Giorgi PERTAIA (video): "Ideal investor is the one who brings knowledge to this country"

03.08.2020 (Caucasian Journal How do we see Georgia in 10 years, and which investment projects does it welcome? Is Georgia a post-Soviet country? Who are "ideal investors"?

Mr. Giorgi PERTAIA, President of Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), is answering the questions of Caucasian Journal. 

With the today's interview, Caucasian Journal starts to publish video interviews, which is a new format for us. We hope you like it!

Watch video interview with Giorgi PERTAIA below.



Zaza BIBILASHVILI: "Democratic backsliding is evident"

27.07.2020 (Caucasian Journal)  How is the political and economic situation in Georgia seen from a viewpoint of one of the country's leading  professional lawyers?  

Today Caucasian Journal is pleased to present the answers given by  Zaza BIBILASHVILI, Senior Partner at BGI Legal, Georgia’s leading independent law firm, and founder of the Chavchavadze Center for European Studies and Civic Education. 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Dear Zaza, thank you for being with us, and for your attention to Caucasian Journal – we are privileged to have you among our Board members. Let me start with what I consider central. You possess a rare - if not ideal - combination of professional and personal qualities, which make you equal to political challenge of any caliber. Recently you left UNM - the party, which you joined in 2013, and where you held a senior position. You said you would not associate with any other political force or take part in the 2020 elections. I am sure you had important reasons, but what will remain on the plate for the voter, if all the very best professionals would decide to step away?

Zaza BIBILASHVILI: Alex, thank you for inviting me for this interview. The honor is all mine to be on CJ board along with such distinguished group of individuals. Let me start by wishing you and Caucasian Journal all the best. I know there are quite a few new ideas and plans for the immediate future. Look forward to seeing the Journal grow! On to your question: 

I joined UNM in 2013. Georgia’s former ruling party had already lost the 2012 parliamentary elections. It was widely demonized, its members were targeted politically and persecuted by all branches of government. Hundreds were jailed or forced to flee Georgia, and thousands were pressured in various ways. Against this background, many struggled to explain my move – in a country where people are quick to switch camps to join the winner, it is rare to see a successful citizen, who had never been part of the government and with no vested interest, to risk it all for no apparent gain. 

Seth CHAR: "It’s easy to start a business in Georgia but difficult to make it work"

23.07.2020 (Caucasian Journal)  Our guest today is Mr. Seth BLY-CHAR, CEO of ICONIA Capital, a real estate developer based in Tbilisi but owned by U.S. investors. (Read Georgian version here.)

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal:  Dear Seth, welcome to Caucasian Journal! Our guests often talk about the importance of foreign investments for Georgia, the”investment climate”, “ease of doing business”, and other pretty abstract notions.  But today we have a chance to touch the practical side of things:  The hands-on experience of an American investor in Georgia. The fact that your experience is “mixed” makes it even more valuable to readers. For a start, can you give a short answer: Do you regret about investing your money in Georgia? If you could go back to 2015, would you rather have taken your investment elsewhere?

Seth CHAR: Mr. Kaffka, firstly, thank you for this opportunity to interview with your prestigious publication.  You had mentioned that our investor experience in Georgia was “mixed,” but in reality, it is only “mixed” on the best of days: overall, our experience in Georgia over the past five years has been overwhelmingly negative. 

Dr. Andreas UMLAND on escalation of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and Russia's role

20.07.2020 Dr. Andreas UMLAND is Senior Expert at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future in Kyiv, Nonresident Fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm.  Speaking to Caucasus Watch, he shared his expert views on the escalation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and Russia's role in the territorial disputes of the Caucasus.

First of all, the obvious question, why is the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalating right now and why on the undisputed international border instead of the area of the actual territorial dispute?

