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ECMI Caucasus on the CENN jury of the Regional Journalists Award: Best Reportage on Ecological Migration

On 28 May, 2015, a jury of 10 international and local organizations (Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Georgia, Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons From the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, LEPL National Environmental Agency; European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI); International Organization for Migration (IOM); Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus; Journalists Ethic Charter; Human Rights Center (HRC); Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Adjara AR) evaluated 7 pre-selected reportages on eco migration as a result of a journalist competition organized jointly by CENN, Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB)..

Out of these, three reportages took the 1st and 2nd shared prize:

Village Dgvari – landslide risk zone in Borjomi municipality (Authors: Eka Nozadze, Giorgi Samsonidze)

Potential Ecomigrants from Bulachauri (Authors: Ekaterine Mamamtavrishvili, Robert Churghulia) and How do Adjarian ecomigrants live in Kakheti? (Authors: Vera Iashvili, Davit Petruzashvili)

The competition was one of the activities in the framework of the EU funded project “Eco-migration: Dialogue and Cooperation in the South Caucasus Countries for Better Life”, where ECMI Caucasus is a members of the Steering Committee

The event was an opportunity to engage national authorities and other stakeholders in a discussion about legislative, housing and integration challenges that prevent a swift and comprehensive response to eco-migrants' needs and the communities to which the eco migrants are resettled.


ECMI Caucasus participated in OSCE ODIHR Roma Women Consultation Meeting

ECMI Caucasus Roma Assistant Elene Proshikian participated in the consultation meeting for Roma and Sinti women activists organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 18 and 19 May 2015, gathering 12 Roma and Sinti women activists from OSCE participating States to discuss gender mainstreaming and gender targeting in ODIHR’s activities focusing on Roma and Sinti communities.

Presenting the situation of Roma women in Georgia and touching upon Roma women in other countries in South Caucasus - Armenia and Azerbaijan, the key message was a very low level of activism among Roma communities and in particularly among Roma women. The Roma women in South Caucasus have no capacity to engage in any form of activism as they struggle with daily problems of subsistence, analphabetism and discrimination – both societal and in public sphere.

Therefore there is an urgent need of OSCE Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues to focus on the region and to transfer experiences from other regions of the OSCE, especially from the Balkans how Roma from those communities deal with non-discrimination and marginalization challenges and how the OSCE could influence the governments, societies and Roma communities themselves to promote their rights and gender equality as well as integration.

“Providing role models and success stories for Romani women activists is crucial in changing attitudes and behaviours towards women’s issues in Roma communities,” said Nesime Salioska, a Roma activist from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. “The OSCE should continue to support Roma women activists in their efforts to network and mobilize stakeholders to confront the obstacles they face in the context of gender equality.”

More on the meeting

Concluding Activities in Samtskhe-Javakheti

On 17/12 European Center for Minority Issues conducted two activities in Akhaltsikhe:

1) The first was intended for the ethnic minority/regional civil society organizations functioning in Samtskhe-Javakheti. In cooperation with the Georgian National Platform of the EaP Civil Society Forum, ECMI staff held an information meeting for nine regional organizations. This activity aimed at capacity building of the non-governmental organizations and integration into the structures supported by the European Union. 12 regional organizations (mostly ethnic minority) attended the meeting.

Nominated by the secretariat - Nukri Kvelashvili (one of the founders of this structure in Georgia) firstly briefed about what is the essence of the platform. He touched upon its objectives and mission. This was followed by explanation of platform’s structure and how involvement of CSOs is guaranteed. Presenter also clarified how the organizations can benefit from being part of it. Finally, a thorough presentation was delivered on the procedures of registration. 4 organizations expressed willingness to get involved and become part of the platform.

2) The second activity targeted representatives of the municipalities of Samtskhe-Javakheti region. ECMI staff has delivered a presentation on EU-Georgia’s Association Agreement and how the policy of local self-governance is envisaged in it. Particularly, a detailed information on Chapter 21 (Regional Development, Cooperation on Cross-border and Regional level) and explanation of its four Articles (372-375) were presented as well as handouts were disseminated among the participants.

The activities were financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Concluding Activities in Kakheti Region

On 16/12 European Center for Minority Issues conducted two activities in Telavi:

1) The first was intended for the ethnic minority/regional civil society organizations functioning in Kakheti. In cooperation with the Georgian National Platform of the EaP Civil Society Forum, ECMI staff held an information meeting for nine regional organizations. This activity aimed at capacity building of the non-governmental organizations and integration into the structures supported by the European Union.

Nominated by the secretariat - Nukri Kvelashvili (one of the founders of this structure in Georgia) firstly briefed about what is the essence of the platform. He touched upon its objectives and mission. This was followed by explanation of platform’s structure and how involvement of CSOs is guaranteed. Presenter also clarified how the organizations can benefit from being part of it. Finally, a thorough presentation was delivered on the procedures of registration.

2) The second activity targeted representatives of the municipalities of Kakheti region (and especially those where ethnic minorities live). At this meeting, ECMI staff has delivered a presentation on EU-Georgia’s Association Agreement and how the policy of local self-governance is envisaged in it. Particularly, a detailed information on Chapter 21 (Regional Development, Cooperation on Cross-border and Regional level) and explanation of its four Articles (372-375) were presented as well as handouts were disseminated among the participants.

The activities were financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Training in Lagodekhi

A concluding activity of training sessions on Georgia’s European Integration and Minority Involvement was organized on December 8 in Leliani, Lagodekhi.

The most of the participants represented the local ethnic minorities: Azerbaijanis from Kabali and Uzuntala villages and Ossetians from Leliani. They acquired information on European Union, functions of its Institutions, Eastern Partnership, Association Agreement, Visa liberalization and standards and documents applied by the EU for protection of ethnic minorities.

The activity was financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Commemoration in Akhaltsikhe of 70 years of Meskhetian Deportations

On 17th of November, a commemoration event was held in Akhaltsikhe dedicated to the 70 year anniversary of deportations of Meskhetian Muslim population from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1944.

Approximately 30 Meskhetians who personally experienced deportation arrived from Azerbaijan and Russian Federation. They gathered at the Akhaltsikhe rail tracks, where 70 years ago over 100.000 persons from surrounding villages had been rushed into wagons and sent to Central Asia. The survivors and their descendants paid a tribute to those who had perished during the deportation and harsh conditions at deportation destinations or during attempts to return.

The Samtskhe-Javakheti State University hosted a screening of a film “A Stone of Motherland” produced by Sandro Darakhvelidze and a local NGO “Toleranti”, describing the life of self-repatriated persons in Georgia and their struggle to be established in the “historic homeland”. The screening was followed by discussion on current problems of repatriation as well as the ongoing process of integration of already repatriated persons in Georgia.

Award for Roma integration in Kobuleti

On November 17, 2014, during the event dedicated to the International Day for Tolerance, hosted by Georgian Public Defender, an award for creating a tolerant environment at school was given to Nargiz Jincharadze, Headmaster of Public School N5 in Kobuleti. She is actively working with integration of children from Kobuleti Romani community based on ECMI Caucasus work with Roma. The tolerant environment in Kobuleti school also includes children coming from various religious backgrounds and Nargiz Jincharadze was especially awarded for this effort by the Council of National Minorities and the Council of Religions. The Public Defender traditionally awards “supporters of tolerance” – persons, organizations, media sources and public officials that contributed significantly to development of tolerance culture in Georgia in 2014. The event was attended by representatives of state agencies, diplomatic missions, international and non-governmental organizations, media, ethnic and religious minorities.

Public Lecture in Samtskhe-Javakheti State University

Another session of public lecture was organized by ECMI at Samtskhe-Javakheti State University. On the 17th of November in cooperation with the university administration and Georgia’s Reform Associates (GRASS) a public lecture: “Georgia’s European Integration and Minority Involvement “ was delivered by Sergi Kapanadze co-founder and head of the GRASS.

The lecturer touched upon the current process of the integration and where it stands now. He also spoke about the challenges the country could face on this way. Besides, the role of ethnic minority involvement was emphasized and the concrete benefits and opportunities, especially for students, were mentioned from the lecturer’s own experience.

More than 50 students attended the event. The presentation was followed by live discussions on different issues out of which rightness of Georgia’s European choice was the most significant.

The activity was financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Commemoration day of Deported Meskhetians

On 14 November Caucasian House in cooperation with the European Center for Minority Issues – Caucasus organized an event dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the deportation of around 100 000 Muslim Meskhetians by the former USSR in 1944.

The commemoration of the event started with the photo exhibition. The pictures depicting lives of the deported Meskhetians settled in different countries as well as repatriated persons living in Georgia were exhibited. Moreover, publications on the Meskhetian issues of Caucasian House and ECMI Caucasus were displayed and attendees had chance to get copies of them.

A film by Mikheil Beroshvili “Homelandless” was also screened. It was followed by presentations of the current problems of repatriation and integration process of already repatriated persons by Denola Chkhartishvili of GRASS and Giorgi Bobghiashvili of ECMI Caucasus. Irakli Kokaia of the Ministry of IDPs, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia addressed the questions, which were raised by the representative Meskhetian communities and civil society organizations.

Public Lecture at Telavi State University

On 22 October, European Center for Minority Issues organized a public lecture at Telavi State University in Kakheti Region. Title of the lecture was “European Union, Europeanization and the Role of Ethnic Minorities – Georgia’s Perspective” and was delivered by well-known writer and publicist Davit Zurabishvili.

The lecture started with the focus of system of European values and principles of human rights. It also dealt with the issues of advantages and disadvantages of Europeanization for each citizen of Georgia. Then the lecturer thoroughly reviewed standards of protection of national minorities in the European institutions as well as their integrations problem in Georgia.

More than 60 students and professors of the University attended the lecture, including ethnic minorities of Kakheti region.

The activity was financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Seminar on Erasmus+ Educational/Youth projects for ethnic minorities

A seminar on different student/youth projects supported by the European Union was organized by European Center for Minority Issues on 10/11/2014. The activity aimed at getting familiar with the youth educational and activity programs of the young representatives of ethnic minorities living in Georgia.

Lika Ghlonti, Coordinator of National Erasmus Office – Georgia, provided basic insights of the newly elaborated Erasmus+ program. All the opportunities and possibilities provisioned within its frame were comprehensively explained.

More detailed overview was provided by the representatives of Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University about their ongoing exchange and other education programs financed by the European Commission. The presenters described all the practicalities of the programs as well as concrete application procedures.

At the end of the session Inga Paichadze of “SIQA” the participants were provided with the information on “Youth in Action” program and its successor “Erasmus+”. These mostly included such activity-based project as “European Voluntary Service” (EVS) and funding opportunities for the youth organizations.

Student and young ethnic minorities have been brought from Kakheti, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions to attend the meeting. They have been encouraged by the presenters to apply in those programs as much as they represent vulnerable groups and thus chances for successful applications are much higher.

The activity has been financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Regional Seminar in Akhaltsikhe

ECMI Caucasus has actively participated in this year’s OSCE Human Dimension Meeting in a special side event dedicated to the problems Roma and Roma related groups encounter in South Caucasus and Central Asia. ECMI Caucasus Regional Director Ewa Chylinski and Project Assistant Elene Proshikian (a Roma herself) assisted OSCE ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti (CPRSI) in sharing knowledge and raising issues of Roma in South Caucasus and Central Asia, presenting situation of Roma in Georgia and recommendations for its improvement.

