Rule of Law in Georgia – challenges and opportunities 30 years after the independence

Georgian Association in the USA is pleased to invite you to a panel discussion on current challenges and opportunities for strengthening the rule of law in Georgia. This webinar will feature experts from Georgia and the US who have been working to strengthen various aspects of the rule of law. The World Justice Project defines the rule of law as a durable system of laws, institutions, norms, and community commitment that delivers: Accountability, Just Law, Open Government, and Accessible and Impartial Justice. These principles have been ideals that Georgia has been striving towards since the country reclaimed its independence in 1991. 

Georgian people have on multiple occasions expressed their commitment to a democratic, western oriented future, which hinges on a strong rule of law. While important strides have been made in the areas of curbing corruption, strengthening transparency, and improving the legislative framework, strengthening the rule of law requires a sustained effort, especially at a time of rising trends in authoritarianism around the globe.

The panel will feature experts looking back at the thirty years of successes and challenges, and looking into the future and discussing ways that Georgia and the United States can work together to support the Georgian people on this arduous and virtuous journey. 

Speakers: 

David Usupashvili – Former Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, former chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, current chairman of the Political Council of Lelo for Georgia. Founding member of Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association 

Suren Avanesyan – Democracy and Governance Division Chief, former Senior Rule of Law Advisor, USAID

Giorgi Chkheidze – Chief of Party, USAID Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia Activity (PROLoG), East West Management Institute

David Rubino – Director, Europe and Eurasia Division, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative

Time Jul 13, 2021 11:30 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Webinar on Georgian Parliamentary Elections 2020

Is the Georgian government prepared to hold free and fair elections at a time of the pandemic? What’s at stake for the Caucasus Region?

On behalf of the Georgian Association in the US we delighted to invite you for a virtual discussion on “Georgian Parliamentary Elections 2020.” The panel will examine and assess how prepared the Georgian government is to successfully hold the elections at a time of the pandemic. The speakers will highlight the role of the United States in supporting Georgia’s efforts to hold free and fair elections and to combat disinformation efforts on the part of the Russian government and other actors. The panelists will also address the importance of the election from the regional perspective.

Keynote Remarks

Ambassador David Bakradze, Embassy of Georgia to the United States

Panelists

Alex Sokolowski, The United States Agency for International Development

Cheryl Fernandes, U.S. Department of State

Melissa Muscio, National Democratic Institute

Nino Japaridze, Edison Research

Stephen B. Nix, International Republican Institute

Moderator

Ia Meurmishvili, Voice of America

Date And Time

Fri, October 16, 2020

10:00 AM ET

PLEASE REGISTER DIRECTLY ON ZOOM:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-FS-jK4ORd-OS3b5107BiQ


Freedom Way DC, a Socially Distanced Human Chain action to commemorate a Baltic Way protest and support People of Belarus

August 23, 2020 marks the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way when over two million people joined hands to form a human chain across 400 miles connecting Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn to protest Soviet rule.

To mark this anniversary, Lithuanians are forming a new human chain from Vilnius to the border with Belarus to show support for Belarus’s struggle against Lukashenka’s dictatorship. The dictator has claimed 80% of the vote in the elections that took place on August 9. The people of Belarus have been peacefully protesting ever since despite the brutal crackdown by the riot police. At least 5 people have died so far, dozens are still missing, several are expected to remain severely physically disabled for life, and hundreds more will endure PTSD.

Since Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have embassies in Washington, DC, and the diaspora populations of all four countries are large, we have decided to replicate the human chain on a smaller scale and connect the four embassies.

People are asked to start at the Embassy of Lithuania, 2622 16th Street NW in DC by noon and take a spot in the human chain down 16th Street NW toward the Embassy of Belarus at 1619 New Hampshire Ave NW, and then possibly on to the embassies of Estonia and Latvia on Massachusetts Ave NW.
We are inviting anyone who cares about free and fair elections, freedom of speech, and separation of powers to join us.

MASKS ARE MANDATORY FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS. GLOVES STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE ENFORCED TO COMPLY WITH MPD REGULATIONS.

PLEASE BRING SASHES, LINENS, RIBBONS TO ASSIST WITH DISTANCING.

SIGNS and POSTERS CAN SAY:

#FreedomWayDC
#Belarus2020
#StandWithBelarus
#FreedomBelarus

BALTIC WAY – 1989 – LITHUANIA – LATVIA – ESTONIA
FREEDOM WAY – 2020 – VILNIUS – BELARUS

Please dress or bring ribbons and/or balloons in these colors:
Belarus – white and red (more white)
Estonia – blue, black, and white
Latvia – red and white (more red)
Lithuania – yellow, green, and red

If you are coming to represent another diaspora, feel free to display your colors, too.

 

 


Georgian Association Celebrates Independence Day of Georgia, May 26

May 26 is a special day for Georgians. Over a century ago, on this date in 1918, Georgians declared independence from Russian rule and the formation of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (DRG). While the Soviet invasion in 1921 put an end to it just after three years of its establishment, DRG had solid foundations of a democratic political system, with strong parties and inclusive government based on popular participation.

After regaining its independence in 1993, Georgia still faces threats with the continuing presence of Russian Federation troops on Georgian sovereign territory and encroachment in some disputed areas of the country. Despite these challenges, Georgia has prevailed in achieving significant democratic reforms and has strengthened its economy to one of the strongest in the region. With its partnership built on both shared values and common interests, Georgia is a proud and robust ally of the United States.

Lately, Georgia’s successful battle against COVID-19 has been largely credited to the cooperation between our two countries. The past years of US technical assistance, construction of the Lugar Center, a world class infectious disease laboratory, and training of Georgian healthcare professionals proved to be instrumental in Georgia’s preparedness to successfully manage and contain the deadly virus.

American business is also investing in Georgia, and tourism continues to increase due to the rich culture of the country. With its well-educated population and continued political and economic reforms, the future is bright for Georgia and its citizens.

The Board of Directors of the Georgian Association wishes all Georgians and their friends a happy Independence Day.


Veronika Metonidze – newly elected President of the Georgian Association in the USA

Veronika Metonidze is a Georgian and US attorney with 25 years of law practice and international development experience in two countries.

After moving to the United States in 2005, she continued to advance in her professional career and obtained professional licenses in Virginia and the District of Columbia. She has built and managed a successful full-service general practice servicing a diverse immigrant community. Prior to that she practiced immigration law at Miorini Law, PLLC and the National Capital Legal Services, Inc. In addition, the Veronika specializes in White Collar Crime and Anti-Corruption investigations and litigation.

Veronika has a long history of non-profit community capacity building in both countries. While in the US, Veronika has actively contributed and promoted all initiatives aimed at strengthening Georgian Community in the US such as GeorgianDC online forum, Georgian Center, Academy of Georgian Heritage and others. In Georgia, she was one of the founding members of Georgian Young Lawyers Association, the first professional non-profit organization in newly independent Georgia.

Before her legal career in the US, Ms. Metonidze practiced Georgian law and actively participated in the legislative process of Georgia. She also steered International development efforts in Georgia and focused on Democracy Building, Judicial and Legal Profession reforms. She consulted on multiple international projects of the World Bank, IMF, EBRD, USAID, IOM and other international organizations.

