Crisis in Georgia: Comments from diplomats and experts

Was the recent crisis in Georgia a surprise to you, or did you expect such developments sooner or later? How do you assess the reactions of Russia, the Georgian government, and the opposition? What are the expected broader international consequences? 

03.07.2019. Today the foreign diplomats and experts are answering these questions for the readers of Caucasian Journal.

Lukas BEGLINGER, former Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia:  

While the concrete events triggering the crisis were rather unexpected, the underlying political problems and issues have existed for many years, without being adequately addressed. In the Georgian context, it is not surprising that at some point, people - including „ordinary“ citizens - start to vent their irritation and frustration about major political problems remaining unresolved, even more so as economic and social conditions remain difficult as well.

"Gavrilov's Effect": Consequences of Russia's sanctions on Georgian economy to be discussed

What are the real consequences of Russia's sanctions on Georgian economy? Is the effect really as catastrophic, as some politicians say? 

Caucasian Journal opens an interactive discussion on "Gavrilov's Effect", and welcomes real-time comments from all competent professionals - preferably with facts and figures at hand. 

Georgia's ISET Policy Institute has recently released a chart "Gavrilov's Effect on Economy", which Caucasian Journal is using here with the authors' permission. We hope this chart will trigger a discussion with important feedback from representatives of various industry sectors.

Statement of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia regarding the recent developments in the country

The International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia condemns the arbitrary decision of the Russian Federation to stop direct flights from Russia to Georgia, as well as its decision to prohibit specific brands of Georgian wine from being imported into the Russian Federation.

Although those arbitrary sanctions will have a limited impact on our economy, they will still affect many businesses that depend exclusively on Russian tourists or on the Russian market.

Akaki MAMALADZE on production of first electric cars in Caucasus: "Our childhood dreams come true"

Georgia’s capital is suffering from environmental and traffic problems. High tech and business can help, but need investments and government support. AiGroup aims to produce Georgia’s first electric cars for its own car-sharing system, based on its own network of charging stations. Is this revolutionary concept too good to be true? 

14.06.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Caucasian Journal talks with Akaki MAMALADZE, director of AiProduction.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal:  When I was a schoolboy, we were sure that in 21st century a gasoline engine would be completely forgotten, and people would use electric vehicles to drive and even fly around. So, we are well into new millennium and still massively use the same petrol car as invented in 19th century. Do you feel you are putting to life a dream cherished by several generations?

Akaki MAMALADZE: Yes, I guess it is right time to desire that our childhood dreams come true. Nowadays electric vehicles (EV) have advanced well, and the global tendency brings more and more EV models to global market. There is a growing competition in car industry, as all prominent companies are making huge investments in research and development aiming at innovative solutions for the customers of electric vehicles. So we think it is right time to act, and take our part in this development process.

The new European institutions should be more vocal in EaP region

If the EU wants to remain a credible actor in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine it must re-commit to the support of the democratic development of these countries, says Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

13.06.2019 (Press Release) With the new European Parliament settling in and the discussions on the new Commission following suit, the EU’s management of its foreign relations and its financing – will be affected by internal changes. If the EU wants to remain a credible actor in the countries covered by the EU’s Eastern Partnership Policy – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – it must re-commit to the support of the democratic development of these countries, says Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF). 

10 years anniversary of the Eastern Partnership: Interview with Dirk WIESE

03.06.2019. Almost exactly ten years after the establishment of the Eastern Partnership, Dirk WIESE, Member of German Bundestag (parliament) and German government's Coordinator for Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership countries, visited Georgia from 13 to 15 May 2019. He participated in the South Caucasus Security Forum, one of most important foreign and security policy conferences in the key strategic region of the South Caucasus. Speaking to Caucasus Watch, Dirk WIESE gave a detailed account of his impressions from his visit to Georgia and the current situation and prospects of the Eastern Partnership in the South Caucasus in general.

Are there any ideas for new initiatives regarding Georgia's EU and NATO integration, which you discussed during your visit with Georgian officials?

The Euro-Atlantic orientation and ambition of Georgia have been clearly portrayed by all of my interlocutors. At the same time, they expressed their understanding that there is currently no concrete prospect of accession to NATO or the EU for Georgia.