The issues of Roma in South Caucasus and Central Asia were in the focus of Working Sessions on National Minorities as well as special event devoted to largely unknown Roma and Roma related communities. Based on a study conducted in all three South Caucasus countries and three Central Asian countries, ECMI Caucasus contributed in putting perspective on key problems facing communities across both regions in the cross-field of basic human and minority rights – marginalization, social ostracism, very limited accessibility of education, health care. The culture and languages of individual groups such as Doms, Loms, Moghabi, Jugheli is hardly recognized and considered as a value.

Regional Seminar in Akhaltsikhe

On 13th of September ECMI Caucasus conducted a regional seminar in Akhaltsikhe devoted to the local self-governance reform and minority participation in local politics. The representative of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure Mr. Mamuka Abuladze presented overview of regional policy development in Georgia with the particular focus on newly adopted Code on Local self-Governance, followed by discussion on national minority political participation and inclusion problems in Samtskhe-Javakheti region and different municipalities of the regions.

The seminar was attended by 22 representatives of the Samtskhe-Javakheti regional administration units, including members of municipal services and Sakrebulos from Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda, Aspindza, Adigeni and Borjomi municipalities.

The seminar was organized under the project “Freedom and Local Governance” supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation

Trainings in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Another cycle of trainings was conducted on Georgia’s Euro-integration and minority involvement in the process. This time ECMI Caucasus trained ethnic minority Armenians living in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.

The training sessions were organized on 13-14 October in Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. The participants have been informed about the European Union, Association Agreement, Eastern Partnership and Visa Dialogue between EU and Georgia.

Participants have expressed interests on the protection mechanisms of national minorities which are applicable within the EU countries. The seminar part was followed by discussion which mainly covered the problems which ethnic minorities are facing now in Samtskhe-Javakheti region. They inquired about possibilities of addressing those issues as part of Georgia’s Europeanization process. The most of the questions posed were concerning inadequate representation of ethnic minorities in politics as well as about discrimination based on ethnicity.

ECMI Caucasus launched new project on local governance

In September 2014 ECMI Caucasus launched new project “Freedom and Local Governance” supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNS). The project envisages organization of series of seminars and workshops on local governance issues and national minority participation.

The first event of the project took place on 30th of September in Tbilisi dedicated to the newly adopted local self-governance code and its implications for minorities. The Seminar also discussed minority participation issues in different regions (Samtskhe-Javakheti, Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti and Adjara).

The next state of the project will be organization of regional level seminars in Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Batumi, Marneuli and Kutaisi aiming at in depth assessment of minority participation in decision-making process. In the end of the project general overview and assessment of minority political participation will be produced based on seminar and workshop results.

Training on for Media Organizations

On 23.09 European Center for Minority Issues Caucasus (ECMI Caucasus) conducted training for representatives of media organizations on Georgia’s European integration process and its implications on ethnic minorities.

Especially for this purpose journalists and editors of media organizations which are operating 1) in ethnic minority languages; 2) working on national minority issues and 3) functioning in ethnic minority compact settlement regions have been invited to participate in the activity. In total 15 regional (from Kvemo-Kartli, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kakheti) TV, Radio, Printing and Online media representatives attended the training.

The activity provided participants with the detailed information on Georgia’s Euro-integration process as well as it touched upon the issues of protection of national minorities as (via European standard and mechanisms) subsequent requirement of the European Union towards the Georgian government.

Besides, Media Development Fund (MDF) presented its tool for media representatives of "Professional Detector of Media: Facts and Myths about EU". It aims to provide society with qualified information about Euro-integration process and European values and to respond on misinformation disseminated either by media or via media regarding integration process by providing alternative source of information.

The activity was financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Seminar & Working meeting for Council of National Minorities

On the 18th of September 2014 European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI) has conducted seminar and working meeting for the member of Council of National Minorities (CNM) under auspices of the Ombudsman’s office of Georgia. The activity aimed at:

1. Providing detailed information to the participants on Georgia’s Euro-integration process. Particularly – Eastern Partnership, Association Agreement, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, EU-Georgian Visa Dialogue and perspectives of the visa-free regime.

2. Raise awareness of the community leaders on the concrete positive outcomes of the Euro-integration process specifically for national minorities living in Georgia. Namely, those standards and mechanism of protection of minorities which are integral of the process.

Moreover, the working meeting with the Chairman of Georgian National Platform of Civil Society Forum, Mr. Lasha Tughushi, aimed at providing information of the activities of the national platform and how the membership in the platform would benefit the national minority organizations. Sign-up procedures have been explained to the participants. Some of the member of CNM expressed willingness to register in the platform.

The activity was financed by USAID within the framework of “Advancing National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Training for on Georgia's Euro-integration procces for ethnic minority Azerbaijanis

On 4th of September 2014 European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI) – Caucasus conducted trainings in Kvemo Kartli region for ethnic minority Azerbaijanis. The essence of the trainings was to provide basic information about European Union, Eastern Partnership and Association Agreement which was signed on June 27 by Georgia.

The first training was held in village Talaveri of Bolnisi Municipality which is predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani settlement. Most of the participants were young ethnic Azerbaijanis, while teachers of the local school have triggered a live discussion with trainer on the problems of integration and language teaching issues at school.

Another training took place in Marneuli. Local civil society activists and ethnic Azerbaijani youth were involved in the activity. It was followed by interesting discussion on ratification of minority and regional language charter in the framework Georgia’s EU integration and Visa Liberalization dialogue.

The trainings have had positive affect on raising awareness’ on European Union and Georgia’s integration process in it. Moreover, the audience was surprised to know that European Union has so comprehensive mechanisms and instruments for protecting national minorities.

The set of trainings undertaken by ECMI are financed by USAID within the framework of “Advacning National Integration in Georgia” project implemented by UNAG and supported by OSGF.

Trainings on Georgia's Euro-integration process for ethnic minorities living in Kakheti region

On August 12 and 13th, ECMI Caucasus conducted four back-to-back trainings in the Kahketi region. Held in Kvareli, Telavi and Dedoplistskaro municipalities, these trainings addressed the recent Association Agreement signed between Georgia and the European Union and its implications for Georgian citizens belonging to the country's various ethnic minorities. Among the participants were those from the Azerbaijani, Avar, Roma, Udi, Kist/Chechen and Ossetian communities.

The topics discussed at the trainings included information about European Union, Eastern Partnership, Association Agreement and role of ethnic minorities in Georgia’s Euro-integration process. Four trainings were conducted and included over 60 participants, with an average of 15 per session. These individuals, ranging in age from late teens to more mature adults, would serve as ambassadors to their community, returning to share with their peers the information they were given.

While these trainings were conducted in Georgian, primary materials such as a pamphlet and other hand-outs summarizing the Georgia’s way of Europeanization were available in Georgian, Azeri and Russian as the former language is more common among most of the ethnic minority communities other than Georgian. Participants were engaged and the trainings took on a more personalized nature during the discussion phase as participants had many comments and questions regarding what was being presented. The majority of participants in all sessions were women. While in the minority, male participants were very vocal about their thoughts regarding the process. Robust discussion between participants and ECMI staff was observed in all the sessions.

The trainings were held in the framework of the project supported by OSGF within USAID’s Advancing National Integration project, implemented by UNAG.

Fourth Annual ECMI Summer School “National Minorities and Border Regions”

2014 Theme: Alternative Approaches to Reconciliation
Dates: 21-29 August 2014
Venue: Akademie Sankelmark, Oeversee in Schleswig Holstein

Download the Programme

ECMI will hold the fourth annual Summer School on National Minorities and Border Regions (NMBR) between 21 and 30 August 2014. For the fourth consecutive time, prominent scholars from diverse European institutions and experienced practitioners will gather in the border city of Flensburg to deliver lectures and seminars, to share their expertise and exchange views and ideas with a group of international participants.


The 2014 ECMI summer school programme aims at opening a discussion about the reasons behind the low levels of success of the reconciliation efforts following the long list of post-Cold War inter-ethnic conflicts. While taking into consideration past and present examples of reconciliation in Europe in various geographic areas, and reflecting on the existing reconciliation policies and mechanisms, the levels of their efficiency and quality of outcomes, the summer school will focus on identifying alternative approaches with a significant potential for bringing about positive societal change in divided societies. Examining different cases from the Balkan and Caucasus regions, analysing developments at the level of the EU and international policies and politics, and focusing the attention on the need for a fundamental shift of attitudes and practices (of all sides involved), the lectures, discussions, and presentations will aim to provoke an intensive ‘brainstorming’ debate among lecturers, practitioners and participants that would lead to new ideas and innovative policy perspectives and approaches.


ECMI will offer a residential programme combining academic training sessions with active networking and organized evening social activities at Akademie Sankelmark, located in Oeversee, Schleswig-Holstein (12 km from Flensburg). Akademie Sankelmark is a charitable organisation, whose members come mainly from the communities of northern Schleswig-Holstein. Along with the research and educational activities conducted by the foundation, the Akademie venue offers conference and boarding facilities, for various events organized by regional stakeholders.

Keynote speakers

Prof. James Hughes, London School of Economics

Prof. John Loughlin, University of Cambridge


Revising the existing knowledge on post-conflict reconciliation and evaluating the success/failure of current practices, as well as exploring the positive example of the German-Danish border region of Schleswig-Holstein, the Summer School will offer a platform for discussing both theoretical and field practices of reconciliation: e.g. economic empowerment, reconstruction of social capital, building of civic identities, mechanisms for accommodating religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. The summer course will aim at inter-disciplinary and inter-regional knowledge transfer between lecturers (experienced practitioners and academics) and participants (the new generation of scholars and practitioners), as well as among participants themselves.

Specific topics to be covered

  • Conflicts: theory, typology, conflict cycle
  • Peace building and post-conflict reconstruction
  • Traditional approaches to reconciliation: legal frameworks, standards, practices
  • Challenges to reconciliation (post-conflict reconstruction, implementation of international standards, transferability of models, poverty and development, etc.
  • Reconciliation in divided multicultural societies
  • Media and reconciliation
  • Success and failure of reconciliation (assessment and evaluation methodology, analysis of case studies presented by the participants and speakers)
  • Alternative approaches to reconciliation – theory and practice (economic empowerment, reconstruction of social capital, building of civic identities, mechanisms for accommodating diversity)

Planned Activities

The Summer School will include 3 elements: preparatory e-learning (online preparation for the course 1 month prior arrival), residential and alumni elements. 9 days of diverse, interdisciplinary and intensive residential element of the course will include:

  • A keynote speech delivered by a prominent scholar, academic lectures and practitioners‘ seminars
  • Interactive workshops conducted by trained professionals and discussion sessions
  • Presentations of the Summer School participants and group work
  • Social events planned for 6 evenings
  • Meetings and networking with local politicians, minority representatives, and youth groups
  • The diploma ceremony at Flensburg City Hall hosted by the Chairperson of the Flensburg City Council (Stadtpräsidentin), Ms. Swetlana Krätzschmar.

Eligibility and application procedures

The participants will include 25 junior scholars, researchers or practitioners of following professional background:

  • Students from relevant fields of studies (MA and PhD students)
  • Practitioners from the public sector, NGOs, media (internationally and especially from conflict   sensitive areas)

Applicants are required to submit an online application form which includes:

  • General information (contact details, affiliation, practical and logistical information)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter of motivation explaining the reason for their interest to participate in the course, and how they will utilize and benefit from this experience in the future
  • A brief abstract on one of the specific topics of the Summer School 2014, as listed above. The abstract must be max. 2000 characters long
  • Contact details (names, affiliations, addresses, emails and phone numbers) of two referees

The selection will be performed on the basis of academic and professional achievements, as well as expressed interest in the topic. Diversity of the group in terms of professional background and country of origin will be encouraged.