Veronika earned her L.L.M degree in International Legal Studies from American University College of Law and studied European Law at Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Bar Admissions: Virginia, District of Columbia Courts US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Professional Affiliation: American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA); Fairfax Bar Association

Languages: English, French, Russian, Georgian


Thank You to Elisabeth (Elisso) Kvitashvili

Elisso Kvitashvili, president of the Georgian Association in the USA will be stepping down from this position after four years.  The Board of Directors of the Association recognizes and thanks Elisso for the many important contributions she has made while serving as president.  Since our annual celebration of the Georgian Independence scheduled for the end of April was postponed until next year due to the pandemic, the board is not able to properly recognize and thank Elisso for her leadership and commitment to the success of the association.  She has been a tireless advocate for Georgia, through her long-established relationships with the Georgian diaspora, interactions with congressional representatives, and promoting Georgia’s culture among both Georgians and others unfamiliar with the rich history of the country.  While Elisso is stepping down from the position, she will not be far away in continuing to provide her insights to the association.

Veronika Metonidze has been elected as the new president, and took over the the position effective May 1.  Veronika has been a long-term member of the board and is currently serving as the Secretary, one of the three officer positions in the association.  We wish her the best and look forward to working with her in continuing the important work of the association.


Georgian Association Partner Startup Grind Tbilisi to host International Startup Conference

Join world-class founders and funders in an exploration of the frontier markets from Eastern Europe through Central Asia. Hosted at the ancient Silk Road destination Tbilisi, it will showcase Georgia’s legendary hospitality and creativity & will provide a welcoming and exciting environment to mingle with brilliant founders and investors and inspiring visionaries in a variety of fields.

For more information please follow the link.


Tbilisi-Portland Youth Entrepreneurial Exchange Program 2019

ColumbiaGorgeGeorgiaBrochuresFromEmbassyGiftedToStudentPanelVolunteersThe inaugural Tbilisi-Portland Youth Entrepreneurial Exchange Program took place from May 11 to 20 in Portland and was organized by Global Youth Entrepreneurs. The goal of the program was to provide a group of enterprising high schoolers from Georgia with the opportunity to participate in a collaborative entrepreneurial project and citywide startup event, experience academic and student life at one of the top grade schools in the country, network with like-minded Oregon students, entrepreneurs, and community leaders, and tour the city and state in the spirit of exchange. The Georgian Association partially funded this initiative as part of its expanding engagement to support connections between US counterparts and Georgian entrepreneurs of all ages!

School XXI Century in Tbilisi, Global Youth Entrepreneurs’ educational partner in Georgia, sent tenth-grade students Levan Gvineria and Luka Todua on the exchange, along with English teacher Irma Kalmakhelidze as a chaperone. Eleventh-grade student Mariam Gogidze of the European School in Tbilisi completed the delegation. XXI Century selected Gvineria and Todua based on their demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and diplomacy and excellent performance on a series of English examinations, while Global Youth Entrepreneurs invited Gogidze for her leading role in growing Tbilisi’s community of high school entrepreneurs. The Georgian Association in the USA, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, and Kargi Gogo (the Northwestern United States’ only Georgian restaurant, located in Portland, OR) generously sponsored the students’ travel to Portland, and the United States Embassy in Georgia hosted the students for an orientation prior to their visit to the United States. Seth Talyansky, who accompanied the group throughout the week, Solomon Olshin, Britton Masback, and Li Lambert of Global Youth Entrepreneurs arranged the group’s itinerary in the U.S.

In Portland, the participants were taken aback by the prevalence of homelessness, a rarity in Tbilisi. They found such cases of social isolation and neglect by fellow citizens anathema to Georgian culture. For their entrepreneurial project, the students set about designing ways to diffuse cultural traits like strong family ties and social cohesion into a society that tends to emphasize individual independence and success. The students received continuous mentorship from WorldOregon, which hosted their project work. They also visited Autodesk, eBay, and Intel, where technologists, entrepreneurs, and other company staff applauded their efforts to tackle the problem of their choice and offered feedback on ideas. Ultimately, after several days of work, Gvineria and Todua produced a resolution outlining a multi-pronged approach to combating homelessness for the city government to consider, and Gogidze devised a plan for a compassion-building game app for young children.  On the weekend of May 17 to 19, and together with around 30 peers from ten Portland-area high schools, the students took part in Startup Camp Youth Portland 2019, Global Youth Entrepreneurs’ third such event around the world. Startup Camp Youth Portland was hosted and sponsored by the Catlin Gabel School. All but a few students pitched business or non-profit ideas on Friday night, and teams coalesced around the five most popular ideas. On Saturday and most of Sunday, teams developed their concepts under the mentorship of about a dozen local business, entrepreneurship, innovation, and education experts before presenting to fellow students and distinguished guest judges on Sunday evening. The two top-performing teams—the first designing motivational programs for youth with speech impediments and the second proposing an app incentivizing carbon consciousness among those who commute by car—came away with prizes from Intel and Nike.

The Georgian Association was pleased to be able to support the Tbilisi-Portland Youth Entrepreneurial Exchange Program 2019 which represents a milestone in a burgeoning creative partnership between the youth and, ultimately, citizenries, of Portland and Tbilisi. This exchange represents Global Youth Entrepreneurs’ next logical effort, after its Startup Weekend Youth Tbilisi event last June, to foster the autonomous participation of Georgia’s young people in their country’s economy, which will promote democracy and prosperity in Georgia. Multiple appearances on television have been arranged for Gvineria, Todua, and their teacher to tell the story of their visit to Portland to a national audience. To carry this momentum forward, Global Youth Entrepreneurs plans to hold an event in Batumi next summer in partnership with a local educational institute and School XXI Century that will draw student participants from all across the country together for a weekend of immersion in entrepreneurship and diplomacy. Global Youth Entrepreneurs will also advise Gogidze on the execution of the second iteration of Startup Weekend Youth Tbilisi in June (this time not affiliated with Startup Weekend), which she is organizing at the European School together with several classmates. This program holds promise as a model of youth-led cross-cultural engagement and exchange that can be replicated between any pair of cities or countries. The government, commercial, and non-profit actors who interfaced with the students underlined the value of—and their support for—bringing in fresh cultural perspectives on local issues, especially those, like homelessness, to which many Americans have become desensitized. Gogidze, Gvineria, and Todua are eager to continue developing the projects they began in Portland, inspired by the lesson all youth involved in this program took away: organic collaboration between youth across borders is key to strengthening international understanding and ties.

The program in the participants’ words:

“Luka and I valued the experience: getting to know American teens, looking into homelessness and other traits of the city. From meeting with the companies and leaders, we realized that if you have a goal to achieve and you are doing everything to make it real, nothing is impossible. —Levan Gvineria, 10th Grade, School XXI Century, Tbilisi

“During the startup camp, I worked on problems that I’d never faced before which was a very rewarding experience for me as I had to collaborate with people of diverse cultures and ethnicities to form an understanding of those problems.” —Mariam Gogidze, 11th Grade, European School, Tbilisi

“I’ve never seen students gain so much wisdom in so few days.” —Irma Kalmakhelidze, English Teacher, School XXI Century, Tbilisi

 

 


Startup Grind Tbilisi Works for Georgian Startups

On April 23, 2019, Georgian Association partner StartupGrind Tbilisi hosted an event at Tbilisi State Conservatoire which featured successful Georgian entrepreneur Valeri Chekheria, CEO of the Adjara Group Hospitality. The event attracted 500 attendees in Tbilisi and another 60 “virtually” through live stream in Zugdidi. Mr. Chekheria discussed the growing international recognition of Georgian brands. Many in attendance were Georgian startups as well as Georgian tourism and hospitality community representatives.

