“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?

Event Date(s)
Tbilisi, Georgia

June 15, 2020, Tbilisi, Georgia

Turbulent geopolitical developments in Eurasia and current volatile EU-US relations have significantly challenged the Euro-Atlantic security landscape and its primary institution, NATO. These unpredictable processes have far-reaching consequences for the Black Sea region and the South Caucasus, where Georgia represents a key Western ally. With these circumstances in mind, Georgia’s objective to become a full- fledged member of the Western political and military institutions acquires a much higher degree of  urgency. It also requires a thorough and plausible justification solidifying Georgia’s geostrategic relevance, military value, and contribution to the regional security. More importantly, the  strategic-military  nexus begs for a thorough academic investigation and conceptualization.

This conference will address issues surrounding Georgia’s potential NATO-membership, practicalities involved, progress review and NATO’s discernable credibility as a security provider. Conference speakers and participants will examine Russia’s political and military objectives in the South Caucasus and Black  Sea region, the risks of crisis and escalations, as well as ways of effective early warning, de-escalation strategies and preventive measures. Additionally, viable options that counter and minimize Moscow’s aggressive military posture throughout this strategically sensitive region will be addressed.

The conference will host three major thematic panels:

  • NATO-Georgia: Membership, Military Relevance and Article5
  • Russia and the South Caucasus: Military Posture, Escalation Risks and De-escalation Options
  • The Military Aspects of the Black Sea Security

As an additional event a pre-selected scenario-based simulation will be conducted with the active participation of students from different Georgian universities. This will allow students to grasp the real policy atmosphere and the gravity of implications caused by strategic decisions. During the simulation training, various scenario development and assessment techniques will be reviewed, alongside the respective impact and stakeholder analysis. This training will also provide students with the excellent opportunity of interaction with conference participants.

The University of Georgia is excited to host this second annual conference in June of 2020 and aims at promoting a high-level academic debate, in which leading European and American experts explore the range of provided topics and contribute to generating respective policy recommendations.

Panel I – NATO-Georgia: Membership, Military Relevance and Article 5
Panel participants are invited to review in detail the military aspects of NATO-Georgia cooperation, ways the alliance can strengthen Georgia’s self-defense capabilities and deter Russia’s aggressive actions on the ground. Conversely, the discussion will also cover the progress made by Georgian defense institutions while transforming, pitfalls and challenges revealed, implementation of interoperability and resilience standards across military, government and society, as well as the force development strategies to meet best the Russian threat.

Panel II – Russia and the South Caucasus: Military Posture, Escalation Risks and De-escalation Options
The main objective of the panel is to shed light on the military developments in the South Caucasus region, with the primary focus on the Russian military posture, dynamics and the analysis of its military capabilities on the ground. Participants will have to distill clear conclusions about the political/military (operational) objectives of Russia in the region, other non-military (so called hybrid) tools available in the arsenal and the potential consequences once fully implemented. Not least, the situation in the occupied regions of Georgia, Karabakh conflict, existing security arrangements and the possible scenarios of violent escalations, as well as options of the best de-escalation concepts and mechanisms (incl. EU and NATO contributions) constitute the core of the panel discussion.

Panel III – The Military and Political Aspects of the Black Sea Security
Whether Georgia’s military reforms to meet NATO requirements or the Russian military footprint in the South Caucasus region, none of the particular military and military-political aspects can be reviewed in isolation, without the intensive application of the wider Black Sea security context. The effective installation of the Russian A2/AD in Crimea and the eastern shores of the Black Sea, the adherence of the freedom of navigation and the desire to bring more stability and security via more Europe and NATO in South Caucasus, inevitably opens door for a more complex, interdependent and multi-factorial analysis that brings multiple regions into play and links even more players across the Black Sea basin. Participants will be given the excellent opportunity to exchange their ideas and sharpen their analytical lens.

Invited Speakers

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
Dr. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou

Dr. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou is Associate Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International and European Studies (CIES) at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA and PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has previously served in various capacities in a number of research and academic institutions such as the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens; the EU Institute for Security Studies, Paris; the Hellenic Observatory at the London School of Economics; the University of the Aegean, Rhodes; and the International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS). Athens. He also served as an advisor at the Hellenic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and as foreign policy advisor to a Member of the European Parliament. He is Associate Editor of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies (SSCI indexed) and Editor of the Eastern Journal of European Studies (SCOPUS indexed); a member of the Greek-Turkish Forum; co-convener of the Commission on the Black Sea; a member of the Advisory Boards of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, the International Institute for Peace, Vienna; the Black Sea NGO Forum, Bucharest; and the Corporate Social Responsibility Association of Turkey. He is also a Senior Associate at the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence at the University of Athens. His more recent applied and research interests include Black Sea Security and Politics; EU foreign and neighbourhood policies, Greek-Turkish Relations, and Sustainable Development

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan

Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan, Executive Director, Political Science Association of Armenia, Founder and chairman, Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies

Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is the Executive Director, Political Science Association of Armenia holding this position since February 2011 and the Founder and chairman, Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies since 2017.

He was Vice President for Research – Head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia in August 2016 – February 2019.  He joined Institute for National Strategic Studies (predecessor of NDRU) in March 2009 as a Research Fellow and was appointed as INSS Deputy Director for research in November 2010. During his 10 years job at the only Armenian state think tank dealing with Armenian foreign policy and regional and international security, Dr. Poghosyan has prepared and managed the elaboration of more than 100 policy papers which were presented to the political-military leadership of Armenia, including the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Since 2009 Dr. Poghosyan, as a speaker has participated in more than 50 international conferences and workshops on regional and international security dynamics.