ECMI Caucasus to raise awareness of ethnic minorities on Georgia-European Union Association Agreement and the EU Eastern Partnership

ECMI Caucasus has launched a new project “Raising Awareness and Supporting Inclusion of Georgia ethnic minorities in Euro- integration and Eastern Partnership”. The aim is to fill the information gap on European Union and Euro integration processes among national minorities whose knowledge is quite limited resulting in skepticism about the advantages of the association agreement. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the minorities will be equipped with better understanding of European mechanisms of minority protection which will be applied as a result of Europeanization process of Georgia. The project also intends to encourage minorities to actively engage in different EaP programs and projects.

The action will be targeting four main groups: ethnic minority CSOs; students and youth organizations; regional media operating in minority languages and local authorities with relatively large number of minorities residing in three regions of Georgia: Kakheti, Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti. Activities range from capacity building trainings to public lectures and coordinating meetings with EaP national platform representatives.

The project is supported by OSGF within the frameworks of USAID’s Advancing National Integration project, implemented by UNAG.

MRG Europe has released a Landmark policy paper: ‘Partnership for all? Measuring the impact of Eastern Partnership on minorities’

The policy paper was prepared under the EU supported project Eastern Partnership Minorities Network, implemented by MRG Europe and partner organizations of ECMI Caucasus (Georgia, Belarus) Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (Georgia), Social Action Centre (Ukraine) and Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (Armenia). The key points of the policy paper refer to low levels of minority acceptance and participation in the EaP activities, including those of CSO National Platforms. Chapter 2 of the Policy Paper “Minorities in the Eastern Partnership Countries” includes sections on Georgia. (pp.14-18)

The protection and rights of minorities have not been very visible in the EaP process or the association package. The focus has been on anti-discrimination measures rather than minority rights. Where it is in place, there is a discrepancy between minority rights legislation and its implementation due to lack of political commitment. EU monitoring of minority rights has been weak: in particular, Progress Reports have not been based on a clear set of benchmarks. With regard to the financial instruments including ENPI and EaP programmes, there is no systematic mainstreaming of minority issues and concerns into sector programme planning and implementation cycles. Minority-specific indicators and benchmarks are rarely included in the programme documents. Finally, minority organizations face difficulties in accessing grant programmes due to lack of information, experience and absorption capacities.

The EU has made significant steps bringing in civil society into the EaP process through the establishment of the Civil Society Forum and National Platforms. However, minorities are not well represented in the Forum or the National Platforms. Following the Vilnius Summit, it remains to be seen if minority rights will be a more distinctive part of the development of closer ties with the EU and the implementation of reforms in the coming years.

The policy paper will be followed by an Advocacy guide on the Eastern Partnership for minorities in early 2015.

You can also download the electronic copy at: Download

ECMI Caucasus at the Festival of National Cultures in Belarus, Grodno 6-8 June 2014

In the framework of the Eastern Partnership Minority Network Programme, upon invitation from the Ministry of Culture of Belarus and the implementing partner – Republican Centre for National Cultures, ECMI Caucasus participated in the Festival of National Cultures. The ECMI Caucasus participation was aiming at strengthening cooperation with minority organizations from the regions of Belarus and at developing further cooperation with national and local authorities.

Festival of national cultures in Grodno is a recurring bi-annual, all-Belarus event, presenting the best of minority communities’ folk performances from all regions of Belarus. This year the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary or 20 years of existence, which was marked by high level participation of the central and local government, the Plenipotentiary for Nationalities and Religious Affairs, Grodno sister cities from 7 countries, including Moscow city government cultural department.

Over 40 national associations met in Grodno from all over the country, concerts and song competitions involved about 900 artists. Traditional parade of national associations opened the festival, and after that the guests and local inhabitants enjoyed traditional dance, music, crafts and cuisine in specially established national yards.

Prior to the festival, from 15 May to 7 June, as Grodno was proclaimed as a cultural capital 2014 in Belarus, it hosted a plain-air of painters “Grodno through the eyes of artists – representatives of national cultural associations”. The paintings were displayed during the festival, featuring also modern forms of expression.

The Senators’ Hall of the Grodno New Castle hosted a presentation of the Republican Center of National Cultures - a photo exhibition about the history of the festival, and an exposition of national wreaths. In addition, representatives of 35 ethnicities planted many rare trees - Amur Cork tree, cedar, sycamore, silver fir, tulip tree, Catalpa, Magnolia, in the newly renovated Alley of Friendship. The Lutheran Church of Grodno for the first time held a concert of organ music.

Eastern Partnership Minorities Network landmark policy paper launch at Europeaid Infopoint event, 17 June, Bruxelles

Mark Lattimer, Minority Rights Group Director London, and Irene Fedorovych, Social Action Centre, Ukraine presented an EaP Minority Network policy paper “Partnership for all? Impact of EaP on minorities”.

The policy paper was prepared under the project EU supported Eastern Partnership Minorities Network, implemented by MRG Europe and partner organizations of ECMI Caucasus (Georgia, Belarus) Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (Georgia), Social Action Centre (Ukraine) and Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (Armenia). The key points of the policy paper refer to low levels of minority acceptance and participation in the EaP activities, including those of CSO National Platforms.

The launches of the policy paper at national levels in all six Eastern Partnership countries are envisaged shortly.

The launch in Bruxelles, gathered more than 65 participants. the role of minorities in the EaP process was discussed under the moderation of Louis-Jean Ville, DG DEVCO Human rights, Governance and Gender.

A former ECMI Caucasus employee awarded for being a Leader Woman

Media Development Fund has awarded a former ECMI Caucasus employee, an executive secretary of an inter-ethnic NGO in Akhalkalaki “Javakheti Citizens Forum” an ethnic Armenian, Seda Melkumyan, for being a leader woman in the local community and in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.

Project named “My Leader Women”, implemented by MDF, was designed for searching, exposing and popularizing the life-stories of leader women in Georgia. For this purpose a blog had been established and bloggers had a chance to publish media products on their leader women. In total 10 winners of the project were awarded.

Having worked at European Center for Minority Issues for 8 years and 5 years at Public Defender’s Office, Seda Melkumyan has been promoting human rights protection and implementing ethnic minority community development projects in the region. She has been actively involved in the formation of civil society in Samtskhe-Javakheti region.

In her acceptance speech Seda maintained that “being a strong leader women is very difficult, but not impossible”. She expressed her gratitude towards ECMI for giving her a chance to become a leader woman.

ECMI Caucasus joins Georgia Parliamentary NGO platform

ECMI Caucasus joined recently the Legislative Discussion Forum to follow legislative initiatives of the Georgian Parliament. What prompted the decision was ECMI Caucasus contribution to the review of Anti-Discrimination Law.

The initiative of the Georgian Parliament is currently supported by the US National Democracy Institute (NDI), but soon it should become an integral part of the consultative process of the Georgian Parliament and the civil society. The Parliament issues a bi-weekly newsletter which lists all legislative initiatives discussed in various committees, including drafts and amendments to existing legislation as well as the status of the laws under review.

With partial re-transfer of parliamentary committees from Kutaisi to Tbilisi, it has become easier to participate in the parliamentary hearings Through the Legislative Discussion Forum, NGOs have an opportunity to comment on all of the draft bills initiated in the Parliament. The office will then forward the feedback to relevant Parliamentary Committees/ Factions.

To ensure cooperation between the Parliament and Civil Society, NGO Liaison Office:

  • Organizes issue-based meetings between nongovernmental organizations and Members of Parliament
  • Ensures access of the NGOs to committee hearings;
  • Publishes a bi-weekly E-newsletter containing information on legislative and other activities of the Parliament
  • Maintains and updates NGO database, which is available at the NGO liaison Office website
  • Uploads all draft laws on its web-site
  • Monitors Voting Records Database available at the Website of the Parliament.
  • Visit ParliamentNGO Website

    “Dealing with the past” – a study tour in Germany dedicated to the culture of remembrance and commemoration

    Giorgi Bobghiashvili of ECMI Caucasus participated in a study tour dedicated to the culture of remembrance and commemoration in Germany, organized and supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation. For the first time participants from South Caucasus countries were invited to take part, along with participants from South-East Europe. Originally designed for post-conflict societies in the Western Balkans, the study tours aimed at learning the instruments and methodologies of “dealing with the past” used by the German government and civil society institutions in order to openly discuss, commemorate and remember atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, in particular those targeting specific minority groups such as Jewish population, Roma and sexual minorities.

    During a 7-day intensive tour (3-10 May) the participants have had chance to visit the memorials (in Berlin, Dresden, Pirna, Buchenwald) dedicated to each persecuted group and to learn the specific methods of public discussions, visibility and commemoration.

    The entire tour was guided by academics, independent researchers and civil society activists who provided theoretical as well as practical knowledge of the issue. This facilitated flow and exchange of the firsthand information. The participants also had discussions with descendants of the victims and perpetrators on their experiences, methods and significance of dealing with history in a post-conflict societies.

    The study tour also promoted networking among the participants which included journalists and representatives of civil society organizations from South-East Europe and South Caucasus. ECMI Caucasus considers to incorporate the gained knowledge and experience in its work, especially in relation open discussion on the impact of non-dealing with various instances of the Stalinist and post-independence issues relevant to the minority groups in Georgia who have been affected by different conflicts.

    Minorities in local elections 2014 observatory

    At the launch of the election campaign two months prior to municipal elections 2014, ECMI Caucasus is establishing an election observatory to follow national minority participation in the electoral process. The aim of the observatory is to provide an assessment of pre-election environment, the electoral process and minority participation and representation, and post-election analysis.

    The following key areas will be covered:

    1. Local elections under newly adopted legislative arrangements: a) Local self-governance Code, b) Electoral Code. Observatory will monitor implementation of these new legislative norms in the regions of national minority settlements.

    2. Central Election Commission and national minority participation. The Observatory will provide an overview and assessment of recent measures undertaken by CEC within the scopes of special programme aiming at enhanced participation of national minorities in elections. These measures are: translation of election related materials from Georgian into minority languages (AR, AZ); translation of electoral lists (AR, AZ); preparation of TV clips in minority languages (AR, AZ); operation of CEC hotline in minority languages (AR, AZ); distribution of small grants for electoral awareness raising in minority regions.

    3. Political parties in local election. The Observatory will monitor all political parties registered for the 2014 local elections. Monitoring will cover the following: 1) Overview of political party official programmes and manifestos in order to identify minority related areas and priorities; 2) Overview of political party leaders’ speeches and campaigns on minority related topics; 3) Political party presence and activities in minority municipalities.

    4. National minorities in political party election lists. The observatory will review all political party lists registered for the 2014 local election and identify minority candidates. The results will be compared with the previous elections.

    5. National minority representation in local elections. The Observatory will identify minority nominees (Mayors, heads of municipalities) in different election districts.

    6. Election observation. On the election day the observatory team will monitor election procedures and voting process in selected villages of national minority settlements.

    7. Gender dimension of the local elections. The observatory will study female participation in elections, including identification of female candidates and gender mainstreaming issues in political party programmes and activities.

    8. National minority voters behavior. The Observatory will analyze results of the local elections in minority municipalities. Minority votes will be compared with the previous election results in order to identify minority preferences. This assessment will measure level of political culture within minority voters.

    The current information will be posted on ECMI Caucasus web page in the special Observatory site and findings will be disseminated among relevant stakeholders.

    ECMI Caucasus launched Eastern Partnership Minority Network programme activities in Belarus

    1.Training seminar for Belarusian local authorities.

