Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
After a series of internal and regional conflicts in the early 1990s, the Caucasus region has stabilized and economic and social renewal - including the sphere of higher education - has begun. CEP started its Caucasus Program in Georgia in January 1998, with three Visiting Faculty Fellows located in Tbilisi. The program has expanded considerably since then. There are now four Visiting Faculty Fellows and three Eastern Scholars in Georgia, teamed with four Visiting Faculty Fellows and three Local Faculty Fellows in Armenia and three Visiting Lecturers and two Local Faculty Fellows in Azerbaijan. With a teaching presence in twelve universities in all three countries, CEP is now firmly established in the academic life of the region.
Outreach Activities: National and Regional CEP projects
The 2nd Annual Student Conference, entitled "The Caucasus on the Eve of the Millennium," was held in Tbilisi, Georgia in November 1999. Thirty-eight eager students and seven other guests from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia participated, some of them travelling to their neighboring country for the first time. Selected papers have been published and are available from CEP Caucauses.
On May 13th, 2000, CEP held its first Curriculum Development Workshop in the Caucasus, in Yerevan, Armenia. The workshop was designed for university lecturers and participants from higher education institutions in Armenia and Georgia, with the goal of acquainting the audience with new methods of instruction that use active learning techniques to promote critical thinking, reading and writing skills. The coordinators of the workshop were Armine Asryan, Hayk Gzulyan and Lusine Hovhannisian, all Local Faculty Fellows in Armenia, and Hans Gutbrod and Amanda Wooden, Visiting Faculty Fellows in Georgia. The workshop was held in two languages, English and Armenian, in order to reach a wider audience.
Visiting Faculty Fellows Pauline Hallam and Barbara Merguerian coordinated the May 14th Gender Studies Workshop in Yerevan. Entitled, "Exploring Gender Issues in the Caucasus," the workshop included five panels of speakers and invited guests from NGOs and academia throughout Georgia and Armenia. Approximately 80 people came together to participate in this day of presentations, discussion, and fellowship while considering various aspects of gender relations in political, economic and social spheres. CEP Fellows Lusine Hovhannisian and Amanda Wooden participated as panelists. Ten presenters were invited in Georgia. Special guest Hranoush Hakobyan, one of four women deputies elected to the Armenian Parliament, welcomed CEPs initiative in organizing the workshop and stressed the importance of the gender component in implementing current democratic and market reforms.
All six members of the CEP Georgia team traveled to Kutaisi in western Georgia to present a series of Guest Lectures at Kutaisi State University. Visiting Faculty Fellow John Mason gave a talk on "The Cold War, an historical interpretation" to post-graduates from the Oriental Institute in the Academy of Sciences. Visiting Faculty Fellow Glen Nutter conducted a series of seminars in the Department of Educational Reform and led regular sessions with the pedagogic staff of Brusov State Institute of Foreign Languages as well as with English teachers in training programs organized by the Minister of Education and the World Bank. In December, John Mason, Glen Nutter and Jack Van Doren presented guest lectures at Gavar State University. Visinting Lecturer Michael Maurer and Local Faculty Fellow Keti Vashakidze gave guest lectures at the Georgian Agrarian University, presenting a three-part series on economic issues. Michael Maurer in Georgia and Glen Nutter in Armenia presented a huge number of donated books to the universities in both countries.
Michael Maurer held a series of workshops on resume writing and scheduled mock interviews with students at the Soros Foundation office in Tbilisi. Also at the Soros office, Local Faculty Fellows Keti Vashakidze, Giorgi Zedginidze and Maya Gogoladze and Visiting Faculty Fellow Amanda Wooden gave presentations on the topic of studying abroad, covering universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Central European University. Hans Gutbrod, Visiting Faculty Fellow at Ivane Javakhvili State University in Tbilisi, hosted a weekly movie and discussion series on Wednesday nights, a series which proved extremely popular with students.
The entire Georgia Visiting Faculty Fellow team, Amanda Wooden, Hans Gutbrod, and Michael Maurer participated as international observers for OSCE and NDI (National Democratic Institute) in Georgia's parliamentary elections in October and presidential elections in April. Hans and Amanda have prepared an election observation booklet for NDI, providing a checklist to better prepare future observers.
Lusine Hovhannisian, CEP Local Faculty Fellow at the Armenian Open University in Yerevan set up a legal clinic at the Yerevan State University Faculty of Law.
