Gunda TIRE: "Estonians believe in education, and this belief has been essential for centuries"

Caucasian Journal is starting new program of interviews "BEST NORDIC AND BALTIC PRACTICE" with high-level practitioners from Western Europe who share their knowledge in areas relevant to South Caucasian region, which can be used to improve quality of life in our countries. We welcome comments and will publish all views.

22.02.2020 (Caucasian Journal). It is symbolic that the first interview which we publish under this program is about education - something which is basic for achieving progress in other directions. How South Caucasian students compare with peers? How well can they read?

It is our pleasure to introduce Ms. Gunda TIRE, PISA National Project Manager at Foundation Innove. PISA is the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment, and Innove is an education competence center in Estonia. The reason why we invited an expert from Estonia is simple: Because Estonian students are the best in Europe

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Indeed, according to recent PISA worldwide student assessment results, the Estonian 15-year olds have the Europe’s highest scores in all disciplines. First of all, please accept our sincere congratulations to Estonian friends with this excellent achievement! I know it was not unexpected, since Estonia’s results have been going up for some time, but anyway how was the top achievement perceived - by ordinary people and by professionals?

Gunda TIRE:  Thank you very much for the kind words, and we really appreciate your invitation to share the Estonian PISA experience with your readers!

Before the PISA data is released, it is very difficult to predict in what direction to expect the results. Our hope was not to show a decline to our prior results. As PISA is very poplar and well known in Estonia, the new data for 2018 was expected with certain amount of curiosity.

According to poll, 59 percent do not believe Georgia is a democracy

16.01.2020. With less than a year before elections, poll results released today by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia show that Georgians continue to lose faith in the direction of their country, with 53 percent believing the country is going in the wrong direction and only 19 percent saying right direction. Further, 59 percent do not believe Georgia is a democracy now, a significant increase from 46 percent just one year ago in December 2018.

“It is alarming to see such low public approval of democratic institutions, and it does not bode well for the country’s future growth and stability,” said Laura Thornton, senior director. “It is incumbent upon all political leaders, but particularly those in power, to rebuild the public’s trust in the country’s governance and ensure the legitimacy of the upcoming election process, which is currently under question given the failure to adopt promised election system reform.”

Sebastian MOLINEUS of World Bank: "Let’s work together to eradicate poverty once and for all"

How important is the South Caucasus region for global organizations such as the World Bank? How does World Bank prioritize activities in the three countries of the region?  These and other questions from global and regional agenda are in our focus today.

31.10.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Our today’s talk is with Sebastian MOLINEUS, the new World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus, appointed last June. 

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear Mr. Molineus, many thanks for this opportunity and for your time. First of all, please accept congratulations with your appointment to Tbilisi, welcome to this beautiful city! Do I understand correctly, that World Bank’s office in Tbilisi in fact oversees the activities not only in Georgia, but also in all three countries of our region? I believe this is rather challenging job, as it requires quite a lot of travel. Can you summarize your overall experience so far – from your first months in the Caucasus?

Sebastian MOLINEUS: Dear Mr. Kaffka, thank you for inviting me to this interview – I am honored to do so for this prestigious journal! – and for the warm congratulations for my appointment as Regional Director for South Caucasus, i.e. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.  In terms of first experiences, and I purposefully mention first that, as I’ve only been on the job for a few months, I would like to highlight the strong commitment to reforms I have been able to see first-hand by all three country governments. Second, the strong macro-economic fundamentals that have been put in place, in other words the foundation to build sustainable and inclusive economic growth.  And third, the willingness to embrace innovations and the opportunities the digital economy brings. Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that everything I had heard in abstract about the famous hospitality and generosity of the people in the South Caucasus, and of course the amazing food and exquisite wine of the region, is 100% and absolutely true! 

A tribute to Giya KANCHELI (video)

We pay tribute to Georgian composer Giya Kancheli  - one of the most prominent composers of the late 20th century - who died last week in Tbilisi at age 85. Caucasian Journal has prepared a short music video for our readers dedicated to Maestro.

Latest additions to Caucasian Journal: Art Gallery and Public Forum

Caucasian Journal is happy to offer to our readers two new sections added to our website recently: Art Gallery and Public Forum. Quick links to them can be found in our site's main menu.

Art Gallery will be showcasing masterpieces by artists from South Caucasian region who are less known to international public. It already features works by Petre Otskheli (პეტრე ოცხელი), Merab Abramishvili (მერაბ აბრამიშვილი), and Vardges Sureniants (Վարդգես Սուրենյանց).
We will add new names and images regularly to our Gallery.


Giga AGLADZE: "I would make it a priority to make Georgia the world’s main movie set"

Georgian cinema has a long and glorious history, but what place does it occupy in the today’s world of cinematography? Which new movies from the Caucasus are worth seeing, from a professional’s viewpoint? Which cultural and social tendencies are now in the focus? 

29.09.2019 (Caucasian Journal). Today Caucasian Journal talks about cinema with award-winning director Giga (George) AGLADZE, renowned for films including “Henry” and “A Girl with Slides”.

