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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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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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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Woodstock Without Borders: One Caucasus Festival

I’ve been meaning to attend the annual One Caucasus festival since it started three years ago, but this year’s event, held 25-28 August in the Georgian village of Tserakvi, was the first time that I have. Naturally, I put together two video reports, in Azerbaijani for the BBC’s Azeri Service and in English for Meydan TV.

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#NKPeace: The Armenia-Azerbaijan Karabakh Escalation Viewed From Georgia

Following the recent escalation on the Line of Contact (LoC) separating Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in and around the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, BBC Azeri recently published my piece on the view from Georgia. In particular, it focuses on opinions expressed at a meeting of the Thinking Citizens platform, an Azerbaijani and Georgian-Azeri initiative. I also wrote a much longer piece for openDemocracy which was also republished by the World Policy Institute.

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#UnitedCVE: The Media and Civil Society in Countering Violent Extremism in Central Asia

A little late in posting because of other work, but now details of last month's conference and workshop in Bishkek organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kyrgyzstan, OSCE Academy, American University of Central Asia, Internews, Soros, and the PromoTank Research Institute. The event, Cooperation between Media and Civil Society for Countering Information Threats and Promoting Transparency and Accountability, was held on 28-30 and I was a panelist and also held a workshop for the OSCE on the media and counter-narratives.

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Some Positive News from Pankisi, Georgia

It’s not often there’s some positive news coming out of Pankisi, better known these days as the birth place of Tarkhan Batirashvili, aka ISIS’ Abu Omar al-Shishani, but some does exist. In addition to being a tranquil and scenic part of Georgia, and perhaps contrary to popular opinion, local civil society is clued up to the problems facing the region and there are individuals and organisations trying to make a difference. One of those is Gela Mtivlishvili, a Georgian journalist who I first encountered at a closed round table on radicalisation in Pankisi we both spoke at late last year.

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#UnitedCVE: Q & A With Anne Azza Aly and Bennett Clifford

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) recently published another of my pieces on radicalisation in Georgia and once again, the research work of Bennett Clifford proved invaluable to support general observations I’ve also made as it pertains to the problem of radicalisation in Georgia. My recent Q & A with Bennett also proved interesting enough to merit posting it in full on this blog. But first up, however, is Anne Azza Aly, a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) practitioner from Australia who I’ve met before at a Hedayah and Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) event I spoke at in December 2014.

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