    During this session with the representatives of local authorities from different regions of Belarus (Minsk, Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk, Miory) ECMI Caucasus team presented EaPMN project and delivered a comprehensive lectures on the participation of national minorities in local self-governance within the scopes of Eastern Partnership in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Second part of the seminar was devoted to the issues of local authorities competencies in relation to national minorities in respective regions of Belarus. Seminar participants presented power points on activities and programmes on their work with national minorities in Belarus. The presentations were followed by open discussions on minority policies in Belarus and Eastern Partnership CORLEAP framework.

    2. Round table meeting on minority rights in Belarus.

    The round table meeting was held in Belarus Friendship House and attended by representatives of Belarusian civil society, governmental officials, parliament, academic circles and media. The event was dedicated to the discussions on the minority issues in Belarus and the presentation of the handbook on minority rights in Europe and Belarus, prepared by ECMI Senior Research Associate Dr. Alexander Osipov. Key note speakers of the round table were: Ewa Chylinski, ECMI Caucasus Regional Director, Mikhail Rybakov, Director of the Republican Centre for National Cultures of Belarus, Elena Lazareva, Member of Latvian parliament, B. N. Mikhno, Member of Belarusian Parliament and Alexandre Osipov, ECMI Senior Research Associate. The discussion referred to the issues of minorities in the Eastern Partnership and the Latvian experience of minority representation in the EU association process of Latvia.

    3. Meeting with minority organizations in Belarus.

    The meeting aimed at identification of needs and priorities of the organizations concerning information on Eastern Partnership, participation in the EaP Minority Network and further training requests on the topic. During the meeting ECMI Caucasus presented EaPMN project followed by discussion on the possible areas of cooperation and engagement in Belarus between EaPMN team and the minority stakeholders in Belarus. An initial discussion on public campaigns on minority collaboration and promotion within Belarus society and inclusion into Eastern Partnership programmes helped to plan further activities of the project.

    4. ECMI Caucasus was invited to the folklore concert organized by Republican Centre for National Cultures, featuring i.a.the Ukrainian choir.

    Seminar on Reform of the local self-government in Georgia for Council of National Minorities

    In collaboration and support from Polish Aid, a seminar was conducted on 23 January for members of the Council of National Minorities (CNM). Polish Aid has closely collaborated with the Ministry for Regional Development and Infrastructure, sharing Polish experience of such reform in preparation of the Georgian Self-government Code. A representative of the Polish Aid Mr Jerzy Rohozinski from the Embassy of Poland in Georgia, outlined the Polish proposal for Georgia, its modalities and implications, in particular how minorities can benefit from such reform.”

    The Head of the Georgian “Council for the Reform of Self-Government” David Losaberidze, presented key aspects of the draft code and explained what considerations were taken into account when drafting the reform proposal, that is now being discussed in the parliament in its second hearing. Members of the CNM had many comments and questions related to the implementation of the Polish reform and its results. Also questions to the Georgian reform were directed towards new competencies of municipalities, mainly financial and administrative independence in decision-making. Particularly, how the budgets of municipalities will be distributed between subsidies from the state, own budgets and equalisation fund. Currently, municipalities in Georgia have only 5% of their budget at free disposal

    Eastern Partnership Minority Network project update for CNM members

    EaP Minority Network MRGE Project Coordinator Shorena Kobaidze and ECMI Caucasus Project Manager Giorgi Sordia updated on 23 January, members of the Council of National Minorities and presented plans for the activities in 2014. The key event to take place in Tbilisi will be the Forum, to which members of the Minority Network from other EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine will be invited. The Forum will create opportunities for minority organizations to exchange experiences and establish closer contacts. Also a small grants scheme for information campaigns on Eastern Partnership and minorities will be available soon and open for applications. Another possibility will be to participate in an on-line course on human and minority rights –GAP course that will be open to all interested to acquire knowledge but also a certificate upon completion.

    Holocaust Remembrance Day in Tbilisi

    ECMI Caucasus participated in the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony on 27 January, as proclaimed by the UN. In Georgia, the Jewish community mentioned not only Jewish population that perished during the Holocaust, but also Roma and other groups that suffered during the Nazi regime and who are still under pressure – Roma, religious minorities and sexual minorities.

    ECMI Caucasus in a jury for best integration project

    ECMI Caucasus visited the project to listen to debates and issues raised by women farmers in the vocational training centre AISI in Kachreti village. The centre offers long-term and short term trainings in agriculture and agribusiness related areas, including crafts. The debates with central, regional and local authorities indicated a number of problems, especially administrative, encountered by female farmers of the region, including low participation of minority women, despite large number of various minority groups residing in the region, such as Azeri, Avar, Udi and Ossetian. The purpose of the visit was to discuss with the female farmers, the AISI facility leadership and the UN representatives how to increase minority inclusion in such opportunities.”

    Reviewing commitments to protect languages in Europe

    Ewa Chylinski, ECMI Caucasus Regional Director, moderated a session on "Case Studies on countries having undertaken to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages as a post-accession commitment" at the seminar on "Regional or Minority Languages in Europe Today" The session covered Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, the Russian Federation and the 'former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Ewa Chylinski is a co-editor of a 2 volume publication "Ready for Ratification" from 2011. The publication reviewed pre-conditions for ratification of the ECRML by those countries.

    The seminar was organized by the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in cooperation with the Secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It has also referred to the report of the Council of Europe on the "Application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" covering the 2012-2013 period, and its complementarity with the report on "Endangered European languages and linguistic diversity in the EU", The seminar was hosted by the French Senate, in Luxembourg Palace, Paris, on 9-10 December 2013.

    South Caucasus Coalition for Trust - Regional Networking Meeting in Antalya, Turkey

    On 13-15 December ECMI Caucasus Project Researcher Giorgi Sordia participated in the Regional Networking Meeting, which took place in Antalya, Turkey. This subsequent event was organized by Norwegian Helsinki Committee under the scopes of the project “South Caucasus Coalition for Trust”, supported by the EU. Representatives of civil society from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and breakaway regions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh were integral part in this meeting. During the meeting different aspects of peace building and cooperation between civil society actors across division lines were discussed.

    The project aims at establishing coalition, which will promote peace building, human rights and intercultural understanding in the region of South Caucasus.

    In the initial stage of the project, on 1-2 July ECMI Caucasus provided lectures for Georgian journalists in national minority rights and peace building issues.

    ECMI Caucasus at the UN Minority Forum on Freedom of Religion

    The topic of sixth UN Minority Forum organized on 25-27 November in Geneva this year was freedom of religion and belief and guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities. The problems of religious freedom and state-church relations in Georgia were presented by Georgian participants, moreover particular aspects of the religious freedom were also discussed during the individual consultations and meetings with different international experts.

    On behalf of ECMI Caucasus Giorgi Sordia and bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, Evangelical-Baptist Church of Georgia participated in the event within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project. The Georgian delegation also included Agit Mirzoev, ACICC (partner in the EaP Network) and Tengiz Akhmedov, Civil Integration Foundation.

    The UN Minority forum is annual event dedicated to the different aspects of minority issues organized by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    Visiting UN Project “Enhancing Gender Equality in Georgia“ in collaboration with Association of Women Farmers in Kakheti

    ECMI Caucasus visited the project to listen to debates and issues raised by women farmers in the vocational training centre AISI in Kachreti village. The centre offers long-term and short term trainings in agriculture and agribusiness related areas, including crafts. The debates with central, regional and local authorities indicated a number of problems, especially administrative, encountered by female farmers of the region, including low participation of minority women, despite large number of various minority groups residing in the region, such as Azeri, Avar, Udi and Ossetian. The purpose of the visit was to discuss with the female farmers, the AISI facility leadership and the UN representatives how to increase minority inclusion in such opportunities.”

    ECMI Caucasus at Central Asia Regional Seminar “Advancing minority Rights: Media, Participation and Education

    Ewa Chylinski and Giorgi Sordia contributed to the seminar by providing a review of European standards (FCNM, ECRML) in the field of minority media and language as well as on situation of minority participation in Georgia at the seminar in Bishkek 17-18 October. The seminar was part of the series of activities under the UN OHCHR project supported by the EU on “Human Rights Protection for Stability in Central Asia”. The project covers three countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. One of the priorities of the project is to assist the governments to incorporate international standards in legislation, policies and practices and to promote tolerance and inclusion of ethnic minorities”.

    Problems of Georgian Romas discussed in ECMI Caucasus

    On 8th of October ECMI Caucasus office was visited by Mr. Valery Novoselsky, Executive Director of the Roma Virtual Network (RVN). During the meeting problems and challenges of the Romani community in Georgia, particularly problems of education, access to healthcare, employment and social issues were discussed.

    RVN is a public grass-roots initiative aimed to provide the international Roma community and non-Roma organizations with useful information on Roma issues in variety of languages via the internet. RVN supports the improvement of the Romani situation in Europe and other parts of the world. The RVN also serves as a source of comprehensive and up-to-date information on a wide range of topics and aspects connected to the Roma issue (education, employment, housing, equality, women rights, anti-trafficking, Romani language, cultural life, etc.) for EU-level policy-makers, civil servants, human rights activists and media.


    Training for Meskhetian Youth in Bakuriani

    Under EIDHR project youth representatives from Meskhetian communities in Ianeti, Nasakirali, Tsitelubani, Vale, Akhaltsikhe and Tbilisi took part in a 2-day training on “Educational and Community Development Possibilities” in Bakuriani on 14-15 September, 2013. ECMI engaged Consulting and Training Centre (CTC) trainer Ms Tea Lobjanidze to conduct training; she elaborated the special training module for Meskhetian youth.

    The purpose of the training was to focus on practical skills how to build community cooperation, communication and access to education. The training was arranged in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and topics such as: Models of communication: verbal, nonverbal and written communication; Elaboration of resume/CV and motivation letter; Different forms of education: formal, non-formal, informal; Adult education; Community development instruments – voluntering: international and local experiences have been discussed and participants were involved in various exercises and made presentations on different tasks.

    Representative from the Ministry of Education and Science, Ms Lela Tskitishvili briefed about Ministry’s programs on Adult Education and involvement of children in Ministry’s various activities.

    By the end of the training, the participants filled out the evaluation forms, where most of them indicated that they gained practical skills how to apply for a different educational/professional courses and would appreciate if they have a possibility to participate in more programs like that in the future.

    Download Training Photos

    Training in Tbilisi on “National Minorities in Advocacy and Eastern Partnership”

    On 12-13 September, 2013 the ECMI Caucasus organized a two-day training for different national minority organizations and ethnic community representatives mainly from smaller minorities such as Udi, Assyrian, Yezidi, Roma, and Ossetian. The training was mainly devoted to the advocacy and issue related to Eastern Partnership. The event was held under the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project, co-funded by the European Commission.

    The training aimed at introducing of Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project as a new tool for lobbying and advocacy of minority issues in Georgia. At the same time the training focused on discussion of concrete mechanisms of advocacy and minority rights protection and the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative, covering six countries of EU neighborhood. The training participants were acquainted with the work of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the EaP Georgian National Platform. Finally, the role of the Council of National Minorities (CNM) as a channel for advocacy and lobbing of minority interests was also discussed.

    It has been revealed during the training that majority of national minority organizations lack adequate experience of conducting effective advocacy campaign and their knowledge about networking possibilities within the EaP mechanisms is also rather limited. To this end, the training was especially useful for the participants. Moreover, some national minority organizations immediately decided to apply for the membership in National Platform by the end of this year. The training has also been successful in terms of mobilization of the participants. Inspired by the training content many participants expressed an idea to launch specific advocacy and networking activities at the local level, drafted and submitted a set of recommendations on minority CSO inclusion in the National Platform.