Dr. Andreas UMLAND: This is indeed surprising since the official border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not being questioned by either side. The actual territorial dispute has been only about Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas. Murad Muradov and Rusif Huseynov of the Topchubashov Center at Baku have published an article on the influential Ukrainian website Ukrainska Pravda where they speculate about reasons for the escalation. They argue that only Armenia can be assumed to be responsible for the escalation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border because of the high risks the conflict contains for Azerbaijan, in view of Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia and the official Armenian territory are protected by the CSTO – and especially so by Russia. Therefore, Muradov and Huseynov believe that this provocation originated in Armenia, and they outline some possible scenarios. Among others, Muradov and Huseynov argue that the escalation could have been driven by the current government in Armenia. However, they also do not exclude the possibility that the clash could have been initiated by some old elites in Armenia, particularly by the former pro-Russian presidents Kocharyan and Sarkisyan, who may be trying to cause trouble for the current government.

Caucasian Journal and ICC Georgia to set up the first Eurasia Investment Channel, for worldwide promotion of best investment projects



14.07.2020. Below we republish an ICC Georgia's press release.

ICC Georgia to set up the first Eurasia Investment Channel, for worldwide promotion of best investment projects

EURICA (Eurasia Investment Channel and Analytics) is a joint project of ICC GeorgiaCaucasian Journal and Channel Georgia Consulting.

Through EURICA, ICC Georgia will select and promote Georgia and the region’s best investment projects internationally, via global ICC network, YouTube, LinkedIn, printed mass medias and television.

EURICA will select the best investment projects and produce its own videos for them, to offer maximum promotion through international news distribution channels.

“The world is different in post -Covid era, and the winners will be those who are the first to adapt to new reality. Competition is increasing as many more companies are now seeking investments. At the same time, investors are also in dire need of lucrative new opportunities, after months of slowdown. Online and remote work is our new standard, resulting in faster communication and decision-making. We are introducing EURICA to offer unique investment promotion toolset not just to ICC members, but to all companies with sound, well-prepared investment projects,” – said Fady ASLY, Chairman of ICC Georgia.

Meni BENISH of Israel-Georgian Chamber of Commerce: "We can get financial support for any size of ventures"

13.07.2020 (Caucasian JournalIsrael is among the Georgia’s oldest and most reliable business partners. An essential support mechanism for healthy economic relations is a bilateral chamber of commerce, which, as a rule, must be established in both countries. 

Recently such a bilateral chamber has been finally introduced, after a lengthy period of registrations and endorsements in Israel and Georgia. Today Caucasian Journal talks with the head of new Israel-Georgian Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), Mr. Meni BENISH (Read Georgian version here.)

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Dear Mr. Benish, thank you for attention to Caucasian Journal. When I heard about the launch of your Chamber of Commerce (CoC), I thought that we must cover this news, because Israel is such an important country for Georgia, and also because we partner with International Chamber of Commerce and other organizations promoting business participation in civil society. For businesspeople in Georgia, what is going to change with installation of your CoC? What new opportunities will open for an ordinary entrepreneur, and when?

Meni BENISH: First, I would like to thank you for the warm wishes. As you may know, I was born in Poti, and I am a Georgian citizen. Georgian people are close to my heart and I can clearly say that I feel at home in Tbilisi.

A Rainy Night in Georgia

20.06.2020. Aspen Review is a Prague-based journal published by Aspen Institute Central Europe, which is an official partner of Caucasian Journal.  Last year CJ interviewed  Jiří Schneider - Executive Director of Aspen Institute Central Europe (read here), and this year Aspen Review published an article by Alexander Kaffka, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal. 

Today we repost Alexander KAFFKA's article "A Rainy Night in Georgia" with permission of our partner Aspen Review. Editor's note: This article was written before the pandemics.

If the ‘Anna Karenina principle’ could be applied to states, it would sound as follows: All the full democracies are alike, but every hybrid democracy is hybrid in its own way.

After 2004’s Rose Revolution led by Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia won the admiration of the international community as it went from the brink of a failed state to an exemplary leader of democracy and successful market reforms. Other post-Soviet nations looked with much excitement at what appeared to be a fantastic achievement in combating corruption at all levels, unthinkable in their own countries. Digitalization of government services brought online convenience to every household, placing Georgia in the world’s top countries in terms of its ease in doing business, and in fact even becoming exportable know-how.

