Ambassador Gert ANTSU: ”We just cannot afford to lose interest in Eastern neighbors”

19.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal). In December 2021, the leaders of the EU and of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) met for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels. It was the first EaP summit in four years. EaP is a joint policy initiative launched in 2009 to strengthen relations between the EU and its six neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.  

To better understand the results of EaP Summit, Caucasian Journal asked Ambassador Gert ANTSU (Estonia), Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership, to comment on the future of EaP and relations between EU and South Caucasus states. This is the second interview of Gert Antsu to CJ; the first one can be found here.

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Read the Armenian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Many people across Europe and our region in particular have been looking forward to the EaP Summit. Now, we have seen the official statements as well as some experts’ opinions, but have been seeking for the insider’s comments – well-informed, neutral, and professional. Did you have any high (or low) expectations from the recent EaP Summit? Was there anything that surprised you, in other words was very different from what was expected?

Gert ANTSU: I would say that the expectations were moderately high – after all, there had been no summit for four years, and meeting up at the level of heads or state was already a positive political signal. Furthermore, there had been ample time to put together and discuss the future goals and set-up of Eastern Partnership – at least between the EU member states. Even if there was not to be a revolutionary change in the Partnership, the steady continuation of integration of the partner countries with the EU was a worthy aim, and I very much hoped that any possible squabbles over the wording of the joint declaration would not derail the real integration process. There were difficult negotiations between the EU member states and also between the EU and the partner countries, but I am happy that in the context of high geopolitical tensions it all ended well, we got an agreement on the joint declaration, and in 2022 we can start implementing the new directions of the policy.

AK:  Could you share your overall impression of the Brussels Summit? Is there anything you might add regarding the countries from Association Trio (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) in particular? 

Levan BOUADZE: "We always carried our little Georgia with us"

16.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Today we are pleased to meet with Mr. Levan BOUADZE  – a Georgian national serving as UNDP Resident Representative at Pacific Office in Fiji, responsible for UN development activities in a vast region consisting of 10 island nations.
With this interview, we continue  to cover various aspects of UNDP activities. Our first UNDP interview was with Resident Representative in Georgia (see here). 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Mr. Levan, welcome to Caucasian Journal, Happy New Year! According to Georgian tradition, you are our “mekvle” (tracklayer) – the first guest who steps in. You are one of the Georgians who managed to build a successful international career, living far away from your homeland. May I start with a philosophical question: What happens to a Georgian identity after so many years away – is it getting stronger or washes away? Do you still practice traditions such as “mekvle”, for example?

Levan BOUADZE: Thank you, Alexander, for the opportunity to talk to your journal. Thanks for New Year greetings and from my part I also wish you and your readers a great and, importantly, healthy 2022. Sorry, I would not be able to hand sweets and candies virtually, so not a typical mekvle really😄.

It is already 26 years that I have been away from my homeland. Whether this has changed my Georgian identity, not sure if I ever thought about it. Clearly, who I am is firmly rooted in the value system that my (very) Georgian parents instilled on me which, in itself, was nurtured by the culture and traditions I was growing up with. Being away and living and working in foreign countries, certainly enriched my experiences and expanded my horizons, but I do not think that took away who I am. Furthermore, being married to a Georgian wife and having three Georgian kids, we always carried our little Georgia with us wherever we went and kept all our traditions very much alive including that of mekvle.   

Caucasian Journal's Nordic and Baltic Interviews: Two Years of Success

06.01.2022 (Caucasian Journal). Happy New Year to all the readers of Caucasian Journal! 

Almost two years ago we started a program of interviews "BEST NORDIC AND BALTIC PRACTICE" (BNBP) with high-level practitioners from Western Europe who share their knowledge in areas relevant to our region. 

BNBP has proved to be very successful, and we are happy to tell this program will continue in 2022, bringing you more speakers, more expertise, and more new themes of importance. Those who are interested in BNBP interviews are welcome to review our presentation, which summarizes the first two stages of our project. And in addition, a regularly updated list of interviews is available here