The joint webinar was held on November 9, 2023, titled "Resilience and Solidarity for Peace and Security."
This engaging event took place at the The University Of Georgia and was accessible online via our YouTube Channel and the Zoom platform, in collaboration with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Institute of International Relations.
Organized as part of the History Keepers’ regional project, a collaborative initiative between Georgian and Ukrainian EaP Civil Society Fellows, generously funded by the European Union through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship program, the event was a resounding success.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Mariam Gersamia, a distinguished professor at Tbilisi State University, founder of "Media Voice," and an EaP Fellow.
We were honored to have Yvonne Gogoll, International Aid / Cooperation Manager at the Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, as our special guest, sharing invaluable insights. the opening remarks from Yvonne Gogoll was followed by Sandro Megrelishvili, an EaP Fellow, began with his presentation on "War in Ukraine: Future of Democracy and Freedom at Stake."
🎙 Listen to our guests here.
Adding an international perspective to the opening session, Olena Shevchenko, an Associated Professor at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and a recipient of the "History Keeper's" award in 2022, joined us online. Watch the welcome remarks here:
Olena Afanasieva, another EaP Fellow, illuminated us with her insights on "History Keepers in Ukraine: Synergy of Media and Archaeology in Countering Historical Fakes of Russia." Whatch video session below:
Prof. Olena Shevchenko then delved into "Media Regulations During Wartime and Building Resilience," while Mariam Gersamia wrapped up the panel with her exploration of "The Role of Solidarity Journalism During Wartime and Countering Disinformation."
🔘 Whatch video session below:
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the approximately 40 students, media professionals, civil society representatives, and academics from both Georgia and Ukraine who joined us for this insightful discussion. During these illuminating conversations, we highlighted the importance of granting Georgia Candidacy status within the European Union as a pivotal step toward fostering resilience and strengthening democracy in the region.
Stay tuned for more enlightening events and initiatives in the future! Together, we can continue working towards a more resilient and secure world.
We are thrilled to share the insights and feedback from the webinar. Our participants, including students, expressed their thoughts and reflections on this impactful event.
Tamta Dzvelaia (student, Georgia) found the presentations on topics like media regulations, solidarity journalism during wartime, propaganda, and disinformation highly interesting. The importance of Georgia obtaining EU candidacy status was reiterated throughout the event: "Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude for the informative meeting and hope for more events that engage young people in understanding current media challenges from a professional perspective. The presentations from the speakers were quite interesting, covering topics such as media regulations, the role of solidarity journalism during wartime, propaganda, and disinformation. The importance of obtaining EU candidacy status was reiterated several times. The event featured pictures of artifacts from archaeological research (2016-2021), debunking the myth that southern Ukraine was originally Russian land. The message from Ukraine was clear: education, science and media can counter Russian propaganda. I would add that the enthusiasm displayed by Georgians and Ukrainians during the meeting definitely has the potential to counteract it".
Lile Samushia (student, Georgia) highlighted a phrase that resonated with her, "when Ukraine wins the war," which vividly portrayed the challenges faced and the unsettling nature of Russia as an occupier. She also mentioned the significance of Georgia being part of the EU and appreciated seeing Georgian and Ukrainian speakers aligning on vital topics:
" Witnessing Ukrainian and Georgian speakers together in the same room, aligning on vital topics concerning each othe’s countries, was truly remarkable. I extend my gratitude to the speakers for openly sharing their opinions and experiences with us". #whenUAwins
Ani mamisashvili (student, Georgia) emphasized the role of Russian propaganda in shaping the media environment and society. As a journalist, she stressed the importance of recognizing and combating disinformation. Ani also pointed out the shared challenges of Ukraine and Georgia and the continuous influence of Russian propaganda:
“the webinar answered many questions, including how the media environment is changing in Ukraine and Georgia and what role Russia is playing in it. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was accompanied by practices of information warfare. A widespread concern is that practices of modern warfare in form of large-scale Russian propaganda campaigns are used to shape the narrative around the war. The speakers at the meeting presented and showed us that Ukraine and Georgia are facing the same problem and that the Russian propaganda machine was working during the Soviet Union and unfortunately continues to work even now. As journalists, we must fight disinformation". #NotoRussianpropaganda
Sopio Badalashvili (student, Georgia) discussed the challenges of media in wartime and the potential for misinformation. She highlighted the importance of using correct terminology and the challenges of countering Russian propaganda, especially on platforms like TikTok.
Luka Eristavi (student, Georgia) underscored the pivotal role of media in promoting peace during challenging times, such as conflicts and economic crises. He also emphasized the recent EU Commission recommendation for Georgia's candidacy, marking a significant step toward EU integration:
"The event proved to be a valuable platform for shedding light on the pivotal role of media in fostering peace during challenging times, such as times of conflict and economic crises. A noteworthy development on the horizon is the recent recommendation from the European Commission for Georgia's candidacy, marking a significant step towards our ultimate aspiration of becoming an integral part of the European Union. This commendable achievement was a central point of discussion during the webinar, underlining the paramount importance of this recommendation. The presence of Ukrainian speakers at the webinar was enlightening, as they highlighted the mutual benefits that both Georgia and Ukraine stand to gain by joining forces toward this shared objective.
