Harry Hagopian is an EU-based public international lawyer who also holds a number of key consultancy positions on political, ecumenical and inter-faith issues relating to the Middle East, North Africa & Gulf regions.
He is a qualified expert on alternative dispute resolution, and serves as Middle East Advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Ecumenical Consultant to the Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the UK and Ireland, Middle East Consultant to the Alliance of Christians in Europe (ACEP, Paris) and Associate to the Ekklesia think-tank (London).
From 1996 till 2001, he was Executive Director of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee in Jerusalem when he articulated the Churches’ collective positions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - particularly during the Oslo and Taba negotiations - focusing largely on the future of Jerusalem. Earlier, he served two terms as Assistant General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches in Lebanon and Cyprus.
Dr Hagopian is an Armenian who speaks six languages, holds the Orders of the Knights of St Gregory and St Lazarus and is Fellow at Sorbonne III University in Paris.
He is also a public speaker and has written extensively on issues relating to the MENA & Gulf regions. He is presently working on a book on the dynamics and future variables of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and many of his articles on ecumenical, political and legal issues are posted on his website epektasis.net.
First, it was the turn of the German Foreign Minister. Then came the US Secretary of State, only to be followed by the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. A fortnight later, the Turkish president flew into Kuwait, followed by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The real victims have been the Syrian people who rose up six years ago to gain their basic freedom and right to political participation. So will they be allowed to exit this dark tunnel, and are we witnessing a tipping point?
I do not share the fury that my friend demonstrated as we were enjoying our ethnic falafel wraps! However, as the author John Steinbeck wrote in <em>The Winter of Our Discontent</em>, "It is much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." But I do not wish to go there - at least not for now!
Lebanon is a paradox! Earlier this month, I spent a week in Beirut re-acquainting myself with the local colours, tastes and cultures of this vibrantly eclectic city! And by tastes and colours I do not merely mean the souks, foods and galleries, or for that matter its politics and religions. I also mean the opinions of ordinary people.
Fifty years ago, PM David Lloyd George adopted the Balfour Declaration that helped create a festering conflict. I would argue that the existential stakes are even higher now: so will the Palestinians pick up the gauntlet?
The summer recess is upon us, and it is perhaps an opportune period for Parliament to wind down the rhetoric so the courts can adjudge on the legal pathways available. After all, the stakes are far too high for us to get it wrong since that would expose us to deep-pocket litigation let alone a real-time case of #Brexageddon!
Last week, I was invited to deliver a talk in Germany at the annual Synod of the European Diocese of the Church of England. The organisers offered me ninety generous minutes to cover the whole MENA and Gulf regions.
Five long years of protests, violence, suffering, bloodletting, proxy wars, fresh hopes marooned on jagged deceptions, untold misery, the barbarity of pseudo-religious claims, and the cheap venom of human beings pitted against each other.
Welcome to 2016 amidst much tension and consternation! As someone who has worked in the MENA region as a lawyer, an ecumenist and also a second-track political negotiator for well over two decades, let me project a few pithy thoughts onto the fresh year.
Today, some powers and principalities are trying to lure the MENA genie back into its bottle - with brutal force, lavish financial inducements or political shenanigans. But this genie is cunning: it has tasted freedom outside the bottle and sees its own world with different lenses. Its instincts cannot easily be tamed back into the bottle!
So no matter who wins on 7 May, and whatever kind of government the would-be-politicians manage to cobble together, it is a decision-making moment for me because it is healthier than in those countries where the incumbent leader "expects" no less than 95% of the votes in his favour. And woe betide anybody who dares to think or say otherwise!
06/05/2015 21:03 BST
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