Ran BERGER: "The warm welcome in Georgia is not something we take for granted"

  How easy is it to work globally from South Caucasus? 
Focus on IT
  How big is Georgia's potential in hi tech?
Focus on IT is the Caucasian Journal's new interview series which we're starting today. We reach out to the top executives of IT companies which are based, present, or relocated in Georgia, to hear their first-hand comments and experiences. 
  Got something to say? Leave a comment or email us to become our next speaker!

Ran Berger
29.08.2023 (Caucasian Journal).  Georgia's revenues from IT services are booming and even seem to exceed the wine export revenues – the country’s traditional income resource. However, compared to many other countries, the progress of Georgia’s IT sector is still modest. What is needed to make Georgia more competitive and attractive to serious investors? What are the advantages and pitfalls of working globally from Georgia?

Caucasian Journal decided to learn directly from the decision-makers with hands-on experience in this country. Today we are grateful to Ran BERGER, co-founder and CEO at Flat Rock Technology (Great Britain) for answering our questions.    

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Ran, welcome to Caucasian Journal! You seem like a “classical” founder of a software company, which you have been developing during 15 years from a scratch to a strong 400+ employees team scattered over several countries. Can we start with a bit more information about yourself and your company?

Ran BERGER: Dear Alexander, thank you for the opportunity to share my experience and our Georgia journey with you and with the Caucasian Journal's readers. I started my career in IT as a young engineer in 1999 and I built my experience since then. My main journey was with large scale organizational systems such as ERP, CRM and BI [respectively: Enterprise resource planning, Customer relationship management, Business intelligence - CJ] which allowed me to understand how the main business functions and processes work, and how various systems can optimize them. During the early stages of my career I saw how the internet is changing our lives and businesses, allowing us to rapidly scale and integrate with other partners in the value chain. 

Ruben VARDANYAN: "When you are in blockade it is really important to be unified" (video)

23.08.2023 (
Caucasian Journal). Our today's interview is focusing on blockade of the Republic of Artsakh - an ongoing event in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which left 120,000 people in the region without access to food, medicine and critical supplies.
We are sharing the interview with Ruben VARDANYAN, the Armenian politician who served as the State Minister of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in 2022-2023, also known as a businessman and philanthropist. 

The region of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) is disputed between Azerbaijan and the breakaway Republic of Artsakh, which has a majority ethnic Armenian population and is supported by neighboring Armenia.  

The eight-month blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, started on 12 December 2022, has led to grave consequences as no supplies can come through. The first case of death from starvation was recorded in Artsakh earlier this month, according to the Office of the Human Rights Defender in the region. K. Hovhannisyan, a 40-year-old resident of Stepanakert, died as a result of chronic malnutrition and protein deficiency, states a report conducted by the human rights office.

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Music composers from Armenia and Georgia: An open opportunity for you!

21.08.2023 (Caucasian Journal). Can you write an opera? If yes, this is an opportunity for you. A project supported by European Union is calling for three composers to write three-act opera on environmental sustainability. The composers must be from countries participating in the Creative Europe programme, including Armenia and Georgia.

Each composer selected for this project called the Butterfly will receive a €11,000 gross fee, including performing rights (both in person and online streaming).

The deadline for applications is short! Apply before 17 September.

Tedo JAPARIDZE: "We, the Georgians, should be extremely rational, pragmatic and realistic!"

07.07.2023 (Caucasian Journal) Today we are especially honored to meet with H.E. Tedo JAPARIDZE – one of the most experienced Georgian diplomats, former National Security Adviser and the Secretary of National Security Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs. 

Mr. Japaridze also served as ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Canada and Mexico, and was secretary-general of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal. There are so many things to talk about, that I would rather leave it up to you what to pick from the today’s ample “menu”. Let’s perhaps start with your perception and state of mind: How would you summarize what you feel about the current moment – as a person, a citizen of your country? 

