Martin SKALSKÝ on environment protection: “People must be active and demand changes” (watch video or read)

Skalsky Zoom
17.04.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Our guest today is Martin SKALSKÝ, chairman of the Czech non-governmental organization Arnika and leader of Centre for the Support of Citizens. He coordinates many projects in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Western Balkans in the field of environment protection.

You may watch the video discussion below, and read the full text - further below.  This interview is also available in Georgian language version:

 ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here. Georgian text version is here.

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The text version of interview is below: 


Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Hello and welcome to Caucasian Journal video interviews!

Our guest today is Martin SKALSKÝ, chairman of the Czech non-governmental organization Arnika and leader of Centre for the Support of Citizens. He coordinates many projects in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Western Balkans in the field of environment protection.

Dear Martin, welcome to Caucasian Journal. At the launch of our Journal we have installed an air quality widget right on our main page. So, no wonder that environment protection and especially air quality is our top concern.  Let me start with the alarming phrase from your website “Tbilisi is among Europe's top three most polluted metropolises”. How bad is it now, in simple words? And what are the other two cities?

Association "Wine Artisans" and artisan winemakers condemn "Russian Law"

14.04.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Georgia's Association "Wine Artisans" and artisan winemakers published a statement condemning the controversial bill on transparency of foreign influence, resubmitted by the parliamentary majority earlier this month. This statement is republished below. Association "Wine Artisans" is headed by Andro Barnovi, member of the Advisory Board of Caucasian Journal.

Association "Wine Artisans" and artisan winemakers condemn "Russian Law"
NO to the Russian law! NO to the traitor Government!

Although we do not represent political organizations, part of the Georgian artisan winemakers made it usual for the public that we are always one of the first to state our firm position on important political or social issues for the country.

Petr STUDNIČKA: “European integration will bring more tourists to Georgia, shorter stays, and higher requirements for quality”

10.04.2024 (Caucasian Journal). What EU integration will bring to people and industries in Georgia? In our new interview series, EU experts from various fields share their insights. Today's focus is on TOURISM and HOSPITALITY. 

Petr StudnickaOur guest is Dr. Petr STUDNIČKA, Head of the Hotel and Tourism Management Department at the University College, Prague. Being one of the leading Czech experts for the tourism sector, he is a member of the Society of Tourism Scientific Experts, Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the Czech Republic, Czech Gastronomic Institute, and other tourism-related associations and journal boards.

We wish also to thank Ms. Nino NEBIERIDZE,  Director at City Hotels, General Manager at Tbilisi Chambers Trademark Collection by Wyndham and City Avenue Hotel, for her comments and questions, which helped us to make this article even more valuable for the professionals.

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Petr, welcome to Caucasian Journal! I know you have been to Georgia, which last year became a EU candidate country.  Tourism is a very important sector of economy for both our countries. That is why we wanted to devote this interview to the Czech experience, which becomes even more relevant for us with the view of future EU rapprochement. For a start, a general question: How do the tourism-oriented countries benefit from joining EU? 

Petr STUDNIČKA: Joining the EU has a positive impact on the economy. The free movement of people, goods, services and capital is beneficial for the development of tourism. This is about 450 million inhabitants in the single market. Access to the Schengen area has a very positive effect. The Czech Republic became an EU member state in 2004, we joined Schengen in 2007. What remains is the adoption of the euro and entry into the Eurozone. The Czech Republic will have to wait for that for some time, it will be a political decision. By joining the EU, the state also receives funds from European Union sources, which can be used in moderation to support tourism (e.g. development of tourism in threatened areas, digitization of processes in tourism).

Rolande PRYCE, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus: "We focus very much on people"

Rolande PRYCE at
02.04.2024 (Caucasian Journal Rolande PRYCE, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, gave an exclusive video interview to Caucasian Journal. 
The conversation with Ms. Pryce covered a wide range of World Bank's activities in the South Caucasus. She commented on Georgia's country portfolio, spoke about the Human Capital Program and Country Partnership Framework.  In particular, she is touching on the regional initiatives such as the Middle Corridor as well as the upcoming Black Sea Submarine Cable project (BSSC) supported by the World Bank.  
Watch the video talk below, or in our YouTube channel in high definition.

Ambassador Ahmed ALNUAIMI: "I am fortunate to be posted to Georgia during this dynamic period of emerging relations between UAE and this strategically significant nation"

Ahmed Ebrahim Ahmed Taher ALNUAIMI
13.03.2024 (Caucasian Journal)It is an honour for Caucasian Journal today to welcome His Excellency Ahmed Ebrahim Ahmed Taher ALNUAIMI, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Georgia.  

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal, and thank you for finding time for our readers. Your ambassadorial term in Georgia started about a year ago, if I am correct. Probably you have already got substantial local experience. May I start by asking about your brightest moments in Georgia – maybe something unexpected, emotional, or even funny?

Ahmed ALNUAIMI: Serving as the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Georgia has been a rewarding experience, affording me the opportunity to play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration between our two nations. My tenure so far here has been an extremely positive experience. The gracious hospitality extended to me by the Georgian people has made an indelible mark on my diplomatic mission.

Moreover, I have been impressed by the culinary delights that Georgia offers, and the scenic beauty of the country has been a continuous source of awe and inspiration throughout my work here. 

Johnny MELIKYAN: Armenian “Crossroads of Peace” initiative is a frank and peaceful approach to our neighbors and not only

05.03.2024 (Caucasian Journal)  Our today's guest is Johnny MELIKYAN, Senior Fellow at the ORBELI Research Analytical Center (Yerevan).

