Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A Report on FPRI’s Project on Democratic Transitions

A Report on FPRI’s Project on Democratic Transitions

A Report on FPRI’s Project on Democratic Transitions

I am pleased to report that 2013 was a banner year for the Project on Democratic Transitions. Here are a few major highlights:

  • Staffing: The PDT team grew from three core members and an intern to a team of eleven scholars and, at times, three interns. The team now includes three PhDs from top universities and seven other scholars with post-graduate degrees and relevant work and/or field experience.
  • Publications: We had seven publications through FPRI/PDT channels: two Orbis journal articles, two E-Notes, and three Geopoliticus blog posts. In addition, PDT scholars published several dozen articles and briefs in high-quality publications such as Foreign Policy, The American Interest, and others. A full list of PDT’s 2013 publications can be found below.
  • Events: PDT conducted two scholarly seminars at FPRI, plus one larger public lecture in Philadelphia. I also made presentations at two major international conferences in Prague, and we have laid plans for a joint project with the Prague-based Institute of International Relations. The project envisions cooperation with think tanks in Moldova and Georgia to develop new approaches for more effective democracy support in these and potentially other countries.
  • Fundraising: PDT secured two new grants that together provide remuneration for Maia Otarashvili from September 2013 through July 2014, thus permitting her to continue with the PDT as our program coordinator and prime research associate after her initial 15 months of nearly full-time volunteer work. We also submitted six major grant proposals. Two of these were for federally-funded RFPs that have since been defunded for FY-14. We are still waiting to hear on others, but have had encouraging feedback on one of them.

We owe great thanks to our scholars and supporters for their contributions to PDT’s growth. As we begin 2014, we look forward to building on the strong foundations laid down over the past year.


Adrian A. Basora (U.S. Ambassador, Ret.)
Director, Project on Democratic Transitions



In 2013, seven new scholars joined the Project on Democratic Transitions, including:   

These new scholars bring tremendous academic and professional experience to PDT. Their regional specialties include the South Caucasus, Iran, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Collectively they have over 35 years of experience managing democracy and governance programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the Eurasia Foundation and other leading organizations. PDT scholars are sought out for their expertise: scholars spoke at a variety of think tank events in the US and abroad. Team members’ analyses and commentaries have been featured in a variety of publications such as Foreign Policy and the National Interest. PDT scholars were invited to comment on television and other media as well this year.         

In June 2013, PDT secured two private donations, which enabled the Project to retain Maia Otarashvili as its full-time Program Coordinator and Research Associate.

In July 2013, after graduating with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Hannah Lidicker completed her year-long internship with PDT and started a new job at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. She remains active with PDT as a part-time Research Assistant.

In summer 2013, two University of Pennsylvania students helped to update the Literature Survey project, led by Associate Scholar Alexandra Wiktorek-Sarlo, and now fully presented within the FPRI website.

In August, PDT welcomed Daniel Rodriguez, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, as the new PDT intern. 


In winter and spring 2013, PDT held two well-attended FPRI public events, featuring Columbia University’s Lincoln Mitchell and Thomas de Waal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, respectively. These were followed by a smaller, in-house seminar on June 17 to review the PDT’s goals and working hypotheses, with PDT alumnus Mitchell Orenstein as the external discussant and Alan Luxenberg, Michael Noonan, and Tally Helfont as in-house FPRI commentators.

In March, PDT’s Nino Japaridze spoke on a panel about Georgia-Russia relations at a conference at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution. In April, Michael Cecire took part in an FPRI discussion panel on the Boston Marathon bombings where he commented on the history and politics of the North Caucasus region. Also in April, Cecire joined a discussion panel event on Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia trilateral relations sponsored by the Jamestown Foundation and hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

In February, Ambassador Basora made a presentation at a major Czech and Slovak bilateral conference in Prague assessing 20 years of post-communist experience since Czechoslovakia’s 1993 “Velvet Divorce.” In November 2013, he made a presentation on the state of post-communist transitions at the Prague IIR’s annual foreign policy conference in. He intends to publish a revised version of his comments as an E-note in early 2014. And in October 2013, Ambassador Basora made a presentation at FPRI’s History Institute in Philadelphia regarding patterns of democratization in a globalizing world.

FPRI Publications in 2013



Georgia’s 2012 Elections and Lessons for Democracy Promotion 

  • by Michael Cecire, April 2013
  • Can the Post-Communist Democracies Survive a Continuation of the Euro-Crisis? 
    by Adrian A. Basora, April 2013 

Geopoliticus Blog

External Publications in 2013

PDT Interviews with the Media