Nicolas ILJINE: "It is far more exciting to discover new art in the Caucasus"

What’s the place of Georgia – and South Caucasus in general – in the world of contemporary art? How successful is Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF), Georgia's first contemporary art marketplace?

14.05.2019 (Caucasian Journal). For the most competent answers, Caucasian Journal contacted Nicolas ILJINE – internationally renowned art consultant, curator, TAF's Board member.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal:  Dear Nic, thank you for attention to the readers of Caucasian Journal. On May 17 TAF is scheduled to open its doors for the second time. A year has passed since the first ever contemporary art fair took place in Georgia, brought here thanks to the initiative and energy of its founder Kaha Gvelesiani. How successful is the TAF project so far, in your view? 

Nicolas ILJINE: In its first year, any fair is an experiment. In 2018 there were 8.500 visitors, 33 galleries, 45 artist spaces, 5 shops with books and multiples, 990 artworks exhibited in a price range of 250 to 30.000 USD, 22 media representatives and 37 international art professionals.

Fady ASLY of ICC Georgia: "Georgia has lost attractiveness for foreign investors"

Is the business climate now getting any better? Do investors get adequate protection?  Is it a good time to start business in Georgia? 

17.04.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Our today’s guest is Fady ASLY, Chairman of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Georgia). Since its launch in 2002, ICC has been not only a top executives’ club, but often a shelter for mistreated businesspeople, where they could find an efficient support. 

Caucasian Journal’s readers are the first to hear Mr. Asly’s answers.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal:  Dear Fady, first of all, thank you for support to Caucasian Journal and attention to our growing readership. Though you are not Georgian, you are widely popular in this country. Many people know you as a leader of business associations, an entrepreneur, and even an original writer. But let us imagine you are facing an unfamiliar audience. How would you explain why you care so much about Georgia? 

Fady ASLY: When I woke up early in the morning of April 28, 1998, hours after my first ever arrival to Georgia, I opened the balcony door of my hotel room and was taken aback by the beauty of the landscape, Mtatsminda’s amazing green hill with its small red-roofed mushroom houses under a clear and bright blue sky.

Laura THORNTON of NDI Georgia: "Georgians cited domestic violence as top problem, followed by early marriages, and sexual harassment"

Are women and men treated equally in today’s Georgia? Are women represented proportionally in government and legislature? Is the society prepared to freely discuss all the gender-related issues?  

10.04.2019 (Caucasian Journal)  As Caucasian Journal continues to cover the current stage of civil society development in the Caucasus, we have prepared this kind of questions for our today’s guest Laura THORNTON, Global Associate/Senior Director at National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Georgia.  (Read the Georgian translation here).

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Laura, it is a pleasure to have you with us on this beautiful springtime day, just a short while after celebration of more than one Georgian holiday related to women and women’s rights. Flowers, gifts, postcards have been all around. May I start by asking about your attitude to the traditional way such holidays are celebrated, and to the idea of women’s and mother’s days in general?

Laura THORNTON: Absolute pleasure to be here. Well, I certainly do like flowers, and I am not one to say that there is anything fundamentally wrong with getting the public to focus one day a year on the often rather dire situation many of the world’s women find themselves, or to celebrate mothers. Do I wish that we could have this conversation and focus 365 days a year? Absolutely.

Peter WIEBLER of USAID Georgia: "Georgian organizations can and will cope with challenges"

28.03.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Today, Caucasian Journal’s special guest is Peter A. WIEBLER, Mission Director of USAID Georgia, who kindly agreed to answer our questions. (Read the Georgian translation here).

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: We highly appreciate your attention towards our journal’s readership. Caucasian Journal is a new project, which emerged in the aftermath of regional political developments of critical importance, such as presidential elections in Georgia and change of leadership in neighboring Armenia. In fact, when we read your Elections and Political Processes project description (read more here), we were pleased to find paragraphs almost identical to our mission statement. But let me start with a cautious question. USAID planning to spend $4-5 million in direct awards to Georgian civil society organizations sounds like an important piece of news, but we have found very little media coverage on it, so far. Perhaps USAID is not interested in wider dissemination of such information as a matter of policy?

Peter A. WIEBLER: First, congratulations on your new project! We wish you the best of luck in this endeavor. I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to speak with you today.