On October 6-7, Civic IDEA hosted the fourth high-rank international conference – “Small States in the Changing World Order: Democratization – Key to Successful Resilience-Building” You can find more information about the conference by visiting the following link:
The Hoover Project on China’s Global Sharp Power – The China Index: Measuring PRC Influence Around the Globe on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at 9:00 AM PT | 12:00 PM ET.
The China Index is the first cross-regional project to objectively measure and visualize China’s overseas influence through comparable data. This event brings together report contributors from Bogota, Berlin, Tblisi, and Taipei, who will analyze the PRC’s influence campaigns in their regions, from Latin America to Germany to Central Asia.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Puma Shen is an associate professor at National Taipei University, the chairperson of Doublethink Lab and vice president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), focusing heavily on disinformation and local tracking of privacy violations. He was a lawyer, and an expert in white-collar crime, including state crime, disinformation campaigns, and financial crime. His publications analyze Chinese information operations in Taiwan and the U.S., and he is now investigating United Front activities in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
Didi Kirsten Tatlow is a sinologist and journalist. A graduate of the Beijing Language Institute (语言学院) and SOAS, University of London, she began her journalistic career in 1994 at the Hong Kong Standard, later moving to the Associated Press and the New York Times, among others, and winning multiple awards. After leaving China in 2017 she worked for think tanks in Berlin and Prague before returning to journalism in 2022 as a Senior Reporter for International Affairs at Newsweek magazine. She is an editor and author of Beyond Espionage: China’s Quest for Foreign Technology.
Parsifal D’Sola Alvarado is the founder and executive director of the Andres Bello Foundation—China Latin America Research Center in Bogotá, Colombia. He is a Chinese foreign policy analyst specializing in Sino-Latin American relations, and a non-resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub. Between 2019 and 2020, he acted as Chinese foreign policy advisor to the foreign affairs minister of the Interim Government of Venezuela. He holds a BS in Telecommunications Engineering from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, an MA in East Asian Studies from Columbia University, and an MSc in International Politics from SOAS, University of London.
Tinatin Khidasheli chairs Civic IDEA, a think-thank fighting the Soviet legacy in Georgia, confronting Russian propaganda, and advocating for sound defense and security policy. She served as the first female minister of defense of Georgia, and chaired the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration as well as the Inquiry Commission into Violations of Freedom of Speech and Telecommunication laws at the Parliament of Georgia. She holds a LLM in international law from Tbilisi State University and a MA in political science from Central European University.
Glenn Tiffert is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a historian of modern China. He co-chairs the Hoover project on China’s Global Sharp Power and works closely with government and civil society partners to document and build resilience against authoritarian interference with democratic institutions. Most recently, he co-authored and edited Global Engagement: Rethinking Risk in the Research Enterprise (2020).
As part of the project “Civil Monitoring of Accountability, Transparency and Anti-Corruption Activities within the Framework of the 12 Recommendations of the European Union,” hereby we present a report on the monitoring of media coverage that has been prepared by the Virtual Democracy Academy in cooperation with Civic IDEA.
The media monitoring aimed to study:
✓ How frequently and in what tone (positive/negative/neutral) have televisions and online media covered the process of implementing the 12 recommendations;
✓ Whether according to the tone of the coverage, there was any bias towards any issue or a position on the part of televisions and online media;
✓ To what extent the work on the plan was at the center of media attention and in what form was the information distributed to the public;
✓ Whether a certain balance was maintained between various points of the recommendations in disseminating information to the public or if the media prepared stories and analytical materials only on some specific points;
✓ Whether the balance was maintained in communicating to the public the positions of different political entities, etc.
The media monitoring took place from the 1st of October to 30 December, 2022.
