Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Freedom, Commerce, and Peace:

Freedom, Commerce, and Peace:

A Regional Agenda

A Cato Conference

Tbilisi, Georgia – October 25-27, 2006

Conference Description:

Fifteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire, the nations of Eurasia are still struggling to build stable, secure, and prosperous social orders. The nations of the Confederation of Independent States and its periphery (the CIS+) have generated a variety of responses to the collapse of Soviet power, with a corresponding variety of outcomes. It is time to draw lessons for reformers and to share them with the people of the CIS+ who are working for civil society, limited government, and peace.

The Cato Institute, in close cooperation with the New Economic School of Georgia, is organizing a major international conference in October 2006 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The conference–Freedom, Commerce, and Peace: A Regional Agenda–will assemble, inform, and motivate a broad network of scholars, analysts, and policymakers who can further the mission of building free, stable, and prosperous legal, political, social, and economic orders.

The conference is tentatively scheduled to begin the evening of Wednesday, October 25 and conclude the evening of Friday, October 27 at the Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel in Tbilisi. The Sheraton has excellent conference facilities and is accustomed to working with professional conferences. Conference papers will be presented and proceedings will be conducted in English, Georgian, and Russian. Some of them will be published later in three languages. Sessions will be webcast live on and archived for later viewing.

In Brief

The conference will bring together reformers from throughout the former Soviet Union and its formerly incorporated states and neighbors.

Cato is running this conference in cooperation with Kakha Bendukidze, the state minister for coordination of reforms of the Republic of Georgia, and the New Economic School of Georgia. Minister Bendukidze was central to organizing the Cato Institute’s 2004 Moscow conference.

This will be a significant event for the Eurasian continent. Participants will be able to share success stories of transition and mutually strengthen their resolve to undo the damage left by communism, dictatorship, and statism and create the foundations of a lasting and free social order.

Participants are expected from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic nations, the Balkans, the Southern Caucasus, and the Central Asian Republics, as well as from Mongolia, India, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, North America and Western Europe. The organizers hope to free reformers in the region both from their fear of thorough change and from the dream that somehow joining the European Union or NATO will solve their problems. They can and should undertake deep reforms on their own without EU or U.S. engagement. A regional network of like-minded reformers will be helpful to those who are trying to create the institutional foundations for lasting, free, secure, and peaceful societies.

For more information about the conference, please email

The conference is designed to achieve three mutually supportive objectives:

1. Build a strong regional network of reformers who will share information and experiences, provide mutual support, and spread proven techniques of promoting freedom and creating and mobilizing constituencies for liberal reform;

2. Give resolution and courage to policymakers who are considering needed reforms; and

3. Assemble, discuss, and publish the stories of success–and of failure–that can provide useful guidance to liberal reformers the world over.


The anticipated number of full-time conference participants is 100. The majority will come from the CIS nations, but it is expected that participants will also come from many other countries as well. The conference venue is centrally situated in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia.

Participants will include:

* Reformist policymakers from the CIS+ nations;
* Policy experts and successful and prominent liberal reformers from around the world;
* Organizers, scholars, and staff members of classical liberal think tanks;
* Journalists from the region and from major international economics and policy publications;
* Business leaders who are supportive of free markets and liberal values; and
* Classical liberal youth leaders from the region.


Sessions will include the following:

1. Presentations and speeches by inspiring high-profile reformers with track records of success. Confirmed participants include Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics; Mart Laar, former prime minister of Estonia; Cristobal Montoro, former minister of economics of Spain; Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic policy adviser to President Putin; Marat Sultanov, Speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament; Vesna Škare-Ožbolt, former minister of justice of Croatia; Lajos Bokros, former minister of finance of Hungary; Kakha Bendukidze, state minister for coordination of reforms in Georgia; and others.

2. Presentations on how to craft and successfully implement reforms. Topics to be discussed are expected to include property law, banking law, commercial law, customs administration, commercial arbitration, and creation and training of an independent judiciary (to name a few).

3. Presentations on how to build constituencies for reforms, with an emphasis on combining public choice analysis with strategic thinking. Topics to be discussed are expected to include the establishment of free and independent media, campaigns to explain reforms to the public, and identifying constituencies interested in the success of free-market reforms.

4. Participatory workshops on how to establish think tanks and publications; how to work with the media to explain reforms to the public; how to utilize modern communication technologies; and how to work with students and young people.

5. A Presentation and discussion of the Economic Freedom of the World research program of the Fraser Institute including the methodology of the study and how it can be used to evaluate and promote sound public policy.

6. A public session in Tbilisi involving university students, the public, and the media.

The detailed Programm in russian is available HERE

You can register for the participation or apply for a grant HERE

Some Participants of the Conference:

Professor Robert A. Mundell is the 1999 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics. After graduating from the University of British Columbia in Economics and Slavonic Studies, he studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and London School of Economics, receiving his PhD from MIT in 1956. He was Post-Doctoral Fellow in Political Economy at the University of Chicago in 1956-57 and taught at U.B.C., Stanford University and The Johns Hopkins Bologna Center of Advanced International Studies before joining the International Monetary Fund in 1961. From 1966 to 1971, he was Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and Editor of the Journal of Political Economy, and from 1972-74 he was Chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo. Since 1974, he has been Professor of Economics and since 2001, University Professor at Columbia University in New York.
Dr. Mundell has been an adviser to a number of international agencies and organizations including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, the US Treasury and several governments around the world. Mundell prepared one of the first plans for a common currency in Europe and is known as the father of the theory of optimum currency areas. He has also written extensively on the history of the international monetary system and played an early role in the founding of the Euro.

Mart Laar is the former prime minister of Estonia. He is credited with helping Estonia in its rapid economic advance. Laar served two terms as prime minister of Estonia, from 1992 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2002. He received his education at the University of Tartu, where he completed a BA in history in 1983 and later an MA in philosophy. Between 1990 and 1992 he was a member of the Estonian Congress and Estonian Committee. During the same period he was also a member of the Supreme Council. In 1992 Laar served as a member of the Constitutional Assembly, and from 1992 to 1994 he was the prime minister of Estonia. From 1992 to 1995 Laar also served as chairman of the National Coalition Fatherland Party as well as an MP (Riigikogu) VIII session. Laar has held the position of chairman of the Pro Patria party since 1998.

In 2006 the Cato Institute awarded Laar the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Recently Mart Laar also became an economic adviser to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Kakha Bendukidze was appointed minister of economics of Georgia in June 2004; in December 2004 he became state minister for coordination of economic reforms. He earned his postgraduate diploma from the Moscow State University. In 1981 he worked in the Academy of Sciences in Pushchino, Biochemistry and Microorganism Scientific-Research Institute, as the senior laboratory assistant, and in 1985-1990 he was head of the Moscow Institute of Biotechnology, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics. In 1988 he established the Union "Bioprocess," and since 1991 he has been head of the Oil National Investment-Industrial Union "Nipek." In 1992 he was head of the Board of Directors of "Promtorgbank." In 1994-1998 he was chairman of the Board of Directors of Shipbuilding Union "Almasi." In 1996-2000 he was head of the Board of Directors of "Uralmash" and then head of the Board of Directors of Mechanical Engineering Union. In 2000 he was appointed to the post of general director of "Uralmash."

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