Tedo JAPARIDZE:  I am, indeed, very much grateful that you invited me to talk. Since the early 1990s  after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and whatever was left after that colossal disruption, we have been discussing tortuously our mutual perspectives as the collapse of the USSR was so traumatic for all of us - to this day, it continues to define not only Russia's identity and its  geopolitical imperatives but also of its immediate neighbors and far beyond, and naturally, of Georgia as well. Since that period, the entire world, including the post-Soviet space, has changed, turning from a no man’s land to something else, however, maybe still unclear to us. From a frightening stability of the “Cold War” up to the stages of “post-Soviet,” “post-modern,” “new normal,” “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” and many others, not well-defined and precise interpretations and rationale, especially of mental maps and landscapes, delusional ideas, predominantly, in tragic forms, and the brutal war in Ukraine reaffirms that distressing fact on the ground. 

Jonathan DJANOGLY MP: "The overall desires of our two countries are similar"

09.06.2023 (Caucasian Journal) The special guest of Caucasian Journal today is Mr. Jonathan DJANOGLY, Member of Parliament (MP) of the United Kingdom and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Georgia. 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Mr. Djanogly, welcome to Caucasian Journal, and many thanks for attention to our readers. You are the head of your Parliament’s Group on Georgia, and the Honorary Member of the British Georgian Society, received in recognition of “an outstanding role played in support of Anglo-Georgian relations”. May I start by asking how popular is Georgia among the British parliamentarians? What are the roots of your interest towards this region? 

Jonathan DJANOGLY MP: I joined the Georgia All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) around ten years ago after returning from a parliamentary delegation to Georgia. I was incredibly impressed with the beauty of the Georgian countryside, its history and the warmth of its people. I was even intrigued by the complexity of its politics.

Since that time, the interest in Georgia in the British Parliament has increased significantly, and we have over fifty members of the APPG representing both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

AK: I suppose there is a lot that the Members of Parliament can do to help in developing the relations with a foreign country. In case of Georgia, can you share some of the success stories of the parliamentarians’ involvement? Or, perhaps, some of the challenges that you or your colleagues helped to resolve?

Professor Dan HEALEY: "Oxford University is keenly interested in Georgian affairs"

01.06.2023 (Caucasian Journal) While the Britain’s Oxford University is hosting its second Georgia-Oxford Forum “Georgia In A Changing World” tomorrow on June 2, Caucasian Journal has interviewed Professor Dan HEALEY, Georgian Programme Coordinator at the Oxford University’s School of Global and Area Studies, author of many books on social and cultural history of Soviet Union and post-Soviet states. 

We are thankful to Professor Healey for taking time to answer our questions on the very eve of the Georgia-Oxford Forum

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Professor Healey, I guess your agenda must be especially busy these days due to the Forum, but that's also one of the reasons why your answers are especially topical. May I start by asking what the Oxford University’s Georgian Programme is about, and how popular is Georgia among the Oxford students?

Dan HEALEY: The Georgian Programme at Oxford University has grown organically over several years. We have a number of different initiatives. They are all housed in the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies – but we collaborate with many other branches of the University. So for example, we have 17 students currently learning the Georgian language, from absolute beginners (I am one of these students - მე ვწავლობ ქართულს) to accomplished literary translators. Our teacher of Georgian is Lia Chokoshvili, and she is amazing, inspiring, and extremely effective. Another part of the language work she does is literary translation and publication of Georgian literature in English. The highest-level students participate in a Translation Seminar run by Lia, and they produce quality translations of Georgian classic and modern literature into English. Right now they are working on Goderdzi Chokheli’s novel Human Sadness. It will be published in English by Dedalus Books, with support from the Georgian Writers’ House. And they’ve just published a bilingual edition of the fables of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani from his Book of Wisdom and Lies. Future work by the Translation Seminar is generously supported this year by the Ministry of Education of Georgia.

Fady ASLY: "I'm very sad, but this can change quickly" (video)

04.05.2023 (
Caucasian Journal Fady ASLY, Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia (ICC Georgia), gave an extensive video interview to Caucasian Journal. 
The interview was linked to the recent appointment of Mr. Asly as chairman of the ICC Regional Consultative Group. However, besides the ICC's news, the conversation with Mr. Asly covered a broad range of Georgia's economic and political issues - from FDI to corruption, and from the judiciary system to the country's EU accession perspective. Watch the video talk below.

To be the first to view all our exclusive video interviews, please subscribe here to our YouTube Channel.

