Ambassador Kirsti NARINEN: "Finland is a constructive and flexible partner, a peace-contributing international actor"

25.11.2021 (
Caucasian Journal). The majority of Georgians are aspiring to fully join the European family of nations, but how is this process viewed from the Europe’s side? We discuss this and other questions with Her Excellency Kirsti NARINEN, the new Roving Ambassador of Finland for the South Caucasus. We are delighted to add that today Caucasian Journal is launching our Armenian language version,  and this interview is the first one translated to two South Caucasian languages - Georgian and Armenian. 

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Read the Armenian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Kirsti, welcome to the Caucasus and to Caucasian Journal! Though just several weeks ago you had a chance to officially present your credentials in Georgia, you were involved in South Caucasian affairs as a Roving Ambassador for a long time; and now you are back from Rustavi where you observed the elections. So, we have a lot to discuss. But let’s start with explaining your position to our readers. What does it mean to be a Roving Ambassador?

Kirsti NARINEN: I would like to start with warm thanks to Caucasian Journal and you, Alexander, for keeping Nordic-Baltic themes high on your agenda! Nordic-Baltic countries have strong societies, even stronger civil societies and share many societal processes - which you have reported on. Those themes could act as well-working examples to other small European countries, within and outside the European Union. I feel honored to be able to continue your sequence and have this conversation with you.

Opportunity for Georgians to study in Norway: Scholarship Program for Master of Science in hydropower development

Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, through the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, offers four scholarships to Georgians who want to study Hydropower development at the master’s level at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim/Norway. Scholarships are tenable for the two-year master programme starting in 2022.

▶ ქართულად: The Georgian text version is here.

Georgia and Norway – two hydropower countries

About 80 percent of Georgia’s electricity demand is covered by local hydropower plants. The construction of hydro power plants in Georgia has a long tradition, which has been reactivated in recent years. Both large power plants with reservoirs and small hydropower plants are under construction or being planned. Read more: Bjorn BRANDTZAEG: "As Georgia develops, it needs more domestically generated electricity".

Norway has a long tradition in developing hydropower. Hydropower is the mainstay of the Norwegian electricity system. Norway has 1660 hydropower plants, which accounts for 31 837 or 96 % of total installed capacity. Norway and NTNU has developed competence at the highest international level within environmentally friendly development and operation of hydropower plants. 

Caucasian Journal to host first Georgian-Norwegian Nordic Talk on hydropower education

09.11.2021 (Caucasian Journal).  If you are interested in clean energy, hydropower, SDG, or international student exchange programs, we have the pleasure to invite you to the first Georgian-Norwegian Nordic Talk. You are welcome to attend our two Zoom sessions on November 15-16 (details are below). 

Our discussion focusing on clean energy education is entitled "How to make maximum of Nordic clean energy knowledge? Case of Norway and Georgia – two “hydropower nations”.

What is a Nordic Talk? Nordic Talks is a series of live talks and podcasts addressing the biggest global challenges. "Through conversations with some of the brightest minds in the Nordics and their counterparts from around the world we want to inspire each other to act – for a better, more sustainable future", - reads the official description. 

The  first Georgian-Norwegian Nordic Talk, organized by Caucasian Journal,  will consist of two Zoom sessions with open attendance. The agenda and speakers are as follows:

How to make maximum of Nordic clean energy knowledge? Case of Norway and Georgia – two “hydropower nations”

Talk 1  –  November 15, 14:00 Oslo time / 17:00 Tbilisi time.
Clean Energy: A fundamental UN SDG, and its importance for economies and sustainable development of Norway and Georgia – two “hydropower nations”. 
How to attend: Zoom linkFacebook event linkMeeting ID: 920 2531 3281.

Petter SVAETICHIN: “Georgians are traditionally strong in the main AI subjects of mathematics and physics”

30.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most advanced fields of IT, the core of many innovations that are changing our everyday lives. Can Georgia be a significant player in hi-tech? “Yes, it can”, - says our today’s guest Petter SVAETICHIN, CEO at Tbilisi-based artificial intelligence company Neiron. The Swedish business executive with a huge professional experience in Georgia is sharing some valuable insights with our readers.

