Ambassador Gert ANTSU: ”We just cannot afford to lose interest in Eastern neighbors”

19.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal). In December 2021, the leaders of the EU and of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) met for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels. It was the first EaP summit in four years. EaP is a joint policy initiative launched in 2009 to strengthen relations between the EU and its six neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.  

To better understand the results of EaP Summit, Caucasian Journal asked Ambassador Gert ANTSU (Estonia), Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership, to comment on the future of EaP and relations between EU and South Caucasus states. This is the second interview of Gert Antsu to CJ; the first one can be found here.

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Read the Armenian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Many people across Europe and our region in particular have been looking forward to the EaP Summit. Now, we have seen the official statements as well as some experts’ opinions, but have been seeking for the insider’s comments – well-informed, neutral, and professional. Did you have any high (or low) expectations from the recent EaP Summit? Was there anything that surprised you, in other words was very different from what was expected?

Gert ANTSU: I would say that the expectations were moderately high – after all, there had been no summit for four years, and meeting up at the level of heads or state was already a positive political signal. Furthermore, there had been ample time to put together and discuss the future goals and set-up of Eastern Partnership – at least between the EU member states. Even if there was not to be a revolutionary change in the Partnership, the steady continuation of integration of the partner countries with the EU was a worthy aim, and I very much hoped that any possible squabbles over the wording of the joint declaration would not derail the real integration process. There were difficult negotiations between the EU member states and also between the EU and the partner countries, but I am happy that in the context of high geopolitical tensions it all ended well, we got an agreement on the joint declaration, and in 2022 we can start implementing the new directions of the policy.

AK:  Could you share your overall impression of the Brussels Summit? Is there anything you might add regarding the countries from Association Trio (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) in particular? 

Levan BOUADZE: "We always carried our little Georgia with us"

16.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Today we are pleased to meet with Mr. Levan BOUADZE  – a Georgian national serving as UNDP Resident Representative at Pacific Office in Fiji, responsible for UN development activities in a vast region consisting of 10 island nations.
With this interview, we continue  to cover various aspects of UNDP activities. Our first UNDP interview was with Resident Representative in Georgia (see here). 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Mr. Levan, welcome to Caucasian Journal, Happy New Year! According to Georgian tradition, you are our “mekvle” (tracklayer) – the first guest who steps in. You are one of the Georgians who managed to build a successful international career, living far away from your homeland. May I start with a philosophical question: What happens to a Georgian identity after so many years away – is it getting stronger or washes away? Do you still practice traditions such as “mekvle”, for example?

Levan BOUADZE: Thank you, Alexander, for the opportunity to talk to your journal. Thanks for New Year greetings and from my part I also wish you and your readers a great and, importantly, healthy 2022. Sorry, I would not be able to hand sweets and candies virtually, so not a typical mekvle really😄.

It is already 26 years that I have been away from my homeland. Whether this has changed my Georgian identity, not sure if I ever thought about it. Clearly, who I am is firmly rooted in the value system that my (very) Georgian parents instilled on me which, in itself, was nurtured by the culture and traditions I was growing up with. Being away and living and working in foreign countries, certainly enriched my experiences and expanded my horizons, but I do not think that took away who I am. Furthermore, being married to a Georgian wife and having three Georgian kids, we always carried our little Georgia with us wherever we went and kept all our traditions very much alive including that of mekvle.   

Caucasian Journal's Nordic and Baltic Interviews: Two Years of Success

06.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal). Happy New Year to all the readers of Caucasian Journal! 

Almost two years ago we started a program of interviews "BEST NORDIC AND BALTIC PRACTICE" (BNBP) with high-level practitioners from Western Europe who share their knowledge in areas relevant to our region. 

