Georgian Brain Drain

I was thinking about Brain Drain phenomen. One major case of the brain drain happens when students from developing countries studying in the developed countries decide not to return home after their studies.

The brain drain is the large-scale emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. It is normally due to conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks. Although the term originally referred to technology workers leaving a nation, according to Webster dictionary the meaning has broadened into: “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another, usually for better pay or living conditions”.

When I moved to Italy in 2007 for my masters studies I kept saying I would come back to Georgia after graduation. I would say I have a desire to work for my country, otherwise often all the educated people stay abroad after studies, “who should be in charge for my country if not us?” I repeated naively. So I did return to Georgia and every day since I recall one evening at my place in Italy with my Georgian mate. She is older then me, waaaay more experienced and educated (abroad). She tried to persuade me that soon these illusions of going back to Georgia happily ever after would turn out in an opposite way. I am a stubborn person, I should tell you, but she didn’t try much either. She was sure in what she was telling me. So every time I would come back home for a vacation I kept repeating about my comeback plans. But that was before I bought a one way ticket to Tbilisi. Continue reading

Strategic Insignificance as Advantage? view on Caucasus

“This leads me to the paradoxical thought that a healthy dose of strategic insignificance would be very positive for the South Caucasus. Viewing the region in this light would allow outsiders and locals alike to concentrate on solving essential everyday problems.”

This is the excerpt from Thomas de Waal’s article published at Foreign Policy. He talks about the share responsibility towards Caucasus region. “We are at fault, I believe, because our faulty perceptions and interpretations have helped make bad local politics worse.” Thomas de Waal identifies three dangerous mirages — misguided approaches to this region that reverberate in decidedly unhelpful ways:

“the first mirage may be the oldest: the notion that the region is a “Great Chessboard”, The second mirage is that of the Russian bear looming over this region ready to maul the relatively defenseless Caucasian peoples, even today, and the third mirage is the perception of the South Caucasus as an area of great Western strategic interest — an approach, that paradoxically, actually does more harm than good.”

The proposal of strategic insignificance makes sense and I have had such thoughts before.  In a way its a simple truth as any faulty perception and interpretation misleads the true course of the matter. Different false perceptions within the state or a region has been one of the reasons for conflicts in many cases.

In the end Thomas gives few recommendations:

“As for Western policy-makers, I believe they should ask themselves two questions every time they contemplate an intervention in the South Caucasus: “Is my action helping to open borders and free up a blocked region?” and “Does it empower ordinary people and not just governments?”

Quite interesting view from outside. Check out the full article HERE.

Useful for PHD researchers from South Caucasus

If I was conducting PHD studies, I would definitely use this opportunity. Already saved the link for the future.

Meanwhile, PHD researchers from South Caucasus could benefit from it. I am talking about the ACADEMIC SWISS CAUCASUS NET (ASCN). It is a 5-year programme aiming at promoting social sciences and humanities in the South Caucasus. The various actors involved in the programme believe that by doing so it encourages constructive debates on society and thus contributes to the transformation process of the region. As the official web says, the different activities foreseen in the programme aim at contributing to the emergence of a new generation of talented researchers in the three Republics of the South Caucasus.

Young promising researchers are supported through research projects, capacity-building trainings and scholarships. The ASCN Programme is run and coordinated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) of the University of Fribourg. It is supported by GEBERT RÜF STIFTUNG. In its initial phase, the programme is mainly focusing on Georgia. The programme will be extended to Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2011.

Each year a limited number of short-term grants (one week to one month) to Switzerland are available for young researchers from the South Caucasus. These grants offer scholars (PhD. candidates and higher) from the region the following possibilities: participation to a conference in Switzerland, exchange with Swiss scholars and visit of Swiss academic institutions with the goal to initiate cooperation, exchange on specific research projects, work on an ongoing (PhD.) project and benefit from research infrastructure in Switzerland.

For the year 2010, grants are restricted to Georgian citizens. The grants are open to researchers from all Georgian institutions of higher education in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Applications can be made any time during the year.

For the rest visit their official web-site. Hope it can somehow help you.

Turkey’s EU Membership: Will The ‘Armenian Opening’ Help?

CU Issue 49, October 5, 2009 

Turkey’s foreign policy, as
emphasised by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, is to have ‘zero problems with neighbours’ (Today’s Zaman, September 13). This is, first and foremost, intended to stabilise Turkey’s complex regional environment and ensure Turkey’s reputation as a peacemaker. It is also, more tactically, intended to boost Turkey’s long-running EU membership application. Ankara hopes to show that it is a responsible, and indeed indispensable, partner for Europe in Eurasia and the Middle East.
Read full article from Caucasian  Review of International Affairs

Read a new book about Caucasus

Many western scholars complaint the lack of good scholarly works on the South Caucasus region. However, one recent book seems to have a chance  to contribute for the better understanding of contemporary Caucasus, – "The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus" By Charles King. This book provides an analysis of the region’s turbulent history since the late 18th century; offers exploration of how the Caucasus has been imagined by outsiders and gives an overview of contemporary conflicts and developments in the region.
Before buying this book you can read a book review written by Nina Caspersen who is a lecturer in politics and international relations, Lancaster University, and the author of several articles on the Caucasus. "The Ghost of Freedom provides an excellent analysis of the region’s turbulent history since the late 18th century; offers a rich exploration of how the Caucasus has been imagined by outsiders; and gives a good overview of contemporary conflicts and developments in the region. While illuminating, this is also highly complex and those unfamiliar with the Caucaus may at times find it difficult to grasp." –
this is what Nina Caspersen is telling us. 

Tbilisi is Speaking!!!

I am finally back home to Georgia for holidays …. and some research work as well….
Going back to Tbilisi always brings me tons of emotions and special feelings, but recently I discovered there is one new type of feeling inside me: I started observing and comparing people with others I’ve met outside of Georgia and try to make conclusions, some kind of game of analyzing post-communist nations, not only in political sense but in everyday life level as well. Sometimes asking yourself what would Ukrainian or Armenian would say in this case and why?! Sometimes (when in transport) I am getting addicted to this game so much that I just pass by my destination. I want to know them: Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanians, other caucasians, Ukrainians, Russians….. This region is just fascinating, so much diverse, interesting, breathtaking, deep, unimaginably beautiful and troublesome at the same time. Actually I mean Caucasus in this particular case…. Just found an extremely interesting article by Thomas de Waal who is IWPR’s (Institute for War and Peace Reporting) outgoing Caucasus Editor. This article could be useful for all of you interested in Caucasus topic, especially for the beginners wishing to know more about this region. …"the sad reality is, that with its tangle of closed borders and ceasefire lines, the Caucasus more resembles a suicide pact…." –  Thomas de Waal stating. Fair and interesting point of view from outside… I am sure you’re already curious to read this article…. so go ahead… L

p.s.  By February 2009 I will be reporting from Tbilisi…..