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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#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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The Media and Internet in Regional Cooperation for Peace and Stability

Following my recent presentation for the U.K.’s Advanced Command and Staff Course during its study visit to Georgia, my next on the South Caucasus is set for later today at the Caucasian House in Tbilisi. This time, however, the main focus will be on the media in the context of regional cooperation for peace and stability.

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Image Copyright and Watermarking

The photograph above was taken at an opposition rally in Yerevan, Armenia, in October 2007. By January 2008, ahead of the February Presidential Election, the opposition had used it as one of the main images for their campaign website. Contacting them, they did at least agree to pay me $100 for use of the image online, but what they didn't tell me was that they'd also use it as the main image for posters, banners, badges, and sticker labels.

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A Great Response to Caucasus Conflict Voices

I've been very encouraged by the response to my latest gallery of images on ethnic Armenian-Azeri coexistence in Georgia, published last week by Radio Free Europe in English and Azerbaijani. It follows a similar gallery published by BBC Azeri and BBC Russian in May as well as in a special Caucasus edition of Turkish Review in June.

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