Gerald Knaus, ESI chairman and Besa Shahini, ESI analyst visited Tbilisi on 18-21 September to evaluate and round up the ESI Capacity Building project in Georgia. Together with Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, ESI Georgia analyst, they conducted the final capacity building workshop and met the local researchers who presented the outputs of their work since late March 2008.
The discussion round after each presentation aimed to help the researchers trim and shuffle their outputs in ESI-style case studies, four of which will be finalized early next week while one still remains in progress. ESI will end up with three studies on different rural areas stretching from Mtskheta region, near Tbilisi and the recently war affected village of Zerti, in proximity of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, to the village of Etseri in Western Georgia, close to the second biggest Georgian town of Kutaisi. Around 30 interviews and related analysis per study portrait different survival strategies which helped the rural population through hard transition times; such as subsistence farming or migration. In addition, the forth case study on domestic violence deals with the Domestic Violence Law initiation, adoption and implementation processes to shed light on related changes in grass-root circumstances, the level of civic participation in policy-making and efficacy of government's institutional performance in post-Rose Revolutionary Georgia. The case study on police reform, believed to be one of the most successful endeavours of the current government, and its trickle down effects on public attitudes is still being prepared.
The ESI team had a few other meetings with NGO representatives in Tbilisi which are involved in democratic institution building, to find out their assessment and visions of a future Europeanization of Georgia. These findings together with many others will be incorporated and put in use for an ESI research paper to be published towards the end of the year.