Between 17th-20th July 2010, International Alert’s economy and conflict project partners, the Caucasus Business and Development Network (CBDN), organised the Second Caucasian Cheese Exhibition in Tbilisi, Georgia. The exhibition brought together Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish producers, experts and officials to promote dairy sector cooperation in the region.
The event included visits to cheese factories, the sharing of recipes and an exhibition of cheese from different regions of the South Caucasus, including ‘Caucasian Cheese’. The idea to produce ‘Caucasian Cheese’ arose during the CBDN Kars Business Forum in early March 2007, where Armenian and Turkish dairy producers began exchanging cheese recipes and ended up creating a new brand of Caucasian cheese. This initiative demonstrates the interest in and potential of cross-boundary economic cooperation, especially in the border regions of the South Caucasus.
The cheese exhibition took place in a branch of the Populi supermarket chain in Tbilisi and was attended by the chairmen of the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan Cheese-makers Associations, representatives of the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, representatives of the non-governmental structures and cheese experts (including representatives from over 20 factories across the region). As a result of the concluding conference, an overwhelming majority of participants supported the CBDN’s initiative to work towards establishing a Caucasus Association of Cheese-makers.
The event received widespread positive and encouraging media coverage including articles in the Turkish Daily Newspaper “Zaman” and “Haber Turk” as well as the Russian Weekly “Argument i Fakty”.
Joint business initiatives such as the development of ‘Caucasian Cheese’ build on common business interests and aspirations, symbolise strong commonalities across the region and demonstrate the potential and benefits that cooperation could bring to the region.