    Download Training Photos

    Roma in Eastern Partnership Minority Network

    Under the same project ECMI Caucasus initiated a thematic Roma component of activities, aiming at Romani groups’ mobilization in EaP area. This component has already started in Georgia, while Moldovan and Ukrainian Roma organisations have expressed great interest in joining the EaP MN. Moreover, Elene Proshikian from Georgian Romani community is hired under the project to facilitate Roma contacts across the EaP region proshikian@ecmicaucasus.org.

    ECMI EaP activities

    ECMI Caucasus has been implementing programme components in Georgia and Belarus under the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network project, co-funded by the European Commission. During the inception phase of the project, initial contacts with minority umbrella organisation in Minsk were established, based on ECMI previous project with minority groups and official authorities, to inform about the EaP Minority Network and explain the programme for Belarus. The key activity planned there will be a live training for local authorities on their role in minority protection, to be implemented as soon as a new module on the topic will be developed and tested there as a pilot activity for the entire EaP Minority Network programme. Local authorities from 6 regions with presence of various minority groups will be invited.

    ECMI Caucasus at the EU Civil Society Facility Networking Conference

    On 5-6 September ECMI Caucasus participated in civil society networking event in Tbilisi. The Event was organized by the European Commission and the Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung under the EU-funded project “Strengthening non-state actors’ capacities to promote reform and increase public accountability in the Eastern Partnership countries”.

    The conference was attended by civil society organizations from all six countries of Eastern Partnership and aimed at exchange of best practices between grantees of the Neighborhood East Civil Society Facility. The event was an excellent possibility for ECMI Caucasus for networking and establishing new partnerships in Eastern Neighborhood area. ECMI Caucasus also participated in market place activity and presented ECMI publications for the Conference participants.

    Roms, Loms and Dom community – new identities in Georgia

    ECMI Caucasus staff assisted Bulgarian scholars in their field visits and assessment work in discovering new identities among Roma communities.

    On 26th of July ECMI Caucasus office was visited by two Bulgarian scholars Dr. Elena Marushiakova and Dr. Vesselin Popov, representing respectively Bulgarian Institute of Ethnology & Folklore Studies and Bulgarian Romani Studies Society.

    Dr. Marushiakova and Dr. Popov have been studying Romani history and culture in Europe. The aim of their current visit to Georgia was to find out details and aspects of Romani groups and their lives. As a result of this preliminary work it has been found out that in addition to Roms and Loms or Bosha (Arm), Dom ethnic groups also are represented in Georgia. Like the Loms, Dom community is identified with Roms, however recent studies proved that Domari language and their other ethnic peculiarities are different from the Romani ones. Large communities of Doms live mainly in Middle East and North Africa.

    A preliminary assessment by Bulgarian scholars revealed that only in Tbilisi there are about fifty Dom families, living in remote and poor districts. Like Loms, the Doms have not been represented in the 2002 population census separately, but included in the Roma group, although. the Romani community does not communicate with them. Not much is known about their lifestyle or ethnic peculiarities. Total lack of information regarding Doms as an ethnic group is an excellent opportunity for ECMI Caucasus to initiate research and in-depth assessment of Doms living in Georgia.

    ECMI Caucasus invited to consultations on the draft Georgian “Law On Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination”

    The Ministry of Justice of Georgia has prepared draft law on elimination of all forms of discrimination. Prior to the adoption of the Law by Parliament the Ministry of Justice of Georgia initiated a series of introductory and consultation meetings with different stakeholders, including civil society organizations, public services, diplomatic missions, gender groups, etc. ECMI Caucasus was invited to consultations within two areas of its competence – ethnic and national minorities and gender issues, especially pertaining to minority women.

    On 8th of July the first consultation meeting was held with the participation of non-governmental organizations in relation to ethnic and national minorities and LGBT rights.

    On Thursday, 18th July, the Ministry of Justice, presented the draft Law from the gender perspective for the UN Women Gender Thematic Group, Georgia.

    The draft Law envisages three main anti-discrimination measures: prevention, awareness raising and elimination of discrimination. The concept of multiple discrimination has been introduced in the draft law. In order to make the implementation of anti-discrimination measures more efficient the Law introduces a special institution of Equality Protection Inspector, who will be authorized to monitor and follow up on reported discrimination cases, examine the complaints and applications, and also make legally binding decisions. The Draft Law also defines spheres of intervention, which covers almost all aspects of public life, e.g social protection and health care, labor relations, education and science, elections, public and political activities, media, public services, etc. A number of concerns were raised in relation to the modalities of the law and the competencies of the new body, in particular in relation to the compatibility of the work of the Inspector and the Public Defender.

    Interested civil society organizations will provide feedback and recommendations to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, by the end of July.

    Training for Georgian Journalists in Minority Rights and Peace Building

    On 1st of July 2013 ECMI Project Researcher Giorgi Sordia conducted a training on national minority rights and peace building issues for Georgian journalists from the regions. The following topics were discussed during the training: universal minority rights, European mechanisms of minority protection, ethnic and national minorities in Georgia. Special emphasis was put on hate speech practices in Georgia reflected in the media and media coverage of minority and ethnic diversity issues. In addition to this, journalists’ involvement in peace initiatives and ongoing confidence building policies were also debated.

    The event was held in the premises of the Tbilisi Human Rights Centre under the project “South Caucasus Coalition for Rebuilding of Trust”. The project is implemented by Norwegian Helsinki Committee in partnership with local non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. The purpose of the project is to contribute to the development of democracy, promotion of human rights, intercultural understanding and reconciliation in the South Caucasus region.

    ECMI Caucasus contributed to the presentation of OSCE HCNM “ The Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies” in Tbilisi

    Yesterday, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities presented the most recent guidelines developed by his Office.

    ECMI Caucasus contributed to the presentation of the Guidelines by outlining the importance and the current status of the language policies in Georgia and how these policies are affecting political participation of various minority groups of the society. Ewa Chylinski , ECMI Regional Director, spoke about the steps Georgian authorities have already taken to integrate minorities through learning of the state language at the same time providing recommendations for a language policy more respectful of the linguistic diversity in Georgia.

    The audience included a broad participation of the Georgian governmental agencies, minority organizations, international organizations and diplomatic missions accredited to Georgia.

    The Ljubljana Guidelines cover “structural principles without which good integration policies are difficult to conceive as feasible; principles for integration, which include necessary basic theses and values that relate more specifically to integration; elements of an integration policy framework, which provide an architecture for the elaboration and implementation of integration policies, with mechanisms, processes and cross-cutting themes; and key policy areas, which covers the main thematic considerations based on the HCNM’s experience”

    Click to see The Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies

    The 2nd edition of the popular frequency dictionaries Georgian-Azeri-Russian and Georgian-Armenian-Russian is now online

    This 2nd edition of the frequency dictionaries has increased the volume of Georgian words with 1128, totaling now 3525. The purpose of creating frequency dictionaries is their usefulness for the language learners and (copmuter) translations when reading texts. The dictionaries are intended for minority language speakers who are learning Georgian, as well as Georgian speakers who are in contact with minority language speakers of Armenian, Azeri and Russian. The electronic version of the 2nd edition allows for easy access to the dictionaries and can also be updated more frequently. It is assumed that the general volume of the modern Georgian language contains 55-60.000 words. Yet, the lexical volume of the specific thematic sub-language, even at the highest level, contains only 3% of the general lexical volume. When compiling the dictionaries, the most common language usage areas were chosen – the press, the legislation and other similar areas of thematic use. In that aspect the frequency dictionaries attempt to cover 90-95% of the commonly used lexical composition of the texts. The dictionaries are registered in the Georgian National Library.

    Download Frequency Dictionary Georgian-Azeri-Russian
    Download Frequency Dictionary Georgian-Armenian-Russian

    ECMI Caucasus in the new project “Eastern Partnership Minorities Network”

    Minority Rights Group Europe together with the ECMI Caucasus and other partners launched a three-year programme “Eastern Partnership Minorities Network”, co-funded by the European Commission. The project aims at creating a minority organizations network across the EaP region to share the knowledge of best practices of minority governance. Its goal is to strengthen the cooperation between minority organizations, to increase the capacity of CSOs in EaP countries to advocate their needs and to empower minority communities to effectively participate in public and political life, reforms and democratic changes.

    The project covers six eastern partnership countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and will be jointly implemented by: the Minority Rights Group (MRG) Europe/Budapest (leading partner), the Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (ACICC) Georgia, the Analytical Center for Global and Regional Studies (ACGRS), Armenia, and the Social Action Center “Without Borders” (SACWB) , Ukraine. Partners in Moldova and Azerbaijan will be invited shortly.

    ECMI Caucasus in partnership with the ACICC is responsible for activities to be implemented in Georgia and ECMI Caucasus will be managing the Belarus component of programme.

    The main project activities are:
    1. Trainings for minority organisations on Eastern Partnership processes and minority rights
    2. Online training courses on minority rights for local authority representatives
    3. Establishment of Eastern Partnership Minorities Network and best practice seminars
    4. Web Portal and Resource Centre for the Network
    5. Local and National Level Public Information Campaigns by CSOs on EaP and Minority Rights
    6. Policy Paper on the impact of the Eastern Partnership on Minority Rights implementation
    7. Advocacy Guide for civil society organisations on the Eastern Partnership
    8. Shadow reports on minority rights to international monitoring bodies
    9. National monitoring reports on the impact of EaPprogrammes on minority rights
    10. Participation in EaP Civil Society Forum and other regional development fora by minority organisations
    11. Advocacy visits in Brussels with EU and Eastern Partnership decision makers

    Click to see photos here

    Revised Constitution of Georgia now available in minority languages

    The State Inter-Agency Commission (SIAC) under the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration (SMR), coordinating issues relating to civic integration, has contributed to the production of the revised Constitution of Georgia in Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani languages. Several hundred copies have been printed with the support of ECMI Caucasus in the framework of Council of Europe-ECMI “Denmark’s Georgia Programme 2010-2013” project component “Strengthening the state capacity and enhancing public consultation on minority issues” .The Constitution will be distributed by the SIAC in respective minority regions during monitoring visits as well as by ECMI to dispersed minority groups, partner organisations, local and national authorities.

    Legal Dictionaries Georgian-Armenian and Georgian-Azerbaijani to decrease language barrier in the judiciary

    On June 26, 2012 the Union “Public Movement Multinational Georgia” (PMMG) has hosted the presentation of Georgian-Azerbaijani and Georgian-Armenian Legal Dictionaries developed within the framework of the project “Fostering Equal Access to Justice for Georgia’s Ethnic Minority Population”. the USAID. The project supported by the USAID is specifically designed to introduce legal terminology used in the Georgian legal system. The purpose of this pioneering work is two-fold: to make minorities acquainted with legal language and its meaning and thus promote the enhanced trust of minority groups towards the judiciary; to give the court and legal aid translators a quality tool when assisting minorities in the legal proceedings.

    Such initiative is also very much in line with the provisions of Art.10 of the FCNM on the minority language use in the judiciary, ratified by Georgia in 2005.

    ECMI participated in the launch of dictionaries as PMMG is one of ECMI closest partners for cooperation in enhancing minority issues. The dictionaries will be used in ECMI’s own work.

    Support and Development of Roma Communities in Georgia

    The project “Support and Development of Roma Communities in Georgia” financed by OSGF is ending in February. During ten months we achieved great results: 6 Roma men obtained driver’s license, in January we opened a preparatory group in Kobuleti, where 20 Roma children from ages 4 to 6 are enrolled. Also in three regions, approximately 20 Roma women studied sewing, 20-30 Roma children studied general Georgian language, math and computer. This is a clear example for all Roma living in Georgia, that after the project the participants have more motivation to integrate in Georgian society.