John Mason, Visiting Lecturer in Yerevan served as an advisor to three students at Yerevan State University. All three were a credit to Mason, their university and CEP. Aram Ananyan, a fourth year student, whose paper, "Church-State Relations in Armenia Do they guarantee freedom of religion?" won a "Best Paper" award at the CEP student conference in Minsk on March 22. Manua Soghomonyan was the only Armenian student chosen to take part in a CEP conference in Tashkent in May. And Khachatur Adumyan, who also participated in the Minsk conference, received the "Best Presenter" award for his paper, "Introducing Gender Awareness and Changing Gender Relations in a Democratic Society." Several CEP students from Armenia and Georgia received rewards on the International Student Conference and Regional Students Conference.
In March, Hayk Gyuzalyan, CEP Local Faculty Fellow at Yerevan State University, participated in a conference organized by the Center of Excellence, Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction and IREX, called "Internet and its Usage in Distance Learning." Hayk also took part in the CEP conference, "(In)Tolerance and (Co)Operation in the Euro-Atlantic Area," in Bucharest, Romania in February.
Visiting Faculty Fellow Amanda Wooden presented a two-day seminar on Trade and the Environment to the Georgian Green Movement, the Green Party, and Georgian journalists. She also consulted with the Georgian Green Party on the parliamentary consideration of Georgia's accession into the World Trade Organization. Amanda was also able to find time to begin her own personal research on environmental and water policy in Georgia and took on three students to assist her with this work.
Visiting Faculty Fellow Barbara Mergurian met with various people to discuss academic, civic, international, and women's issues in Armenia. She worked with Hranoush Hakobian, a member of the Armenian Parliament and head of the host committee for a major international conference on Armenian women (held in October 2000 in Yerevan). Barbara was also asked to be a consultant on the publication of an Armenian translation of the book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, originally published in several editions by the Boston Women's Health Collective. Heading this effort is Dr. Mary Khachikyan, President of the Armenian Family Health Association. Barbara has also contributed an article for inclusion in a European periodical that is planning a special issue on the role of the West in the formation of Armenian identity.
Other publishing ventures involving CEP Fellows include an English edition of "Armenian Mind," a quarterly journal of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, edited by John Mason. John also advised and collaborated with Mark Gregorian, the journalist/director of "Democracy and Co-operation," to collect recent articles for a book on Armenia from 1989-1999. An article on "brain drain" and the role of CEP in preventing it, by Milena Baghdasaryan, a student of Hayk Gyuzalyan, appeared in the March 16, 2000 edition of "Golos Amenii" (Armenia's Voice), one of the most influential opposition papers in Armenia. Hayk is editing the journal, "Izmenyayusheesya Obshestvo" (Society in Transformation). Maya Gogoladze's translation of The Open Universe, an Argument for Indeterminism, by Karl R. Popper, will be donated to universities, national libraries, and the department library. She is currently working with the publisher to organize these donations.
In June, Keti Vashakidze and Hans Gutbrod gave a workshop focused on active learning methodologies to a group of history teachers in one of Tbilisis teaching training institutes. Hans Gutbrod held several other workshops with Georgian participants to the CEP International Student Conference. One of the workshops supported by Local Faculty Fellow Keti Vashakidze and some of her colleagues focused on interview techniques.
Yerevan State University
Tbilisi State University
Living and Working in the Caucasus
What to Bring
Caucasians have flair and are full of ideas though sometimes lack attention to detail. Life can be great fun as long as you get the essentials sorted out.
and countries with a long history
water shortages, etc.
What to Expect
Lots of problems
with equipment and power
What Not to Expect
and shopping malls
Currency and Availability of Goods:
1~ 545 Armenian drams (November 2000).
Salaries are quite low in Armenia (teaching salary is approximately $15-30 per month) and a large percentage of the population is unemployed.
Electricity is supplied for 24 hours a day , although water is sometimes problematic: there are fixed hours early in the morning and in the evening with the exception of some districts. There is no gas supply in Yerevan.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year. Foreign goods are a bit more expensive than in the US.
Visas and Travel:
You can receive a single entry visa for three days at the airport in Yerevan. Visiting Faculty Fellows are advised to get a one-month single entry visa at the Armenian embassy in Washington D.C. (phone: 202 319-2983).
After arriving in Yerevan, the local universities will take care of the multiple one-year visa, which takes at least a month.
