Timely in Tbilisi: A New Conference During the Ukraine Crisis

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‘Great prospects for establishing business or cultural relations’ lie in this week’s Caucasus area publishing conference, says Gvantsa Jobava.

In Tbilisi, March 11. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alina Vasylieva

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Natural Interests Toward Each Other’
Days after the close of the first in-person London Book Fair in three years, members of the international publishing community are gathered in the Republic of Georgia for today’s opening of the two-day Caucasus and Black Sea Basin Countries’ Regional Publishing Conference, opening this morning (April 11).

They’re also in Tbilisi to honor the close of the Republic of Georgia’s designated UNESCO World Book Capital year (handing off to Guadalajara) later in the week.

Our preview of the two-day conference is here for your review.

And in the run-up to the Georgian conference, it’s been interesting to see how frequently the country’s capital city has appeared in international news relative to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked Russian war on Ukraine.

The Republic of Georgia, of course, has its own collective nightmares about Putin and the former Soviet Union, and its loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 to what the Georgian parliament has designated as a Russian occupation.

On Saturday (April 9), Georgia marked National Unity Day, in Radio Free Europe’s reporting, “the anniversary of the deadly dispersal by Soviet troops of pro-independence rallies in Tbilisi on April 9, 1989.” During that event on Saturday, US ambassador Kelly Degnan laid flowers at the event’s memorial.

A regional English-language report from Tbilisi (Agenda.ge) says that the capital’s leadership is prepared to consider naming one of the city’s squares Ukrainian Heroes Square.

And, as CNN’s Matt Rivers has reported this weekend, protests have been held in Tbilisi, demonstrators insisting that the Georgian government hasn’t done enough to help and support the Kyiv government of Volodymyr Zelensky.

Empathy Across Borders

While Ukrainian colleagues who are participating in the program are largely expected to do so by video link, it’s anticipated that there will be considerable discussion of the situation and of the kind of test that something like the Russian assault on Ukraine creates for creative workers and publishers.

“We hope that our first attempt to unite the region in the scope of publishing will be successfully used by the publishing houses of participating countries.”Gvantsa Jobava, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association

A regional English-language report from Tbilisi (Agenda.ge) says that the capital’s leadership is prepared to consider naming one of the city’s squares Ukrainian Heroes Square.

Sunday’s (April 10) elections in the occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia area were termed by Georgia’s foreign ministry as “yet another illegal act of the Russian Federation directed against Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in a report from Civil.ge.

“Such provocative actions are aimed to legitimize the illegal occupation of the Georgian regions and the ethnic cleansing of Georgians,” the ministry’s statement put it.

Gvantsa Jobava

Gvantsa Jobava—deputy chair of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association and an International Publishers Association (IPA)  executive committee member—says, “Since we’re neighboring countries, we have natural interests toward each other in culture, economy and politics.

“Therefore, there are great prospects for establishing business or cultural relations.

“We hope that our first attempt to unite the region in the scope of publishing will be successfully used by the publishing houses of participating countries.”

And as Janusz Bugajski of the Jamestown Foundation wrote for Newsweek on Friday (April 8), many specialists are looking at Georgia in terms of security issues.

“Major oil and gas pipelines traverse most of Georgia,” Bugajski writes, “a reliable United States ally, NATO partner and European Union (EU) aspirant whose territory is already partially occupied by Russian troops, and which must be afforded greater Western protection.”


Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. 

More on the Georgian publishing industry and book market is here. More on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here, and more on international book publishing conference events is here.

 Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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