2017 Tbilisi International Conference

Tbilisi Rooms Hotel

Tbilisi, Georgia

September 13, 2017

7:00 P.M.

On September 12-13, 2017, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University and the Economic Policy Research Center hosted an international conference in Tbilisi, Georgia: “A World in Flux: The Future of Democracy, Europe and the Middle East.” Now in its third year, the two-day conference was held at the Tbilisi Rooms Hotel.

The annual Tbilisi International Conference provides a one-of-a-kind platform to bring together experienced political and security leaders from the United States, Western Europe, Georgia and the wider Euro-Atlantic community to discuss the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace; the challenges facing Europe’s eastern nations; and strategies to move forward.

The 2017 conference built on the previous year’s discussion on NATO and Black Sea regional security, while taking a more in depth look at Georgia’s geopolitical compass. Further, with high-level speakers from the United States, Europe and regional countries, the conference addressed U.S. foreign policy and its implication on political processes in Europe and its neighborhood and the Middle East. Particular emphasis was given to security and NATO’s role.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @McCainInstitute and #TbilisiConf.

Session Videos



Welcome by Kurt Volker, the McCain Institute for International Leadership

Conversation with Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, and Kurt Volker, the McCain Institute for International Leadership

Conversation with Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, and Kurt Volker, the McCain Institute for International Leadership

Session IDebate: Georgia Now and in the Future

  • David Bakradze – Former Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
  • Ian Kelly – U.S. Ambassador to Georgia
  • Irakli Kobakhidze – Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
  • David Usupashvili – Former Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia

Moderator: Alexandra Hall Hall – Atlantic Council 

Session IIPanel: The Future of Liberalism, Democracy and Populism

  • Daniel Fried – Atlantic Council
  • Alina Polyakova – Atlantic Council
  • Robin Shepherd – Halifax International Security Forum
  • David Sikharulidze – Atlantic Council

Moderator: Christopher Walker – National Endowment for Democracy

Session IIIConversation: Energy in the Region: Where Are We Now?

  • Edward Chow – Center for Strategic and International Security
  • Gediminas Kirkilas – Former Prime Minister of Lithuania

Moderator: Batu Kutelia – Atlantic Council



Session IVPanel: U.S. Foreign Policy Under the Trump Administration

  • Ian Brzezinski – Atlantic Council
  • James Nixey – Chatham House
  • Zygimantas Pavilionis – Member of Parliament, Lithuania
  • Peter Van Praagh – Halifax International Security Forum
  • Ketevan Tsikhelashvili – Minister of Reintegration of Georgia

Moderator: Randy Scheunemann – Orion Strategies

Session V Panel: GermanyFranceUK: Whither Europe?

  • Ali Aslan – TV Presenter and Journalist
  • Benjamin Haddad – Hudson Institute
  • James Kirchick – Brookings Institution
  • Justin McKenzie Smith – UK Ambassador in Georgia

ModeratorRobin Shepherd – Halifax International Security Forum

Conversation with Daniel Fried, Atlantic Council, and Kurt Volker

Session VIPanel: Ukraine: Moving Forward or Verging on Crisis?

  • Andrius Kublilius – Former Prime Minister of Lithuania
  • Sergii Leshchenko – Member of Parliament, Ukraine
  • Oleh Shamshur – Ambassador of Ukraine to France
  • James Sherr – Chatham House

Moderator: Donald Jensen – CEPA, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Session VII – Panel: The Future of Transatlantic Relations, Europe, the EU and NATO

  • Bridget Brink – Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State
  • Christian Danielsson – Director General for Enlargement, European Commission
  • Levan Izoria – Minister of Defense of Georgia
  • Thomas Mayr-Harting – European External Action Service

Moderator: Ian Bond – Centre for European Reform 

Session VIIIPanel: Democracy, Human Rights and Security in Georgias Neighborhood: Getting the BalanceRight

  • Knut Abraham – Federal Chancellery, Germany
  • Zeki Levent Gumrukcu – Ambassador of Turkey to Georgia
  • Thomas O. Melia – George W. Bush Institute

Moderator: James Kirchick – Brookings Institution 

Session IXPanel: Addressing the Challenge of Putins Russia

  • Stefan Meister – European Council on Foreign Relations
  • Salome Samadashvili – United National Movement
  • Andrew Wood – Chatham House
  • Christopher Walker – National Endowment for Democracy
  • Keti Khutsishvili – Open Society Georgia Foundation

Moderator: Ian Brzezinski – Atlantic Council

Remarks from Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary General of NATO (via Skype)