A historic step: Azerbaijani and Armenian journalists agree on the “Language of Peace”

30.04.2023 (Caucasian Journal). For the first time in 35 years, the Azerbaijani and Armenian journalists gathered at the same table during a workshop in Tbilisi. In a joint statement the journalists agreed to put a ban on “hate speech”.  See full text below.

Workshop on Peace and the Role of the Media in the South Caucasus Banner
In addition to participants  from Azerbaijan and Armenia, the unique workshop was attended by journalists from Turkey and Georgia, as observers.

On 28-29 April 2023 Tbilisi hosted "GJC Workshop on Peace and the Role of the Media in the South Caucasus". The event was organized under the leadership of the Global Journalism Council (GJC/KGK), the Turkey's leading international non-governmental organization in the field of mass media.

Mehmet Ali Dim, KGK Chairman (Turkey) made the opening speech of the workshop, stating that the workshop proposal came first from Azerbaijan. He said: “We have worked on this subject for 3-4 months. It was very difficult, but we succeeded. I would like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who supported our efforts”. Mr. Dim stated that the determination of the peoples of the region for permanent peace has increased after the painful events experienced in the region during 35 years, especially after the second Karabakh war in 2020. "We met here today to talk about what we, journalists, can do to end a long and painful conflict. There is an urgent need for the language of peace in the media. I especially thank our colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia for their constructive behavior and I believe that at the end of this workshop, we will send a message of hope to the region and the world at a time when the world is experiencing great tensions.” 

Levan DOLIDZE: “Policy that divides public into foreign agents, patriots, and betrayers weakens the country”

Levan Dolidze
 (Caucasian Journal) Caucasian Journal continues our series of interviews with the leading Georgia’s political experts: Our speaker today is Mr. Levan DOLIDZE, the founder of the Georgian Center for Strategy and Development (GCSD). 

Along with many positions Mr. Dolidze held throughout his career, he was Georgia’s ambassador to NATO and the First Deputy Defense Minister of Georgia.

▶ ქართულად:  Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Welcome to the Caucasian Journal,  Mr. Dolidze.  For a start, may I ask you about the recent visit of the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to Georgia? How would you assess its political significance and purpose?

Levan DOLIDZE: First of all, thank you for your interest and this opportunity. The visit was significant both in terms of timing and the political messages voiced within it. Germany is among those Western European states whose leaders have always been more cautious in their statements about Georgia's prospects for joining the European Union. Today we see a notable shift in this regard. The statements made by the German Foreign Minister in Tbilisi are a proof of transition of the EU’s policy regarding the dynamics of the three EaP countries' integration, including Georgia. The minister's statement that Germany wants to see Georgia in the European Union shows the historical opportunity given to the country. 

The 8th of March in Tbilisi: The "Laws Story"

8th of March Tbilisi
10.03.2023 (Caucasian Journal) As a result of a violent two-day standoff in downtown Tbilisi, the Georgian ruling party has withdrawn two controversial draft laws “on foreign influence” targeting foreign-funded NGOs and mass media, one of which has already been passed on first reading.    

Today, Caucasian Journal publishes the opinions of some leaders of civil society organizations in Georgia, who were offered the following two questions asked by our journal:

Question 1 (Emotional):  How would you summarize your feeling - after these days of standoff and their result? 

Question 2 (Analytical):  Do you envisage any changes now on the strategic level, or does this "laws story" have a tactical importance only?

Tinatin KHIDASHELI, Chairperson of Civic IDEA (Civic Initiative for Democratic and Euro-Atlantic Choice), former Minister of Defence of Georgia, 
Caucasian Journal's Board Member:

(Question 1) To me, these days were important for a particular reason. The actions of the people during the crisis proved that their devotion to the European cause was clear and resolute. My most important conclusion from the events of the last couple of days is that regardless of all the problems, all the impediments on our way to state-building, when it comes to the most sacred ideals, and most important issues of the final destination of Georgia people absolutely clearly speak: Georgia belongs to Western civilization, and there is no room for Russian alliances. 

Nothing surprising about the government, we've seen it many times, and I believe you will see it again, but the important point is that people did not surrender. We have won the struggle, but the main fight is still ahead of us, the fight for the final victory over everything Russian and the semi-dictatorial ambitions of the shadow leadership of Georgia. 

 The actual goal behind the law is to marginalize civil society and all not aligned with them.