Startup Grind Tbilisi is dedicated to growing and fostering the startup community in Georgia. Networking is key to their efforts so the first hour of the event provided time for networking among startups, businesses, investors and ecosystem representatives. The networking session was followed by remarks by high level speakers from the US Embassy, Tbilisi City Hall, Georgian National Tourism Administration and private sector representatives. The key note speaker, Mr. Chehkia, is an author and manager of the successful Georgian hotel brand “Rooms” which has become a landmark in Tbilisi and elsewhere, with outstanding hotel interior design concepts. The key takeaways of his talk were what social responsibilities a business can bear for local community development, how big companies can avoid competing with local SMEs and instead stimulate their growth, and finally what should the management culture be that can lead to building a successful brand.

The next event is planned for May 25th in Tbilisi and will feature Lowell Ricklefs, an American businessman from Seattle, WA who launched his business Traction to help fellow entrepreneurs scale and sell their business. Mr. Ricklefs will conduct private advisory meetings with Georgian startups, andSTG STG-2 participate in a “fireside chat” with Startup Grind Tbilisi.

The Georgian Association is pleased to be able to partner with Startup Grind Tbilisi to help expand opportunities for the Georgian Startup community by linking them with possible mentors in the United States.


Discussing US-Georgia Relations with Johns Hopkins SAIS Students

On March 5, the Georgian Association in the USA, along with Johns Hopkins SAIS Eurasia Club, hosted a discussion with Ambassador of Georgia to the United States David Bakradze and President of the America-Georgia Business Council Dr. Mamuka Tsereteli. The event took place in Kenney Herter Auditorium of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and focused on the security, political, and economic pillars of U.S.-Georgia partnership.

Ambassador Bakradze began his remarks by examining the persistent threat facing Georgia’s security and stability from the Russian Federation. He reminded the audience of Moscow’s aggression in 2008 and underlined the continued presence of Russian troops and military bases in the occupied regions. Shifting to Georgia’s future, the ambassador then spoke of the country’s Euroatlantic aspirations. Explaining that Georgians share conviction in the values and principles of democracy and human rights, he declared joining the transatlantic community to be the country’s “civilizational choice.” Thus, he continued, “every government serves this choice of Georgian people to become part of the European Union and NATO.” He also touched on Georgia’s bilateral security relationship with the United States, stressing the country’s contribution in the resolute support mission in Afghanistan.

Dr. Tsereteli continued the discussion by focusing on Georgia’s bilateral economic relationship with the United States, which he noted started to develop in early 1990s and evolved into a serious business and economic partnership. Though the level of political engagement is larger than business and economic ties, he explained that there are always quality U.S. investments in Georgia. This has set up high standards for future Foreign Direct Investments and over the years contributed in how businesses operate in the country. He noted that Georgia is consistently ranked among the top countries to do business in by the World Bank.

The opening remarks were followed by a Q&A segment moderated by Ms. Darina Markozashvili, who serves on the Board of Director of the Georgian Association. After the formal dialogue, the speakers and guests moved to the reception where the they continued the conversation over Georgian food and wine.

The full event can be viewed with the link bellow:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=SShVEzLwHV0&fbclid=IwAR3cU2CBg0NWCIam7_R93IGmIi8PZ6Ixu5Jzi8_ChYeKJWBJ-3qpDa58ROc

IMG_4869 IMG_4867 IMG_4863 IMG_4859 IMG_4848 IMG_4870


Young Georgian Entrepreneurs Take On Silicon Valley

Members of the Georgian Association recently met in California with a dozen young Georgian entrepreneurs representing Georgian startups focused on areas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, health care and transportation. The young entrepreneurs are part of Startup Grind Tbilisi and attended the global Startup Grind conference in Redwood City, California.  With financial support from Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, the Georgians are part of the community of startups, partners, investors, thought leaders, and worldwide directors who came together over several days of invaluable education, connection, and inspiration provided by a roster of world-class speakers.

Startup Grind-Tbilisi, (www.startup grind.com) co-founded by Colin Donohue and Giorgi Tukhashvili, is the Georgian charter of Startup Grind which is the largest independent startup community in the world connecting more than 1,500,000 entrepreneurs in over 500 chapters. Like it’s parent, Startup Grind-Tbilisi nurtures Georgian startups through events, media, and partnerships with organizations like Google for Startups.

Among the young Georgians participating in this year’s Startup Grind global conference are Nikoloz Gogochuri of Vrex Immersive (http://vr-ex.com; Zaal Gachechiladze of Pulsar AI (http://www.pulsar.ai); Giorgi Bezhitashvili of Health-Hub LLC (https://health-hub.com), Revaz Mazanishvili of Pawn LLC (http://pawwwn.com) and Lasha Kvantaliani of Treespond (https://treespond.com). These younf entrepreneurs and other members of Startup Grind Tbilisi will host the next international Startup Grind event in Tbilisi in late 2019.  The goal of this particular event will be to actively promote Georgia to the international technology and startup investment communities.

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Apathy towards Presidential Elections

An opinion Piece
By Irakli Kakabadze

With less than two weeks until the Presidential elections, the Georgian electorate demonstrates apathy and mistrust for those running in the elections.   Although there are many candidates, most are viewed with a certain distrust by the population.  Much of the electorate sees the leading candidates as representing the political elite. The top three candidates were all highly placed officials during the Saakashvili government – both Salome Zourabishvili and Grigol Vashadze were Foreign Ministers, and David Bakradze was the Chairman of the Parliament.   Among other candidates there are no charismatic leaders who express the will of the majority of the electorate nor address their issues.  For example about 367,000 families in Georgia are to be evicted from their  homes due to a faulty bank loan process.  None of the candidates addressed this issue during their campaign.  One positive note is gender. One of the leading candidates, Salome Zourabishvili, has  a chance to become Georgia’s  first woman president which will be a great milestone in King Tamara’s country.

And what of Russia, Georgia’s antagonist to the north? It appears the  Russians don’t favour any particular candidate.   Perhaps their best hope is to get something out of the one who happens to win.  One of the candidates worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry – the others have not.  But this time Russian soft power is centered on other parts of the world: influencing the Caucasian region with events in Syria and the Middle East, since many Georgians and Armenians are afraid of Wahhabi influence continuing to spread in the region, especially just to the north in territories that touch Georgia. This issue was also not widely discussed by the presidential candidates.

And again, the keys to the electoral boxes lie not in the pockets of ordinary people, but of the billionaire who rules everything in Georgia.  That is what ordinary people think.


Pre-election polling in the republic of Georgia

By Nino Japaridze, originally published at Edison Research

In three weeks, voters will have an opportunity to elect the Republic of Georgia’s next President. Edison Research took a detailed look at the voter’s pre-election sentiment by surveying 3,000 eligible voters nationwide in September 2018. The survey was commissioned by Georgia’s leading independent national broadcaster, Rustavi 2.

There is no shortage of Presidential candidates to choose from: The names of twenty five registered candidates will appear on the ballot on October 28th.  There were twenty-one additional presidential hopefuls whose registration was denied by Georgia’s Central Electoral Commission.

