CDRI's Executive Director Tamar Chapidze has participated in the working session of the international project Democracy Study Center (DSC) organized by the leading German-Polish-Ukrainian NGOs. Interactive sessions were led by the former president of Wroclaw, Rafal Dutkiewicz, Chicago University Professor Olga Solovieva and one of the heros of Maidan activities, MP of Ukraine Mustafa Nayyem.
The attendees discussed the development process and a good practice of Wraclaw city, the history of religious rights and secularism in USA, the second part of the session was dedicated to reintegration of Donbass region. Active member of parliament Mustafa Nayyem shared his own views about the current situation in Donbass and possible solutions.
During the concluding session participants elaborated on the upcoming international forum “Our City, Our Future”, where the DSC fellows will participate together with the international experts, the event will take place on 23rd of June, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Democracy Study Center is a project organised by German-Polish-Ukrainian Society, which is implemented for two years with the main aim to gather young leaders from Eastern Partnership Countries to plan and realize common actions and research projects. DSC is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.
CDRI's deputy-executive director Diana Endeladze took part in a kick-off conference of European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) as one of the members representing Georgia. EDYN is a newly founded coalition of young civic and political leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, united by the desire to empower new generations of change-makers.
European Democracy Youth Network itself is something that lifts you up - it combines words which are very close to my identity, aspirations and dreams. Most importantly, EDYN brings together young people from all over the Europe to join efforts for the same cause - advancing and sustaining democratic values. Our first conference was truly inspiring thanks to my wonderful colleagues and superb trainers from NDI and IRI offices. The best part is that we have a lot ahead of us!" - Diana shared her thoughts with us.
EDYN upholds the values of liberty, justice, equality, and respect for human rights. The initiative is organized in cooperation with the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute (IRI), with the generous support from the American people through the USAID - US Agency for International Development
International forum on countering disinformation was held on February 13, 2019 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The forum was a part of the project “Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Countries Countering Disinformation” which is implemented with the financial support from the International Visegrad Fund. The project encompasses all ten EaP and V4 countries which are represented by the leading civil society organisations of the field.
The Forum gathered together experts from partner organisations and Georgian civil society, diplomatic missions and media to exchange knowledge and experience on the pressing issues of today’s regional and national security agenda. Participants discussed four pressing issues of modern regional security:
Disinformation - Global Threat to Democracy?
Impact of Disinformation on the EaP&V4 Communities
Fake News and General Public: How to Stand Up to Disinformation?
Disinformation and the Youth Resilience: Forging a New Generation of Leaders
Opening remarks were delivered by H.E. Ihor Dolhov, Ambassador of Ukraine to Georgia, and by Mr. Jiri Preclik, Chargé d'Affaires a.i., Embassy of the Czech Republic to Georgia. H.E. Ihor Dolhov talked about the aspects of Russia’s disinformation warfare in Ukraine and reiterated that Ukraine remains a testing ground for Russian cyber attacks. He emphasized that the Kremlin’s strategy reaches beyond Eastern Europe colluding in domestic elections of USA and France. This ultimately means that problem is more comprehensive as with various methods Moscow creates parallel reality which is sometimes hard to distinguish without thorough investigation. This is why Ambassador stressed the importance of education, media literacy and awareness-raising campaigns to reach wider audience and enhance their resilient. He concluded that individually, we must fighting Russia propaganda by not letting it to poison our minds. Mr. Jiri Preclik continued by elaborating on modern disinformation campaigns and hybrid threats around the globe and in EaP and Visegrad region.
The speakers of the first panel “Disinformation - Global Threat to Democracy?” discussed ranges of issues such as NATO STRATCOM approach to disinformation, democracy at risk due to disinformation, scale of the disinformation crisis and, conspiracy theories as vehicles of disinformation. Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director at Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) spoke about
Nino Bolkvadze - In the past, European Union members resisted acknowledging Russian propaganda and instead, were using the term “anti-Western propaganda”. It took us long to understand the problem and threats. Our reaction was also late and it take us longer to update strategic communication strategies to respond contemporary cyber security challenges. She concluded that “we must be proactive and not only reactive when it comes to Russian disinformation”.