    Language Rights, Inclusion and the Prevention of Ethnic Conflicts

    While language rights are topical in many parts of the world, they are still widely misunderstood despite being a significant factor in many conflicts in Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong), Europe (Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Kosovo, Macedonia, Ukraine), Africa (Cameroon, South Africa, Ethiopia, Morocco, Libya, Algeria) and the Americas (Canada, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay).

    The 13 IALL (International Academy of Language Law), the International Observatory under the auspices of UNESCOCAT, addressed the langugae rights as a conflict prevention tool.

    Most of the world's conflicts since the end of the Second World War have been internal, often involving groups seeking independence, autonomy, or the defence of their rights. Language demands are frequently at the fore in many of these conflicts.

    While language differences in themselves are not a cause of conflict, this conference proposes to explore whether the denial of language rights such as discrimination on the ground of language and the exclusion or disadvantage caused by State authorities through language preferences create rallying causes and lead to violent conflict. It will further explore how States have addressed these demands in a reasonable and proportionate way to ensure the successful social inclusion of minorities and indigenous peoples through the recognition of language rights which tackle the underlying socio-economic disadvantages that can flare around inappropriate language preferences.

    Minority governance as part of conflict prevention and resolution

    ECMI Caucasus, represented by the Regional Director Ewa Chylinski, participated in the 6th Workshop of Partnership for Peace Consortium on conflicts in South Caucasus presenting the importance of minority governance aspect in the protracted conflicts.

    In the framework of PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, an association of over 800 institutions in 59 countries, the PfPC has created several regional study groups, one of them being "Regional Stability in the South Caucasus".

    The PfP meetings serve defense academies and similar institutions to exchange views on the security situation situation in various regions to assess the military-political aspects of conflict resolution and approaches to security policies.

    The 6th workshop in Reichenau, Austria, was devoted to the role of EU and NATO in de-conflicting protracted conflicts - Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    About 35 participants from military and civil sector from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Austria, Canada, France, Estonia, USA, Turkey and Ireland presented and discussed new avenues for the possible conflict resolution. ECMI Caucasus put forward the issue of minority governance as one of the problems and part of a solution to the conflicts. That included observance of the international commitments related to minority rights. This is closely related to another issue of legal arrangements in secessionst movements and regulation of mutual grievances.

    The next workshop is planned for March 2013 in Tbilisi.

    Electoral results in minority regions

    In the 1st October 2012 elections, the largest minority groups Azeri and Armenian voters remained strong supporters of the United National Movement (UNM), with the party winning in all ethnic minority dominated districts. In the predominantly Armenian districts of Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda (Samstkhe-Javakheti) and Tsalka(Kvemo Kartli) the UNM received an average of 74,7 % of votes. In the Azeri districts of Marneuli, Dmanisi and Bolnisi (Kvemo Kartli) the UNM received an average of 71,91% votes compared to a national average of 40,34%. Download PDF Document

    Parliamentary elections 2012

    On 1 October Georgian citizens cast their votes in the parliamentary elections 2012. Prior to, during, and after elections ECMI Caucasus has established so-called election observatory to follow minority enhancement through the parties’ attitudes towards the country’s minorities, the minority representation in the party lists and how minority languages are included in the electoral process. The observatory will cover the pre-election period and a period up to 14 days after elections.

    The observatory will identify the Georgian political parties’ attitudes towards national minority participation in public life, integration issues, and how political parties intend to build the diversity management policy, are targets of observation.

    The analysis and the findings will be presented in three issues before the elections, all based on the information publicly available. The analysis of the general election environment of Georgia will be presented from a minority participation angle and in relation to the new election code. This code was adopted nine months ago. After the elections another round of analyses will be provided.

    Download - Minority Issues in Party Programmes
    Download - Minority Representation in Party Lists
    Download - Minority Languages in Elections

    Providing schoolbooks for Meskhetian children

    Towards the end of the implementation of the EU-funded project “Supporting the repatriation of persons deported from Georgia in the 1940s and their descendants”, ECMI Caucasus in collaboration with one of its partners “Toleranti” provided six Meskhetian children with a full set of schoolbooks for the school year 2012-2013. Among those children are pupils of the first, second, fourth and six grades of the Public School Nr 45, in Gldani, one of the outskirts of Tbilisi, where many vulnerable families live, among them fourteen Meskhetian families.

    School materials in Georgia include a complete listing of textbooks and other instructional materials recommended by the Ministry of Science and Education. These are supposed to be purchased individually by the parents, considering a budget of around approx 100$ per school learner. Very often, larger and at the same time socially vulnerable families cannot afford to equip their children with necessary sets of the school books that are so vital for their education and development. Furthermore, many Meskhetian families with several children are facing obstacles in overcoming economic constraints. The issue of school books, which have been changed every year, was raised by many parents, as the books cannot be passed from one sibling to another.

    Meskhetian Cultural Festival

    The European Centre for Minority Issues is pleased to invite You to the Meskhetian Cultural Festival. It will be held on Sunday 26th of August 2012 from 14:00 to 20:00 hrs at Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography in Tbilisi (see attached map).

    The festival will feature culture and traditions of Meskhetians living in different regions Georgia – traditional crafts, agricultural products, and selection of the Meskhetian traditional cuisine. In addition, presentations by famous Meskhetian performers from Uzbekistan - Salomat Mahsudova and Mavlud Shamuratov, dance groups from Kyrgyzstan and Georgia will be included. A photo exhibition depicting life of the Meskhetians in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey will be at display.

    The festival is organized within the framework of the EU-funded programme, “Supporting the repatriation of persons deported from Georgia in the 1940s and their descendants,” and is implemented by the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in partnership with the Action Against Hunger (ACF).

    Minorities from all the regions at Art-Gene Festival 2012 in Tbilisi

    On 23 July 2012, the Multicultural Event will be held in the Open Air Museum of Ethnography in Tbilisi as part of Art Gene Festival 2012. The main goal of the Art Gene Festival is to promote and popularize Georgia's traditional folklore, research and gather new and existing materials in this field and introduce them to the general public. The Festival also seeks to archive and preserve these materials for future generations. The Art-Gene festival will dedicate one day specifically to the popularization of the folklore and culture of Georgia’s ethnic minorities. Around thirty national minorities’ musical and/or dance performances will be presented in the course of a full-day concert. The Multicultural Event is being organized by the European Centre for Minority Issues in Caucasus and Art Gene’s organizers. Each year the Art Gene Festival is one of the most successful and highly attended events in Georgia, attracting people of all ages and ethnicities to learn more about Georgia’s rich cultural treasures—past and present.

    The event is supported by the European Center for Minority Issues under its two programmes: “Denmark’s Georgia’s Programme 2010-2013” and “Support and Development of Roma communities in Georgia” with the financial support of the Open Society Foundation in Georgia.

    Central Election Commission of Georgia launches the initiative to address the issues of minorities’ concern on the forthcoming Parliamentary, Presidential and Local Self Governance Elections 2012-2014

    On June 29, 2012 the Working Group on ethnic and national minority issues has conducted the informational meeting in Akhalkalaki, Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Working group members, along with the representatives of the election administration met with the representatives of local NGOs, political parties and mass media. Around 50 participants were provided with the information related to the planned activities to be implemented in order to support ethnic minorities’ participation during the Parliamentary Elections 2012.

    The above mentioned Working Group on the ethnic and national minority issues has been established on May 14, 2012 with the initiative of the Central Election Commission to ensure the effective participation of the ethnic and national minorities into the processes related to the elections. The Working Group for coordination of the election related issues comprises of the number of non-governmental organizations, including European Centre for Minority Issues in Caucasus. The mandate of the working group is to enhance the awareness among the national and ethnic minorities on the electoral processes as well as to outreach the remote regions of the country densely populated by minorities. The working group meetings are facilitated both on the central as well as the regional level and are divided into four thematic areas: gender; youth; persons with disabilities and the media. One of the major outputs expected to be achieved by the Working Group is to develop the longer term Action Plan for 2012-2014 to mainstream minority aspects and accumulate best practices on the effective programmes involving minorities’ participation during the upcoming Parliamentary, Presidential, Local Self governance elections.

    ECMI welcomes the CEC initiative and is planning to continue its active participation in the process and contribute with its expertise in the field as well to support the broader participation of minorities in the fair and transparent way is guaranteed equally to all minority communities.

    Academic Conference "Changing Ethnic Environment in Georgia"

    Bazaleti, 22-23 June 2012

    Academic conference "Changing Ethnic Environment in Georgia" and student award ceremony were held on 22nd -23rd of June, 2012 at Bazaleti Study Centre. The conference was organized by European Centre for Minority Issues within the framework of the EU-funded programme “Supporting the repatriation of persons deported from Georgia in the 1940s and their descendants”.

    The event brought together around 70 participants working on the problems of minorities, border areas, issues of repatriation and reintegration of deportees, as well as public figures and leaders of the Diasporas from various regions of Georgia.

    Reports on following topics were presented: the post-Soviet identity and ethnic minorities in Georgia, the policy on minorities in contemporary Europe, the ethnic policy of Georgia and international conventions, the political aspects of Islam in Georgia, the role of media in the integration of ethnic minorities, the dynamics of cross-border conflicts and security challenges in Georgia etc.

    Discussion were held on following topics: “How European Experience is relevant for Georgia”, “Changing ethnic environment in Georgia – managing diversity”, “Regional cooperation – a new dimension in minority participation”, “Repatriation and integration – how can Georgia use the best practices?”. The discussions were very active and they demonstrated great interest of the public and the academic community in the issues presented at the conference.

    Conference presentations are planned to be published in a separate conference edition.

    4th Steering Committee Meeting of the Denmark’s Caucasus Programme 2010 - 2013 Promotion of Judicial Reform, Human and Minority Rights in Georgia

    On June 20, Council of Europe in partnership with ECMI hosted the 4th Steering Committee Meeting at the premises of the Ministry of Justice in Tbilisi, Georgia. Steering Committee meetings are the formal mechanism for joint decision-making concerning the programme “Promotion of Judicial Reforms, Human and Minority Rights in Georgia in Accordance with Council of Europe Standards” between European Center for Minority Issues, Council of Europe and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

    The Steering Committee reviewed the three components add titles. The ECMI Component III “Strengthening the state capacity and enhancing public consultation on minority issues” review was chaired by Ewa Chylinski, Director of ECMI Caucasus, and included representatives of partner institution such as Office of the State Minister for Reintegration, Public Defender’s Office and the National Security Council had been attending the meeting. Planning documents, progress reports, future work plans and decisions regarding major implementation issues such as technical advisers, production of policy papers had been approved at the meeting. During the progress review the representative of the donor to the programme, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, inquired about still outstanding needs of the state institutions.

    The next Steering Committee meeting is planned for October 2012.

    ECMI recent working papers

    National Minorities and the Media Situation in Georgia
    ECMI Working Paper #52: Tobias Akerlund, January 2012, 28 pp., appendix.

    The working paper explores the media situation in Georgia in relation to national minorities and shows that although there are a number of positive recent developments in terms of policy making on media issues, problems still remain in relation to media and national minorities. Although the ethnic Georgian minority population faces many problems similar to those confronted by minorities such as imbalanced or inappropriate information due to poor professionalism of journalists, it seems evident that persons belonging to minorities generally face more serious challenges. Looking at the current media situation for minorities, the paper indentifies four areas that require more attention: the deficiencies in access for minorities to information; licensing of new media outlets; the geographical coverage of the Georgian Public Broadcaster, and journalistic professionalism and ethical standards. The paper aims at identifying and documenting existing problems, and suggests ways forwards toward finding solutions to these challenges.