BNBP has proved to be very successful, and we are happy to tell this program will continue in 2022, bringing you more speakers, more expertise, and more new themes of importance. Those who are interested in BNBP interviews are welcome to review our presentation, which summarizes the first two stages of our project. And in addition, a regularly updated list of interviews is available here

Two years of Covid in South Caucasus at a glance

18.12.2021 (Caucasian Journal). As the world is approaching 2 years of Covid pandemics, Caucasian Journal is posting a comparison of Covid-19 situations across the South Caucasus region. 
The graphs are per capita, so they give an objective picture of success/failure in fighting the pandemics. We will also seek for expert opinions to comment on the trends, so this post is to be updated. 

University of Zürich offers paid fellowship opportunities for research on South Caucasus

17.12.2021 (Caucasian Journal). For the spring semester of 2022, the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES) at the University of Zurich offers up to five residential fellowships to highly talented and innovative young or mid-career scholars from the field of social sciences or humanities. 

Applicants with research focused on South Caucasus are particularly encouraged.  "While we welcome research proposals on all topics related to the study of Eastern Europe and post-Soviet Eurasia, for the fall spring 2022 Fellowship Program, we are particularly interested in applications from scholars with an interest in geopolitical trends, economic connectivity and/or transnational social and/or cultural issues related to South Caucasus region", - reads the call for applications. 

Funding includes accommodation, health insurance, visa support, and a stipend for living expenses during the period of stay of up to four months.  The deadline of application is January 15, 2022.  Application details are here.

Nick BERESFORD: "We need to keep up momentum to achieve prosperity underpinned by democratic institutions and the rule of law"

13.12.2021 (Caucasian Journal) “This is a critical moment for the world, and for development”, - according to the head of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 
What is happening to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now? What is happening to the development of Georgia, and what place does the country occupy in the bigger picture of global development? 
Today Caucasian Journal is discussing these issues with Mr. Nick BERESFORD, recently appointed Resident Representative of UNDP in Georgia.  Previously he has served for the UN in Bangladesh, Somalia, East Timor, and at headquarters in New York.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Mr. Beresford, welcome to Georgia.  The SDG themes have been always in the focus of Caucasian Journal, as they were essentially our priority topics since launch. So I believe we are now ripe enough for a conversation with UNDP’s country representative, and let me thank you for attention to our readers. Before Georgia, you worked in some of the world’s poorest countries – it must have been a big challenge, but also a great experience for a development professional?

Nick BERESFORD: I have been very lucky to have worked in some amazing countries and with some wonderful people. In Bangladesh for example UNDP has a programme with women led community groups in one of the world’s largest slums. These women activists led their communities in proving a living, putting kids through school, and making political alliances with Mayors and local councilors to get services their families need. In Somalia I worked with coastal communities as they recovered from piracy, setting up local government and creating small businesses. You learn a lot as a development professional in these partnerships and even if progress is often slow or marginal, it’s wonderful to see some positive change where it’s most needed.

Caroline von POST: “Why do we dress babies in brand new clothes that are full of chemicals?”

 Photo: Rosie Alm
06.12.2021 (
Caucasian Journal). Does a “100% cotton” label always mean that the garments (or linens, towels, etc) are safe to use?  Are second-hand clothes better for a baby? How a business can use waste to manufacture top quality product and generate profit? Why is this relevant to hotels? What is ethical about recycling?

These are some questions which we have for our new guest - Caroline von POST (Sweden), a biologist, circular economy consultant, and head of an aptly-named company, Stormie Poodle.

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Read the Armenian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Caroline, welcome to Caucasian Journal, and greetings from South Caucasus. This region is known for natural beauty, rich history and hospitality, and it is small wonder that tourism is one of our main backbones. As you can guess, I’m about to ask about the hotels. Is it true that you know a “magic” way for hotels to become more environmentally friendly, reduce waste, and make profit?

Caroline von POST: Haha, of course, they could let me help them! No seriously, it’s a complicated thing, running a hotel. Positioning your brand, employing the right staff who can represent the hotel in a positive manner, cooking great food, decorating the rooms etc… so many things to think about. While I have helped hotels become more environmentally friendly prior to launching Stormie Poodle, my business now focuses on the textiles that are used by the hotel and “upcycling” those textiles to – as you say – reduce waste, become more environmentally friendly, and increase profits.

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.