Zanda Gedenidze (student, Georgia) emphasized the importance of staying informed as the best way to combat disinformation. She discussed the media's role in raising awareness and highlighted the common challenges faced by Ukraine and Georgia: "Russian media consistently targets areas where we lack sufficient information. It is crucial for journalists to vigilantly observe events to avoid inadvertently spreading disinformation. One of the primary functions of the media is to raise awareness. Without adequate information, how can we educate others? At the meeting, we also discussed the common fate of Ukraine and Georgia and the fact that we share the same boat". #WeAreInTheSameBoat
Baia Khvichia (student, Georgia) shared her emotional and informative experience during the webinar, where the impact of the ongoing war was discussed. She emphasized Russia's danger to the world and the shared fate of Ukraine and Georgia: " This war in Ukraine opened their eyes to the world enemy: Russia, which is a danger for everyone. The main purpose of the meeting, which was attend by professors and students from the other countries, was to get acquainted with the situation in Ukraine and Georgia. The issue of occupation, which has been relevant in our country or a long time, brings us closer to each other.
At the end of the meeting, one of the foreign students asked a very important question for me: Do Georgians face Russian occupation every day? – That is the main question I wanted to answer. – Although the Russians have occupied 20 percent of our country, it can be said that they are an integral part of our daily life, unfortunately".
Tika Shaiashvili (student, Georgia): "As we know Russia is trying to spread false information about Ukraine. Russia engaged in similar activities during the ongoing war in Georgia. Journalists contribution to the preservation of the real history is greater than we imagine".
Tatia kharaishvili (student, Georgia):”As a country awaiting EU status, it is necessary to learn from the experiences of a neighboring country. In this case, Ukraine, which is now in close proximity to the EU, provides valuable insight. As an aspiring journalist, Olena Shevchenko's speech was particularly intriguing for me. Even today, Russian disinformation spreads rapidly in Georgia, and we lack established, powerful mechanisms to counter it. Thus, it was highly beneficial to hear about their experiences with media regulation, as they successfully aligned their media with European standards.
It was also genuinely pleasant to participate in the discussion with Ukrainian colleagues, sharing insights into their interest in Georgian media and exchanging perspectives. Georgians and Ukrainians share a common enemy, driven by the shared goal of becoming part of the larger European Union family. This seminar once again reaffirmed that we are resolute in our determination to never align with Russia and reinforced our collective commitment towards European integration”.
Nana Abaishvili (student, Georgia): “Georgians and our Ukrainian counterparts collaboratively exchanged insights into coping mechanisms amid the prevailing circumstances of conflict and occupation. The significance of such seminars lies in their efficacy in raising awareness of our current situation. Lack of awareness hinders progress beyond historical challenges, potentially perpetuating a victim mentality indefinitely. The seminar not only instilled a sense of unity but also fostered mutual sympathy among participants. Furthermore, it is of paramount importance to actively involve students in discussions of this nature. Their inclusion not only enhances their understanding of ongoing events but also instills a belief in their capacity to effect positive change”.
Liza Shapatava (student, Georgia): Both Georgia and Ukraine have paved their way to Europe, and we hope that these two nations, long engaged in the struggle for independence, will soon become members of the European Union through the efforts of dedicated people.
Nika Inasaridze (student, Georgia) discussed the power of propaganda and the perspective of Ukrainian students who, like Georgians, have been affected by Russian propaganda. She emphasized the need for more meetings to increase knowledge about the topic: “after the discussion I saw better, what propaganda and disinformation can do. It was interesting to hear the opinion of Ukrainian students about all this, because they are my age and the Russian propaganda touched them as well as us Georgians. I think there should be such meetings not only for students, but also for the older and younger community to increase their knowledge about the topic”.
Ana Gureshidze (student, Georgia): my journalistic investigation highlights the alarming impact of Russian mass media spreading unverified, propagandist information, challenging journalistic ethics and societal integrity. It's undeniable that during that era, false and propagandistic information was rampant. Emphasizing ethical journalism and global efforts to combat informational warfare were essential to prevent the spread of false news and negative consequences.
Vano Makharashvili (student, Georgia): The webinar centered on the tumultuous histories of Georgia and Ukraine, largely attributed to Russia's expansionist ambitions. One particularly memorable moment was the emotional expression: "Whatever path you Ukrainians are treading now, we have traversed the exact same path." The depth of pain and sorrow conveyed by Prof. Mariam Gersamia through this phrase resonated profoundly. Indeed, both nations have sacrificed the lives of their beloved citizens in the pursuit of freedom.
Throughout the meeting, various speakers repeatedly referenced specific villages, cities, or regions in Ukraine, vividly describing the harrowing experiences endured during conflicts. Their accounts of severe atrocities inflicted during hostilities will forever linger in my memory.
The gathering held special significance for Georgia, as the day before, on November 8, the European Commission recommended granting Georgia candidate status—an initial stride towards a significant victory. A Ukrainian student posed a sensitive question, prompting reflection on whether we feel the omnipresence of Russia as an occupier, even if not on a daily basis. This question triggered deep introspection, prompting a mental reel of my life—recalling the steps taken, the streets of Tbilisi, border checkpoints, and barbed wire. The answer crystallized in my mind: Russia was, is, and must soon cease being the occupier for the betterment of Georgia, Ukraine, and the entire world.
Gvantsa Arkania (student, Georgia) highlighted the emotional inclusion of Ukrainian students in the conversation and their discussions on the importance of granting Georgia Candidacy status within the European Union.
In closing, we want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone who made this webinar a resounding success. A special thanks to our esteemed speakers, our distinguished guests, the dedicated organizers, our invaluable partners, and the the European Union through the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship program for generous support.
'The event is organised within the History Keepers regional project, a joint initiative of Georgian and Ukrainian EaP Civil Society Fellows. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship programme is funded by the European Union'.