Gerald Knaus (Austria) is founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative (ESI). He studied in Oxford, Brussels and Bologna. He taught economics at the State University of Chernivtsi in Ukraine and worked for five years in Bulgaria and Bosnia for NGOs and international organizations. He was director of the Lessons Learned Unit of the EU Pillar of the UN Mission in Kosovo (from 2001 to 2004). Gerald published many articles that have triggered wide public debates, including "Travails of the European Raj" on Bosnia (2003) and "Member State Building and the Helsinki Moment" on the EU role in the Balkans (2004). He also co-authored more than 60 ESI reports as well as many scripts for TV documentaries on South East Europe. He is a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a 2007/2008 Open Society Fellow. Since 2004 he is based in Istanbul.
Besa Shahini (Kosovo/Canada) is ESI senior analyst working since summer 2008 on the ESI Caucasus project, managing our work in Georgia in particular. Prior to joining ESI, she was the co- founder and director of a Kosovo think tank - Kosovar Stablity Iniative (IKS). As the director, Besa oversaw the development of IKS, was responsible for fundraising and outreach and has coordinated and managed all IKS's research projects. In addition, Besa was involved in researching and writing the studies on the Socio-Economic Development of Pristina, and the Post War Reconstruction and Development in Kosovo. Besa has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Public Administration from York University in Toronto and a Masters Degree from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
Tigran Mkrtchyan (Armenia) is ESI's Analyst in Armenia. Before working for ESI he worked as the Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia (2005-06), lectured courses in International Relations and History at Yerevan State University and was the Executive Director of the Armenian International Policy Research Group-AIPRG (2007-08). He holds an MPhil degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge (Chevening Scholar), UK, MA degree in Classics and BA degree in History from the History Faculty of Yerevan State University. He was a 2006 John Smith Fellow in the United Kingdom from Armenia and a World Vision Youth Ambassador from Armenia in 1998. He has published several articles in Armenia and abroad on international security and theory. His research interests include international history, international security (NATO and alliance politics), and political theory (history of political thought and theory of international relations).
Yana Zabanova (Russia) joined ESI in June 2009 as a research intern and has been working as an analyst from September 2009. She holds an MA in International Relations and European Studies from Central European University and a Master's degree in public policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Prior to joining ESI, she has worked as a policy analyst with the Buryat Republic Ministry of Economic Development, as a project assistant with the European Commission's TACIS programme in Russia, and conducted research at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. Yana's areas of interest include post-Soviet politics, energy security, and EU-Russia relations.
Ketevan Tsikhelashvili (Georgia) is an ESI analyst in Georgia since December 2007. She holds an MA in International Relations and European Studies (CEU, Budapest, Hungary) and works now towards her PhD. She directs simultaneously the Tbilisi-based NGO - Foundation Liberal Academy-Tbilisi and consults Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) project in Georgia. Prior to joining ESI, she was a country coordinator for FNF in Georgia. For the past few years she has also worked as a special assistant to the State Minister on Conflict Resolution of Georgia and the project manager at International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN). Ketevan was involved with several international organizations such as European Center on Minority Issues (ECMI, Flensburg, Germany) as a visiting researcher, Center for OSCE research, University of Hamburg (CORE, Hamburg, Germany) as a local researcher, Transitions Online editorial (TOL, Prague, Czech Republic) as editorial assistant and Parliamentary Assembly of NATO (Brussels, Belgium) as a research assistant.
Ivane Chkhikvadze (Georgia) has been working full-time for ESI since April 2009. Before, he worked for the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and prior to joining the Foundation, he worked at the Office of the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Georgia, where he assisted in monitoring and evaluating implementation of EU programs in the field of economic integration, public awareness, capacity building, education and trafficking. Ivane also supervised the implementation of EU projects related to regional cooperation. He has extensive experience working both at the Parliament and the State Chancellery of Georgia. Ivane has a Master's Degree from the College of Europe in European Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, as well as from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, in Policy Analysis.
Arzu Geybullayeva (Azerbaijan) joined ESI in October 2007 as an analyst working in and on Azerbaijan. She holds a BA degree in International Relations from Bilkent University in Ankara and an MSc degree in Global Politics from London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to joining ESI, Arzu was working as a researcher at Oxford Business Group where she has managed several projects in Africa and Asia and was part of a team undertaking an extensive market survey of Libya. Arzu's areas of interest include conflict resolution and analysis, peace studies, sustainable development and gender studies.