The panel on “Impact of Disinformation on the EaP&V4 Communities” was dedicated to share speakers experience on the threat of Russian influence and disinformation, impact of disinformation in Moldova, elections in the Kremlin's narrative, information security challenges to the region (EaP and V4) and, disinformation and facts: How to avoid conflicts in the world. Irakli Porchkhidze, Vice-President of Georgian Institute of Strategic Studies (GISS) and moderator of the panel delivered opening remarks on the tendencies of the modern era with recurrent hybrid warfare which is a result of internet proliferation, effectiveness of these methods of disinformation and their low cost compared to the convenient tools used by the states to achieve its goals.
Pioneer of the topic, Jakub Janda from project partner organisation - European Values think-tank, Czech Republic introduced public with the importance of understanding the issue of disinformation and the information threat coming from Russian and Chinese proxies. He stressed the need of the political consensus to deal with the disinformation like in Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. Where the political consensus is absent on Russia’s interests in spreading fake news, as is a case in Czech republic or in Germany, it is harder to have relevant policies. In 2015 - 2016 Czech Republic launched National Security Audit which included influential foreign powers such as Russia and China in terms of their online, offline, political, economic influence on the CR. The results of this document were specific policy initiatives which could not be properly administered due to the lack of the political consensus. Thus, mr. Janda highlighted the importance of civil society bringing these issues forward and advocating for better and more responsive reforms. He listed four main response areas / steps to react on foreign influence:
Government acknowledging the threat is present - done through strategic or policy documents. This is important as security establishment is allowed to look into the threat;
Confronting the threat directly - civil society has a big role but governments have to also address attempts of disinformation;
Exposing networks which spread foreign disinformation - identifying who is a sponsor, who are people around this information source, followed by raising public awareness on the threats, as disinformation challenges cannot be solved behind closed doors.
Delivering resilience - promoting media literacy, resilience of institutions dealing with the fake news and disinformation.
Mr. Janda concluded that EU and USA should fund civil society organisations to empower them counter propaganda and disinformation. The role of the civil society is defending the mainstream political parties and mainstream media. Civil society should hold public institutions accountable to prevent Russian propaganda.
Mateusz Bajek from project partner organisation Global Lab, Poland, gave an interesting insight on the electoral dimension of disinformation and erosion of trust within the constituencies. He highlighted that elections can be falsified, but the nation can be persuaded that they were fair. This path was chosen, among others, by Putin’s Russia and Lukashenko's Belarus. However, the voters' faith in the fair elections can be also undermined by using lies and propaganda. This path has been chosen in recent years by the Kremlin propaganda in Europe, but not only there. Putin's Russia uses its propaganda machine to convince the world, that black is white, and white is black.
Tamar Kintsurashvili from Media Development Fund, Georgia shared her insights and extensive experience in the disinformation strategy employed by the Kremlin in Georgia. She highlighted that Russian narratives are delivered by three-stage structure:
Feeding threats of war, subversion, loss of identity and territory;
Sawing distrust towards western institution and Georgia’s partners;
Engrading beliefs that only Russia can solve Georgia’s problems.
The Kremlin’s strategy includes deflective source model - using well-known and legitimate sources name to spread false information such as: foxnews.ge, euronews.ge, cnn.ge. Strategic communication is also a challenge for Georgia as government is not vocal what is the threat for the country due to the fear of provoking Russia, which nourishes certain far right movements who are spreading anti-Turkish sentiments. Same goes to the Georgian government not commenting on Ukraine’s autocephaly that creates a gap which is easily exploited by far right groups. She reiterated her strong support for transparency of funds rather than imposing restrictions on the free speech by the government.