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal: Dear Johnny, welcome to Caucasian Journal! As our name implies, we are especially interested in projects which are important for the whole South Caucasian region, and are about closer integration of our countries. That’s why we were looking forward to talking about the “Crossroads of Peace”, presented by the Prime Minister of Armenia in Tbilisi, when Mr. Pashinyan attended the Silk Road Forum last October. For a start, how can you summarize this project for our readers? And also, may I ask if your Center was involved in the development of this project?

Johnny MELIKYAN: First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk about Armenia and our approach to this wonderful, but at the same time, so complicated and divided region. Answering on the last part of your question, I would say “Yes” - Orbeli Center is working with our government on information support for this project. And this interview is yet another opportunity to speak with a large audience about the Armenian peaceful agenda in the South Caucasus.

Speaking about the situation in the region, I want to say that the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in the autumn of 2020 changed the status-quo, which was formed in the mid-90s, just after the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. It took the lives of thousands of people in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The wounds and pains of that war on families, towns and villages will take a long time to heal. Its outcome determined some issues, left others unresolved, and created some new ones. Later, in 2021-2022, on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border and in September 2023 in Nagorno-Karabakh, we saw more blood and sufferings. As a result of September 19-20 Azerbaijani large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, which took hundreds of lives, including among the civilian population, women and children. As a result of this ethnic cleansing, more than 100 thousand people became forcibly displaced.

According to Economic Freedom Index, Georgia performs better than the world and regional averages

Click to enlarge
02.03.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Georgia ranks 32nd among 176 countries in the world, according to the Index of Economic Freedom, compiled annually by the Heritage Foundation, an American public policy think tank. Heritage Foundation evaluates the extent and effectiveness of government activity in 12 areas that have a significant impact on levels of economic growth and prosperity. 

Georgia's position is higher than those of its geographical neighbors: Armenia (47th place), Azerbaijan  (70th), Türkiye (102th), Russia (131th). 

Over the year, the country rose two places in the Index, despite a decrease in the overall score - from 68.7 points to 68.4 points (This, however, is partly due to a global tendency, as the authors of the Index noted: "Regrettably, the global average score for economic freedom has fallen further from the previous year’s 59.3 and is now the lowest it has been since 2001: only 58.6). 

Georgia is ranked 19th out of 44 countries in the Europe region. The country’s economic freedom score is higher than the world and regional averages. Georgia’s economy is considered “moderately free” according to the 2024 Index. Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the same category. 

"Despite a challenging external and political environment, Georgia’s economy performs quite well in key policy areas. Reforms to enhance regulatory efficiency have been implemented, and open-market policies are maintained along with low tax rates. The economy has demonstrated a high level of resilience. However, institutional weaknesses still require much more committed reforms because marginal reforms have not generated much improvement.", - reads the Index of Economic Freedom.

Funding opens for cultural heritage protection projects in South Caucasus

Small Grants Scheme for heritage-related projects
01.02.2024 (Caucasian Journal). If you work in a museum or other institution related to cultural heritage protection in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, or other EU neighbouring countries, please read on - you might find this grant call relevant.

The European Heritage Hub project – co-funded by the European Union and run by a consortium of 20 partners led by Europa Nostra – has launched a Small Grants Scheme to support projects protecting cultural heritage in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine.

The scheme offers grants of three sizes: 
  • Small projects – grants ranging from €2,000 to €10,000;
  • Medium projects – grants ranging from €10,000 to €30,000;
  • Large projects – grants ranging from €30,000 to €50,000.

The Program supports the following types of activities:

Eastern Partnership Index 2023: "A dose of realism is needed"

25.01.2024 (Caucasian Journal). The new Eastern Partnership Index, published yesterday, grabs the reader's attention immediately with a stunning cover image - the famous photograph with a EU flag, taken in Tbilisi during the 2023's standoff in front of the Parliament building. 

The content of the 200-page report reflects important - and often alarming - tendencies in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus - the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. 

Marking its 9th edition, the publication tracks the reform progress made in the fields of democracy, good governance, rule of law, policy convergence and sustainable development between September 2021 and November 2023. It shows how Russia’s war impacts reforms in the EaP countries, and the different levels of these countries' approximation of with the European Union.

"The pace at which Moldova, Ukraine as well as Georgia gained their EU candidate status has been breathtaking", - reads the Index. "Whilst this positive momentum should be celebrated, the results of the EaP Index indicate that a dose of realism is also needed."

For Georgia (ranked 3rd overall), the Index’ results sadly demonstrate "a significant downwards drift, if not a sharp plunge in many areas which reflects the country’s political polarisation".

Read more news from Caucasian Journal - and stay positive! 😊

Good News
As Caucasian Journal marks our 5th anniversary since launch, we thought that the best way to celebrate is to offer more news and information to our respected readers. 

That's why we have started Caucasian Journal GOOD NEWS, which, as we hope, is a useful addition to our main content. Here are some reasons why to follow our new newsfeed:
  • They save your time. The news are very brief, and well illustrated. In most cases you don't even need to read, as the images are self-explanatory;
  • They help to save your good mood. We do our best to emphasize the positive developments, arts, culture, and other fun sides of life;
  • We publish them on a daily basis!
The best way to read GOOD NEWS is in our social networks, such as our new WhatsApp channel and Telegram channel (please subscribe and share). After appearing in WhatsApp and Telegram, the GOOD NEWS show up in our Facebook and LinkedIn feeds, which you are also welcome to follow. And, if you prefer even shorter texts, you may subscribe to our X (former Twitter) or Instagram

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