GFSIS Georgian Foundation For Strategic and International Studies - events. Call for Applications – Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Awareness Raising Trainings for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations The Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) is pleased to announce a call for applications for a professional training program in DCFTA Awareness Raising. The training aims to increase the capacity of the media and civil society representatives on informing the population and monitoring of DCFTA implementation process, to raise awareness of journalists to report on DCFTA and to enhance the knowledge and skills of civil society to monitor, communicate, advocate and participate in DCFTA implementation throughout the country. The training program is implemented by GFSIS and supported by USAID/Governing for Growth (G4G) in Georgia. · The five-day training course for journalists will take place in Tbilisi between November 13-17, 2017; · The five-day training course for civil society representatives in Tbilisi between November 20-27, 2017; The training participants shall be awarded with the certificates of completion. The topics covered: Free Trade and Economic Integration Models General overview of EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) and DCFTA DCFTA: Tariff elimination and Rules of Origin Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Sanitary/Phytosanitary issues (SPS) in DCFTA DCFTA: Competition DCFTA: Sustainable Development Intellectual Property Rights in DCFTA Trade Related Energy Provisions of DCFTA Trade in Services Electronic Commerce Establishment and Operation of Businesses Transport Services Government Procurement Coordination of DCFTA implementation Who can apply: local journalists reporting on economic policy, business climate, agriculture, trade, regulatory environment and other relevant topics as well as Tbilisi based SMEs, industrial, agricultural unions, Professional Unions, NGOs working in DCFTA related fields as well as representatives of local governments and municipalities. Application Process: To apply, please submit your CV in English or Georgian no later than 18:00, November 6, 2017. Shortlisted applicants will be required to pass an interview. For additional information about the program, please contact the Program Coordinator Ms. Meri Biniashvili: 599170013. Tue, 17 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Graduation Ceremony and Welcoming Reception for National Security and Public Policy Program On October 17th, 2017, a graduation ceremony for the class 2016-2017 and a welcoming reception for the next cohort of the training program in National Security and Public Policy was held at Rondeli Foundation. At the ceremony, the welcome and opening remarks were delivered by Ekaterine Metreveli, the President of the Foundation and H.E. Ian C. Kelly, the US Ambassador to Georgia. The US Ambassador congratulated the public servants for the graduation and awarded them with the certificates of completion. The representatives of governmental, civil and media organizations, totally 25 participants have successfully graduated the program. The training program has been implemented by Rondeli Foundation with the support of the U.S. Government since 2001. Tue, 17 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Awarding the Winners of the Competition “My World” On October 12, 2017 Rondeli Foundation in the framework of the project Youth Journal – "My World" visited Tserovani public school #3, distributed the issues #16 and #17 of the journal and as a result of the competition, the students with the best results received prizes. Aside to the publication of the quarterly journal "My World", distributed among the IDPs from Abkhazia and South Ossetia residing and studying in Tserovani, Zugdidi and other areas, the project also involves conducting quizzes based on the information and articles published within the magazine. Since April 2013, the Rondeli Foundation has been implementing the project "My World", funded by the US Embassy in Georgia. The overall objective of the project is to produce Georgian-language youth magazine – "My World" and to distribute among high school students that facilitates the interest of reading in youth generation. In the framework of the project the Foundation organizes the series of quizzes for internally displaced students from Shida Kartli and Abkhazia and the winners are awarded with various prizes. The electronic version of the journal is available on the following link: Thu, 12 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Capacity-building of the Georgian Leadership Community (CBGL) Program The Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) is pleased to announce a call for applications for the 2017/2018 professional training program "Capacity-building of the Georgian Leadership Community for Improved Decision-making and Negotiation Skills"(CBGL). The project targets middle level public servants and civil-society representatives and intends to strengthen their professional skills and knowledge in policy development and negotiation techniques. The program is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) since 2009 and is implemented by the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and international Studies (GFSIS) in partnership with Estonian School of Diplomacy (ESD). Course Description: Throughout the 7-month-long training course, participants will gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills in public administration, policy planning and analysis, and negotiation techniques. Furthermore, under the guidance of GFSIS mentors, the participants will elaborate policy papers on the issues pertinent to the country. Upon completion of the program public discussion of all policy paper topics will be held. Five best policy documents will be published. The training courses will be followed by a study visit to Estonia. Please, note the training sessions will be held in the evenings to comply with participants’ work schedules. Working language is Georgian. Program selection criteria: University-level education Employment