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"

interview
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"

interview
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.

First American ambassador to Georgia joins the board of Caucasian Journal

Honorable Kent N. Brown, the first American ambassador to Georgia, became a member of advisory board of Caucasian Journal (CJ).

“I would be honored to be a member of your advisory board”, – Ambassador Brown told the Caucasian Journal. Currently Mr. Brown is vice president and advisor on government relations at JTI, and member of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “Fascinating times, tough times”, – Ambassador Kent Brown said recalling his term as ambassador in Tbilisi in 1992-1995.

"Emerging Europe" launches call for applications for 2019 awards

Caucasian Journal is delighted to present our partner Emerging Europe journal, which is inviting South Caucasian participants to its Emerging Europe Awards 2019 edition. The official press release follows below.

CJ is proud to be a media partner of Emerging Europe Awards 2019 .

Following the successful launch of the Emerging Europe Awards in June 2018, Emerging Europe, a London-based business, media and research platform, whose mission is to contribute to the social and economic growth of 23 countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, is delighted to have launched applications for the 2019 edition.

Open Letter to Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze

Fady Asly, chairman of International Chamber of Commerce Georgia (ICC), sent an open letter to Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze. "ICC Georgia has never gone to such extremity before, but considering the exceptional aggression against local businesses and foreign investors, we cannot close our eyes anymore and witness other innocent businesses pressured and harassed again and again", - reads the open letter from the head of Georgia's largest business association.

Caucasian Journal is publishing the full text of Fady Asly's letter in English below. The full text in Georgian can be found in our Georgian language version.

US Department of State releases Azerbaijan 2018 Human Rights Report: Full text

The US Department of State released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. All the three countries of South Caucasian region are included in the Reports.

Caucasian Journal publishes the full texts of country reports on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. See the full text of country report on Azerbaijan below.

US Department of State releases Armenia 2018 Human Rights Report: Full text

The US Department of State released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. All the three countries of South Caucasian region are included in the Reports.

Caucasian Journal publishes the full texts of country reports on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. See the full text of country report on Armenia below.

US Department of State releases Georgia 2018 Human Rights Report: Full text

The US Department of State released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018.

On March 13, 2019 Secretary Mikel Pompeo delivered remarks introducing the release at the Department of State. All the three countries of South Caucasian region are included in the Reports.

Caucasian Journal publishes the full texts of country reports on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. See the full text of country report on Georgia below.

Join "Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders Network" workshop in Brussels (age under 35)

Join the The German Marshall Fund TILN 2019 workshop in Brussels this June! Applicants from both sides of the Atlantic are eligible while organizers  especially encourages candidates from Armenia and Georgia!

German Marshall Fund (GMF) runs an open selection for the Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders Network (TILN).  The TILN 2019 workshop will take place in Brussels, Belgium, June 23-29, 2019.  Applications received by March 20 will be considered for this class.

Jiří SCHNEIDER of Aspen Central Europe: "Value of Aspen programs is in connecting people who want to change society"

interview
05.03.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Our honoured guest today is Jiří SCHNEIDER, Executive Director of Aspen Institute Central Europe in Prague. 

Caucasian Journal:  First of all, thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions. Aspen Institute Central Europe became one of key partners of our project, and we greatly appreciate your support. We believe that organizations of Aspen Institute’s caliber might be very useful for civil society development in our countries. May I ask you to comment on the concept of Aspen Institute CE, and its overall effectiveness in your country and region?

Jiří Schneider: We decided to establish Aspen Institute in Central Europe as the ninth branch of the Aspen Institute in the world in order to bring its specific models of supporting value-based leadership and providing a non-partisan platform for responsible dialogue about society.

CJ: The world’s only statue of Václav Havel is situated in Georgia: The monument to the great Czech intellectual and first president was unveiled in Tbilisi in 2017. This is not a formal tribute - indeed major part of Georgians associate themselves firmly with the Western civilization. This is one of reasons why we believe Aspen’s ideas will bear fruit on our soil. How such a perspective is seen from Prague?

USAID Tbilisi Grants: Georgia Elections and Political Processes Support through Direct Awards to Georgia’s Civil Society

USAID/Georgia is requesting applications from Georgian civil society organizations (CSOs) in support of its new Elections and Political Processes project (2019-2023).  Proposed CSO activities will aim to improve how Georgian citizens and their diverse interests are represented and satisfied through the political system. USAID intends to provide approximately $4-$5 million in total USAID funding, subject to the availability of funds, to Georgian organizations through approximately 5-7 assistance awards with up to a 42-month period (3.5 years) of performance between 2019 and 2023. 