Several clear themes emerged:

The vast majority of interviewed voters tell us they plan to perform their civic duty and turn out to vote: We discovered 64 percent of eligible voters “definitely” plan to vote during the upcoming Presidential election, with 23 percent who think they will “probably vote,” 9 percent report being less likely to vote, and 4 percent did not answer the question. Should this be surprising? If we look at the long-term trends, voter turnout during Georgia’s Presidential elections has significantly declined over time, with only 46.6 percent of registered voters voting during Georgia’s 2013 Presidential election. Some analysts predict this trend will continue and expect a low turn-out this fall, in part because the weakened institution of the Presidency — a result of Constitutional amendments passed by the Parliament of Georgia on September 26, 2017. Edison’s poll, however, reveals 41 percent of eligible voters are unaware these amendments also annul Georgian voters’ ability to directly elect their president. When we asked them about this, we discovered 40 percent of eligible voters “completely disapprove” and 31 percent “somewhat disapprove” of this change, which will take effect in six years.

Only three Presidential hopefuls lead: When asked “if the election was held tomorrow, which candidate would you vote for,” 22 percent of eligible voters expressed support for Grigol Vashadze (a candidate from the Power is in Unity alliance of opposition parties), 18 percent for David Bakradze (a candidate from the European Georgia Party, which broke away from the United National Movement), and 15 percent for Salome Zurabishvili (an independent candidate backed by Georgia’s ruling party– Georgia Dream). Nearly seven out of ten supporters of these top-ranking candidates told us they were certain of their choice.

Shalva Natelashvili (a candidate from the Labor Party) and David Usupashvili (a candidate from the Independent Democrats Party) garnered 8 and 3 percent support, respectively. Other candidates had less than 2 percentage points of support. A quarter of the interviewed eligible voters told us they are undecided or they refused to answer this question.

Salome Zurabishvili has a strong negative image among eligible voters. When asked which Presidential candidate they would never consider voting for, 41 percent named Salome Zurabishvili, 29 percent named Zurab Japaridze and 16 percent named Shalva Natelashvili, while 13 percent of the surveyed respondents would never vote for Grigol Vashadze and 11 percent said they would never vote for David Bakradze and David Usupashvili, respectively.

A run-off election is likely. A run-off election between the top two candidates will occur if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote. With three candidates garnering significant support in our survey, and several others bringing in smaller numbers, a run-off election seems likely to occur. And voters in our poll agree, with 44 percent of surveyed voters expecting a run-off election, while 22 percent don’t expect this outcome and 32 percent “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” the question.

If all remains equal, the government party endorsed candidate Zurabishvili will likely be defeated by an opposition candidate during a run-off. Edison’s pre-election survey shows that if during a run-off election Grigol Vashadze and Salome Zurabishvili are on the ballot, 50 percent would vote for Vashadze, while 24 percent would vote for Zurabishvili, with 26 percent undecided or refusing to answer this question. Similarly, Zurabishvili appears to trail David Bakradze during a run-off election scenario: 53 percent would vote for Bakradze and 23 percent would vote for Zurabishvili during the run-off election, with 24 percent being undecided or refusing to answer the question.

Georgian voters are deeply dissatisfied with Georgia’s developments, creating an environment favorable for an opposition candidate to take the helm of Georgia’s Presidency this fall. 79 percent of the surveyed respondents feel the Republic of Georgia is going in the wrong direction. Six out of 10 respondents told us they “strongly disagree” with the legislative initiative led by Georgia Dream to legalize production of marijuana for export, while 26 percent “somewhat disagreed.” Immediately after the Edison poll was released, Salome Zurabishvili stated that, if elected President, the dialogue with Georgia’s population on this issue will continue. She also invited two leading opposition candidates to participate in pre-election debates. Georgian voters are known to radically shift their political preferences in a short time-span. With 24 days left before Georgia’s Presidential election, presidential candidates still have some time to earn the voters’ trust.

Click here to view Rustavi 2’s coverage of Edison’s findings


Commentary: Who Will Be Georgia’s New President? By Irakli Kakabadze, Chair, Gandhi Foundation Georgia

Commentary: WHO WILL BE GEORGIA’S NEW PRESIDENT?

By Irakli Kakabadze, Chair, Gandhi Foundation Georgia

New presidential elections are fast approaching in Georgia. They are scheduled for October 28, 2018.  It is very interesting that this time the ruling “Georgian Dream'” party which holds an absolute parliamentary majority and has unilaterally formed four governments over the last six years decided not to nominate a presidential candidate for this election cycle.  Leaders of the majority party declared that they will support one of the independent candidates for president.  Georgia’s current president, Giorgi T. Margvelashvili has not announced his plans about running for re-election.   Many experts think that Mr. Margvelashvili will not run this time and will retire.  His candidacy was actively promoted by the Georgian Dream party in 2013 and once he was elected president, he chose to distance himself from the ruling party.  This won him a reputation as a moderately independent president, with pro-Western and pro-democracy values.

There are indications that the sole independent female candidate for presidency, Mrs. Salome Zourabishvili will get the support of the ruling party and along with it, its administrative resources, which will give her a big advantage in the presidential race. Mrs. Zourabishvili was born and raised in France, the daughter of immigrants from the first independent social-democratic republic of Georgia (1918-1921).  She was educated in France and the United States and served as a French diplomat at different missions throughout her career.  In 2004, former Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili tapped her as his Foreign Minister and she presided over the Russian troop withdrawal from Georgia in 2005.  After a disagreement with Saakashvili on a number of issues, she left her post as Foreign Minister and joined the opposition, becoming actively involved in protests from 2006 to 2009.   She continued her career as a UN diplomat in New York City overseeing the problems of disarmament.   After her service at the UN, she returned to Georgia and ran as an independent candidate for parliament in 2016 and beat the former Minister of Culture in the Saakashvili government, Nickoloz Rurua.  Since then she has been a member of the Georgian parliament, was moderately independent and conservative.   If elected, she will become the first female elected president of Georgia.   Her political views are close to those of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. However, she proclaimed that she will be ‘first of all a women’s president’, which caused a lot of debates in the social media.   Her good relationship with Bidzina Ivanishvili, head of the ruling party and Georgia’s prime billionaire, will be key in this upcoming presidential struggle.

However, experts are not completely sure that Mrs. Zourabishvili will have the unconditional support of Ivanishvili’s crew.  There are a number of strong opponents within the voting electorate.  Mr. Grigiol Vashadze is representing the United National Movement of Georgia, the former ruling party of Mr. Saakashvili.  Mr. Vashadze is also a moderate figure, who also has a long and distinguished diplomatic record – first in the Soviet and Russian Foreign Services and then as Saakashvili’s Foreign Minister.   Unlike many of Saakashvili’s party members, Mr. Vashadze is not known as a hothead and even among his opponents he commands some respect as a distinguished statesman.  This gives him some chance at winning. Some experts state that Mr. Vashadze also has a good personal relationship with Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is Georgia’s strongest power-broker.  This relationship between current and former ruling regimes is called ‘co-habitation’ by the Georgian populace.  If you ask a regular cab driver or construction worker in Tbilisi, they will express their resentment at this ‘cohabitative’ state of events; they see it as an elitist plot against ordinary blue-collar inhabitants.