in public or civil sector Relevant work experience in at least one of the following areas: EU Integration, Healthcare and Social Protection, Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Education and Science, Conflict Management and Negotiations, Democratic Development, Gender and Diversity. Application process: To apply, please submit CV electronically to no later than COB 27 October, 2017. Only qualified candidates will be contacted for an interview. For additional information about the program, please contact the Program Coordinator Ms. Khatia Shalamberidze: 2 47 35 55 (office) 5 91 00 49 14 (mobile); Tue, 10 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Round Table with Michel Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office On October 9, Rondeli Foundation and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung organized the round table with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office. The welcome speech was delivered by Felix Hett, Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung South Caucasus Regional Office. Mr. Michal Roth discussed the 2017 German federal elections – consequences for the European Integration project. The audience of the meeting included the representatives of non-governmental organizations of Georgia and independent experts. The open discussion between the speaker and the audience was moderated by Kakha Gogolashvili, Director of the EU Studies Center at the Rondeli Foundation. Mon, 9 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Growth of Military Spending and Relations with Russia: Azerbaijan trying to Gain Advantage over Armenia Author: Mamuka Komakhia, Analyst After the 1994 ceasefire agreement in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the military confrontation of a varying scale between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the border regions has never really ceased. However, the relations between the neighbors has become especially tense for the past couple of years. The 2016 military confrontation was even qualified as a war (Four-Day War) due to its scale. According to the assessment of Baku, the success achieved in the Four-Day War has proved that the steps taken in the military field by Azerbaijan in recent years have achieved desired results, which should in the long-term perspective, ensure that the conflict is resolved in Azerbaijan’s favor. The ultimate goal of Azerbaijan is to reclaim Nagorno Karabakh and the seven regions around it occupied by Armenia. In order to tip the military-political balance with regard to Armenia in its favor and achieve success in a possible military confrontation, Azerbaijan increased military spending with an accelerated pace, also improving its own military-industrial complex and the bilateral military cooperation with a number of countries. The accelerated pace of the development of military cooperation with Armenia’s strategic ally, Russia, has become more and more noticeable in recent years. Growth of Military Budget The recognition of the defeat in Nagorno Karabakh conflict in 1994 was unavoidable, and it was also accelerated by the military failures of Azerbaijan and the perspective of its participation in international energy projects. Baku chose the policy of waiting. In order to gain military superiority over Armenia, Azerbaijan directed the revenues gathered from the implementation of energy projects towards boosting its military potential. The trend of growing military spending became apparent since 2006, when the resources exported through Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline became a significant source of income for Azerbaijan. It is quite impossible to determine the exact military budget of Azerbaijan since apart from defense spending budget lines, military spending is also put down in lines such as "other expenses" or "special defense projects," which differ from year to year. In 2006, with the help of petrodollars, the budget allocated for security reasons by Azerbaijan doubled. If the budget was USD 644 million in 2005, it increased to USD 1,322 million in 2006. The growth was hindered in 2009 due to the world financial crisis; however, the security budget doubled once again in 2011 and reached USD 3,079 million. Regarding the growth of military spending, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, stated in 2014: "this is our priority and we continue increasing the military spending." According to the data of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Azerbaijan’s military spending increased tenfold in the period from 2005 to 2015, reaching USD 4.8 billion in 2015 whilst Armenia’s spending in the same field in the same year was just USD 447 million. The spending allocated for the security field by Azerbaijan in 2016-2017 reduced due to the low prices on oil, however, compared to Armenia’s spending, it still looks quite impressive. The defense budget of Azerbaijan in 2017 is USD 1.55 billion, whilst in case of Armenia it is USD 440 million. Increased revenues since 2006 also enabled Azerbaijan to enter the world weapons market. According to the existing data, weapons imports in 2006-2010 and 2011-2016 increased by 217%. According to SIPRI’s data, the imports of Azerbaijan in this regard was 20 times more than the imports of Armenia in the period from 2012-2016. Development of Military Industry Parallel to the imports of military products, Azerbaijan started developing its own military industrial complex, which was put under the authority of the Ministry of Defense Industry, created in 2005. In June 2017, at the opening of the factory of combat materials in Shirvan, Ilham Aliyev stated that about 30 military factories are operating in Azerbaijan already and over 1,200 types of military products are being manufactured. In order to popularize its achievements in this field, Azerbaijan periodically hosts international exhibitions of military technology. In order to develop military industry and import modern weaponry Azerbaijan actively cooperates with partner countries, including the companies from Israel, dealings with which even became scandalous, when in August 2017, the Israeli