General Ben HODGES: "I expect Ukraine will liberate Crimea by the end of this summer"

21.01.2023 (Caucasian Journal) Our special guest today is Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben HODGES, the former Commanding General of US Army Europe, now Senior Advisor to Human Rights First, a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization.  

Prior to joining Human Rights First, he held the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).  General Hodges serves as NATO Senior Mentor for Logistics, he consults for several companies on Europe, NATO, and the European Union, and he is co-author of the book Future War and the Defence of Europe, published by Oxford University Press.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Ben, it is a pleasure to greet you once again at Caucasian Journal.  A lot of changes have occurred in the world since your first interview for us back in 2020... Obviously, the situation in Ukraine and the related American policy are of central importance. How do you assess the current state of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine? If you consider it insufficient, what kind of arguments, in your view, might serve the best to convince the decision-makers to approve whatever is needed?

Lt. Gen. Ben HODGES: What’s happening in Ukraine is about much more than Ukraine. This is about defense of the international rules-based order from which most of the World has benefitted since the end of WWII... respect for sovereignty as enshrined in the UN Charter, respect for human rights, accountability for war crimes, and respect for international law.   It’s also about deterring China... The CCP [The Chinese Communist Party - CJ] needs to see that the West is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect liberal democratic values and our strategic interests.

Oliver MÜSER: "Humor is a promising approach to countering polarization"

03.01.2023 (Caucasian Journal) Happy New Year, and welcome to our holiday special interview! We hope you enjoy the comedy video (below) and the conversation with  Oliver MÜSER, Berlin-based political scientist and creator of the famous Dolma Diaries comedy series. 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Oliver, happy holidays and welcome to Caucasian Journal.  We decided to devote the special New Year’s interview edition to your comedy series – the Dolma Diaries. If someone has not seen the first episode about the Armenian-Azerbaijani-Georgian trio – just click on the video below and have fun. But the central question is – when shall we see the next episodes? What is needed to continue the series? 

Oliver MÜSER: Thank you very much for having me on this special edition! First of all let me say that me and the whole team behind the production are very happy that so many people enjoyed the pilot episode and are constantly asking about more episodes. I wish there was a clear answer to your question, but the boring truth is that it all depends on funding. We officially submitted the proposal for continuation to one donor organization so far and we are in talks with a few more, but I cannot say for sure if it will work out. I really hope we can go forward because we are extremely motivated to show more than just this first small glimpse of the story.

Monsignor José Avelino BETTENCOURT: "We share two millennia of friendship"

26.11.2022 (Caucasian Journal) It is a special honour today for Caucasian Journal to welcome His Excellency the Most Reverend Monsignor José Avelino BETTENCOURT, the Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador of Vatican) to Armenia and Georgia. 

▶ ქართულად:  Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal, and thank you for this opportunity. You have been working in Tbilisi for quite some time already, and your Embassy covers both Armenia and Georgia. In addition, you are the doyen of diplomatic corps in Georgia. This sounds like a huge amount of responsibilities. My first question is what’s your overall feeling about your work now? Do you have to travel much across the Caucasus, and what’s your impression about our part of the world?

José A. BETTENCOURT:  Thank you for your invitation to this interview.  I came to the South Caucasus in the footsteps of my predecessors with the hope to build upon the good that has been traced out as well as meet today’s realities.

The Holy See was among the first states to recognize the independence of each of the South Caucasus states and to establish diplomatic relations.  This year we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations. The Holy See was also the tenth state to open a diplomatic mission in Tbilisi.  I like to keep the perspective that we share two millennia of friendship. 

Dr. Ghassan KHALIL: "Government, private sector and civil society should join efforts to prioritize children"

14.11.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Our today’s guest is Dr. Ghassan KHALIL, the Representative of UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) in Georgia.