Alexandru Platon from project partner organisation - Institute of Public Policy, Republic of Moldova spoke about the impact of disinformation in his country. The Kremlin not only threatens Moldova’s territorial integrity by triggering Transnistrian conflict and then supporting its breakaway but it also targets the internal politics of the country through propaganda. The purpose of Russian propaganda is to maintain Republic of Moldova within the sphere of the Russian Federation’s exclusive interests, as a docile satellite. In order to achieve this goal, Russian propaganda promotes a sense of affiliation with Russia, and discredits the EU and the West in general in the eyes of the Moldovan citizens.
Ahmad Shahidov from project partner organisation Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Azerbaijan, spoke about the role of disinformation in the conflicts. He stated that in many cases, conflicts are based on false propaganda. These conflicts and wars are beneficial to a certain states operating with a strategy to "Divide and Rule". The Russian Federation is one of such countries which uses conflicts to strengthen its position in Post-Soviet space.
The third panel on “Fake News and General Public: How to Stand Up to Disinformation?” was opened by Vasil Sikharulidze, Chairman of Atlantic Council of Georgia and moderator of the session. Speakers discussed The media and disinformation, the Kremlin’s propaganda in Ukrainian media, Russian disinformation in Eastern Central Europe: antidemocratic anti-Western narratives and their neutralization, fact-check initiatives and, media literacy as a tool against the disinformation.
Giorgi Targamadze, founder at Georgian Strategic Analysis Center, Georgia spoke about
Galyna Petrenko, director of Media Detector, Ukraine, captured people's attention by thoroughly describing Moscow’s influence and means to spread propaganda in Ukrainian media. Although Ukrainian government and civil society have done a lot to protect country from subversive informational attacks via traditional and new media since Russian aggression was started in 2014, exposure of the more developed and stronger western democracies to Russian meddling in elections urged civil society to maintain active monitoring on the media outlets and online information sources.
The last panel was dedicated to “Disinformation and the Youth Resilience: Forging a New Generation of Leaders” where speakers addressed pressing issues of the impact of disinformation on vulnerable/marginalised youth and tactics fighting it, importance of perspectives in tackling disinformation: Czech experience, critical thinking vs fake news - influence of digital world on youth, “vaccinating heads and minds”: bolstering youth resilience to tackle disinformation and, the evolution of propaganda in Belarus since 1994.
The project “EaP & V4 Countries Countering Disinformation” aims at establishing a platform between two regions to develop innovative approaches in order to fight disinformation, to raise awareness on fake news and, to strengthen cooperation in dealing with the threats of information warfare. The project is implemented by Civil Development and Research Institute (CDRI) and Europe-Georgia Institute (EGI). We are grateful to the International Visegrad Fund for its financial support.
Civil Development and Research Institute (CDRI) was founded on January 4, 2018, as an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization. CDRI’s objectives include strengthening democratic processes in Georgia, involving the youth and different vulnerable groups in civic initiatives, establishing and promoting active citizenship practices and advocating for media literacy. CDRI is also engaged in consulting and research for planning and implementing socio-economic projects.
The Europe-Georgia Institute (EGI) is the leading independent civil society organization that uses non-formal education and creative communication to expose different problems of modern Georgia and the Caucasus and to promote solutions that are essential for Georgia’s development and for a successful common future. EGI’s mission is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world.
CDRI participated in international workshop on the role of the youth in policy-making and decision-making processes in Strasbourg, France. The project was organized by the Council of Europe and focused on the Roma youth involvement in active social life. The representatives of CSOs from Georgia, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Lithuania, etc. discussed the challenges and opportunities in terms of youth involvement in decision-making at local, regional and national levels.
The program aimed at mainstreaming Roma and youth in policy planning and implementation processes. The representatives of the Council of Europe highlighted the opportunities for effective policy dialogue between youngsters and decision-makers.In frames of the project, CDRI delivered presentation about the current situation regarding young people’s involvement in decision-making, community and political work in Georgia. Our representative accentuated the needs of Roma youth residing in Georgia. This event was important for creating synergy of CSOs from all over the Europe for future cooperation.
