July 22, 2016 Print

It’s easy for Westerners to take it for granted that they’ll always have access to peaceful, safe forums in which to discuss ideas — but some regions of the world are more hostile to free and open intellectual discussions. That’s why events like the IX International Summer School on Liberty, Law, and Economics in Bakuriani, Georgia, are so important. Hosted in mid-July by Atlas Network partner the New Economic School, Georgia (NESG), the annual forum brings together participants from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Romania to discuss the ideas of liberty.

“We are the regional center – freest politically and economically – and that is why we very often bring people from nearby countries and give them a chance to learn from high ranking teachers,” said Paata Sheshelidze, president of NESG. “We as an organization and Georgia as a country are playing a very crucial role in this sense. There is only one way forward, and that is why we are continuing our efforts to make people aware about the benefits of private ownership, free trade, deregulation, free enterprise, sound money, and so on. … We hope to enlarge the circle of highly competent free market–thinking youth after coming to this event, and also hope they learn from each other — to find best argument and communication forms.”

The six-day program features prominent lecturers from around the world, including Dr. Pierre Garello, president of the Institute for Economic Studies and editor-in-chief of the Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines; Dr. Carlo Lottieri, director of the political theory department at Istituto Bruno Leoni in Italy; and Dr. Christopher Lingle, adjunct scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies, visiting professor at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, and research scholar at the Centre for Civil Society in India. Other partner organizations helping to host the event include the Institute for Economic Studies – Europe, based in Paris, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

“Typically we do not give dry economic lessons,” Sheshelidze said. “We have exercises and give chances to students to be creative and productive; to be not only receivers of information but developers and disseminators. Posters, films, and some other visual materials are often made by participants of our events. We will be doing this at our Summer School as well. We plan to assign students a project to prepare posters and short films based on the economic programs of political parties in Georgia for the October 2016 elections.”

NESG was founded 15 years ago, and has been actively promoting economic liberty ever since. It has hosted hundreds of conferences around Georgia, and has translated several classical liberal books into Georgian. Sheshelidze is often interviewed on radio programs in Georgia.

“They have really lit and maintained many freedom candles in the region,” Dr. Garello said, speaking about the impact NESG and its conferences have had throughout the region. “I say the region, because Georgia is a place (maybe the only) where Armenians, Azeris, Iranians, and many others can meet and discuss peacefully. For that reason, IES-Europe has been proud to hold one of its summer seminars in Georgia for the last seven years.”