace Support and the Institute for Peace Education in Tubingen.
“We try to show that conflict exists in daily life and it’s not a bad thing in nature, just we should learn how to manage it; Conflict can transform to something positive and what we do is to sit down and talk about it to learn how to deal with it and to solve it within a win-win situation,” she said pointing the main issues and goals of the foundation. Ms. Bauer highlighted that the foundation works in many conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen; “we have partners in countries who work closely with people; we believe we should include everyone to this as much as possible.”
“The exact thing Berghof Foundation do in such countries is helping conflicts parties find their own solutions, which differs in each country, and of course it is up to the people to choose the solution they find proper,” she added.
Ms. Bauer then highlighted that these efforts aim at making a world that people maintain peaceful relations and overcome violence as a means of political and social change because conflicts are inevitable part of life but violence in conflict is avoidable; “the foundation tries to work with like-minded partners in selected regions to enable conflict stakeholders and actors to develop non-violence responses in the face of conflict-related challenges.”
“They apply knowledge, skills and resources available in the areas of conflict research, peace support and peace education,” she said, adding that the activities and projects of the foundation could be categorized in four major groups including:
1. Conflict Transformation Research (Berlin)
2. Mediation and Dialogue Peace Support (Berlin)
3. Peace Education and Global learning (Tubungen)
4. Regional Programs (in Latin America, Middle East, etc.)
She concluded the session pointing the details of regional programs, which includes different cultural and educational projects like culture of conflict 30 (specifically for young people and social media), conflict-sensitive refugee assistance, service center peace education, international summer school for young peace builders, civic and non-violence education in Jordan, promoting peace education in Iran (since 2015).