His primary research areas are geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East, US – Russian relations and their implications for the region, as well as Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. He is the author of more than 200 Academic papers and OP-EDs in different leading Armenian and international journals.

In 2013 Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs and is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in History and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
James Black

James Black is a Research Leader at RAND Europe, the European arm of the RAND Corporation.

RAND is a not-for-profit research institute whose aim is to help improve policy and decision making through objective research and analysis. It has over 70 years’ experience researching defence and national security issues for governments in the US and Europe, as well as NATO and EU institutions. Today, RAND has offices in the US, UK, Belgium and Australia.

James has led a wide range of both unclassified and classified studies on European defence and security issues for governments and multinational institutions. His portfolio includes defence strategy, policy and concepts; the future of NATO and EU defence; the impact of future threats and emerging technology; defence innovation and industrial strategy; and the dynamics of multinational defence cooperation. In addition, James also designs strategic-level war-games for the UK Ministry of Defence and others, including leading on the Strategic Exercise component of the Royal College of Defence Studies. His research has been featured by BBC News, the Financial Times, Politico, Reuters and other outlets, as well as academic journals (e.g., Survival) and he has presented oral evidence to the UK Defence Select Committee.

Prior to joining RAND Europe, James worked in the UK Parliament as well as at Transparency International’s Defence and Security Programme. He holds a dual MA-MSc in International Security and International Relations from Sciences Po Paris and the London School of Economics, as well as a BA Hons in History from the University of Cambridge.

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
Dr. Stephen J. Flanagan

Dr. Stephen J. Flanagan is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He served in several senior positions in government, most recently as special assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council (NSC) Staff from April 2013 to September 2015. Between 1989 and 1999 he served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Central and Eastern Europe, at the NSC Staff; associate director and member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff; and national intelligence officer for Europe. Early in his career, he was a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He held the Kissinger Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2007 until 2013, where he also served as senior vice president and director of the International Security Program. From 2000 to 2007 he was director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies and vice president for research at the National Defense University. He has also held research and faculty positions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and the National War College. Flanagan has published six books and over sixty reports and journal articles on transatlantic, international security, and defense issues, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He earned an A.B. in political science from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School, Tufts University.

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
Dr. Gustav Gressel

Policy Fellow

Languages: German and English (fluent), Spanish and Polish (conversational)

Areas of Expertise: Eastern Europe, Russia, armed conflict and military affairs, defence policy, missile defence, missile proliferation

Dr. Gustav Gressel is a Senior Policy Fellow on the Wider Europe Programme at the ECFR Berlin Office. Before joining the ECFR he worked as desk officer for international security policy and strategy in the Bureau for Security Policy in the Austrian Ministry of Defence from 2006 to 2014 and as a research fellow of the Commissioner for Strategic Studies in the Austrian MoD from 2003 to 2006. He also was committed as research fellow in the International Institute for Liberal Politics in Vienna. Before his academic career he served five years in the Austrian Armed Forces.

Gustav earned a PhD in Strategic Studies at the Faculty of Military Sciences at the National University of Public Service, Budapest and a Master Degree in political science at Salzburg University. He is author of numerous publications regarding security policy and strategic affairs and a frequent commentator of international affairs. His opinions appeared in media such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Die Welt, NZZ, Bild, The Diplomat, New Eastern Europe, Foreign Policy, Gazeta Prawna, Rzeczpospolita, Kyiv Post, The Moscow Times, Capital, The Telegraph, The Economist, Newsweek, Deutsche Welle, RTL, Al Jazeera, TVP, TRT, Polskie Radio, RFI, FM4, Ukraine Today, and Radio Free Europe

“Georgia in the Western and Russian Military Prism:“If” or “When”?
Dr. Mustafa Aydin

Mustafa Aydın is a Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University (Istanbul), and the President of International Relations Council of Turkey. Previously, he worked at Ankara University (1994-2005) and Economy and Technology University (2005-2009), and was the Rector of Kadir Has University between 2010 and 2018. Professor Aydın was guest researcher and/or lecturer at Michigan (1998), Harvard (2002, Fulbright fellow), and Athens (2003, Onassis Fellow) universities, as well as at Richardson Institute for Peace Studies (1999, Unesco Fellow), the EU Institute for Security Studies (2003) and the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (2018). He is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Art, Greek-Turkish Forum, Global Relations Forum, European Leadership Network, International Studies Association, Turkish Atlantic Council, and the Turkish Political Sciences Association. He was member of Economy and Foreign Policy Study Group of the President of Turkey (2003-2009), Co-Coordinator of the International Commission on Black Sea (2010); and Director of International Policy Research Institute (2005-2011). Prof. Aydın’s areas of interest include international politics, foreign policy analysis, security issues related to Central Asia, Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Middle East, as well as Turkish foreign and security policies. Some of his works are International Security Today; Understanding Change and Debating Security (with K. Ifantis, 2006); Turkish Foreign and Security Policy (2006); Turkish Foreign Policy; Old Problems, New Parameters (2010); and Non-Traditional Security Threats and Regional Cooperation in the Southern Caucasus (2011)

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