There are two airports in Armenia Zvartnots and Erebuni Airport. Zvartnots Airport provides flights to Moscow and other cities of the NIS, to London, Paris, Frankfurt, and other cities of Europe and Asia. Erebuni is a small airport and provides flights only to countries of the NIS.
Currency and Availability of Goods:
Azerbaijan currency manat was introduced in 1991, and is the only legal currency. There is no difficulty in exchanging any amount of foreign currency in hotels, banks and stores. Exchange rate for November 2000 is $1=4560 manat.
Salaries are extremely low ($20 per month is a typical teaching salary) in state universities, but higher in private universities (100-150$ per month).
Gas is supplied for 24 hours a day, but there is a problem regarding water supply, especially in summer; as well as with electricity. Sometimes there are fixed hours of supply, especially in the suburbs.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year. Some of the foreign goods are a bit more expensive than in the US, but the variety is good.
Visas and Travel:
It is possible to receive a one-week single entry visa at the airport with an invitation letter, one photo and $40. But it is recommended that Visiting Faculty Fellows get a one entry one-month visa in your local countries. It is sometimes possible to get a one year visa for those in the U.S. The phone number for the Azeri Consulate in DC is (202) 842-0811, but they will probably refer you to a visa service they use at (703) 908-0330, which claims it can get a one year, multiple entry visa in less than a week (no less than 5 working days) for $250. Call the service and have them fax or mail you the application form and directions.
Travelers with valid Georgian visas are permitted to enter Azerbaijan for a stay of up to five days. Thereafter, they must apply for an Azerbaijani visa by submitting a letter of invitation from an individual or organization in Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan visa extensions or renewals are made at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is located in Kontrolny Pereulok 2, Baku; Tel: (99412) 935940.
If you are only able to get a one-month visa in your local country, once you get to Baku, you will have to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to extend the visa. You will have to bring your invitation letter, fill the application form, photo, passport and $250.
Consulate of Azerbaijan in Washington
The cost is listed as: single entry $75, multiple entry $285 and if you want your passport and visa return by FedEx, there is an additional fee of $15.50
Public transportation in Baku works very well. You can quickly travel to any part of the city using
Minibuses (500 manat=10 cents or 1000 manat=20 cents), buses (500manat), Metro (250 manat) or taxi (2$ average).
There are two functioning airports in Baku. The new airport provides flights to Moscow and other cities of NIS, to London, Paris, Frankfurt, and other cities of Europe and Asia. The old airport provides flights within country.
Currency and Availability of Goods:
The post-Soviet period has brought on severe economic hardships for most people. To combat high inflation after the collapse of the industrial infrastructure, a new currency called the lari was introduced in 1995. The lari remained stable from its introduction until September
1998. Since that time, the lari has been devaluating slowly (exchange rate for November 2000,
is $ 1 = 1.96 lari). Salaries are still extremely low ($15-30 per month is a typical teaching salary) but the country appears to be gradually adapting to a market economy and foreign investment is increasing. Georgia still has problems providing basic utilities such as electricity and water.
Only some parts of the country get gas supply and electricity is rationed in most places.
Foreign goods are almost the same price as in the US, while locally produced goods are cheaper and fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year.
Visas and Travel
Georgian visas can be obtained at the airport. You can receive a one entry two-week visa for $80, or receive a one entry one month visa ($40) at your local Georgian Embassy by filling the application form and providing your passport with two photographs. The fees vary from one country to another. It is recommended that Visiting Faculty Fellows get the visa before arrival. In order to extend and/or get the working visa for a longer period of time, the Ministry of External Affairs should be contacted once you are in Georgia. This process takes at least one month. A one-year multiple entry visa costs $200.
Public transportation in Tbilisi is quite good. You can easily get to different parts of the city using buses (10 cents), trolley-buses (5 cents), metro (10 cents), mini-buses (20-25 cents) or a taxi ($2 average). The conditions of travel to other regions and cities vary greatly. Traveling to the major cities by bus costs about $5. You could also travel by train, which would cost a bit more than a bus trip. There are two functioning airports other than the one in Tbilisi. They provide flights mostly within the country and to Moscow. Tbilisi airport can offer flights to Moscow, London, Athens, Kiev, Odessa, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich, Istanbul and some other cities of Europe and Asia.
For more information on CEP's activities in the Caucasus Region, contact the Country Director, Ms. Nino Dzotsenidze at email@example.com
Tel. 995 (32) 22 26 93
CEP Orientation in the Caucasus