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. 

Ambassador Hubert KNIRSCH: "Georgians are a brilliant color on the European palette"

02.08.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Our guest today is His Excellency Hubert KNIRSCH, the Ambassador of Germany to Georgia.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Your Excellency, welcome to Caucasian Journal.  We know that your diplomatic service term in Georgia is about to finish, but sometimes the journalists believe such moments are even better for an interview. Your time in Georgia coincided with some turbulent developments both in Georgia and internationally. From a personal standpoint, have you enjoyed working in the middle of such turbulence, or would you prefer a stable and more predictable diplomatic routine?

Hubert KNIRSCH: My work here was based on the old and strong friendship that exists between Georgia and Germany. Friendship is not only for celebrating success together, but for helping each other in overcoming difficult times and reaching high objectives. I do not mind when life become intense, but I would have wished to see a greater sense of responsibility in the political and the media elites, more focus on the issues instead of the daily quarrels.

AK:  The ambassador’s work has many dimensions; how did you set your own priorities?  How do you evaluate the overall efficiency of your work in Georgia generally, and along separate dimensions such as political, economic, cultural? My apology if this requires a somewhat lengthy answer. 

Swarovski Foundation's grants program welcomes applications from creatives in art, design, engineering

16.07.2022 (Caucasian Journal). The Swarovski Foundation announced it is accepting applications to its Creatives for Our Future program from young people worldwide (aged 21–30) working in disciplines such as fashion, design, art, architecture, technology, and engineering – with no limit to creative medium.⠀

 Հայերեն:  This content is also available in Armenian here.

Creatives for Our Future is a global mentorship and grant program designed with advisor the United Nations Office for Partnerships to identify and accelerate the next generation of creative leaders in sustainability. Successful applicants should have a keen interest in, demonstration of, or exemplary potential to use the creative process to accelerate awareness, technologies or solutions for sustainable development.

The Swarovski Foundation welcomes applications from people of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, nationalities, religions and beliefs.

To submit application, you need to be between the ages of 21 – 30 at the time of the time of application and before the deadline for applications. Link for application submission is here

Pegor PAPAZIAN: "Our super goal is to invent the future of learning"

07.07.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Our guest is Pegor PAPAZIAN, Chief Development Officer, TUMO Center for Creative Technologies (Armenia). TUMO is an international network of schools for teenagers (12-18 years) that offer free education in IT, technology, and design, founded in 2011 in Yerevan. While major part of centers are located in Armenia, TUMO has opened its schools in many countries.
The TUMO's menu of courses sounds tempting for nearly every world's teenager: Animation, Game Development, Filmmaking, Web Development, Music, Writing, Drawing, Graphic Design, 3D Modeling, Programming, Robotics, Motion Graphics, Photography, New Media... Is it all available for free? Which countries are lucky to have TUMO centers already, and which are on the waiting list?

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal:  Dear Pegor, welcome to Caucasian Journal! You are one of the founders and leaders of TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, which is now becoming a truly global educational project originating from Armenia. For Caucasian Journal, TUMO is a “must cover”, because it’s symbolizing all our priorities in one bottle: It’s innovative, it’s about free access to education, it’s created in the South Caucasus, and it spreads internationally raising the global awareness of this region. Though our readers already know about TUMO from the recent interview with Rev Labaredian, it won’t hurt to talk once again about the basics of your project. What was at the root of TUMO, and how did you get involved in it? How did it all happen?

Pegor PAPAZIAN:  TUMO is a program initially developed by our founding benefactors Sam and Sylva Simonian, my wife Marie Lou and myself. Marie Lou and I had just moved to Armenia with our five children who went into the local education systems at various grade levels, and the TUMO program was conceived as a complement to that education system, largely inherited from the Soviet Union, that was missing, at the time, many important pedagogical foundations. The education system was too focused on identifying and developing a small intellectual elite, often chosen arbitrarily, at the expense of the huge potential of the majority of school children. Over time, we realized that what we had created essentially as an “antidote” to that ineffective system of education was actually in high demand not just in Armenia, but across the world.

International art life in Georgia: Russian Alexander FLORENSKY curates Ukrainian Anastasiia PTASHYTS at Tbilisi's Licht Gallery founded by Israeli-Swiss couple

28.06.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Today Caucasian Journal has very special guests representing the Tbilisi’s cosmopolitan art scene:  The Ukrainian artist Anastasiia PTASHYTS, hosted in Georgia under a residency program of Tbilisi’s Licht Gallery, the Israeli-Swiss co-founders of the gallery Daniel  LICHT and Rita GELIN LICHT,  and the Russian artist and art curator Alexander FLORENSKY. 
Seems like quite an interesting combination of nations, but not unusual for Tbilisi, which has for centuries been a very international city.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: My first question is to Anastasiia Ptashyts.  You have been working in Georgia for a month, away from Ukraine - what is your state of mind now? Which color (or image) is it, if I may ask?

Anastasiia PTASHYTS: My state is rather uncertain. Life seemed to be divided into two parts:  My family stayed in Ukraine, so a part of me lives there, and the other part is somewhere else, trying to find my place and work. I think often about what is my part and help to the victory of Ukraine. And I understand that my life, active position, and the fact that I can make an effort on myself and continue to work is the right thing for our victory.

