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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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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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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Towards Effective Policies to Tackle Youth Radicalization in the Pankisi Gorge

Immediately after returning from Istanbul, where I held a workshop for Georgian, Abkhazian, and Ossetian journalists for the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), I spoke at a closed meeting on youth radicalisation in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.

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BBC Azeri: Azerbaijani Carpets reWoven

Last week BBC Azeri published my video report on reWoven, a sustainable development project to revive and sustain the art of traditional carpet weaving among Georgia's ethnic Azeri minority. I had interviewed Ryan Smith, reWoven's founder, over a month ago during an exhibition of some of the carpets made as part of the project, but only got to visit one of the villages where some of the weavers live last weekend.

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