company Aeronautics Defence Systems was accused that when signing the final stage of the agreement of the purchase of drones on 7 July, in Baku, the company was asked to conduct a strike on Armenian military position with the so-called suicide-drone. Azerbaijan manufactures drones itself as well, actively using them in its confrontation with Armenia. The April 2016 Four-Day War was an outstanding example in this regard. Apart from Israel, Azerbaijan also actively cooperates with Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey. Cooperation with Russia has become especially intense in recent years. This has become a cause for concern and doubts for Armenia. Developing Cooperation with Russia The main reason for the defeat of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and freezing of the conflict is considered to be the pro-Armenian position taken by Russia. Hence, after years, it became very clear for Baku that in order to change the military-political balance in favor of Azerbaijan, deepening the relations with Russia would be a decisive factor. Utilizing its patience and the "caviar" diplomacy Azerbaijan managed to find supporters in the political and military elites of Russia. For example, the Vice Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitri Rogozin, often visits Baku in terms of military cooperation, lobbying for selling the weaponry in Azerbaijan and development of bilateral cooperation. The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, Valeri Gerasimov, also visited Baku on 8 September 2017, discussing the issue of the future development of military-technical cooperation with Ilham Aliyev. Policies of Baku have delivered a concrete result and now Russia is supplying Azerbaijan with the weaponry of Russian production, at the detriment of the interests of Armenia, its ally. Since 2010, Azerbaijan acquired USD 4 billion worth of military technology from Russia alone. According to SIPRI, Azerbaijan took up about 5% of Russia’s weapons exports in the period from 2011 to 2015 whilst in the years before it was just 0.7%. In 2017, based on the agreement on military-technical cooperation, Russia supplied Azerbaijan with combat materials and military technologies for various purposes (including armored transport vehicles, tanks, infantry combat machines, helicopters, grenade launchers and others). The sympathies shown by Russia towards Azerbaijan became a subject for special discussions in Armenia after the Four-Day War. As a result of the Four-Day War, the Azeri side managed to occupy and hold certain territories north and south of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone, which were controlled by the Armenian side since 1994. The idea that in April 2016 Russia betrayed Armenia and left it alone against Azerbaijan is prevalent. According to Yerevan’s opinion, supplying Azerbaijan with weaponry goes against the strategic cooperation spirit that should exist between Armenia and Russia. The Four-Day War also created some mistrust in Armenia towards other partners and allies as well. The allies from the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), such as Belarus and Kazakhstan showed with the positions adopted during the Four-Day War that Azerbaijan is a more important partner to them than Armenia. Armenians believe that despite the doubts towards Russia after the Four-Day War, given the geopolitical situation created after the Nagorno Karabakh conflict it is only possible to increase the level of security of Armenia by approximating with Russia. Consequently, the already close military-political partnership between Armenia and Russia moved to a new stage since the Four-Day War. For example, in 2016 the two sides agreed on creating a common air defense area in the Caucasus as well as a Russian-Armenian military grouping. In addition, Armenia also received the Iskander ballistic missiles from Russia. Principal Conclusions The constant growth of the military spending of Azerbaijan since 2006 and the development of a local military industrial complex was due to the revenues from the energy projects implemented since the end of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The constant growth of the military spending of Azerbaijan as compared to Armenia aims to create a military as well as psychological superiority, which, in the long run, is supposed to ensure the return of the regions currently occupied by Armenia. The purpose of the development of Azerbaijan-Russia partnership in the military field is to ensure that in the case of Armenia-Azerbaijan confrontation Russia will hold at least a neutral position. Gaining superiority in terms of military spending and the recently activated partnership with Armenia’s strategic ally, Russia, among other factors, caused the success of Azerbaijan in a small scale war with Armenia. In a Four-Day War from 2 to 5 April 2016 Azerbaijan managed to take back two hills, which had a vital symbolic importance for Azerbaijan. This was the first serious defeat for the Armenian armed forces since the end of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and hence it shattered the myth of the invincibility of the Armenian army. The recent partnership between Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as dubious position taken by Russia during the Four-Day War caused distrust in Yerevan towards Russia; however, given the geopolitical situation in the region, Armenia has limited resources for maneuvers in foreign policy. Armenia was forced to once again address Russia to increase its level of security and further deepen cooperation in the military field. The cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan is moving forward parallel to deepening strategic ties with Armenia. Strengthening links with the both sides of the conflict, on the other hand, gives Russia a clear advantage over the West in terms of conflict resolution. This will ensure the maintenance and growth of Moscow’s influence on the processes taking place in South Caucasus. Despite strengthened military rhetoric from Azerbaijan, as well as the success in the Four-Day War, the energy projects being implemented in