CDRI’s participation in this workshop was essential due to excellent capacity building and networking opportunities as the organisation is actively working on youth mainstreaming in Georgia.
Representative of CDRI’s team participates in the workshop “Peace Mediation and Dialogue” taking place in Kiev, Ukraine. The workshop is organized by Democracy Study Center and includes mediation and negotiation studies.This workshop session is a part of the 7-month training programme designed to build the professional capacity of CSO leaders from Eastern Partnership region.
During the course of seven consecutive months the programme participants are conducting research in four fields: Women in focus, Entrepreneurship, Media Pluralism and Peace Mediation. CDRI’s managing director is working with the young experts from Ukraine, Moldova and Russia on the research which studies the role of Orthodox Church in peace mediation and peace building.
The representative of the Civil Development and Research Institute takes part in the project organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's FES Regional Office "Dialogue Eastern Europe" - “Challenges to Peace and Security: Perspectives on the Regional Order in Eastern Europe” in Vienna, Austria.
The project includes discussions and workshops on the security environment and future political development scenarios of Eastern Partnership countries.The workshops are conducted by regional experts and the MEP, former president of the European political party - Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Hannes Swoboda participates in the conference as a keynote speaker.
Today the project "Civic Action School" has been completed. The action was implemented with the financial support of the President's Reserve Fund and in cooperation with the Europe-Georgia Institute.
The Civic Action School unites students, young leaders, and future politicians who are ready to enhance knowledge and experience in various fields of their interest and change the civil life in Georgia.
Young people participating in the program had possibility to deep their knowledge in the following fields: international relations, politics, law, economics and security.
In the framework of the project number of discussions, lectures, seminars and working sessions were held.
“Civic Activism - Crash Course” has finished successfully. The participants raised their awareness on the importance of civic activism and international opportunities for getting a formal and non-formal education. Our trainers provided the participants with the detailed information on how to participate in international exchange projects, student conferences, workshops and summer schools.
In the framework of the training, youngsters worked on the slogans to call for their peers to engage in civic activism. The the participants presented four interesting project ideas to contribute to the development of the local communities.
The civic activism course is the first project in the framework of the CDRI’s initiative “Now Generation” which lays the foundation for training cycle on the topics which are of high importance for the young people.
On September 2, 2018 at the University of Tehran (Iran) CDRI participated in the international conference “Educating for Sustainable Environment".
During the conference CDRI reported on the ongoing initiatives enacted in Georgia to cope with the climate change, air pollution and other environmental issues.
In frames of the event the Vice President of Islamic Republic of Iran Mrs. Masoumeh Ebtekar shared Iran’s experience in sustainable waste management with conference participants. Speakers of the conference underlined the importance of shared effort and global cooperation in fighting against climate change.
Civil Development and Research Institute is pleased to invite young people to take part in educational programme “Civic Activism - Crash course”. The participants will have an unique opportunity to analyse ongoing issues of civil development, hold discussions with experts and raise awareness through exchanging experience. Educational programme will be conducted in the form of outdoor activities, including games, competitions and discussion. The participants will receive certificates of participation.
The crash course covers the following topics:
Elections and civic activism;
How to raise civil activism among the youth;
The role of civic activism in environment protection.
Interested applicants aged 18-35 should submit their CV and motivation letter in Georgian language by email to: email@example.com. Please indicate “Civic Activism - Crash course” in the subject of the mail.
❗ The deadline - 6 September, 2018.
There is no participation fee. Only successful candidates will be notified.
CDRI is honored to take part in Eastern Partnership Summer School on "EU and EaP, current situation and future prospects" in Belarus.
The main objective of the program is to build a transnational network among state institutions, think- tanks and NGOs. ️
In frames of the project, CDRI will present a report on the outcomes of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Georgia.