The main findings of the monitoring:
✅ The monitoring showed that of 12 recommendations, the issue of “deoligarchization” and all the relevant work on the “deoligarchization” law proved to be the most popular among Georgian media organizations. The mentioned subject was covered most often and with different interpretations by various media outlets. The media’s interest in the subject increased as in the proposed legislation, the owners of media outlets, along with other persons, became the target of the proposed legislation;
✅ Broadcasting media is extremely polarized. Some broadcasters are biased in favour of the government and its positions, while others are biased in favour of the opposition; Tmedi TV covered the EU recommendations extensively. However, the issue itself was not presented to the viewers on many sides and in a balanced manner. The channel was biased towards the government and, therefore, the issue was covered in a tone supporting the government’s position. However, the opposition was only mentioned negatively and as a player impeding the country’s progress toward European integration. The TV presenters and journalists did not shy away from a cynical attitude towards the opposition, nongovernmental sector, MEPs, and ambassadors. The TV channel did not invite representatives of the opposition party to its programs (only the political party Girchi and the party Citizens were invited);
✅ TV Pirveli covered the topic of the 12 recommendations of the European Union in a weak and unilateral way, and it is just to note that the representatives of the government, the ruling party refused to visit the TV company. The channel carried only the opposition opinions in its talk shows, while the government’s position was offered to viewers in its news broadcasts, albeit in a negative context. TV Pirveli strongly criticizes the government, and the Government’s European integration policy has been regarded as negative – obstructing the country’s progress;
✅ Palitranews TV stood out with a more balanced and neutral tone when presenting the 12-point plan. They covered the views of both the government and the opposition, as well as representatives of the nongovernmental sector. However, most of the news were trivial statements of the government or the opposition representatives. The subject of the 12 recommendations for a few times was the main topic of programs in political “talk shows”, and these programs were balanced in content. No bias towards any political party was apparent on the channel while covering the issues. Representatives from different political groups participated in the programs and diversity of opinions was more or less preserved. However, it should be noted that often the last guest on the program was a government representative. There were no debates on the channel;
✅ Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) has spent considerable time on the issue of obtaining the candidate status and the process of implementing the recommendations of the European Union. The broadcaster had several attempts to conduct the coverage of the issue with less intensity, but at the same time – in an unbiased way. However, it was characterized by a tendency toward the government’s positions and by more or less loyal attitudes. In addition, they frequently devoted time to the positions of government representatives, both in the main news program and in political talk shows. There is a tendency on the channel to end the stories with assessments by the leaders of the ruling party, the Georgian Dream;
✅ Strong political polarization was less felt in online media compared to TV media. However, one of the three selected agencies – the pia.ge stood out for its loyal attitudes towards the government, by a positive tone of coverage, while tabula.ge expressed less interest in presenting the process in general and was more characterized by a negative tone of coverage. As far as interpressnews.ge is concerned, it covered almost all news from all parties. The tone of the coverage was mostly neutral, albeit trivial;
✅ The biggest challenge of the online media was the superficial coverage of the work on the 12 recommendations; The news agencies selected for monitoring were not able to cover the issues in depth.
For the full report, please visit ?
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute would like to invite you to a hybrid roundtable discussion on:
Anti-Corruption in Practice: Exploring Symbiotic Dynamics Between the NACC, Civil Society and Investigative Journalists
Date: Friday, November 25, 2022
Where: Online, Zoom (Zoom link will be sent after the closing of registration)
Time: 15:00 – 17:00
Language: English and Arabic with simultaneous interpretation
Registration deadline: Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 23:59
Organized by: Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
Moderated by: Ali Taha, Researcher at LCPS
In recent years, Lebanon has passed a number of anti-corruption laws such as on the right to access information, asset declaration and illicit enrichment. These reforms are nonetheless mere legal tools to achieve an arduous end that is accountability. Oversight bodies such as the newly appointed National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), can serve as an enabling channel for the utilization of such legal tools in combating corruption, and guaranteeing transparency. The commission however has a long journey ahead of it, one that is fraught with all sorts of political, financial, and administrative challenges.
The discrepancy between the spread of corruption in Lebanon’s public sector, and the institutional resources that could be made available to it in times of fiscal austerity, lower expectations as to its effectiveness. Political pressure and meddling which have in the past curbed and nullified attempts at promoting accountability in government, also elicit similar cynicism. Although very real, these challenges do not justify a premature surrender of anti-corruption ambitions. Instead, civil society, investigative journalists and the public at large should play a proactive role to mitigate such challenges, by supporting and overseeing the work of the NACC.
This roundtable comes as a kickstarter for an essentially technical discussion, on the ideal dynamics that should govern the relation of the NACC with civil society organizations and investigative journalists. Specifically, how can they both support and oversee the commission, and using what tools?
Chairperson, Civic IDEA
Executive Director, LTA
Layal Bou Moussa
Investigative Journalist, Al Jadeed TV
Civic IDEA published the second volume of the report “Chinese Leverage in Georgia’s Academic, CSO and Media Sectors: Post-Covid Reality”. The current paper reviews Georgia – Chinese cooperation in Academia, that is, among various universities, academic programs, scholarships, etc., analyzing realities created by Covid Pandemic and its consequences. Moreover, it gives a comparative analysis by evaluating foreign trends and policies toward Chinese malign academic activities. Mainly, the report focuses on the cases of the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Hungary, Serbia, the US, and Sweden to demonstrate that, like other essential domains, Academia can be exploited by foreign actors.