▶ ქართულად:
  Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Dr. Khalil, welcome to Caucasian Journal. You were appointed UNICEF Representative in Georgia in autumn 2018, so it’s exactly four years that you have been working in this country, correct? Let me start with a straightforward question – has the situation in Georgia improved during recent years in the areas that are monitored by UNICEF?

Ghassan KHALIL:  Thank you very much, Mr. Kaffka, for giving me the opportunity of talking about UNICEF’s interventions in Georgia. The four years have been extremely interesting and very challenging especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. I can proudly say that the UNICEF team has contributed a lot during these four years and since the establishment of the UNICEF Office in Georgia in 1993. But worth mentioning is the expansion that UNICEF team implemented in the last couple of years, thematically and geographically in various regions and areas of Georgia. 

AK:  With a doctorate diploma from Sorbonne, and many years in protection of child rights, I believe you are one of top professionals in your field working in this country today. Can you tell little bit about yourself, and how did you get to Georgia?

Study in Sweden: Fully funded scholarship for South Caucasus applicants

27.10.2022 (Caucasian Journal). The call for applications for the Swedish Institute Scholarship for Global Professionals  is open to citizens from 41 eligible countries including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

The SI Scholarship for Global Professionals aims to develop future global leaders that will contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to sustainable development. The applicants should have a clear idea of how their education will contribute to the sustainable development of their home countries and regions. In 2023 the Swedish Institute will grant about 350 scholarships for master’s degree studies in Sweden.

The scholarship is intended for full-time, one- or two-year master’s programme, and is funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Swedish Institute open the call for applications once every year for master’s studies beginning in the autumn semester. 

All expenses of the scholarship including tuition fees, tickets, stipend, medical insurance will be covered by the Swedish Government. The complete details and application requirements for the SI Scholarships 2023 are available at official site

Vladimer SVANADZE: "Protection of critical infrastructure suffers from severe shortage of skilled specialists"

10.10.2022 (Caucasian Journal) What is cybersecurity and how can it affect your life and work? Many people are aware about challenges of cybersecurity, but many others don’t care until getting into a serious trouble. What’s the situation in Georgia in the field of cybersecurity and internet governance? Are we well protected as individuals? What are the threats to business, and is there a connection to military security? 

This October is European Cybersecurity Month, so we thought it’s a good moment to discuss this theme with a top professional and are grateful to Vladimer SVANADZE for the interview. 

Vladimer Svanadze is Chairman of the Board at Internet Development Initiative (IDI). Being a leading Georgia’s expert in cyber security, he is Managing Partner of Cyber Security Academy (CSA) and Georgian Information Security Association (GISA). He was a chief advisor of Ministry of Defense of Georgia on cyber security, and participated in preparation of the National Cybersecurity Strategies and Action Plans of Georgia. He is the Chairperson of the “Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity Committee” at the ICC Georgia. 

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Lado, welcome to Caucasian Journal! I guess you know there are still people who don’t care about cybersecurity – believe it or not. Why don’t we start by saying a few words to such individuals? Can you make them instantly alert and aware? Maybe there are examples that you can use as illustrations for our readers, most of whom are simple users, not experts in IT.

Vladimer SVANADZE: Thank you very much for the invitation. The fact that many people do not understand cyber security and its importance is natural, and a common computer user, so-called “end user” does not need to understand this field at a professional level. It is necessary for the user of internet services to know and follow the minor rules, even the requirements related to the correct operation of the internet, as end-users have to master the basic cyber hygiene skills, which help them to be as safe as possible in cyberspace. Protected as much as possible, and not 100% protected, because 100% protection is impossible, and no one can guarantee it. 

Video: Watch our international "Nordic Talk" on waste management

29.09.2022 (Caucasian Journal). The first Nordic Talk involving Sweden and Norway as well as Armenia and Georgia took place on September 2. Hosted by Caucasian Journal in Tbilisi, the Nordic Talk focused on ways for improving the Nordic assistance programs in Armenia and Georgia, looking in particular at the case of the waste management sector. It also focused on grassroots initiatives in this area and what governments could learn from civil society.