the region significantly decrease the possibility of the renewal of large-scale confrontations in the region. Any large-scale military confrontation will not only endanger the functioning of already existing oil and gas pipelines but also put the future of the Southern Gas Corridor under question, which is to transport Azeri gas straight to Europe, through Georgia. Fri, 6 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Signing of the Grant Agreement on Core Support between Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Rondeli Foundation On October 4, 2017 Rondeli Foundation hosted the graduation of the class 2016-2017 of the training program "Capacity-building of the Georgian Leadership Community for Improved Decision-making and Negotiation Skills" and a ceremony of signing of the Grant Agreement on Core Support between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Rondeli Foundation. The opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Ekaterine Metreveli, President of the Rondeli Foundation, Molly Lien, Counsellor/Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Sweden, Archil Karaulashvili, the First Deputy State Minister of European and Euro Atlantic Integration and CBGL program graduates. Since 2009 the Foundation has been implementing the abovementioned program with the support from Sida aiming at capacity-building of the Georgian leadership community in policy analysis and negotiation skills. Totally more than 230 public servants representing different governmental agencies graduated the program since its very beginning. The Swedish Government has already provided the core support to Rondeli Foundation in 2015-2017. The new contract will continue the financial support for the period of 2017-2020. The core support contributes to strengthening of Rondeli Foundation as an independent, sustainable policy institute and to meeting its main goal of effectively contributing to the decision making in the country though research/analysis, capacity building and outreach. Wed, 4 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT The Module on Energy Security Introduction On October 2, 2017 Prof. Theresa Sabonis-Helf, Professor launched a course on Energy Security at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Relations (Rondeli Foundation). Mrs. Sabonis-Helf is a Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College. She advises governments on climate change policies, post-Soviet energy and environmental issues, regional and international energy trade, and the politics of electricity. She teaches Energy and International Security and Energy and Environment in Eurasia at Georgetown University. The module includes the following topics: Fossil Fuel Essentials, Electricity Essentials, Pipeline Politics, Energy Security Strategies of Importing Nations and other topic-related issues. The module is conducted in the framework of the flagship training program implemented by Rondeli Foundation, supported by the U.S. Government, on National Security and Public Policy. The program is designed to prepare the policy analysts for the national security community for careers as government policymakers in defense/security agencies, diplomats and non- governmental policy analysts. Mon, 2 Oct 2017 0:00:00 GMT Disrupt and Distract: Russia’s Methodology of Dealing with the West Author: David Batashvili, International Relations Analyst Those of Russia’s neighbors who have no wish to find ourselves one day within its zone of influence are in a very difficult position. We face sustained Russian subversion, the ugly routine of the continuing occupation of our territories, hostile diplomacy, and, on occasion, military attacks, in the Georgian case accompanied by ethnic cleansing. Under the circumstances, it is fully understandable why we want to see the West stand up to Russia more than it does. Indeed, it should. And yet, it is also true that, in fact, the West does stand up to Moscow’s imperial ambitions, however imperfectly. The best testimony to this being the case is Russia’s present aggressive effort to damage the Western interests wherever it can. Political systems of the Western nations, geopolitics of the Middle East, ethnic tensions in the Balkans, war in Afghanistan – Moscow exploits all of these venues, diverse as they are, to disrupt and distract the West, seeking to undermine its capability and will to confront Russia’s aggression against its neighbors. Moscow’s purpose is to change the global balance of power in its own favor. Given the deep structural weaknesses of the modern Russia, it can hardly hope to achieve such outcome solely through internal development, and the present Kremlin regime is incapable of the necessary reform in any case. The solution, in the eyes of the Russian leadership, lies in resurrecting, in some new form, the geopolitical structure that in the past was manifested first as the Russian Empire and later as the Soviet Union. Basically, the Russians seek to overcome "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century," as Vladimir Putin called the breakup of the Soviet Union back in 2005. Perhaps Moscow does not intend formal abolition of its former colonies’ independence, but it definitely wants to damage their sovereignty, and ultimately to control their fate, one way or another. In this endeavor, the West is an obstacle for Russia. Understandably, the Western nations do not want Russia to subjugate its neighbors and resurrect its empire, upending the existing international order in the process. And the West will act accordingly, as the Russians ascertained after their attack on Ukraine. The Western sanctions, diplomatic involvement and limited military support of Ukraine might not be enough in the eyes of Russia’s neighbors who stand against its imperialism, but in the eyes of Moscow they are not welcome. Worse, they show the potential for even more robust responses to Russia’s aggressive moves in the future. It appears that the method Moscow has come up with to defeat this Western opposition to its expansionism is to exacerbate all kinds of problems that the West is facing. If the U.S. and the EU have to deal with a set