One additional moderate candidate is the former speaker of the Georgian Parliament during the Saakashvili period, Mr. David Bakradze.  Mr. Bakradze belongs to the group that split from Saaakshvili’s UNM and calls itself “European Georgia”.   This is the group led by Mr. Giga Bokeria, liberal former deputy foreign minister, who is well regarded as one of the smartest politicians in Georgia.  There have been talks in Georgian media that ‘European Georgia” was also paid by Georgia’s leading oligarch and now their financial situation is the best amongst all parties.  One group of experts is betting on Mr. Bakradze as next president of Georgia.   They note that even though he is from the formal opposition party, he will be a very convenient opposition president for Bidzina Ivanishvili and he will  help to consolidate the image of contemporary Georgia ‘as a democratic state’ with divided powers.

 Another former speaker of the Parliament, Mr. David Usupashvili, is also running for the Presidency.  He is respected for his honesty and high professionalism as a constitutionalist and human rights defender.  It should be noted that during Mr. Usupashvili’s chairmanship of the Parliament of Georgia (2012-2016) Georgia had its best human rights record.  A number of experts indicate that the current parliamentary leadership is not up to his standard.  Mr. Usupashvili is also considered a good dealmaker, although lacks charisma to attract large masses of electors.  He also enjoys a good relationship with Bidzina Ivanishvili and it is possible that Georgia’s leading figure would bet on him.  But, here again, there are many questions unanswered.

There are number of other less significant candidates. There is still time to apply for this job.  However, popular perception in Georgia says that the next president of Georgia will be chosen not by the Georgian people, but by Mr. Ivanishvili. The one most pleasing to him, will get the job.


საქართველოს საგარეო საქმეთა სამინისტროს პროგრამა – ,,იყავი შენი ქვეყნის ახალგაზრდა ელჩი”

საქართველოს საგარეო საქმეთა სამინისტრო ახორციელებს საქართველოს ახალგაზრდა ელჩების პროგრამას – „იყავი შენი ქვეყნის ახალგაზრდა ელჩი“.
 
პროგრამის მიზანს წარმოადგენს ,,ახალგაზრდა ელჩების“ მიერ ადგილსამყოფელ ქვეყნებში საქართველოს პოპულარიზაცია, უცხოელ მეგობართა ქსელის შექმნა და ქართული დიასპორის წარმომადგენლებთან ურთიერთობა.
 
პროექტის შესახებ დეტალური ინფორმაცია შეგიძლიათ იხილოთ ამ ბმულზე: https://bit.ly/2tcaGkB
 
 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is implementing the young Ambassador’s Program:
“Be Your Country’s Young Ambassador”.
 
The aim of the program is to promote Georgia in the host countries by the “Young Ambassadors”; establish a network of foreign friends and closely communicate with the Georgian Diaspora representatives.
 
Detailed information about the project can be found on this link: https://bit.ly/2tcaGkB (Only in Georgian)

Program of Anniversary Conference: Centennial of the First Georgian Republic

Levan Mikeladze Foundation

ga_banner

 

  CSIS

 

Georgian Association in the USA

In collaboration with

Levan Mikeladze Foundation

And

Center for Strategic & International Studies

Invite You to a Special Anniversary Conference:

Centennial of the First Georgian Republic:
Past, Present and Future of Georgia

 

12

 

May 9, 2018
9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Center for Strategic & International Studies
1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
RSVP Information

Conference Program

09:30 –10:00 Registration

 

10:00 – 10:30 Welcoming Remarks:

Elisabeth Kvitashvili, President, Georgian Association in the USA

Redjeb Jordania, Son of the First President of the Georgian Republic Noe Jordania

Tina Mikeladze, President, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

Ambassador David Bakradze, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States

 

10:30 – 10:40 Address by Bridget Brink, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

 

10:40 – 12:00 Panel 1 – First Republic: Connecting History to Modernity

Speakers: Stephen Jones, Professor, Mount Holyoke College

Beka Kobakhidze, Visiting Fellow at the Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Oxford/Associated Professor at GIPA

Grigol Gegelia, Doctoral Candidate, European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy

Discussant: Laura Jewett, Regional Director for Eurasia Programs, NDI

Moderator: Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director, Russia & Eurasia Program, CSIS

 

12:05 – 13:00 Lunch

 

Remarks and Introduction by Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia

Keynote Speaker: Hon. Richard Armitage, Former Deputy Secretary of State/Co-Chairman, Supervisory Board, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

 

13:00 – 14:30 Panel 2 – Georgia’s Evolution, 1991-2018: Internal and External Dynamics

Speakers: Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze, Executive Director, Levan Mikeladze Foundation

Svante Cornell, Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute

Luke Coffey, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation

Nino Japaridze, Vice President, Edison Research

Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia, NED

Michael Carpenter, Senior Director, Biden Center

Moderator: Olga Oliker, Director, Russia & Eurasia Program, CSIS

 

14:30 – 14:45 Coffee Break

 

14:45 – 16:15 Panel 3 – Economic Security of Georgia: Domestic, Regional, Global Perspective

Speakers: Mercedes Vera-Martin, Mission Chief for Georgia, IMF

Anthony Kim, Editor, Economic Freedom Index, Heritage Foundation

Jonathan Elkind, Former Assistant Secretary of Energy

S Frederick Starr, Chairman, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute

Kenneth Angell, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Anita Baracsi, JSC Bank of Georgia

Moderator: Mamuka Tsereteli, AGBC/CACI/Georgian Association

 

16:15 – 16:30 Coffee Break

 

16:30 – 18:00 Panel 4 – Western Strategies Towards Georgia: 1991-2018

Speakers: Ambassador Kent Brown, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador William Courtney, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Richard Miles, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador John Tefft, Former US Ambassador to Georgia

Ambassador Alexandra Hall Hall, Former UK Ambassador to Georgia

Moderator: Hon. S. Enders Wimbush, Senior Partner, Stratevarious Inc.

 

6:00 Closing Remarks by Tsotne Dadiani, Board Member, Georgian
Association in the USA

 

6:05 – 8:00 Reception

 

Supporting Organizations

America-Georgia Business Council
American Friends of Georgia
Central Asia-Caucasus Institute
American Research Institute for South Caucasus
Wines Provided by
Georgian Wine House

 


Georgian Association to Commemorate the 100 year Anniversary of the first Georgian Republic!

Dear Friends,

Please join the Georgian Association in the USA on May 9, 2018 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the first Georgian Republic. The Georgian Association, with support from the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, will celebrate this important historic occasion with a day-longconference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), followed by a gala reception. Mr. Redjeb Jordania, the son of the first republic’s President, Noe Jordania, will be joining us for the celebration. Other guests will include US and Georgian government officials, former US ambassadors to Georgia, representatives of academia, think-tanks and private sector, and members of the Georgian-American Community.

Please save the date for this event for which a formal invitation will be sent in Spring 2018.

On behalf of the Board of Directors,
Elisabeth Kvitashvili
President, Georgian Association in the USA
www.georgianassociation.org


Protest the occupation of Georgian territories at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC

Dear Friends,

The Georgian Association is organizing a peaceful rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC to protest the occupation and creeping annexation of Georgian territories by the Russian Federation. We will also protest Russia’s annexation of Crimea, aggression in Eastern Ukraine and against other neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe.