Today we are pleased to present the video summaries of our  international discussion - now available in original (English), as well as with subtitles in Armenian and Georgian. 

▶ Հայերեն: Video subtitled in Armenian is here.

▶ ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here.

What is a Nordic Talk? It is a series of live talks and podcasts addressing the biggest global challenges, organized internationally with support of the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

This session of the Nordic Talks discussed how to benefit from the experience of Nordic partners in engaging civil society partners to improve public policy outcomes in the waste sector. Both Georgia and Armenia have cooperated with Nordic countries, including in the field of waste governance. We have invited experts from all 4 countries as well as leaders if many environmental NGOs, which have programs related to waste management. It is not very common for waste management experts from neighboring Georgia and Armenia to join in discussing the problems of region, while participation of Norwegian and Swedish experts has made the event even more unique. A special angle of discussion was feedback from environmental NGOs.

Tinatin BREGVADZE: "We have to diligently work to build the political culture in this country"

27.09.2022 (Caucasian Journal) We continue with the interviews with Georgia's leading political experts, heads of think-tanks, and other non-governmental organizations. 

Our today’s guest is Tinatin BREGVADZE, Chair of the Board of Georgian Center for Strategy and Development (GCSD). 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Tinatin, you are very welcome to Caucasian Journal! May I start by asking you to briefly introduce the Georgian Center for Strategy and Development? How did you get into working there? 

Tinatin BREGVADZE: GCSD is a non-partisan and neutral organization. Our goals are to support Georgia’s national security, strengthening the principles of effective and democratic governance of the country, supporting its European and Euro-Atlantic integration and creating the conditions for Georgia’s sustainable development. We are not a watchdog organization and based on the goals, our activities include: research, policy analysis, consulting and development. 

Caucasian Journal to host the Nordic Talk on waste management

31.08.2022 (Caucasian Journal). If you agree that waste management problems are quite important for South Caucasian region, you are cordially invited to attend our Nordic Talk on September 2 (in Zoom format). See details below.

Our discussion is entitled "How to maximize the impact of the Nordic experience in waste management? Case of Nordic cooperation with Georgia and Armenia”.

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.  

We are proud that our new Nordic Talk will be the first one to involve two countries if our region - Armenia and Georgia. Caucasian Journal's partner in Armenia is  American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment. The first Georgian-Norwegian Nordic Talk, organized by Caucasian Journal,  took place a year ago. It was focusing on clean energy education (link).

The agenda and speakers are as follows: UPDATE: Video is already viewable - click here.

How to maximize the impact of the Nordic experience in waste management? Case of Nordic cooperation with Armenia and Georgia

Vision 2032: The South Caucasus in 10 years

06.08.2022 (Caucasian Journal) What is "Vision 2032"? Recently Caucasian Journal decided to contact some top leaders of civil society and business to ask about their vision of our region in a 10 years perspective, and what can be done to ensure the future would be brighter🙂
The answers that we are receiving are "Vision 2032". You are welcome to share your own vision, and to read what other decision-makers think.
To answer our 3 simple questions, just download them from here, and send to CJ by email or via our social channels. You may also add your answers below as comments. 
Our questions:
- My country could be a real paradise on Earth, if…
- What must be done – and what I can do…
- Shall we still need borders between our 3 countries in 2032, or shall we follow the EU’s model?

Zaza Bibilashvili, Founder, the Ilia Chavchavadze Center for European Studies and Civic Education, Founding partner, BGI Legal:

1. My country could be a real paradise on Earth, if…
…if Georgians had a better historical memory, making the nation more resilient when facing recurring external threats and leading to more rational daily and political decisions by the citizenry.
…if Georgians could manage to unite for common cause and rid our country of toxic Russian interference in our public life, designed to fuel polarization, flare anti-Western sentiments and shake the public’s trust in the future of this country.