of critical problems at home and globally, they might not be able to stop Russia’s geopolitical resurgence. At least, this appears to be the bet that the Kremlin is willing to make. The most dangerous weapon, directed at the very heart of the Western nations and the international order they have built, is the latest resurgence of the radical forces within their own political systems. These forces feed on the public concerns regarding economy and immigration, but their crucial features are narrow nationalism and opposition to the ties that bind the nations of the West to each other and to the rest of the world. Where such political forces to become powerful enough, they could allow the said international order to lapse, freeing the hands of Russia, among this order’s other opponents, to act at will towards its neighbors and beyond. Moscow does whatever it can to cultivate the Western radicals. It engages with its arsenal of active measures, including the never-ending disinformation campaign, evolving relationship with the European far-right extremist groups, armies of internet trolls, covert cyber operations, as well as a direct political and financial support of this political rebellion within the West. In the Western Balkans, the Russian policy is directed against the EU. Moscow has developed close ties with the Bosnian Serb Republic president Milorad Dodik, who harbors secessionist ambitions that are unacceptable to the country’s Bosniak majority. In Macedonia, Russia is inflaming dangerous ethnic tensions between the Macedonians and the Albanians. If conflicts in the Western Balkans were to reignite, the headache for the EU would be immense. The Albanians of Macedonia and the Bosniaks are both Muslim. The global jihadist movement would be certain to exploit such an opportunity for its propaganda. The jihadists in Europe would be encouraged to act even more aggressively than presently. More European Muslims would get radicalized. Additional jihadists would arrive to Europe from other parts of the world. Such developments would provide a new boost to the Western far-right, giving credence to their war of civilizations narrative in the eyes of the voters. The EU and the mainstream European political elites would be further undermined. Russia would portray itself as the best hope and protector of the Western civilization. More people would believe it than do at present. In the Middle East, Russia has helped the expansion of the Iranian sphere of influence, which is now about to constitute a geographically contiguous area between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean coast. Prevention of Iran’s regional dominance is, of course, a key goal of the American foreign policy. With the fall of the Daesh quasi-state, containing Iran is becoming the chief U.S. objective in the Middle East. Russia’s actions in Syria have guaranteed that the U.S. will have its hands full dealing with Iran, limiting the attention and resources America will be able to commit elsewhere. Aggravating this problem is the fact that Iran’s empowerment in Syria has considerably increased the chances of a large and destructive war between Israel on one side, and the Iranian military proxies in Lebanon and Syria on another. In sum, Russia’s policy in the Middle East, and particularly its involvement in Syria, has complicated America’s strategic position in that region. In the months and years ahead, this will contribute to distracting the U.S. from Russia’s actions against its neighbors. Moscow’s policy in Afghanistan serves exactly the same purpose. Despite the fact that fundamentally the Taliban is no ally of Russia, Moscow is now supporting it in order to force the Americans to dedicate more resources to salvaging the embattled Afghan government. The Sunni and the Shi’a, the Western Islamophobes and the radical Islamists – all are useful instruments in the Kremlin’s eyes. Their particular and often contradictory agendas do not matter, as long as they are helping Russia’s strategy directed against the West. The purpose of this strategy is to disrupt the Western nations’ political systems and global interests, and to distract both the United States and Europe from the imperial project Moscow is presently seeking to implement. It would be wise of the American and European political elites to recognize this unifying principle that ties together Russia’s diverse geostrategic activities. Mon, 25 Sep 2017 0:00:00 GMT The Rondeli Foundation launched a new project “(DCFTA) Awareness Raising Trainings for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations” On September 25, 2017 Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) launched the training program "Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Awareness Raising Trainings for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations". The first round of the training was held in Telavi. The lecture was delivered by Mr. Kakha Gogolashvili, the Director of the EU Studies at the Rondeli Foundation. He made a presentation on the Free Trade Economic Integration Models, made a general overview of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) and DCFTA as well as discussed the DCFTA Tariff elimination and Rules of Origin. During the period of five months, the series of trainings will take place in Tbilisi and five regions of Georgia (Kutaisi, Telavi, Gori, Akhalkalaki, Marneuli and Batumi) mainly targeting local journalists reporting on economic policy, business climate, agriculture, trade, regulatory environment and other relevant topics as well as SMEs, industrial, agricultural unions, Professional Unions, NGOs working in DCFTA related fields and other stakeholder groups (local governments, municipalities). The abovementioned project will enhance the quality of journalists’ reporting on trade and DCFTA as well as improve the capacities of the central and regional NGOs dealing with DCFTA and strengthen the support towards DCFTA-related policy reforms. The training program is implemented by Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) with the support of USAID/Governing for Growth (G4G) in Georgia. Mon, 25 Sep 2017 0:00:00 GMT