On March 15, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) and Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) hosted a public lecture - “Russia: Old New Year, New Old President”. The chairman of the lecture was Dr. Alexander Rondeli, President, GFSIS. The speakers were: Amb. David J. Smith, Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, GFSIS, Dr. Timothy K. Blauvelt, Associate Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies and Zurab Abashidze, former Ambassador to NATO, EU and Russian Federation.
Dr. Timothy K. Blauvelt began his presentation with the question why the authoritarian regimes bother themselves with elections, when outcomes are determined in advance. He made an overview of the elections during Soviet era and compared them with the recent presidential and parliamentary elections of Russia. He did not predict major changes in the country’s development in the nearest future, as the people who protest the current regime and think progressively do not represent the majority.
Amb. Zurab Abashidze concentrated about Putin’s regime achievements and failures. He spoke about verticality of power in Russia from the beginning of 21st century and emphasized on his achievements in particular of regaining the control over separatist forces inside Russia. He stressed out that Kremlin regime centralized economic recourses, mainly oil and gas and tightly controlled media. Mr. Abashidze concluded that although the regime considers those as achievements, critics of Putin assess them as failures.
“Although he has been re-elected, this presidency will be a lot more difficult and different from previous two terms,” said Amb. David J. Smith. He concentrated on the importance of social media and internet in recent Russian political developments and underlined that Putin’s regime did not asses its importance adequately. Smith said that economic and political development in Russia as well as normalization of relations with Georgia would be better because trouble in Russia usually means trouble for Georgia. However, normalization cannot come at the expense of existential values such as Georgia’s sovereignty over the occupied territories. On the basis of historical development, Smith concluded that Putin becomes very dangerous in terms of foreign policy, when he has problems inside his own country.
After the presentations interesting part of questions and answers was held among speakers and attendees. The room was full of foreign diplomats, professors, Georgian opinion makers and students. “Chatam House rules” applied.
On February 2, 2012, Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) and the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) hosted a public seminar, “From Iowa to Florida: America chooses a President.” GSAC Director David J. Smith, Atlantic Council of Georgia’s Chairman David Sikharulidze, Liberty Institute Chairman Levan Ramishvili and UG Emeritus Professor Edward R. Raupp were the speakers. They delivered interesting speeches on election rules, candidates, US foreign policy and security issues. More than 50 people attended the seminar, which was chaired by Archil Gegeshidze, Senior Fellow, GFSIS. “Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, though Barack Obama will win the Elections,” predicted Edward R. Raupp. He reviewed election forecasting methodologies and argued that the elections can be predicted according to the wishful thinking, polls and forecasting models. David J. Smith overviewed general rules of the caucuses and primary elections, as well as the current situation after contests in four states. Levan Ramishvili discussed each candidate’s strategy and people’s attitude to the Presidential Elections. He claimed that the upcoming elections are the most significant elections in the US history. David Sikharulidze overviewed the candidates’ foreign and security policies. After the presentations, an interesting discussion was held. The room was comprised of people from the government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, experts and students.
On December 12, 2011, 75 people gathered at GFSIS to participate in the seminar, “Zero Problems; Many Challenges: Turkey’s Role in International Security Affairs.” The event was hosted by GFSIS and the Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC). Professor Alexandre Rondeli, GFSIS President chaired an interesting panel and lively discussion.
Speakers were H.E. L. Murat Burhan, Turkish Ambassador to Georgia, Ms. Diba Nigar Göksel, Editor-in-Chief, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Professor Revaz Gachechiladze, Tbilisi State University and Ambassador David J. Smith, Director of GSAC.
Ambassador Burhan said that Turkey has been developing since the foundation of the Republic in 1923. As it approaches its centennial, it is playing an increasingly important role on the world stage. Nonetheless, he said, the country’s broad policy direction remains that articulated by Kemal Atatürk: “Peace at home; peace in the world.” The current iteration of this is “Zero problems with neighbors.” This is not always the case, but it remains a worthy objective. Ambassador Burhan proceeded with an overview of Turkish foreign policy, emphasizing his country’s views on the Middle East and its continuing aspiration to accede European Union.
Ms. Göksel drew a broad geopolitical picture, emphasizing Turkey’s western orientation. Professor Gachechiladze began with observations of Turkey’s separation from Georgia during the Cold War. Today, he said, that a politically and economically strong Turkey is a very important ally for Georgia. If Turkey normalizes relations with every neighbor it will effect region only positively.
Ambassador Smith concluded the panel with a geopolitical presentation featuring several maps of Turkey’s region. He outlined many positive developments in Turkish-US-EU relations—they are natural allies, he said. Indeed, he said, their alliance is so important that it cannot be left to chance. He advocated a purposeful cooperation on several crucial matters to seal the relationship. He also stated that the country is developing very quickly economically and democratically—by 2050, it will be one of the most important countries in Europe.
After the presentations, an interesting discussion was held. The room was comprised of people from the Government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students. Several ambassadors, university rectors and deans attended. “Chatham House rules” applied.
The Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) of GFSIS and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation hosted the round-table discussion, which was chaired by Archil Gegeshidze, Senior Fellow, GFSIS.
Dr. Masala delivered a speech about the new NATO Strategic Concept and Enlargement in the context of Georgia’s NATO membership aspiration. Several Georgian opinion makers participated in the round-table and they held a lively discussion. Dr. Masala also talked about the problem of Russian occupation of Georgian territories. He said that before clear membership planning, NATO countries, together with Georgia, have to clarify whether Georgia will join the alliance with those Russian troops still occupying or there will be a plan with Russia to withdraw its soldiers. In the end, participants agreed that Georgia’s membership depends on the political will of NATO members and their relations with Russia.
GSAC Director David J. Smith began with an overview of 2008 war. He emphasized once more how well organized were 2008 cyber attacks on Georgia. Especially it is difficult to trace the attackers in cyber space and there is no legal framework that declares cyber-attacks as warfare, Smith said. He underlined that it is not impossible to create cyber capabilities for defensive means. He made some examples how well Georgian side defended its cyber space during the war.
Khatuna Mshvidobadze overviewed Russian cyber capabilities. She discussed Information Doctrine and Security Strategy of Russia. There is no clear law against cyber-crime and cyber criminals are recruited and supported by the government. She also pointed out that recent attacks against “Novaya Gazeta” and Live Journal followed similar to those of the 2008 attacks on Georgia. Mshvidobadze emphasized how far Russia stands from the only useful official document, European Convention on Cyber Crime, which is open for signature since 2001.
After the presentations interesting discussion was held. The room was comprised of people from the Government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students. “Chatham House rules” applied.
On November 8, 2010, Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) and the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS) hosted a public seminar, “Looking toward the NATO Lisbon Summit” The chairman of the seminar was Professor Alexander Rondeli, President, GFSIS. The speakers were Amb. David J. Smith, Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, GFSIS; H.E. Toomas Lukk, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Georgia and Amb. Irakli Menagarishvili, Chairman, of the Atlantic Council of Georgia and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Helen Khoshtaria, Deputy State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration.
The event clearly tapped great interest in Tbilisi as a record 120 people packed the GFSIS conference room. Khoshtaria kicked off with a review of Georgia’s progress toward NATO. She reviewed implementation of the Annual National Plan and argued that Georgia is still on track for NATO Membership. Ambassador Lukk argued that geopolitically, NATO is still the right choice for Georgia and put this in context by comparing it to Estonia’s earlier experience. Menagarishvili reviewed Georgia-NATO relations from a position outside the government. Smith said he was somewhat pessimistic about the Summit, arguing that too much alliance attention is devoted to Russia. However, he agreed with Khoshtaria that Georgia has made excellent progress and should still be a prime candidate for alliance membership.
After the presentation lively discussion was held. Many people were interested in the subject. The room was comprised of people from the Government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students. “Chatham House rules” applied.
Ambassador Smith emphasized the longue durée of history by starting with the Trojan War in 1194 BC. Geography, he said, does not determine history, but it provides the enduring stage upon which history unfolds. For 3,000 years, the history of our region has been about the narrow straits that lead from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and the narrow corridor formed by the Kolkhida Lowland and the Rioni and Mtkvari Rivers.
The immediate background to the events of 1918-1921 was World War I, particularly, the failure of the Gallipoli Campaign, the defeat of Serbia and Romania, the Battle of Jutland, the Russian Revolution and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. British forces were dispatched to the Caucasus to deny Baku oil to Germany and Turkey. The result was that at war’s end, the British had a military force here without a clear idea of its mission.
That kicked off a 1 ½ year debate in London among those who wanted to withdraw from the former Russian Empire altogether, interventionists who favored Great Russia and interventionists who favored border states independence. British action was never sufficiently resolute. One by one, the South Caucasus states fell to the Bolsheviks. The Red XI Army entered Georgia on a pretext on February 15, 1921 and Tbilisi fell on February 25. Smith concluded by drawing some parallels to the Russian attack of 2008.
Mr. Giorgi Kandelaki commented on the presentation and he raised interesting historical points especially from Georgia’s side. In particular, he asked, whether geography and decisions in London were as prominent as described in the first presentation. He suggested further research is necessary about British views of Georgia, Georgian diplomacy and effect of Georgian neutrality.
After the presentations interesting discussion was held. The room was comprised of people from the Government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students. “Chatham House Rules” applied.
Nearly 100 people packed the GFSIS conference room for Georgia's first ever public encounter between technical and policy specialists in the related fields of cyber war, cyber crime and cyber espionage.
GSAC Director David J. Smith began with an overview of the challenges. Georgia, he said, was the first country to be attacked by cyber and kinetic means simultaneously--but it will not be the last. Of course, we know that Russia carried out these attacks, but the problem, Smith emphasized, is timely attribution, that is, knowing what is happening as it happens. This problem will never be solved, so the solution is defense in cooperation with like-minded countries.
Khatuna Mshvidobadze then detailed impressive and growing Russian capabilities. The attacks against Georgia were carried out by the elusive Russian Business Network and also by hacktivists that were recruited and organized through sites like Xaker.ru. The effort, she stressed, was closely coordinated with the kinetic attack, so had to have been directed by the Russian state. Compounding the problem, in Russia, there is a nexus among internal repression, external aggression and organized crime, all overseen by the Russian state, which is, itself, a sort of criminal enterprise.
Nata Goderdzishvili, top lawyer at Georgia's Data Exchange Agency (DEA), then described the legal situation. Regrettably, neither the international nor domestic legal systems is keeping up with cyber technology and developments. Smith, Mshvidobadze and Goderdzishvili all agreed that countries and allies must defend themselves. One legal step forward, however, would be the European Convention on Cyber Crime, which obligates signatories to cooperate in investigating cyber attacks.
Finally, DEA Director Irakli Gvenetadze outlined Georgia's efforts in cyber defense. Georgia, indeed, seeks to cooperate with like-minded countries--NATO and particularly Estonia and the USA. Georgia is first concentrating on protecting the .gov.ge domain and is also coordinating with private industry to protect the country's critical infrastructure. One bit of good news to emerge from the seminar was that the Poti-Varna fiber-optic cable now carries most Georgian Internet traffic so that it does not go directly into the FSB's electronic surveillance system, which, Mishvidobadze said, is called SORM-2.
After the presentations interesting discussion was held. Listeners from the audience make arguable comments and questions. Many people were interested in the subject. The room was comprised of people from the Government, NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students. “Chatham House rules” applied.