Please join us from 12:30PM to 2:00PM on September 6, 2017.  The Russian Embassy is located at 2650 Wisconsin Avenue NW. We will gather in the lot which is across the street from the embassy entrance gate.

Thank you. We look forward to seeing you there to help us protest Russia’s continued aggression towards its peaceful neighbors.

Regards,

Georgian Association


Annual reception of the Georgian Association in the US

On June 12, 2017, the Georgian Association in the US hosted its traditional annual reception to celebrate Georgian independence and recognize friends of Georgia who contribute to the US-Georgian partnership and who help and support Georgia. This year the Georgian Association honored Mr. Kenneth Angell, Managing Director, Project Finance, Small and Medium Enterprise Department, Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Mr. Angell was awarded for his tireless effort for almost two decades to facilitate US investments, economic development and job creation in Georgia. He is a true friend of Georgia. Mr. Tsotne Dadiani, member of the Board of Directors of the Association, read a message from the President of the Georgian Association, Ms. Elisso Kvitashvili, announcing the recipient of the GA’s annual award. Mr. Mamuka Tsereteli, also a Board Member, introduced Mr. Angell to the audience and presented the award to him.

The Georgian Association also announced its continued support for the Academy of the Georgian Heritage, an important organization dedicated to the education of Georgian American children in the Georgian language and cultural heritage. The Georgian Association awarded the Academy with a grant of $4,000 to support the development of new educational programs at the Academy.

Traditionally, Guests enjoyed Georgian wines and food.

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Georgia’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

Georgians should be proud of the many contributions and tremendous sacrifices made in Afghanistan as part of the international war on terror.  Georgian troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2004. Georgia became the largest non-NATO and the largest per capita troop contributor to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by late 2012.  At its peak deployment, Georgia provided two full infantry battalions serving with United States forces in Helmand province, primarily a United States Marine Corps (USMC) area.  Since the beginning of their mission, more than 11,000 Georgian soldiers have served in Afghanistan.  In June 2016, Georgia still had 861 troops, the largest non-NATO contributor to the Resolute Support Mission follow-on to ISAF, second only to the United States.

While the Georgian combat mission in Helmand ended in July 2014, Georgia pledged troops to the new NATO-led non-combat, training, advisory, and assistance mission called “Resolute Support” launched in January, 2015.  At various times, Georgia has also deployed an infantry company serving with the French contingent in Kabul, medical personnel within the former Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team and some individual staff officers.

Georgia’s commitment to supporting international forces has come at a price.  Since 2010, 31 Georgian servicemen have died, all in the Helmand campaign, and over 400 wounded, including 35 amputees.  Many of the amputees received medical treatment in the United States, mostly at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD.  Some soldiers with severe burns and traumatic brain injuries were treated at other specialized military medical centers.  The amputees included single, double, and triple loss of limbs.  At WRNMMC, they received excellent care including state-of-the-art prosthetics and rehabilitation.  Some of the wounded warriors had their families residing with them during their stay in Bethesda, and two of the amputee families gave birth to children who will have dual citizenship.

Alex Tugushi
Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, left, thanks LTC Alex Tugushi, a battalion commander with the Georgia forces stationed with the Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and wounded warrior, right, for his attendance and sacrifice during a promotion and appointment ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2012.

During their rehabilitation, some lasting several years, the soldiers were often visited by Georgians living in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as Americans who learned of their sacrifices.  At the recommendation of the Georgian Embassy, the Wounded Warrior Mentor Program (WWMP) started an English as a Second Language program to help the wounded soldiers benefit from their time in the lengthy treatment and healing involved in amputations.  The WWMP, with a dedicated group of volunteers and six Georgian wounded with their relatives who act as Non-Medical Assistants (NMA) and two Georgian medical personnel, met weekly at Bethesda to study English as a second language, and also to socialize, watch sports and share food; Georgian food of course.

One of the most severely wounded was LTC Alex Tugushi, a highly decorated battalion commander of the Georgian forces.  LTC Tugushi, served two eight month tours in Iraq, and two in Afghanistan, the second cut short by his wounds from a roadside bomb. While recuperating at WRNMMC he was visited by many USMC officers and President Barack Obama.  LTC Tugushi has since been promoted to full Colonel and lives in Georgia. By 2015, all the soldiers at WRNMMC had returned to Georgia to regain their lives with family and friends.

United States Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta visited the Georgian 31st Battalion in March 2012.   “I wanted to come here and thank you for your sacrifices,” the secretary said.  The secretary read a letter he said Tugushi had given him for the battalion. Dated March 12, the letter read, in part: “It has been an honor to serve with you. You are Georgian heroes. … The Armed Forces of Georgia, serving together with international forces in Afghanistan, are making a large contribution……”  “It is a great honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with the United States in one of the most troubled regions of Afghanistan,” the letter continued.

“Unfortunately, I could not complete my service with you. But I am proud of all of you — those who have fallen and those who continue to serve. You are all heroes who will go down in Georgian history.”

When the secretary finished reading Tugushi’s letter, he said it expressed his own feelings about the accomplishments of Georgian troops over the past eight years as part of the 50-nation coalition.

“You are an example of that international partnership, fighting for stability in Afghanistan,” Panetta said.

Georgia, a small country that more than lived up to its commitment to the international community has yet to be accorded a Membership Action Plan which would pave the way for Georgia to become a member of NATO.


Meeting with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

The Georgian Association participated in a meeting on June 21 of the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is advising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on foreign policy.  The CEEC reiterated its mission of coordinating mutual concerns of the member countries regarding United States policy toward Central and East Europe.  Among the topics discussed were the concern about the future of Russian aggression especially in the Ukraine, and continued occupation of territory in Georgia.  Sanctions imposed on Russia have not impacted Putin’s behavior in the region, and how the United States deals with the aggression will send a strong signal throughout Europe.  Also discussed were Brexit should it occur, refugee migration, visa waivers, and the need to strengthen NATO.  Secretary Albright welcomed the CEEC’s concerns and suggested a follow-up meeting in late summer.


Shota Rustaveli and the Knight in the Tiger’s Skin* Part 1 of 2

         Just before the beginning of World War Il, Georgia solemnly celebrated the 750th anniversary of the appearance of the famous poem of the great Georgian poet, Shotha Rustaveli   “The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin.” Today in 2016, this poem, known to all Georgians, celebrates well over 800 years of existence and remains as beloved as ever. Who was Shota Rustaveli and what about this medieval epic poem called a masterpiece of Georgian literature makes it so relevant today?

         Looking back, as the poem was celebrating its 750th birthday, during a meeting of the Association of Georgian Writers held in the capital city of Georgia, Tbilissi, a Mr. Ingorokva, Professor of Literature at the State University of Tbilissi and one of the best qualified commentators on Rustaveli at the time, spoke about the poem and its author. In the prologue to his lecture he said: “Centuries separate us from the time of Rustaveli, but his immortal poem continues to stand as the magnificent work of an accomplished genius, and its influence remains as powerful as ever. The era during which Rustaveli lived and created was the era when Georgia reached the height of her political power and cultural development. It is impossible to understand Rustaveli’s great work without a deep knowledge of the magnificent, original culture of Georgia of the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. And, in reality, where did the universal philosophy and the humanism with which the poem is impregnated come from? The answer, of course, is that the great cultural movement known as the Renaissance began in Georgia centuries before it came to Western Europe.”