Ekaterine METREVELI: "The war that Ukraine is fighting is our war as well"

25.06.2022 (Caucasian Journal) Today we are honored to meet with Dr. Ekaterine METREVELI, President of Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation), and Honorary Consul of Finland in Georgia.
The Georgia's European perspective and the bilateral relations of Georgia with its main partners and neighbors are all in the focus of this comprehensive interview. We also talk about the role of think-tanks in the formation of the country's international agenda.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Ekaterine, welcome to Caucasian Journal. Thank you for attention to our readers. Many of them are professionals in international relations, and would be especially interested in this interview. There are quite many foreign policy questions on today’s agenda, but let me start by asking to briefly introduce your Foundation, and how did you get involved in it?

Ekaterine METREVELI: Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies is a Tbilisi-based foreign policy think tank, established back in 2001. We aim to improve decision-making practices, contribute to better national security policies, promote European and Euro-Atlantic integration and enhance regional cooperation. I joined the Foundation in 2002, after returning from the US, where I was a Muskie fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. I met Dr. Alexander Rondeli and Temur Yakobashvili, co-founders of the GFSIS, accidentally at one of the receptions and they have invited me to visit their office at Niko Nikoladze 7. I went on the second day and stayed for now already 20 years. Our office at that time was a small, three-room apartment where we’ve started one of GFSIS flagship programs in National Security in cooperation with the Rand Corporation supported by the US State Department. It was a very warm, friendly, family type atmosphere, which we hope to have maintained until today, with a steady growth of the foundation. What we are really proud of is that GFSIS houses people with different political views and this does not prevent us to coexist and contribute to the common goal that is Georgian state anchored in European and Euro-Atlantic space.

Rev LEBAREDIAN: "Armenia is a startup country"

21.05.2022 (
Caucasian Journal) NVIDIA, one of the world leaders in computing technologies, recently announced that it established a research center in Armenia, creating potentially hundreds of jobs for local IT specialists. Can IT and tech innovation sphere become a locomotive for the Armenian economy in the future? 
Caucasian Journal interviewed Rev LEBAREDIAN, who is behind NVIDIA's coming to Armenia.  Mr. Lebaredian is not only Vice President, Omniverse & Simulation Technology at NVIDIA, but also Advisory Board Member at Armenia's Center for Creative Technologies (TUMO). That's why a large part of our talk was devoted to TUMO - a unique free education program for teenagers  specializing in technology, IT, and AI. Watch the video talk below.

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

Siim SIKKUT: "More e-Residents are joining than our babies are born in the country" (read or watch video)

11.05.2022 (Caucasian Journal). Our guest is Siim SIKKUT, co-founder of the famous Estonian e-Residency program and the former Chief Information Officer of Estonian government. He is considered one of the pioneers of “e-Estonia” – one of the most advanced digital nations. You may view the video discussion below, and read the text version - further below.  This interview is also available in Georgian and Armenian versions:

 ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here. Georgian text version is here.
 Հայերեն: Video subtitled in Armenian is here. Armenian text is here.

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

The text version of interview is below: 

Siim SIKKUT: "More e-Residents are joining than our babies are born in the country"

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Hello and welcome to Caucasian Journal video interviews! Our guest today is Siim SIKKUT, co-founder of the famous Estonian e-Residency program and the former Chief Information Officer of Estonian government. He is considered one of the pioneers of “e-Estonia” – one of the most advanced digital nations.

In Memoriam of Zurab Katchkatchishvili

18.04.2022 (Caucasian Journal). With a great and sincere sorrow we have to report the death of Ambassador Zurab KATCHKATCHISHVILI, Caucasian Journal's  Board member and our good friend, who passed away on April 17. 

Zurab Katchkatchishvili was not only a highly educated diplomat and a man of sophisticated culture. We will remember him as one of the rare representatives of the true Georgian intelligentsia. His delicate and friendly attitude, his tact, readiness to help in all situations, cheerfulness and unique sense of humour made him a role model for many. 

Ambassador Katchkatchishvili's support to Caucasian Journal played a key role from the very inception of our project back in 2019. He was one of the first who joined the Advisory Board of  CJ, and one of the first who gave an interview to our young and unknown media resource shortly after our launch (see here). We will always remember his contribution, which helped us immensely.

We express our sincere condolences to Zurab's wife, Nigar, and to all his family.

This is a truly irreplaceable loss. 

Tarmo JÜRISTO, founder of SALK: “Estonia is a lottery winner” (video)

14.04.2022 (Caucasian Journal).We are glad to introduce our today's guest Tarmo JÜRISTO, Estonian civil society activist and opinion leader, founder of the new civic platform SALK, former CEO of think-tank "Praxis". You may view the video discussion below.  This video interview is also available in Georgian and Armenian versions: 

▶ ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Video subtitled in Armenian is here.

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

Piret HIRV: "My everyday task is to create new opportunities for innovations in health and care sector"

21.03.2022 (Caucasian Journal). Health and technology are in the focus of our today’s talk, as they are still very much on the minds of many people across the globe. This is one of inevitable after-effects of the pandemic, which is not yet over. 