Aspen Ministers Forum: 27 Foreign Ministers Issue Call for UN

June 14, 2020. Caucasian Journal is happy to share and support this Aspen Institute's initiative. We are proud to have two European Aspen Institutes among our official partnersThe statement below was released by members of the Aspen Ministers Forum on June 12, 2020. The signatories are acting in a personal capacity, and this statement does not represent an official position taken by the Aspen Ministers Forum or the Aspen Institute.

We are a group of former foreign ministers from every region of the world, who bring to bear decades of experience in conducting international diplomacy, responding to crises, and reforming international institutions. Never before have we seen a challenge as acute, complex, far-reaching, and potentially long-lasting as the COVID-19 pandemic. While many nations have been able to implement effective interventions through social distancing, testing and contact tracing, the first wave of the virus is not yet over and the pandemic continues to pose a risk to the lives and livelihoods of people in every nation on earth.
Photo: Aspen Institute

As with many of the threats we face, the virus does not respect boundaries and therefore cannot be defeated by any country acting alone. To respond to this pandemic and prevent future outbreaks, nations must combine their strengths.

We have seen the benefits that cooperative action can bring. During our careers, world leaders worked to build and strengthen regional and global institutions to spur development, prevent war, promote health, regulate trade, and prosecute crimes against humanity. Although certainly not every decision made was the right one, the mechanisms created helped resolve dangerous conflicts and brought about unprecedented gains in alleviating poverty, expanding literacy, and containing the ravages of communicable diseases.

Ambassador Ran GIDOR: "We’ve been spending too much time toasting each other"

13.06.2020 (Caucasian JournalToday Caucasian Journal has the honour to talk with the newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Georgia, Mr. Ran GIDOR. His term in Tbilisi started last January. 

Mr. Gidor is not a newcomer in Georgia: Being a career diplomat, he was appointed as deputy ambassador in Tbilisi (accredited to Georgia and Armenia) back in 1997. His subsequent experience included positions of Cultural and Academic attaché in Beijing, Political Counsellor in London, Director of UN Political Affairs Department, and Ambassador to Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Congo and Gabon.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal, we thank you for attention to our readers. I know it became commonplace to talk about the coronavirus, but in your case I cannot help asking: How does it feel to start an Ambassador’s term in an unprecedented lockdown? I understand that just weeks after arrival in Tbilisi you found yourself isolated at home and unable to travel, being cut from essential parts of every diplomat’s work.

Ran GIDOR: Thank you, Alexander, for the opportunity to address your readers. Yes, you’re absolutely right, COVID-19 has “turned the tables” (so to speak…) on all our original work plans for 2020 and forced us to cancel virtually every major project in the pipeline. However, now we’re ‘regrouping’ and learning how to implement some new ideas in innovative and unconventional ways. As always, what starts as a threat or a disaster – can be turned into an opportunity, if we’re prepared to rise to the challenge.

Valeri CHEKHERIA: "We are shaping new Georgia and placing it on world map"

05.06.2020 (Caucasian Journal) Is Georgia prepared to welcoming foreign tourists next month? How does the big business coordinate actions with the government in hospitality sector, which is strategic for Georgia? Do corporations play a role in formation of civil society?

Our today's guest is Valeri CHEKHERIA, CEO of Adjara Group. His name is not only behind some of the Georgia's newest and most iconic hotels, but also in many board lists of important non-profit organizations.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Dear Valeri, welcome to Caucasian Journal. Last year we planned to talk about your success story of interaction between business and civil society, and the Democracy Frontline Center, and I hope we will touch this today. But now the whole world is turned upside down by the pandemic, which is the top factor everywhere – and especially in tourism-dependent businesses such as yours. How severely your hospitality projects have been hit by COVID measures? 

Valeri CHEKHERIA: The tourism industry was hit the most with hospitality sector experiencing extensive losses globally. Certainly, we are no exception and we have suffered severely from the effects of the pandemic. We had to close down all our hotels and put on hold the development of the ongoing projects.