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.

ქართულად: 
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.

Senator Rob PORTMAN on NATO membership for Georgia: "It is time to fulfill promise made in 2008"

U.S. Senator Rob PORTMAN: 
I strongly support full NATO membership for Georgia... and it is time to fulfill the promise made in the 2008 Bucharest Agreement

23.06.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Caucasian Journal has asked U.S. Senator Rob PORTMAN to share his comments on the recent visit of American Congressional Delegation to Georgia. The Senator's press secretary provided the following statement by Rob Portman:

"I strongly support full NATO membership for Georgia – their commitment to free and democratic values are in line with NATO’s and it is time to fulfill the promise made in the 2008 Bucharest Agreement.”

The NATO's "promise made  in the 2008 Bucharest Agreement", to which Senator Portman was referring, is the decision adopted at NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania. 

It reads: "NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.  We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO... Therefore we will now begin a period of intensive engagement with both at a high political level to address the questions still outstanding pertaining to their MAP [Membership Action Plan] applications" (Bucharest Summit Declaration issued by the heads of state and government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Bucharest on 3 April 2008, paragraph 23)

Ambassador Helene SAND ANDRESEN: “No doubt that Georgia is part of the European family”

18.06.2021 (Caucasian Journal). We are honoured to interview Her Excellency Helene SAND ANDRESEN, Ambassador of Norway to Georgia and Ambassador-Designate of Norway to Armenia.

ქართულად: 
Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal, I wish to thank you for attention to our readers. Let me start with something basic. You are the first head of the first Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tbilisi. Before you arrived here, Norway did not have an embassy in this country. How does it feel to find oneself in such a situation, when you did not have even an embassy building and had literally to create everything from scratch?

Helene SAND ANDRESEN: To be in such a situation is a wonderful challenge – sometimes a little daunting. The opportunity to create a new embassy from scratch is rare, so it is an honour to be entrusted with such a task.  Building a whole new team is a great privilege. Setting up a new mission, you need vision, drive, and not least flexibility and a good dose of patience. It’s a great learning process. Perhaps the hardest thing has been striking the right balance between practical tasks and administrative issues on the one hand, and building our network on the other. It’s tempting to meet as many people as possible and make the right contacts, but at times, administration and logistics have had to take priority. And of course, we have had a lot of support along the way from Oslo, as well as from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, for which I am most grateful.  

Video: Afton Halloran, Elene Shatberashvili, Dmitry Kostarov discuss sustainable food systems transition

27.05.2021 (Caucasian Journal). Today at Caucasian Journal we are talking about sustainable food systems: The Nordic experience and its applicability for Georgia. Our guests are Dr. Afton HALLORAN, a Denmark-based expert in sustainable food systems transition, Elene SHATBERASHVILI from Elkana Biological Farming Association, and Dr.  Dmitry KOSTAROV, head of agricultural television channel Saperavi TV and independent winemaker. 

The interview is available in video format with Georgian subtitles, and as text. 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.