▶ ქართულად: 
Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Petter, welcome to Caucasian Journal!  You are one of the most prominent Swedish businesspeople working in Georgia for quite a while - since early 2000-s, if I’m correct. So, for our series of interviews with Nordic and Baltic experts you are a priceless speaker, with your vast experience of life and work in South Caucasus – from traditional industry such as wine-making to absolute “cutting edge” such as artificial intelligence.  But first of all, how a Swede with a diploma from a prestigious American private school finds oneself in Georgia?

Petter SVAETICHIN: Thank you. Yes, you and I have crossed paths over the years and it seems that our interests often coincide. My being in Georgia was from the beginning a stroke of luck and coincidence but later a matter of appreciation and love for the country as well as an interest in the various possibilities and opportunities present. After graduating from ESSEC University in Paris and Cornell University in New York, I started working on projects for a private Swedish investor and one of his challenges was the revival of Chateau Mukhrani vineyards, and to restore this  Royal heritage to its former glory and make it a “must go and must taste” destination for visitors. When I started it was just a ruin with a few hundred visitors a year. In 2019 Chateau Mukhrani received in excess of 60,000 guests. After having been a member of the board since 2005, I moved here in late 2010 and was running the development. GWS vineyards in Telavi and Marussia Georgia later formed a group with Chateau Mukhrani. Some years ago I completely changed direction when my cousin, who is another Swede living in Georgia, asked me to assume the leadership of his Artificial Intelligence company Neiron. Since 2019 I am therefore working on developing AI in Georgia and from Georgia.   

Jānis IKSTENS: “Interest from Georgian students in studying in Riga is very high”

25.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Caucasian Journal’s guest today is Dr. Jānis IKSTENS, Acting Rector and Chairman of the Board at Riga Graduate School of Law.

▶ ქართულად: 
Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Welcome to Caucasian Journal – we are pleased to greet you as our first speaker from Latvia; it is even more symbolic that you are the first representative of higher education sphere.  You have been the head of Riga Graduate School of Law since 2017, if I’m correct. Would you like to introduce RGSL, by highlighting what you consider most important?

Jānis IKSTENS: Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) was founded in 1998 in cooperation between Latvia and Sweden in order to assist Latvia in preparing for work in the European institutions. RGSL was inaugurated in 2001 by President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and Crown Princess of Sweden Victoria, who also awarded diplomas to the very first graduates. 

At the beginning, RGSL offered only Masters degrees, two Bachelor programmes – “Law and Business” and “Law and Diplomacy” were introduced in 2014. Since then, they have gained popularity among young people in Latvia and also abroad – we have students and faculty from more than 30 countries studying and teaching in Riga. 

Ambassador Gert ANTSU: ”At times reforms sound like a tired buzzword that has lost its luster”

18.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal).  The today’s guest of Caucasian Journal is Mr. Gert ANTSU,  Director of the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership and Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership. 

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. EaP was inaugurated in 2009.

▶ ქართულად: 
Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Welcome to Caucasian Journal, thank you for attention to our readers. We often talk about successful European reform experiences and best practices, and whether they can be used in our region. But our today’s theme is a special case: We discuss the Eastern Partnership, which is in fact all about applying the EU approaches in our neighborhood. Let me start with a conceptual question: Who is the main driving force in this process – in theory it must be the Eastern side, not EU? Or, is it different for each EaP country, which are so dissimilar? 

Gert ANTSU: It is a conceptually interesting question. If we talk about partnership, then by definition it needs a strong interest from both sides to work. At the same time we can see that there is more urgency on the side of the EaP countries, especially those who have declared their European ambitions – people want better livelihoods, better governance in their countries and they understand that closer relations with the EU are a key to reach those ends. Then again, these countries do not stress as much the multilateral Eastern Partnership as their own bilateral relationship and integration with the EU. However, viewed from the EU’s side, everything one does with EaP countries, bilaterally or all together, is Eastern Partnership, so there is no contradiction here.