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ:  Dear George, thank you for attention to our readers. Recently Tbilisi dwellers were over excited with filming of “The Fast and the Furious” in Georgia. The place where I live is close to one of filming locations, so I noticed its huge scale and overall hype. With all respect to the Hollywood franchise, I wished I could witness a national production of same scale in the streets of Tbilisi, given Georgia’s own bright national cinema tradition. Or perhaps the glory days of Georgian cinema are gone, and the country must be happy selling its landscapes to foreign productions?

Giga AGLADZE:  Greetings, and thank you for this question. Beyond doubt, Georgian cinema has the potential to produce films of this level. However, in my personal opinion, currently we don’t have experience that big, neither have we necessary wide market and duly trained filmmaking staff. Shooting big franchises like this is very helpful for Georgian film industry as they carry interesting experience for our staff involved in filmmaking and mark us in bold on the world map. This means that Hollywood producers will eventually reach out to Georgia more and more for filmmaking reasons and it makes fantastic opportunities for Georgian tourism, as well as for Georgian cinema and economy in the long run.

Laura THORNTON: "Georgians increasingly believe the country is moving in the wrong direction"

Do Georgians have savings? Are they happy with the quality of healthcare? How does Georgian public perceive the performance of government and political parties? Is the approval for EU and NATO membership as strong as it used to be? 

19.09.2019 (Caucasian Journal) For the most up-to-date answers to key social and political questions, Caucasian Journal traditionally turns to Laura THORNTON, Global Associate/Senior Director at National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Georgia. Today Laura kindly agreed to comment on NDI's latest public opinion polls exclusively for readers of CJ.
(Read the Georgian translation here.)

Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Dear Laura, welcome back to Caucasian Journal. A lot has happened in Georgia since our last conversation six months ago (read here). And as always, your organization has the latest information on public sentiments regarding the most burning social and political issues. With great interest I have reviewed NDI's latest public polls results, and I do recommend to our readers to review your original charts and tables. But as always with statistical data, their interpretation is critically important. What's your general impression of the latest changes in Georgian public attitudes - could you summarize it?

Laura THORNTON: Thank you very much for having me back! NDI and our partner CRRC are proud to have the most transparent polls in Georgia, so you can find all of our data at You can download the full questionnaire, do your own cross-tabulations, generate tables and graphs, etc. We really do hold the view that opinion research – particularly since there is not a lot being done here – is a public good, and we love to see a wide array of people put our data to use.

Expert: Control of digital infrastructure enables China to impose demands by force

global focus
Photo credit: Wikipedia
13.09.2019.  Caucasian Journal from time to time presents to our readers articles which focus on issues of a worldwide importance. Their global impact is influencing many regions including the Caucasus. 

Today in our "GLOBAL FOCUS" is the technological expansion of China. Our special guest is sinologist Professor Olga Lomová from Charles University in Prague. This interview was given to Robert Schuster, managing editor of Caucasian Journal's partner journal Aspen Review.

Robert Shuster: How do you see China’s expansion into Central Europe? As a sinologist, you ought to see this as a positive development…

Olga Lomová: The fact that I am a sinologist does not necessarily mean that I can’t have a critical perspective on the subject of my interest. Sinologists shouldn’t be expected to welcome everything that comes from China, particularly in the realm of politics. Chinese influence in Central Europe, which I have observed for several years now, must be seen as part and parcel of global processes. Even though many people won’t admit it, we are only a tiny part of the globalized world—we are neither the center of Europe or an isolated entity but rather part of a single world in which China represents a great power that aspires to acquire even more weight in order to impose its demands on everyone else.

RS: Is China pursuing some sort of covert agenda?

OL: It is indeed, and not particularly a covert one, if you read Chinese newspapers and pay proper attention. Unfortunately, most analysts tend to underestimate the media rhetoric in China and until recently failed to ascribe sufficient importance to political speeches, editorials and, crucially, to appearances by the Communist Party Secretary - General Xi Jinping.

Open letter to International Community

30.08.2019. Fady Asly, chairman of International Chamber of Commerce Georgia (ICC), sent an open letter to the international community. "Georgia is an amazing country with great potential; it hurts a lot to see it sliding backward so quickly, losing its leading position in the region and globally as a role model of good governance and economic development", - 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.

Open letter to the International Community

Dear members of the International Community,

We have learned from the press on August 27, that the Prosecutor General of Georgia had sent a letter to the UK Authorities requesting them to freeze the bank accounts of two Georgian businessmen, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze on the ground of “alleged money laundering”.

Open letter to Bidzina Ivanishvili

21.08.2019. Fady Asly, chairman of International Chamber of Commerce Georgia (ICC), sent an open letter to Bidzina Ivanishvili. "The result of your seven years governance have brought the country back to the Shevardnadze era; your seven years governance brought to Georgia dictatorship, fear, instability, criminality and corruption", - 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.

Open Letter to Bidzina Ivanishvili

Mr. Ivanishvili,

I am writing to you as a Georgian citizen, someone who loves his country, someone who paid a very hefty price over 23 years fighting for the good of Georgia and the good of its people.