Jeanne CAVELIER: "Georgia is moving further and further away from satisfactory press freedom, and therefore from democracy and EU path"

23.15.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Our guest today is Jeanne CAVELIER, head of Eastern Europe & Central Asia Desk at Reporters Without Borders (
Jeanne Cavelier
Photo: RSF/Manon Levet
Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Previously Ms. Cavelier worked for renowned French newspapers such as L’Opinion and Le Monde.

 ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Jeanne, welcome to the Caucasian Journal, thank you for attention to our readers. This year's Press Freedom Day was not a proud moment for Georgia. According to the fresh edition of your World Press Freedom Index, our press freedom has declined by 43 positions in three years: From the 60th position in 2021 to 103 this year. Your Index has been shedding light on press freedom since 2002. How precise is it in general, and how alarming is Georgia’s decline, compared to other countries?

Jeanne CAVELIER: Georgia is moving further and further away from a satisfactory press freedom environment, and therefore from democracy and its path of the EU. It is now ranked 103rd out of 180 countries, and changed categories in our last edition, moving from a “problematic” situation for press freedom to a “difficult” one. The trend is worrying: No other country in the region (Caucasus, Turkey and Russia) has fallen as much as Georgia in the ranking for 10 years. RSF Index relies on a solid methodology to compare diverse situations in 180 countries and covers all areas of press freedom. It is based on an analysis of 5 indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context and security. The lowest scores of Georgia are political and economic ones. It shows a growing authoritarianism. Press freedom is being threatened by the very people who should be its guarantors - the political authorities. That’s a worrying trend we observe worldwide this year. The low score of Georgia for the economic context is in particular due to a lack of ownership transparency and editorial independence of the media outlets. 

The trend is worrying: No other country in the region has fallen as much as Georgia in the ranking for 10 years.

Thomas HACKER, Bundestag: “Candidate status was granted to Georgian people, not to the government” (watch video or read)

Thomas Hacker
21.05.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Mr. Thomas HACKER, a Member of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament), gave an exclusive video interview to the Caucasian Journal.  He recently returned from a visit to Tbilisi with a German parliamentary delegation.

You may watch the video below or 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.

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


The text version of interview is below:

THOMAS HACKER: “CANDIDATE STATUS WAS GRANTED TO GEORGIAN PEOPLE, NOT TO THE GOVERNMENT”

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Mr. Hacker, welcome to the Caucasian Journal, thank you for attention to our readers. In the Bundestag you represent Bavaria, but it seems you have also a genuine interest in Georgia.  How did you become interested in our country?

Thomas HACKER: In the Bundestag, which I attend for almost seven years now, I'm member of Committee on European Affairs and I'm the spokesman of my parliamentary group. Therefore within my obligations are countries that are part of enlargement process.  Whenever I come to a country I try to not only to meet the politicians but also the civil society, young people especially. 

Georgia is an important country in a very difficult neighborhood.

In my first visit in Georgia I found a genuine interest, of younger people especially, in becoming member of European community. I also learned about Georgian life, food, wine with is long tradition, so I came back again and again to Georgia. And I hope that my recent trip will not be the last.  We are planning two more visits. Georgia is an important country in a very difficult neighborhood, and I fear that the pressure from Russia is very high on the government. But we - as Germany and the EU - have to show faith in Georgia.

Parliament told us that they could not  guarantee our safety within the Parliament building, so political talks could not take place.

AK: Can you comment on the results of your visit?

TH: Our delegation was one of the Committee on Culture and Media. For two years now we have a close connection to the Georgian Committee on Culture and Media. Of course we planned political talks as well, but as the demonstrations were every day,  the Parliament told us that they could not  guarantee our safety within the  Parliament building, so political talks could not take place. We had many contacts with people, NGOs and civil society. We also attended the Berliner Philharmoniker concert in Tsinandali. So it was also a visit of cultural cooperation, intended to deepen the relations between Georgia and Germany. But in result we could see with our own eyes what was going in the streets of Tbilisi. Though political talks could not take place, we tried to get our message right and tell what the German Bundestag was thinking of so-called “foreign agent law”.

Miloš MICHLOVSKÝ: “If Georgian winemakers want to be competitive in Europe they must diversify” (watch video or read)

16.05.2024 (Caucasian Journal). Our guest today is Dr. Miloš MICHLOVSKÝ - one of the leading Czech experts in the field of winemaking. He is currently visiting Georgia and kindly agreed to give us an interview.  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.

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


The text version of interview is below:

MILOŠ MICHLOVSKÝ: “IF GEORGIAN WINEMAKERS WANT TO BE COMPETITIVE IN EUROPE THEY MUST DIVERSIFY”

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Hello and welcome to Caucasian Journal video interviews! Today it is our pleasure to welcome Dr. Miloš MICHLOVSKÝ - one of the leading Czech experts in the field of winemaking. He is currently visiting Georgia and kindly agreed to give us an interview. We must also thank the Czech Embassy in Tbilisi for this opportunity and for the help in translation. Dr. Michlovský, welcome to Georgia. Is this your first visit to Georgia, and what brings you here?

Miloš MICHLOVSKÝ: I would like to greet by a Moravian greeting “Welcome in the vineyard!” It's not my first time in Georgia. My first visit was in 1970-s during my study and doctorate period. I used to come very often because I had a lot of friends here. In recent years we had bilateral cooperation projects between Czechia and Georgia, as we try to share our best experience regarding EU accession, and actually all the lessons learned.

I see there's a quite dynamic process in Georgia in relation to the EU accession; there have been many changes in legislation. Of course these processes are not easy to be implemented in reality, but they are necessary for the accession to EU.

Open letter from Chairman of ICC Georgia regarding "Foreign Agents Law"

01.05. 2024. Open letter from Fady ASLY, Chairman of the Georgian National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, regarding the "Foreign Agents Law," also known as the "Russian Law".

I am writing this letter to inform society at large of all the consequences that Georgia will be facing after the implementation of the “Russian Law” in the country.

It is a fact that the enactment of this law by the Georgian Government will trigger a series of adverse consequences that will profoundly impact the business environment, the economy, and the overall prosperity of Georgia, as outlined in the following points:

1. Stifling Civil Society and Democracy
  • Impact on Governance: Civil society organizations (CSOs) are crucial for a healthy democracy as they hold government accountable, advocate for transparency, and fight corruption, therefore constraining their operations will lead to less oversight and more corruption, deteriorating the quality of governance.
  • International Perception: Implementing such a law will be perceived as an authoritarian shift, which will destabilize the democratic progress and image of Georgia on the international stage.

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.

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


The text version of interview is below: 

MARTIN SKALSKÝ: “PEOPLE MUST BE ACTIVE AND DEMAND CHANGES”

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"
2024-04-14 
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 CaucasianJournal.org
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

J.Melikyan
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.