Inka HOPSU, Member of Finnish Parliament: “I'm happy I was able to participate in politics as a woman with small babies”

Photo: Hanne Salonen / Finnish Parliament
14.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Caucasian Journal’s guest today is Ms. Inka HOPSU – Finnish politician, member of Parliament for the Green League.

▶ ქართულად: 
Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Welcome to Caucasian Journal! Your career is remarkable in so many ways.  Being a mother of four, you managed to become a parliamentarian. You were a teacher and now you are a “green” politician. You seem like a role model for everyone, who wants to make life better in his or her city or community.  We are delighted to get such as a guest as you for an interview, and have prepared many essential questions. Let me start with this: Have you ever thought about yourself as a role model? Maybe your teaching experience has prepared you for such a role long time ago?

Inka HOPSU: Even before teaching, I was a scout leader for many years, first responsible of smaller groups, then working in the board of national organization and in international tasks. I think these prepared me to take responsibility and to be an example of a good and motivating leader for many young people. I think the role of civil society in preparing for leadership tasks in politics is very essential.

Video: Kristina KALLAS and Arnold STEPANIAN discuss national minority policies in Estonia and Georgia

11.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Today at Caucasian Journal we are talking about the national minorities policies in Georgia and Estonia. Our guests are Arnold STEPANIAN, Chairman of Public Movement “Multinational Georgia”, and Kristina KALLAS, Research Fellow at Tartu University Narva College, and leader of political party “Estonia 200”.
The interview is available in video format with Georgian subtitles, and as text version - in two languages.  You may view the video discussion below. 

The full text of this interview is also available in English and Georgian:
▶ ქართულად: The Georgian text version is here.
▶ English text version is here.

To be first to view all our exclusive video interviews, please subscribe here to our YouTube Channel.

Kristina KALLAS and Arnold STEPANIAN discuss national minority policies in Estonia and Georgia

11.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Today at Caucasian Journal we talk about the national minorities policies in Georgia and Estonia. Our guests are Arnold STEPANIAN, Chairman of Public Movement “Multinational Georgia” (PMMG), and Kristina KALLAS, Research Fellow at Tartu University Narva College, leader of political party “Estonia 200”.
Our  interview can be watched or read in two languages. Below we present the full English text version of interview. 

▶ ქართულად: The Georgian text version is here
▶ For video version, click here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Hello and welcome to Caucasian Journal’s video interviews! Our guests today are well-known experts in national minorities issues from Estonia and Georgia: Arnold STEPANIAN, Chairman of Public Movement “Multinational Georgia”, and Kristina KALLAS, Research Fellow at Tartu University Narva College, and leader of political party “Estonia 200”, who joins us online from Estonia. Dear Arnold, is it true that “Multinational Georgia” is one of the oldest NGOs in Georgia?

Arnold STEPANIAN: Hello first of all, yes we are one of the oldest NGOs - we were established in 1999. If I remember correctly, there were not more than 20-25 NGOs at that time.

Anne LIDGARD: “We are interested in attracting talent and can offer a very vivid startup scene”

30.06.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Caucasian Journal’s guest today is Anne LIDGARD, Director, Ecosystems for Innovative Companies at Vinnova – the Sweden’s innovation agency.

Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Welcome to Caucasian Journal! Let me explain first, that one of our aims is to spread some of the world’s most advanced reforms experiences in our region, and to assist in using those best practices here. As Sweden is often called the Silicon Valley of Europe, it is no wonder we’ve got interested in your country’s achievements in the field of startups and other innovations. Is it true, that it all started with Stockholm City Government’s decision to subsidize people’s home computers in the 1980s? Quite a far-sighted and exceptional decision, wasn’t it?  

Anne LIDGARD: Yes, indeed, that was one of the key contributors, but I also want to mention the very early mobile adoption thanks to Ericsson – the world leader in the field then – and its collaboration with state-owned Telia. Also the early and wide-reaching broadband deployment, another important policy decision, has played a huge role. Thanks to our proficiency in English, people started interacting very early on the web, not least the younger generation of gamers that later turned innovators.