       Professor Ingorokva was quite right. Rustaveli wrote a poem, which, like a mirror reflected the culture of Georgia of his day. The poem is first of all the expression, unique in form and style, of the great ideas of humanism on which as based the political and intellectual life of medieval Georgia.

         Who was Rustaveli? He was one of many great nobleman who surrounded the resplendent court of Queen Thamar the Great, who reigned in Georgia from 1184 to 1213. The Lord of Rustavi in Southwest Georgia, he took the name of Rustaveli which in Georgian means “one who comes from Rustavi.” There is not the slightest doubt that he was the man who wrote the “Knight in the Tiger Skin.” In the concluding lines of his poem the author says:

“..I sign my name,

A Meskhi from Rustavi.”

“Meskhi” in Georgian means a man from Meskheti, the province of Georgia where Rustavi is situated.

         When did Rustaveli live and when was his poem written? To these questions as well, the poem itself gives the answer. In the prologue, the author dedicates his poem to Queen Thamar and speaks of her as his contemporary. Now, the only Queen Thamar known to Georgian history is precisely the famous Thamar the Great, who became queen in 1184 when her father, George Ill, abdicated in her favor. This and other historical facts prove that Rustaveli lived in the second half of the 12th century and the first half of the 13th, the golden Age of the Kingdom of Georgia. His poem was likely written between the years 1184 and 1207. The exact date is not known and neither are the dates of his birth and death.

       After receiving a good education in Georgia, Rustaveli went to Athens (the Paris of his time) and completed his education there. He spoke several languages, he traveled extensively in Asia and Europe, he knew thoroughly the cultures, the arts, and the literature of all the civilized countries of his age. His poem is full of quotations from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers, poets, and writers of classical Greece and Iran.

      It can be seen that Rustaveli was well prepared to play a part in the service of his country. He received an appointment as Great Chamberlain (some sources say Chief Treasurer) to Queen Thamar the Great. The tragedy of his life begins from this moment. The queen was beautiful and Rustaveli fell desperately in love with her. All his genius is given to the task of singing her beauty, her charm, and her virtue.

“Let us sing to the great Queen Thamar, says the poet.

“1 dedicate to her my chosen odes, Odes written with tears and blood. I sing of the one of whom I have always sung.

She is all my life, even though she has no more mercy for me, than a rock.

I sing her glory in the lines which follow. ‘ ‘

Thus the poet ends the prologue to his poem.

     What was his further fate? We have nothing authentic to go by, but Shota Rustaveli Jvari Monasterylegend says that the poet abandoned public life, became a monk, and spent the rest of his days in one of the Georgian monasteries in Jerusalem (formerly the Georgian Monastery of the Holy Cross, the church now belongs to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem). It was there that his tomb was discovered centuries later, along with a fresco and a simple inscription “Shotha Rustaveli”. His Wikipedia Biography notes that the fresco and accompanying inscription in Georgian were defaced in 2004. But the fresco was subsequently restored.

*the poem is also referred to as “The Knight in the Panthe’s or Leopard’s Skin”.  This articledraws largely from an article written by Simon Kvitashvili and printed in the publication “The Voice of Free Georgia, vol 5, April, 1954.


The Georgian Association welcomes the release of Nadiya Savchenko on May 25

The Georgian Association welcomes the release on May 25 of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot imprisoned by Russia for nearly two years. She was falsely accused of responsibility for the death of two Russian journalists in the war between Russia and the Ukraine.   The GA stood with the people of Ukraine and the European Union in denouncing Moscow’s disregard for human rights and the harsh and unwarranted prison sentence imposed on Savchenko.  The GA will continue to be a voice for former Soviet bloc countries in their quest for freedom and rights under international law.


Georgian Association Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Regaining of Independence

Georgian Association Officials Lead Discussions on Georgia’s Security at Washington, D.C. Conference, co-hosted by Levan Mikeladze Foundation for the Caucasus Studies

On May 12, 2016, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of International Studies (SAIS) co-hosted a conference “Strategic Pillars of Security for Georgia:Trans-Atlantic Integration, Economy and Democracy”. Former President of the May 12 2Georgian Association Mamuka Tsereteli and President of the Levan Mikeladze Foundation of the Caucasus Studies Tina Mikeladze opened the conference on behalf of the organizers. The conference brought together in two panels noted scholars, policy analysts, program implementors and representatives of the U.S. Department of State. The Georgian government was represented by the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Mr. David Bakradze, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Dondua. The Georgian Embassy was represented by both Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze and Deputy Chief of Mission George Khelashvili. The Georgian representatives expressed concern about the “creeping annexation” of their country and their disappointment at the lack of movement towards a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for NATO. For their part, a number of American panelists, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bridget Brink reiterated continued US support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

There was much discussion, particularly during a second panel moderated May 12 3by the GA President Elisso Kvitashvili, on Georgia’s ongoing need to implement internal reforms that some panelists believed would enhance Georgia’s overall security through greater legitimacy of the government. Several panelists decried the lack of job creation, poor social service delivery, and lack of innovation in the business sector as stumbling blocks to Georgia’s economic development. There was agreement that the West needed to devote more attention on Georgia especially in her role as a hub in the developing Silk Road Transport Corridor.

The conference was followed by a reception celebrating Georgia’s upcoming Independence Day.  This year, 2016, Georgia celebrates its 25th anniversary of regaining of independence. This year’s special guest of the reception was the co-chair of the Georgia Caucus in the House of Representatives of the US Congress Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va) who, together with Congressman Ted Poe (R, Texas) is a co-sponsor of a draft congressional resolution supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity. Congressman Connolly received a special award from the President of the Association Elisso Kvitashvili.


Miss Elisabeth “Elisso” Kvitashvili – newly elected President of Georgian Association in the USA!

The Georgian Association of America is pleased to announce the election of its new president, Miss Elisabeth “Elisso” Kvitashvili, effective immediately.

Ms. Kvitashvili follows long time president Mr. Mamuka Tsereteli who continues as an active member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer. Ms. Kvitashvili recently retired from United States Government service where she was a member of the Senior Foreign Service and served overseas including in Georgia. She is a first-generation Georgian American whose father, Merab Kvitashvili, is a revered Georgian patriot. She is married with two children.

Here is a more detailed biography:

Elisabeth Kvitashvili recently served as the Mission Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives before retiring with 36 years of service in Ocrober, 2016. Prior to Sri Lanka she served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Middle East with oversight of the Iraq, Jordan and Yemen portfolios. Before joining the Middle East Bureau, she was in Rome, where she served as Humanitarian Affairs Counselor to the U.S. Ambassador, USUN-Rome. Prior to her arrival in Rome, she served as USAID Acting Mission Director in Russia. From 2007-2009 she served as Deputy Assistant Administrator, in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, United States Agency for International Development. She is a career Senior Foreign Service officer with tours in Afghanistan, Russia, Honduras and Italy (Rome) and shortened tours in Pakistan and Bosnia.

