Eurasia Leadership Trek 2018 – Georgia & Azerbaijan

by Rajeswari Ramanee

From May 26 – 30, sixteen scholars from the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloane, National University of Singapore, Bahcesehir University and Tufts Fletcher School  among others arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, marking the start of the Eurasia Leadership Trek 2018. The scholars, also known as Trekkers were from the US, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Georgia were some of the countries represented. Over the next four weeks, the Trekkers engaged with key opinion leaders in government, business and local social enterprises, before continuing their journey to Baku, Azerbaijan, Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey, and the countries Moldova and Ukraine. 

First incepted in 2012, the Asia Leadership Trek is designed to provide Trekkers with an avenue to gain firsthand accounts and insights into the challenges and opportunities impacting Asia, and acquire better understanding of current and emerging trends in fundamental political, economic and social forces that shape this fast-changing landscape.

Tbilisi, Georgia

The Eurasia Leadership Trek began on 26 May where the Trekkers were taken to attend the Krynica Economic Forum in Tbilisi. The Presidential Opening Session was titled, “Europe Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”. Trekkers also joined in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the First Republic of Georgia procession. This was followed by the Cultural Tour in Kakheti at Eastern Georgia, tours that took them to Batonis Cikhe, and the Chateau Zegaani and Wine Degustation while dinner was organized with the Minister of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. Third day saw a meeting with the Leadership of TBC Bank and Anaklia Consortium and Mrs. Rosaria Puglisi, Head of the NATO Laison Office in Georgia. The Jvari Monastery, the Occupation Line in Odzisi and dinner with Members of the Georgian Parliament.

The rest of the Georgian leg for the next two days were arranged with these agenda:

29 May

  • Meeting with Laura Thornton, Resident Director, National Democratic Institute Georgia
  • Meeting with Irakli Kobakhizde, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia
  • Meeting with The President of Georgia, H.E. Giorgi Margvelashvili
  • Visit to the Tbilisi State University

30 May

  • Meeting with First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, David Zalkaliani
    Civil Society Round Table, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS/Rondeli Foundation)
  • Meeting with Mr. Niels Scott, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Representative
  • Meeting with Ambassador Janos Herman, Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia
    Meeting with Nikoloz Janjgava, Deputy Chief of the General Staff


Baku, Azerbaijan

It was known as the land of silk and spice, long before becoming famous for oil.  Azerbaijan lies bordered by the Caspian Sean and Caucasus Mountains, a mix cultural beacon at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It’s role as in the ancient Silk Road trade route, was that of a thoroughfare linking East and West. A decree in late 2016 endorsing “Strategic Road Maps for the National Economy and Main Economic Sectors”, which outlined the short-, medium- and long-term goals for the development of the economy and eleven key sectors were signed by President Ilham Aliyev. Thus, 2018 is set to become the “year of economic development” with the results garnered in the previous year with the said promise.

Trekkers commenced their tour on 31 May with a city tour to the National Flag Square, the Oil Wells, the Old City, the Maiden Tower and the Baku Boulevard. This was followed by meetings with the students and rector of Azerbaijan State University of Economics. This was followed by a visit to State Agency on Public Services and Social Innovations/ ASAN Center and the Haydar Aliyev Center. Below are the detailed visits of the second and third days:

1 July

  • Visit to Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy
  • Visit to Alley of Martyrs
  • Visit to National Parliament
  • Visit to Republic of Azerbaijan State Migration Service
  • Meeting with Minister of Culture of the Republic Azerbaijan
  • Visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Visit to Baku Boulevard and a Boat Tour on Caspian Sea

2 July

  • Visit to Port of Baku – the Oldest and Largest port of the Caspian Sea
  • Visit to Gobustan National Park (Rock Art Cultural Landscape
  • Mud Volcano Site
  • Dinner with the local Harvard Alumni