The report is implemented with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Embassy in Tbilisi, in cooperation with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies.
A round table was arranged by “Civic IDEA” and funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Tbilisi on March 25th in the hotel “Sheraton Grand Metechi Palace.” The round table gathered current and former judges of the Constitutional Court.
The roundtable served to emphasize the Constitutional Court’s involvement in the country’s growth and to identify precedent-setting historical decisions by the Georgian Constitutional Court that have significantly changed the course of the country’s development and common practice.
The meeting was opened by Merab Turava, President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, who spoke about the court’s historic decisions, such as the case of 2015 on the demarcation of majoritarian constituencies, cases that changed the country’s drug policy, and judges also highlighted the decisions where the court evaluated the constitutionality of procedural-legal norms while also discussing the application of international decisions/mechanisms in the Constitutional Court, the issues of their interrelationship and the legitimacy of their applicability.
Within the framework of this project, it is planned to film a few short videos, with a major focus on the content of the cases, the historical context, and the role of the judge/judges in the decision-making process.
International IDEA’s online roundtable aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the current and likely future effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on democracies in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. In addition, the discussion aimed to distill recommendations on how national and international democracy assistance providers should revise their actions in response to this crisis.
Three speakers from Armenia, Moldova and Georgia reviewed the unfolding effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine on democratic development of their countries, and delve into the following key questions:
– How will the war affect democracies in the three EaP countries of Armenia, Georgia and Moldova? What positive and negative consequences are expected? – What are the particular vulnerabilities where the democratic progress could be rolled back? – How should national and international actors change their strategies for democracy support following Russia’s war against Ukraine?
Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova continue to strengthen their democratic systems. Achievements, albeit with many challenges, include improvements to the conduct of elections, increasing the transparency and accountability of government institutions, and maintaining an open, civic space for citizens and media to openly debate, question, or challenge their governments. It is no wonder President Putin is scared of such democratic vibrancy at his doorstep.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the objectives it pursues through this war—replacing Ukraine’s democratically elected government with another, ‘friendly’ regime—once again demonstrates the nature of Russia’s interests in its neighborhood.
Just days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and following Ukraine’s urgent application for membership of the EU, Georgia and Moldova also sent in their applications. These declarations once again commit these countries and their incumbent governments to build a European-style democracy—where human rights and the rule of law are sacrosanct and where state power is constrained by democratic checks and controls.
These developments, even if the accession remains a distant prospect, signal a resolution of all three countries to further invest in democratic qualities. If there is a positive fall-out to be found from this devastating war, this could be it.
But what other effects can be anticipated on these fledgling democracies fraught with multiple structural and institutional challenges? Could the war and its fall-out on the region’s economies unravel social and political instabilities? Against this backdrop, will the political elites and the public, witnessing Russia’s attack on Ukraine, find the resolve to continue building pluralistic, democratic systems? Or will the governments, using the argument of war at their doorstep, increasingly resort to majoritarian or even authoritarian methods of governance? Will they focus on the fight against corruption and oligarchic influence (a large majority of local oligarchs are connected with Russia) or will the economic pressures result in moving away from this vital agenda? Will the state of emergency and a prevailing sense of crisis allow for conditions to build independent judicial bodies and a strong rule of law? Will civic groups and watchdogs find it harder to fight for independent media and their ability to check government actions?
The Chairperson of the Civic IDEA- Tinatin Khidasheli, participated in a conference organized by the International Institute for Peace (IIP) – “Thirty years on: Is There still a Post-Soviet Space?”. The report of the conference has been published, which also includes the article by Tinatin Khidasheli:
“From the Georgian perspective, it is important to distinguish between political Europe and geographic Europe. Georgia very much sees itself as belonging to the former, though it is geographically in the Caucasus. Georgia has felt invisible to the West since the 2008 War with Russia, wherein Georgia received little support from NATO or the EU. Georgia is a place where Russia is contesting the West for influence, and Russia is trying to show that Georgia belongs to its neighborhood. For Georgians, it appears that the EU and NATO have constructed a new Iron Curtain, the countries beyond which they do not see as their concern. Furthermore, Russian sanctions were a blessing in disguise for Georgia, as the country was able to strongly diversify its economy and exports when Russia closed its market to Georgia.”