    Resettlement of Ecological Migrants in Georgia: Recent Developments and Trends in Policy, Implementation, and Perceptions
    ECMI Working Paper ##53: Justin Lyle, January 2012, 14 pp., appendix.

    The working paper provides a brief overview of the legal basis for addressing the needs of ecological migrants in international and domestic law, and then summarizes the limited activities in Georgia by national and international actors in the emerging field of humanitarian work that addresses the needs of persons displaced due to ecological disaster. The paper also surveys the Georgian Government’s approaches and efforts in respect to the eco-migrants, especially in recent years, and highlights new developments and trends in policy, implementation and perceptions. By documenting the current status of ecological migrants in Georgia, ECMI hopes to bring that renewed attention to the plight of this disadvantaged group.

    Chinese in Georgia
    ECMI Working Paper #54: Jiayi Zhou, January 2012, 20 pp., appendix.

    The paper provides an introduction to the Chinese economic migrants in Georgia. As of today, there are around 1,000 Chinese in Georgia divided into five groups: specialists, businessmen, shopkeepers, contract workers, and those in the restaurant and catering sector. The paper provides detailed information about the history of Chinese migrants in Georgia, driving causes, their level of integration (or lack there-of), vulnerabilities, and their status in Georgian society. It also offers insights into the increasingly large-scale Chinese economic ventures in the country, the status of Chinese as a foreign language in Georgia, and the role of the PRC Embassy for the Chinese community.

    South African Boars in Georgia?
    ECMI Working Paper #55: Conor Prasad, January 2012, 12 pp., appendix.

    The paper examines the Georgian government scheme to attract South African Boer farmers’ to Georgia. It examines the Georgian government’s aims and methods, how it plans to carry the scheme out and how it will fit into the Ministry of Agriculture’s broader plans for agricultural reform and rural development. The paper looks at both the potential benefits and risks of the potential resettlement, taking into account the views and experiences of both Georgian local farmers and South African Boers who are considering moving, or have already moved, to Georgia.

    Islam and Religious Transformation in Adjara
    ECMI Working Paper #57: Thomas Liles, February 2012, 23 pp., appendix.

    The working paper provides an assessment of the current religious situation in upper Adjara. The paper is organized around three main themes. Firstly, it analyzes the structural factors of the current situation which have given impetus to religious transformation and conversion to Christianity. Secondly, the paper addresses the effects of local institutions on the religious situation in upper Adjara. Finally, the working paper analyzes current Muslim issues as well as state policy on religious affairs in upper Adjara.

    Georgia’s Muslim Community: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
    ECMI Working Paper #58: Conor Prasad, February 2012, 25 pp., appendix.

    The principle objective of the paper is to examine the creation of the new Administration of Georgian Muslims; how and why it has been created and what its specific role, function and means of operating will be. Most importantly, it examines how the administration has been received by Georgia's Muslims and how it will affect them. The paper principally focuses on dynamics and relationships within the Muslim community and therefore it deals primarily with Georgia’s ethnic-Azeri community, which is simultaneously the largest ethnic and religious minority in the country and is concentrated in the Kvemo Kartli region.

    A minority mainstreaming manual

    A minority-mainstreaming manual, designed to train employees of governmental and non-governmental organizations on minority issues, and how minority issues can be mainstreamed in emergency and development programme design. The English-language manual focuses on minority issues in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. A Georgian-language manual covering Georgia only, will be published in early 2012.

    Photo exhibition: “The UnPromised Land: The Meskhetians’ Long Journey Home”

    The Meskhetians are a Muslim population originally settled in Georgia’s southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Under thoughts of being a potential “fifth column” of neighboring Turkey they were collectively deported in 1944 from Georgia by the Stalin regime. It is estimated that the number of people, who were deported to the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reached above 100,000 persons. After Stalin’s death some restrictions imposed upon the Meskhetians were lifted and it became possible for a few families to return. Currently, there are about 130 Meskhetian families living in Georgia, while large Meskhetian communities exist in Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, USA and the three Central Asian states.

    The Deported Meskhetians

    The Meskhetians are a Muslim population originally settled in Georgia’s southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Under thoughts of being a potential “fifth column” of neighboring Turkey they were collectively deported in 1944 from Georgia by the Stalin regime. It is estimated that the number of people, who were deported to the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reached above 100,000 persons. After Stalin’s death some restrictions imposed upon the Meskhetians were lifted and it became possible for a few families to return. Currently, there are about 130 Meskhetian families living in Georgia, while large Meskhetian communities exist in Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, USA and the three Central Asian states.

    In 1999, Georgia committed to provide for the repatriation of the deported Meskhetians, and finally in 2007 a law on repatriation was adopted. In 2011, the repatriation process entered into an active phase and 333 Meskhetian families out of 5,841 applications have so far been granted permission to repatriate. It is expected that several thousand will receive repatriation status in 2012 and that the physical repatriation will also begin soon.

    Facilitating the Return of Deported People

    In the past year, ECMI Caucasus has implemented a large scale EU funded programme “Supporting the Repatriation of Persons Deported from Georgia in the 1940s and their Descendants”– working in partnership with Spanish NGO Action Against Hunger to support the repatriation of people deported from Georgia by the Soviet authorities, mainly the indigenous Turkish speaking population of Samtskhe-Javakheti called the Meskhetians.

    Since the government of Georgia has no experience in managing repatriation of deported people, the support of ECMI is playing an important role in the overall facilitation of the process. An international expert seconded by the ECMI to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia

    (MRA) ensures that the repatriation process is being implemented in greater accordance with the established international standards. In order to coordinate the repatriation process between a range of governmental agencies the government of Georgia has, with the support of the programme, created an “Interagency Governmental Council on the Repatriation of Forcefully Deported Persons from the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia During the 40s of XX Century by Former USSR” and a Working Group. ECMI is closely cooperating with both bodies especially with regard to the drafting of a repatriation strategy, which is currently being drawn up. Additionally, ECMI is supporting the creation, maintenance and updating of a database of repatriate-seekers at the MRA.

    Apart from supporting the government structures in advancing the repatriation process, ECMI implements various activities to prepare Georgian society for the return of Meskhetian repatriates. These activities include trainings for regional authorities on diversity management, implemented in partnership with the Georgian ALPE Foundation, public lectures and seminars, winter schools for university students, photo exhibitions, cultural festivals, publication of information material and the launch of an informational website.

    New website on repatriation - www.repatriation.ge

    For the purpose of raising awareness in Georgian society regarding the deported populations and their repatriation and to provide Meskhetians with an important source of information on the repatriation process, ECMI on 15 December launched a new website. The website is maintained in three languages: English, Georgian and Russian. It contains a legal section, where all relevant legislative acts can be found as well as information on procedures for repatriation. Information on Meskhetian organizations is also provided, as well as a collection of informative articles and useful links. Additionally, the site holds many interesting sections about the Meskhetians, their history and current being. The website’s photo gallery is a useful tool allowing the reader to get a clear visual image of the Meskhetian people. Besides, the news and announcement sections of the website constantly keeps visitors updated on the latest developments regarding repatriation issues and programme development. The content of the website is enriched with the publications of ECMI concerning Meskhetian issues including a new book: “Meskhetians: Homeward Bound...”, written by three leading experts in the field: Tom Trier, George Tarkhan-Mouravi and Forrest Kilimnik. The book is accessible for free download in three languages.

    Media cooperation and Peace Journalism in the South Caucasus

    In partnership with the Georgian NGO, International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN) and funded by the EU supported UNDP mechanism Confidence Building Early Response Mechanism, ECMI Caucasus has initiated a media coorporation project. The project has so far succeeded in creating a mechanism for systematic exchange of information for media representatives in Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. About 25 media representatives were trained in peace journalism in Famagusta, northern Cyprus on 12-17 September 2011. Through a grant provided by the German Marshall Foundation a preparatory meeting was also held in Ankara on 14-15 April. It is envisaged that the project can be continued in 2012.

    The International Visegrad Fund

    Empowering National Minorities through Developing Civil Society in Minority-Populated Regions of Georgia

    Based on the experiences of the Visegrad countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), this project has aimed at developing civil society in minority inhabited regions of Georgia. The project has focused especially on southern Georgia, where large numbers of Armenians and Azeris live, but it has also succeeded in initiating activities addressing other groups, notably national minority community groups in eastern Georgia and in Adjara on the Black Sea coast. Both regions are rich in cultural and ethnic diversity though very little interest has been seen among national and international actors in supporting the needs of these minority groups (Kurds, Jews, Roms, Chechens, Avars, Ossetians, Abkhazians and others). Through civil society development and community mobilization in areas settled by persons belonging to national minorities, the project through trainings and provision of small grants helped to build the capacities of NGOs and CSO in the minority regions.

    State Inter Agency Commission implements the Annual Work Plan for 2011

    The State Inter-Agency Commission (SIAC) for coordination of issues relating to civic integration, which functions under the auspices of the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration, continues its mandate to implement the National Concept for Tolerance and Civic Integration and its five-year Action Plan. The members of the Commission consist of representatives of ministries and other governmental bodies working in areas of relevance for national minority issues.

    SIAC collaborates actively with bodies of local self-government (municipal administrations and elected councils), the Office of the Public Defender (including its Council of National Minorities), and civil society and international organizations. A recent example of such cooperation is the monitoring of the implementation of the annual State Report on the implementation of the National Concept, which came as a result of joint efforts of all parties, including state bodies and civil society organizations. ECMI has played a key role in establishing the Inter-Agency Commission in July 2009 and in supporting the efficient functioning of the body under previous and current programmes.

    The Roms: ECMI continues efforts to reduce marginalization in Georgia
    Vocational Education

    In the past year, around 50 community members from Romani settlements in Kakheti and Adjara regions were able to go through a vocational education program launched by ECMI Caucasus with the financial support of the Open Society Foundation in Georgia. Courses in driving, sewing and tailoring were offered, and the interest in the Romani communities was immense. The training courses were specially designed based on the needs in the different communities, and with the newly acquired skills many Roms have greatly improved their chances for employment or making an income. In this way, the vocational training has contributed to the social and economic integration of the marginalized group.


    One of ECMI’s strategic aims is to empower minority communities, in order for minorities to build capacities to help themselves and address their own concerns. ECMI Caucasus seeks to facilitate also the development of community based organizations and NGO for the Romani communities. These efforts have resulted in the establishment of a Romani NGO in eastern Georgia, the Kakheti Romani Union “Roma” and in western Georgia the Adjara Romani Union “Roma”, both established in July 2009. A third NGO, the Gachiani Romani Union “Roma,” has been established in November 2011 and is expected to cover activities both in the southern Kvemo Kartli region and in the capital Tbilisi. To further support the political participation of the

    community, the Kakheti Romani Union “Roma” in March 2011 became a member of the Council of National Minorities (CNM) - the Georgian Public Defender’s mechanism for dialogue with the national minorities. The CNM membership of the Romani organization is an important step forward in the process of including the community in consultative and decision-making processes. Thanks to capacity building efforts, the Kakheti Romani Union “Roma” has also demonstrated success in receiving small grants on its own, including funding for a project to empower Romani women.

