YATA Debates is a principal variety of project of YATA Georgia which commenced in 2011 and is held annually since. The main aim of these debates is to establish debate culture and help foster critical and analytical thinking, develop and cultivate public speech skills among youth. It must be noted, that these debates are nowadays the only debates in Georgia conducted in English. Though this causes some difficulties, it serves as a good internationalization of these debates as well as preparing participants for taking part in other international events.
In the framework of NATO’s Week in Georgia, Georgian Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) in cooperation with Information Centre on NATO jointly organized YATA Georgia’s annual project – YATA Debates. The sixteen finalists, from 18-23 of age each, were selected in a very competitive environment. All candidates were chosen judging by critical way of thinking, presentation skills, preparation level, knowledge of English language, and overall impression.
The topics of the finals were related to the foreign and domestic security issues in the context of NATO-Georgian relations, and specifically the ISAF Mission in Afghanistan. Students were asked to either defend or go against the following statement: “Georgia should continue participation in ISAF mission in Afghanistan”. This subject became even more pressing, as not long before the debates five Georgian soldiers were killed in an attack on ISAF base in Afghanistan, what was tragic news for Georgia.
The final was judged by the jury consisting of local experts, academics and YATA Georgia’s establishment. The Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Alexi Petriashvili and Romanian Ambassador to Georgiawere attended as well. Similarly to the semi-finals, the honorable jury took into account candidates’ awareness about NATO-Georgia relation, critical and analytical way of thinking, active participation in question-answers session and effective communication skills/debate culture.
Because of the fact that one of the most critical YATA Georgia’s goals consists in promoting the critical thinking culture among the youth, and at the same time the organization aims to promote qualified debate on international issues, the evaluation criteria were very strict.
Having considered all criteria, the winner of YATA’s 2013 debates became Giorgi Vachnadze, a student of the Free University of Georgia. Second place was awarded to Irakli Grdzelishvili from the Jacobs University Bremen.
All participants were awarded for their effort: the first place was awarded with a new iPod and other participants got books from the publishing house “Radarami” and “Palitra L” . All of them were also presented a certificate of Achievement for participation in the YATA Debates 2013.
Debates in 2012 were held in the former building of Georgian Parliament and the final was attended by the Deputy State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Hellen Khoshtaria, Head of the NATO Liaison office William Lahue, and then the head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee Akaki Minashvili. The winner of the debate became Alexander Zibzibadze.