Seminar 9 September 2009


Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), in cooperation with the Aleksanteri Institute of University of Helsinki organised a seminar and book launch:


Download as pdf



9:00 – 12:00 Lessons from the Georgian war

09:00 - 09:05 Welcome/Introduction

George Zarubin, President, EPF

09:05 – 09:35   Opening remarks

Alexander Stubb, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Lessons from the Georgian war

Alexander Stubb


 09:35 – 09:55 The historical reasons behind the Georgian war

Arto Luukkanen, University of Helsinki


09:55 – 10:15 Book presentation

Anna-Lena Laurén,  Anna-Lena Laurén, Moscow correspondent of Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), author of the book There are no masters in the mountains - on the Caucasus and its people (Vuorilla ei ole herroja - Kaukasiasta ja sen kansoista, I bergen finns inga herrar - om Kaukasien och dess folk)

Read Anna-Lena Laurén's presentation (pdf)

Anna-Lena Laurén


 10:15 – 10:30 Coffee break

 10:30 – 11:00 Georgia’s perspective

David Rakviashvili, Deputy State Minister for Reintegration of Georgia

 11:00 – 11:30 Panel Discussions

Moderated by Mikko Palonkorpi, Researcher, Aleksanteri Institute

David Rakviashvili, Deputy State Minister of Reintegration

Arto Luukkanen, University of Helsinki

Anna-Lena Laurén, Journalist, author of the book

Susanna Niinivaara, Journalist, Helsingin Sanomat

panel 1Susanna Niinivaara, Mikko Palonkorpi, Anna-Lena Laurén, David Rakviashvili


12:00 – 17:30 – EPF’s Seminar The Crisis of Independent Media in the South Caucasus

An independent, vibrant and critical media is essential for the transitional democracies in post-Soviet states to shape public opinion, keep citizens informed and hold local governments accountable. In Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan an independent media additionally can and must play an important role in promoting understanding and tolerance among the nations in the region and create ties over national boundaries. Aspiration to Europe requires adherence to the European standards of journalism, which guarantee media diversity and freedom.

In the countries of the South Caucasus, government influence on the media, including overt and covert censorship, on-going, unresolved conflicts, political affiliations and lack of professionalism of both central and regional media outlets, further limits the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to the Mass Media. In addition, the situation highlights the contradiction of local governments agreeing to EU/CoE standards while not following through on their actual implementation.

Legitimate questions remain about media rights, performance and professionalism, and the role of public communications practitioners in shaping public perception.  What could the international community do to improve the situation? What is the role of civil society in promoting independent media and engaging citizens in civic activism through the free flow of unbiased information?

This seminar will bring together practitioners in the areas of media and development to discuss these issues and ways to strengthen participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda.


12:00 – 13:30 Lunch and Address

Mr. Harri Kämäräinen, Deputy Director, Unit for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland



13:45 – 14:00 Opening remarks

Harri Kämäräinen

Harri Kämäräinen

George Zarubin, President, Eurasia Partnership Foundation

Dr. Anna-Maria Salmi, Head of Development, the Aleksanteri Institute

14:00 – 15-45 Media Perceptions and Challenges

The effective functioning of any democratic system of government depends on a two-way flow of information between the government and the people. Unfortunately, in the South Caucasus where conflicts remain unresolved and governments maintain a wartime mentality, the media remains in crisis. Media outlets are politicized and controlled by governments, leading to a lack of alternative points of views. This session will look at the public perceptions, recent developments and trends in the field of media rights and access to information in the countries of the South Caucasus.

Moderated by George Zarubin, President, EPF

Hans Gutbrod, CRRC Director, EPF
Public perception of major trends in the media over the last two years in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Levon Barseghyan, Asparez Journalists’ Club, Armenia
What are the issues affecting the implementation of Armenia’s freedom of information law?
Levon Barseghyan's speech (pdf)

Khadija Ismailova, Radio Liberty Azerbaijan
Media under the government’s control
Khadija Ismailova's presentation (pdf)

Lia Chakhunashvili, Dean of Caucasus School of Media at Caucasus University, (Georgia)
Georgian media at present – major challenges and achievements

panel 2

Khadja Ismailova, Levon Barseghyan, George Zarubin, Lia Chakunasvili



15:45 – 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:30 Identifying Real & practical Solutions

Pervasive, widespread bias often appearing in the media in the South Caucasus contravenes the standards of journalism. The direction and degree of media bias in various countries is widely disputed, although its causes are both practical and theoretical. This session will focus on how to prevent media bias and what role civil society organizations play in it. Investigative journalism, as a civic watchdog tool and a component of the Council of Europe’s standards, as well as the mechanisms for protection of journalists will also be discussed.

Moderated by Greg Simons, Uppsala University, Sweden

Shain Abasov (confirmed), IREX Azerbaijan
What are the threats to journalists and how can they be redressed?
Shain Abasov's speech (pdf)

Ketevan Vashakidze, Georgia Country Director, EPF
Strengthening the role of media, as a watchdog institution

Boris Navasardyan Yerevan Press Club, EPF’s Grantee
EPF’s Media Bias program. Investigative Journalism and Security of Journalists in Armenia (confirmed)

panel 3

Shain Abbasov, Ketevan Vashakidze, Greg Simons, Boris Navasardyan


For further information please contact researcher Mikko Palonkorpi (mikko.palonkorpi[at]

About EPF
Eurasia Partnership Foundation’s (EPF) mission is to empower people to effect change for social justice and economic prosperity through hands-on programs, helping them to improve their communities and their own lives. Through its foundations, registered locally in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, EPF raises and delivers seed capital to emerging civil society organizations. EPF is the legacy institution of Eurasia Foundation, a privately managed non-profit organization established in 1992 to deliver seed capital to emerging civil society organizations in the former Soviet countries. From the time of its establishment until the registration of EPF as local foundations in late 2007, EF invested nearly $70 million in the South Caucasus through more than 1,700 grants and programs with support from the United States Agency for International Development and other public and private donors.

EPF is both a grant maker and a program implementer and is guided by five program mandates and approaches: Creating Opportunities for Civic and Economic Participation; Building Capacity for Evidence-Based Research to Improve Policy-Making; Fostering a Culture of Corporate and Community Philanthropy; Cross-Border Cooperation; and Open Door Grant Making. Each EPF office sets its program priorities annually based on consultations with local and international stakeholders and the Board. EPF is a member of the EF Network: five local foundations supporting civil society and based in Russia, Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Washington, DC.

EPF emphasizes local decision making as the driver of positive social change. The Foundation is governed by experts whose guidance in programmatic planning and long term institutional development will ensure that EPF is acting on behalf of needs that are defined locally. The Board of Trustees is made up of international figures with expert knowledge of the region. The Board’s guidance on strategic and financial decisions has been complemented by guidance from local Advisory Committees composed of local experts who convene to provide recommendations and expertise on the new Foundation’s programmatic decisions.

For more information, please visit our website (

Aleksanteri Institute, 3rd floor
Unioninkatu 33
Helsinki, Finland