What are the healthcare startups about, and how can they help us? How should the state assist them? Estonia is now one of the most digitally advanced nations and world’s leaders in successful startups per capita, so we have invited Ms. Piret HIRV, Head of Health Technology Division and Manager of Connected Health Cluster at Tallinn’s Tehnopol Science Park, to provide her answers and comments.  

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Read the Armenian version here.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Hello and welcome to Caucasian Journal! First, may I ask you to introduce your organization and your involvement, please?

Piret HIRV: The Connected Health Cluster, led by Tehnopol Science and Business Park, is a platform for co-creation of health technology solutions and their placement on the market. The cluster brings together start-ups, health IT companies, pharma companies, healthcare providers, universities, citizens, patients and other user groups, as well as public authorities to innovate health and care service delivery in Estonia and also cross-border. 

Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol is the largest self-sustainable science and business park in the Baltics, facilitating more than 350 technology companies. Its business development and incubation services for growth-oriented companies are branded as Startup Incubator, which has been operational since 2003 and worked with 240 companies to reach a desirable investment phase. The campus facilitates Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and IT College with more than 14 000 students and 3000 researchers nearby, providing a suitable environment to bring breakthrough business ideas into life. 

Neli ODISHVILI: "There is a bit of cyberspace in all of us... Discover it with Israel-Georgia School of Digital Culture!"

16.02.2022 (
Caucasian Journal) What is a School of Digital Culture? And, by the way, what is digital culture? Why does anybody need a diploma to certify one’s digital “cultural level”? 
Our today's guest Neli ODISHVILI from Israel-Georgia School of Digital Culture is going to answer.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Neli, welcome to Caucasian Journal. When we heard about the launch of Israel-Georgia School of Digital Culture, we instantly thought we must cover this project, and I wish to thank our friend, the Israeli Ambassador Ran Gidor, for his kind help and an exclusive comment, which can be found below. Let me start with this: Have you ever dreamed about starting your own school, and how do you feel about it now? 

Neli ODISHVILI: First and foremost, I would like to thank you for your interest and willingness to provide the reader with comprehensive information about Israel-Georgia School of Digital Culture. Initially, it should be mentioned that implementing a project of such importance and comprehensive influence is an immense responsibility. I have always been passionately inspired by the idea to establish digital culture in Georgia and raise young generations awareness regarding a concept that describes the set of infinite capacities given from the digital world. For the last few years, inspired by this idea, I have been dreaming to make small mental shifts in Georgia, but launching  Israel-Georgia School of Digital Culture will definitely be not only a small shift but a whole mental revolution with the beginning of a fundamental transformation of approaches regarding how young generation should be educated.

AK:  Can you tell more about yourself, and how did you get involved? 

Video: Kristina MÄND and Kristina REINSALU from e-Governance Academy discuss e-democracy

15.02.2022 (Caucasian Journal). Today at Caucasian Journal we are talking about e-government and e-democracy. Our guests from e-Governance Academy (eGA) in Estonia are Kristina MÄND, Senior Expert on e-Democracy, and Dr. Kristina REINSALU, Programme Director at eGA. They kindly agreed to meet with CJ during recent visit to Tbilisi. 
You may view the video discussion below.  

This video interview is also available in Georgian and Armenian versions:

▶ ქართულად: Video subtitled in Georgian is here.

▶ Հայերեն: 
Video subtitled in Armenian is here.

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

Video: Watch the first Georgian "Nordic Talk" on clean energy education

06.02.2022 (Caucasian Journal). The first "Georgian" Nordic Talk was organized in the end of 2021 by Caucasian Journal. It focused on clean energy and high school education, in particular on university exchange between Norway and Georgia - two “hydropower nations”.   

Today we are pleased to present the video summary of our 2 days' international discussion. 

▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version 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.

To our first Georgian Nordic Talk we invited everyone interested in green energy, hydropower, or international student exchange programs.

Our discussion focusing on clean energy education was entitled "How to make maximum of Nordic clean energy knowledge? Case of Norway and Georgia – two “hydropower nations”.

The discussion is now available with Georgian subtitles. You are welcome to watch it below. To be first to view all our exclusive video interviews, please subscribe here to our YouTube Channel.

New poll by NDI Georgia: Majority says nobody acts in their best interest

27.01.2022 (Press Release)  Poll results released today by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia find that Georgians see insufficient progress on the top national issues of concern and think the situation regarding poverty, crime, territorial integrity, and education has gotten worse in the last 10 years. 
Public concerns are consistent across political affiliation, signaling opportunities for political parties to work together to address the common needs of Georgia’s citizens. 
▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.

New poll finds that a majority of Georgians do not think anyone - neither government or opposition parties - is acting in their best interest. Georgians also remain skeptical of the newly elected parliament’s willingness to address their concerns. More than half of the population (53 percent) does not believe parliament is passing legislation on issues that matter to them, while 52 percent do not believe an MP will take action if citizens tell him/her about problems in their district. Only a third believes that parliament regularly communicates with the public.

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