More information can be found in our interview with Peter Wiebler of USAID/Georgia.

Assistance awards will contribute to the following project sub-purposes:

Ambassador Zurab KATCHKATCHISHVILI: "Most urgent matter is to free the Judiciary from political pressure"

interview
27.02.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Ambassador Zurab KATCHKATCHISHVILI, Secretary General of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Georgia), has kindly agreed to give interview to Caucasian Journal.

Caucasian Journal:  International Chamber of Commerce is the key partner of  Caucasian Journal in Georgia. I take this opportunity to thank you for support, which vividly demonstrates that ICC is more than an ordinary business association. Since inception, ICC Georgia has been very attentive to the pace democratic reforms and civil society formation. I would like to start with a specific question. According to Economist’s 2018 Democracy Index, Georgia’s position dropped from 78th to 89th place. How justified is this estimation, in your view? If you agree with it, is this something that causes concern of ICC and the business community?

Ambassador Zurab KATCHKATCHISHVILI: In the first place, let me congratulate you with the kick-off of Caucasian Journal and express hope that it will successfully serve to faithfully depict and analyze the political and economic environment in Georgia and the whole region.

Rethink.CEE Fellowship — Call for Applications

A quarter of a century after it began, the democratic transformation of Central and Eastern Europe has ground to a halt. From within, the region is challenged by ruthless power politics, political polarization, weak institutions, beleaguered civil society and media, reform fatigue, and a return of traditional nationalism and phobias. Europe and the West broadly, once the desired endpoint of the region’s transformation, have lost their attractiveness; their current weakness opens a vacuum that is filled with powerful counter-narratives. Fanning these is Russia, which has reinserted itself into the entire region, which it once ruled and seems determined to control once again. The combined effect of these internal and external developments is that the entire Eastern half of Europe is at risk of reversing democracy, forfeiting prosperity achieved, and returning to the instability and insecurity that has wrecked this region for centuries. What is at stake, in short, is the grand vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace.

Call For Nominations: Young Leaders Program 2019

The flagship Leadership Program of the Aspen Institute Romania for the last 12 years, the fellowship based Young Leaders Program, has reached its 13th edition. The 2019 Young Leaders Program will bring increased regional and sectorial participation and create additional diversity and relevance for a growing Network of Aspen Fellows already covering 28 countries.

What is it about?

The Young Leaders Program gathers each year 20-25 high profile regional young leaders with a clear two-fold goal: to promote and advance progressive leadership within society; and to develop the regional network of Aspen Fellows, based on shared values and common interests.

Opportunity for U.S. media outlets: Free travel and professional development in Georgia or Ukraine

IREX is seeking U.S. broadcasters, print media, and digital media to partner with Georgian and Ukrainian stations by participating in the Georgian Media Partnership Program (GMPP) and Ukraine Media Partnership Program (UMPP).

IREX implements these initiatives with funding from the U.S. embassies in Tbilisi and Kiev.

GMPP and UMPP support partnerships between Georgian and American media outlets as well as Ukrainian and American media outlets through exchange trips that include individual on-site and online peer-sharing, consulting, coaching, mentoring, and job shadowing.

Introduction



Mission statement:

The Caucasian Journal’s goal is to create an effective and impartial forum for constructive dialogue on significant issues relevant to the South Caucasian region, where a broad range of opinions can be expressed and heard, and effective solutions can be worked out. Caucasian Journal (“CJ”) will be a combination of an online publication, and a nonpartisan public discussion platform. The journal project is seen as an effective way to assist in civil society development in the region of South Caucasus.

The organizers believe that a multilingual online project is the most effective and cost-efficient mechanism in terms of public engagement, putting special emphasis on delivery of messages to the target audiences, and interactivity.

What we offer to our readers and partners:

  • CJ aims to assist the civil society by publishing all relevant content – such as interviews, summaries of research findings and analytical papers, and promoting them to a wider audience. All organizations are welcome to submit relevant content for publication in Caucasian Journal
  • We are open to publishing materials in English, Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijani languages.
  • We are interested in publishing texts as well as video content.
  • We attach top importance to the impact of publications, and put an emphasis on interactivity - feedbacks, social networking, and wider public outreach. Most importantly, CJ aims to make its content available in all regional languages and across the borders of South Caucasian countries, strengthening cooperation and contacts between the three neigbouring states of the region.

Share CJ's logo or banner! More logos and banners are here.

Watch our 1-minute introduction: