Freedom Week 2015 in South Caucasus
FNF has been active in the South Caucasus region for over 17 years now. During that time, the Foundation has actively supported the democratic development of the region’s states, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, through various civic and liberal educational projects. The latter aim to strengthen liberal parties, civil society and establish a strong democratic process, which will enable peaceful resolution of conflicts and ensure long-term stability for economic development. FNF South Caucasus has always sought to support youth and civic organizations of regional countries that promote liberal values and ideas about the free market, the rule of law and freedom. The Foundation has managed during this period to establish a network of trusted partners, who share the same values and strive to establish strong and peaceful relations between respective countries.
FNF South Caucasus joined the Foundation’s global movement “Freedom Week 2015”, which promotes liberal ideas and freedom values by organizing series of activities where well-known people from the general public, economic circles and media organizations participated. FNF South Caucasus contributed to “Freedom Week 2015” with eight activities.
Among the Freedom Week activities in Georgia, “The Presentation of World Economic Freedom Report 2015”, held on 21st September, is especially worthy of notice. The event was attended by more than 50 individuals from various civic and media organizations. During the conference, Paata Sheshelidze and Gia Jandieri from the New Economic School Georgia (NESG), with Dr Stefan Melnik, a German-British expert, talked about the importance of private property and the free market economy. They also discussed Georgia’s current position in the report ranking and analysed steps which should be undertaken to improve Georgia’s position. After the discussion, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. The event was widely covered by Georgian mass media.
Furthermore, Freedom Week civic education activities included a seminar, "Man, Liberalism and State" at the University of Georgia, and the workshops, "Liberalism-Values, Principles and Policies" and “Basics of Facilitation”, all of which were moderated by Dr Stefan Melnik.
A roundtable discussion, “Why Liberty" (18th September), involved meetings with partner civic organizations. The roundtable was devoted to the latest legal developments concerning the status of state property. Specifically, the moratorium on state property sales and the protection of private property rights in Georgia were discussed. New FNF partners also attended the meeting, where they had the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their views on these subjects, as it is very important that all FNF partners know each other and cooperate in their respective fields. The goal of these activities is not just to provide high quality civic education to partner organizations but also to encourage them to cooperate with each other on different topics.
Media was also a focus of “Freedom Week 2015” activities. The following media related events took place: “Tell the Truth” Citizen Journalist Workshop sessions (14th-17th September); a roundtable discussion “Freedom First” with the German expert, Dr. Jürgen Wickert; and “Freedom Frame” photo exhibition in partnership with the Centre for Civil Involvement (CCI) (25th September).
Freedom Frame ExhibitionAll these events covered various topics and challenges for Georgian media, specifically the lack of high quality vocational trainings for journalists and the difficulties for young journalists to establish themselves professionally. The photo exhibition “Freedom Frame” and the media reviews of its photos both demonstrate the potential which exists in this region for independent and free media. It is evident that given enough resources and support, there is a lot of potential for media to develop in South Caucasus region.
The results of these activities show that the efforts to support freedom and democracy in the region must continue because developing strong and democratic civil society is directly tied to how much freedom ideas and values are promoted.