Countering Violent Extremism in Georgia

Last month Stratfor published my latest piece on radicalization in Georgia and what needs to be done in order to prevent and counter it. Since becoming involved in this sphere from 2013 on, it’s become an increasingly active area of interest of mine and not least because while other countries have been quick to introduce national strategies to combat the phenomenon, Georgia has not. Indeed, the same is true for civil society.

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Another Year, Another One Caucasus

After covering last year’s One Caucasus Festival for Meydan TV there was no way I was going to miss this year’s. That was just as well as there was definitely more international media interest in the event that brings Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians together in a small, somewhat isolated village located about two hours away from Tbilisi.

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Alternative and Counter Narratives in the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict

No sooner than I’m back from Yerevan, where I presented my work on alternative and counter narratives in the context of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in general, than yet another exchange of fire has left innocent civilians dead on the Line of Contact (LoC) separating Karabakh forces, which include conscripts from Armenia, and the Azerbaijani military. As usual, emotions were high on both sides following the violence and also as usual, nationalist and extremist voices made attempted to drown out any voices of reason who instead called for progress in negotiations to end a conflict that has gone on for way too long and claimed thousands of lives after a ceasefire agreement that has been anything but.

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OSCE Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism (LIVE)

Things have been a bit quiet on this blog for quite a few months and not least because since last December I’ve been on contract as an external media and communications consultant for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Transnational Threats Department / Action against Terrorism Unit (ATU). The project has been to draw up a training program that will eventually be rolled out across the OSCE-wide region to equip youth leaders in member states with the tools and skills necessary to prevent and counter violent extremism. The project touches upon all forms of violent extremism including that by the far right and not just ISIL/Da’esh.

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Unlikely Neighbours: Ethnic Armenian-Azeri Coexistence in Georgia

With peace still looking elusive, and all signs pointing to the possibility of renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Stratfor recently published my photo story on ethnic Armenian-Azeri coexistence in Georgia. Offering a much needed alternative narrative on relations between the two ethnic groups, it’s a topic I’ve covered continuously since 2009 for BBC Azeri, RFE/RL, and others.

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Tbilisi: A Regional Hub for Alternative Music in the South Caucasus?

Having moved from the UK to Armenia in 1998 to work for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) it was only natural that I started to take an interest in an alternative music scene that, while not really existing, was emerging at the time. From 2001 onwards the situation started to change, and bands such as Gyumri’s The Bambir really grabbed my attention. By the mid-2000s other bands started to emerge and those that had been dormant during the electricity shortages of the 1990s began to re-surface.

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DiHaj in Tbilisi, A Week Later in Baku Unveils Azerbaijan’s Eurovision Entry

I won’t pretend to be a Eurovision fan as it’s really not my thing. Until I moved to the South Caucasus from the U.K. I never ever watched it and actually thought it something best avoided. True, standards in the international music competition have increased considerably since Eastern Europe and other former Soviet republics have participated, and the often acerbic commentary on on Twitter can be fun, but in the few years that really hasn’t been enough. Last year did at least interest me a little given that a band from Tbilisi, the Young Georgian Lolitaz, represented Georgia as I’ve known their lead singer, Nika Kocharov, and photographed the band since 2005. This year has also sparked my interest given that another band I’ve been photographing for a year now, Baku-based DiHaj, is representing Azerbaijan, and pretty good they are too.

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EUMM/IWPR Cross Boundary Workshop for Journalists



From the 21st to 25th November, the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and the South Caucasus office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) convened a workshop and study visit for journalists from Georgia and its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and Georgia. The workshop was a follow up to one previously held a year ago in Istanbul, Turkey, and held with the intention of also introducing a new group of participants to European Union (EU) structures in Brussels. 



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