She served in Afghanistan, 2002-2003, where she was head of the USAID reconstruction program and Acting Mission Director. In the mid-1980’s she was based in Peshawar, Pakistan where she designed the USAID Cross Border Humanitarian Assistance Program for Afghanistan. During 1997-1998, she traveled for USAID throughout Afghanistan undertaking humanitarian assessments with the UN. She has also spent significant field time in the North and South Caucasus, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bosnia, Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Ethiopia and Eritrea working primarily on humanitarian and conflict-related programs. She previously served 3 years as the director of the Disaster Response and Mitigation Division in the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance where she led a number of DARTs and one year in the Office of Transition Initiatives as a senior program officer.

In 2003, she launched USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) serving as director until 2007. While Director of CMM, she led the development of a conflict assessment framework now in use throughout the USG as well as the Fragile States Strategy. She worked with General Petraeus’ staff in the drafting of the US military’s Counterinsurgency Manual and frequently addressed audiences about the nexus of COIN and development. She has authored several pieces on the subject.

She holds a master’s degree in Near East Studies from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and a diploma in international relations from Paris University School of Political Science. She is fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. She serves as adjunct professor at the Georgetown University where she teaches a graduate-level course on conflict and food security. She is married and has two children.


Advocacy Days on April 19-20, 2016

Invitation to Join the Georgian Association and the Central and East European Coalition of Diaspora Groups.

Dear Friends,

The Georgian Association in the USA and our partners from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) of diaspora groups have planned Advocacy Days for April 19-20, 2016. During the afternoon of April 19 and a full day of activities on April 20, the participants will meet members of the US Administration, members of Congress, and senior staffers of key congressional committees.

The meetings will address the critical policy issues related to US interests in Central and Eastern Europe and the political and economic security of the countries of the region. The participants will have an opportunity to raise issues such as the territorial integrity and national security of Georgia, and the acceleration of Georgia’s integration into Transatlantic security and economic institutions. The Georgian Association will supply participants with briefing materials.

We encourage your active participation in this important event. The voice of Georgian Americans is important for keeping US foreign policy focused on Georgia and Georgia-related issues. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thank You!!!

Georgian Association in the USA

www.georgianassociation.org


Teach and Learn with Georgia

 

  • Want to make a difference? The country of Georgia is recruiting native English speakers to help teach English through the project.

    The program is offering benefits:

  • Housing and living accommodations
  • Medical insurance
  • Round-trip tickets for work related trips and one vacation

    Volunteer teachers will stay in Georgia for at least one year with once in a life-time opportunity to help the Georgian children learn English language and thus influence their lives; get familiarized with amazing Georgian customs and traditions by living in the local families; experience unique Georgian folklore and cuisine by socializing with local communities and if willing, learn the Georgian language, one of the ancient languages of the world.

    For more information, please visit: www.tlg.gov.ge or www.mes.gov.ge

    Contact: info@tlg.gov.ge, phone: + 995 32 318959, + 995 58 177574

 


Spirit and Whimsy: The Art of Niko Chocheli

We want to announce to the Georgian community in the U.S. and friends of Georgia that the largest retrospective show to date of Niko Chocheli’s art and illustrations is on exhibit at the Antiochian Heritage Museum in Ligonier, PA now through February 20, 2011.

“Spirit and Whimsy: The Art of Niko Chocheli” gathers works from private collections in addition to over 70 original pieces never before exhibited. This historic exhibit chronicles his unique work illustrating 7 Orthodox Christian Children’s books in the United States and Greece. Niko’s love for our homeland shines through each of his work, and it communicates the spirit and beauty of Georgia with its rich Orthodox Christian Heritage to many who may not have known its significance.

The official opening of this show was blessed by His Grace Bishop THOMAS of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic United States.

The museum is located at the Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center in Ligonier, PA. Those interested in overnight lodging may contact Antiochian Village at 724-238-3677.

Here is the link for the Antiochian Village website page announcing Niko’s show, with praise from Publisher’s Weekly, a short bio, and contact information with hours and directions: http://antiochianvillage.org/center/heritage/museum.html

If you have any questions please email or call Niko at 267-981-2973.


School of Georgian Language and Culture

The Georgian Association is planning to establish a school of Georgian Language and Culture (GLC) for children living in the greater Washington D.C. region. GLC will help children learn/improve Georgian language skills, and get acquainted with Georgian literature, history and traditions.

As a first step, the Georgian Association is collecting information about potential students (number of children, age groups, current level of language skills, etc.). This will help us determine the needs of children, and design programs that will best serve their needs.

Please help us gather the aforementioned information by filling out a brief survey. Families with children 3 years and older are welcome to participate. If you have questions feel free to contact us. Please send your completed questionnaires to georgianassociation@gmail.com.

Click here to fill out the survey.


Documentary Film about Vachtang “Botso” Korisheli

An American film crew is working on a production of a feature-length, non-profit documentary film on the life and legacy of Vachtang “Botso” Korisheli. Mr. Korisheli is a Georgian composer, teacher and sculptor who lives in California.

The filmmakers will finish the production of “BOTSO: The Passion of Music, The Passion of Art” by the end of 2008. The documentary will explore the life and philosophy of Botso Korisheli. Also, it will showcase life in Georgia and the Georgian culture.

For more information about Mr. Korisheli and this film, please visit www.aspectstudios.com/botso.


Research Georgian Biographies Online

The online Dictionary of the Georgian National Biography is the first English-language compilation of some 400 biographies of individuals, whose lives have influenced the Georgian culture and history. This resource provides information about people of every ethnic background, who contributed to the cultural diversity of the Georgian society. You may access this resource at http://www.georgianbiography.com


Association Forms Working Groups

The Georgian Association has formed Advocacy, Press and Education working groups. Volunteers who kindly agree to participate in these groups will advocate for Georgian issues with the United States government and other relevant organizations, ensure fair coverage of Georgian issues in the press, and build a framework to help preserve the Georgian language and culture in the U.S.

Soon, the Association will issue a formal position paper on key issues and priorities important to the Georgian community in the U.S. and the organization as well. Support for territorial integrity of Georgia and stability in the Caucasus will be top priorities.

A coordinator will lead and manage activities of each working group. We are still looking for enthusiastic volunteers. If you would like to join any of the above-mentioned groups, please contact us. For logistical reasons, it is easier to participate in these efforts if you live in the Greater Washington area. However, there will be many opportunities to contribute from afar. Therefore, if you live in a different state and are interested in helping, please let us know.


Russia Continues Bombing Georgia

 

  • Georgias existence is under attack by an authoritarian and imperial Russia that has flouted international law by bombing the country, slaughtering civilians and occupying its territory. This is a situation that the West has encountered numerous times in the past in Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1968, in Hungary in 1956 and in Afghanistan in 1979. We have seen the failure of appeasement before, and while international condemnations of Russia have proliferated, they will not prevent further dominoes from falling. Concrete actions must be taken.

    If Russia fails to cooperate with calls for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops from Georgia, we urge the United Nations, United States, European Union and NATO to consider taking the following actions to prevent further aggression and preserve global stability:

  • Immediately Recall US Ambassador to Russia
  • Grant Georgia MAP for NATO
  • Remove Russia from the G-8
  • Strip the 2014 Sochi Olympics from Russia
  • Freeze Russian assets abroad
  • Enact economic sanctions on Russia
  • Continue to block Russian membership in the WTO
    This is a decisive moment for the West and the world more broadly. The Georgian Association in the United States hopes that the global community clearly recognizes the danger to its stability that Russian actions present.

    Georgian Association in the United States of America, Inc.