    Public Awareness

    In May 2011, a Romani Festival was held in Tbilisi, a joint initiative of ECMI Caucasus, the Innovations and Reforms Centre, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Georgian National Museum. The festival helped both to raise public awareness on the situation of the Romani community in Georgia, and to raise awareness within the Romani community on their rich cultural life. At the same time, the event was used as an occasion to offer Roms consultancy on their legal rights and to inform the community members of the need to obtain formal identity documents. At the festival, ECMI - with its close relations to Romani communities - presented features of the Georgian Romani culture to the broader Georgian public and over 400 guests visited the one-day event. At the opening ceremony, Georgian Deputy Minister of Justice, Giorgi Vashadze, issued Roms with ID cards and birth certificates. The festival also featured a photo exhibition, a video slideshow, a bazaar with Romani handicrafts, and Romani music and dance, all of which highlighted the cultural richness of the Romani communities from across Georgia.

    Government Working Group

    As a result of awareness raising activities conducted by ECMI and other organizations starting from 2008, the Government of Georgia in November 2011 has taken a significant step to address the problems of the Romani community: a government working group was established in November 2011 under the aegis of the National Security Council, with representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the State Minister for Reintegration and the Civil Registry, as well as national and international organizations working in the field. ECMI is a permanent member of the Working Group.

    September 2011

    Seminar on FCNM Implementation and Reporting Procedures in Georgia
    12-13 September, 2011

    From September 12-13, 2011, a seminar on FCNM implementation and reporting procedures in Georgia was held as part of Denmark's Georgia Programme 2010-2013 “promotion of judicial reform, human and minority rights in Georgia in accordance with Council of Europe Standards”. The seminar was organized with cooperation from the Council of Europe and the National Security Council. The seminar, which was facilitated by international expert and member of the FCNM Advisory Committee Mr. Francesco Palermo, was arranged to assist working group members responsible for drafting the FCNM second State Report with reporting methodology and technical procedures. The seminar aimed to provide practical inputs on the upcoming State Report, both in terms of structure and procedure as well as content. All procedural and substantive issues regarding the State Report have been addressed and discussed in depth, both in a comparative perspective and with particular attention given to the situation of minorities in Georgia.

    June 2011

    Problems of the Kakheti region national minorities
    29 June, 2011

    The round table meeting “Problems of the Kakheti region national minorities” was held from 28-29 June in Grogoleti. The aim of the meeting was to discuss major problems faced by national minorities in the Kakheti region. This region, located in eastern Georgia, is home to a number of national minority groups that live in both dispersed and compact settlements. Yet, unlike other regions such as Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli, very little attention is given to national minority integration and protection. This round table meeting was the first event in Georgia devoted exclusively to minority problems in the Kakheti region. The meeting was attended by representatives of all national minority communities residing in Kakheti, including Azerbaijanis, Ossetians, Avars/Dagestanis, Udins, Roms, Kists/Vainakhs and Chechen refugees, as well as representatives of the Kakheti local government and members of the Council of National Minorities under the auspices of the Public Defender.

    During the two-day event, representatives from each community presented detailed descriptions of the problems and challenges faced by their respective ethnic groups. By the end of the meeting, participants had developed a set of recommendations and possible measures that local government could implement to solve these problems. Finally, the representatives decided to officially present these recommendations to relevant decision makers and officials from the central and regional governments.

    Round table meeting “National Minority Cultural Heritage of Georgia”
    17 June, 2011

    The round table meeting “National Minority Cultural Heritage of Georgia” was held on 17 June in Tbilisi. The aim of the meeting was to discuss problems related to the protection of national minority cultural monuments located in different regions of Georgia. The meeting was attended by members of the Council of National Minorities as well as representatives from the Public Defender’s Office, the Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection, the State Minister’s Office on Reintegration, and various international organizations.

    The first session of the meeting was devoted to presentations by national minority community leaders, who provided an overview of national minority cultural heritage protection in ethnic Russian, Azerbaijani, Jewish, and Armenian communities in Georgia. It was revealed that a considerable number of national minority monuments in Georgia still lack official status as cultural monuments, and thus do not enjoy official legal protection. Another urgent issue raised by ethnic community leaders was the status of the “sirotski dom,” a cultural site for the Russian/Dukhobor community in Ninotsminda district that, despite repeated promises, has still not been granted the status of museum.

    During the second session of the round table meeting, a representative from the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection presented the government program on monument protection, highlighting the government’s general strategy as well as elaborating on previously planned initiatives.

    May 2011

    Roma Festival
    May 21, 2011

    Since 2008, the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) has made efforts to enhance the social inclusion of Romani in Georgia. As an initial step, ECMI sought to map Georgia’s Romani communities and identify their most pressing issues. Based on this research, ECMI has been able to develop a number of action oriented projects focused on empowering Romani communities through an emphasis on civil engagement and access to elementary education for Romani children.

    On May 21, 2011, the Roma Festival was held as a joint initiative of ECMI, the Innovations and Reforms Centre, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Georgian National Museum. The festival was primarily intended to raise Romani’s awareness of both their rights and the importance of possessing documentation and birth certificates. To this end, the Innovation and Reform Centre used the event as a platform for legal consultancy and assistance to potential beneficiaries. Simultaneously, ECMI, with its close relations to Romani communities, presented Georgian Romani culture to the broader Georgian public in order to enhance inter-ethnic relations and foster tolerance in Georgian society.

    Deputy Minister of Justice Giorgi Vashadze was among the 250-300 attendees at the festival. At the opening ceremony, Vashadze issued Romani with ID cards and birth certificates. Additionally, the event included a photography exhibition, a video slideshow, a bazaar, and Romani music and dance, all of which highlighted the cultural richness of various Romani communities from across Georgia.

    April 2011

    Seminar “Minority Governance in Georgia and Experience of Visegrad Countries”
    29-30 April, 2011

    The seminar “Minority Governance in Georgia and Experience of Visegrad Countries” was held from 29-30 April in Tbilisi. The seminar aimed to share V4 countries’ experience in the field of minority governance with Georgian authorities and representatives from Georgian civil society. During the seminar, international experts Dr. Michal Vasecka (Center for Research of Ethnicity and Culture) and Mr. Dusan Ondrusek (Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia) gave a presentation on the experience of V4 countries in minority governance and highlighted important aspects of interethnic relations and conflict resolution mechanisms in the V4 area. The presentation was followed by discussions. Georgian officials also presented on the Georgian model of minority governance. Activities, mandates and the structures of all relevant ministries and bodies responsible for implementation of civil integration and minority protection policy were discussed and analyzed by relevant officials.

    During the second day of the seminar, issues of civil society development in both V4 countries and Georgia were discussed. Dr. Vasecka summarized the general situation of civil society in V4 countries during the post-socialist period, while Mr. Ondrusek focused on Slovakia’s experience in national minority civil society organizational development and provided examples of conciliation commissions. The last session of the seminar was devoted to civil society development issues in Georgia and focused on national minority networks. Specifically, activities of and challenges for the nationwide national minority network – the Council of National Minorities under the auspices of the Public Defender’s Office – were discussed. Regional national minority stakeholders also discussed problems and activities of civil society networks on a regional level, particularly in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and the Tsalka district. The seminar was attended by 45 participants from various governmental structures and civil society organizations.

    July 2010

    Commencement of Integration Classes for Roma Children
    Location: Public School No. 5, Kobuleti, Adjara
    Date: 5 July 2010

    With 21 children, together with their parents, in attendance, ECMI Caucasus' staff held an opening meeting on 5 July for the start of integration classes for the Roma community. With an enthusiastic atmosphere the children, ranging from 6 to 14 year-olds, were presented with school books and supplies. The main aim of the integration classes is to instruct the children in basic Georgian as well as arithmetic so they may attend the local school starting in September. In attendance was also the school director and staff as well as the local authorities. The importance of education in the development of a free civil society was discussed amongst general concerns about the starting school year. These integration classes will continue for two months.

    June 2010

    Training for Local CSO Representatives
    Location: Kutaisi, Imereti
    Date: 23 June 2010

    On 23 June, members of ECMI Caucaus conducted a training in Kutaisi for local CSO representatives. concerning project proposal writing. The main goal of the training was to introduce to participants standard methodology of project proposal writing, budgeting and reporting. Suitably, local representatives were very satisfied and pleased with the training and the information received.

    April 2010

    Ensuring Transportation of Roma and Georgian Schoolchildren
    Location: Public School No. 2, Dedoplistskaro, Kakheti
    Date: 12 April 2010

    On 12 April, ECMI Caucasus’s staff together with Civic Integration Foundation members the Dedoplistskaro district to hold a meeting with representatives of the local Romani community and the director of Dedoplistskaro Public School No. 2. At the meeting, a grant of 400 litres of diesel petrol was presented to the school, which will ensure the transportation of Roma children from the nearby village of Leninovka to the school together with ethnic Georgian children residing in the same village. This initiative was implemented by the Civic Integration Foundation under ECMI Caucasus’ mini-grant programme. The director of the school is planning to develop a project proposal which will target local Romani community concerning vocational training for adult community members. Furthermore, a series of consultations are planned by ECMI Caucasus for the upcoming months with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia as well as other international and local organizations that may be ready to continue supporting this initiative from September 2010 onwards.

    March 2010

    Meeting with Minority Community Representatives
    Location: Kutaisi, Imereti region
    Date: 18-19 March 2010

    On 18-19 March, ECMI Caucasus conducted meetings with minority community representatives in Kutaisi in the Imereti region. On the first day, meetings were held with Mr. Nugzar Andghuladze, vice-president of the Georgian-Ukrainian association “Friendship,” and Mr. Tengiz Bitkasha, a representative of Assyrian community in Kutaisi. On the second day, Mr. Giogri Tomash, chairman of the Russian Society “Compatriots,” was met with. All three community representatives expressed their willingness to cooperate with ECMI Caucasus within the framework of its civil society development initiatives and agreed to the need of engaging more youth representatives in trainings and other capacity-building programmes. During these meetings, the possibility of establishing a regional umbrella organization to unite minority community organizations was discussed.

    February 2010

    Awareness Meeting concerning Educational Reform
    Location: Public School No. 3, Akhaltsikhe, Samtskhe-Javakheti
    Date: 2 February 2010

    On 2 February, the ALPE Foundation together with ECMI Caucasus and the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia conducted a meeting at Akhaltsikhe Public School No. 3 with the school principle, board members, teachers, chairman of the District Education Resource Centre and over a hundred pupils attending. The organizers presented the recent amendments to the Law of Georgia on Higher Education, which provides comparatively favourable conditions for national minorities to enroll in higher education institutions in Georgia. In particular, graduating students for the school year 2009-10 will have an opportunity to enter higher education institutions by only having to pass the General Abilities Test in Armenian or Azeri languages (Ossetian and Abkhazian-language tests will be introduced in the upcoming years). After having successfully passed the General Abilities Test they will be enrolled in higher education institutions and will have to take intensive Georgian language courses during the first year and upon successful completion will continue studying other courses from the second year onwards. Meetings such as these are especially important owing to fact that awareness among minority communities on these recent legislative reforms is rather low. Furthermore, with the fast approaching deadline of 22 March 2010 for applying for entry exams, it is pertinent to inform the minority youth.

    January 2010

    Civil Society Development in Batumi
    Location: Batumi House of Friendship, Batumi, Adjara
    Date: 17 January 2010

    On 17 January, ECMI Caucasus’ representatives conducted a meeting with members of the Batumi House of Friendship as well as representatives of Batumi Mayor’s Office to introduce ECMI’s new programme on civil society development. and the potential involvement of representatives of minority communities of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. As a result, both the local authorities and members of the House of Friendship expressed their desire to be involved with and benefit from ECMI’s new programme.