“We can talk about EU requirements, but to have the original documents—even previously confidential documents—in your hands, is very unique. […] Sometimes I can’t even believe I am here.”
Visegrad Research Fellow Ana Shalamberidze contemplates the extraordinary opportunity the Visegrad Research Fellowship at the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) has offered for her doctoral research.
Ana, a PhD candidate in Law at Tblisi State University in Georgia, is working on a doctoral thesis that examines the efficiency of Georgia’s judicial administration (strategy) in light of European requirements for accession. Focusing especially on the rule of law, Ana is taking a close look at fonds from the collections relevant to EU membership criteria.
Research vs practice
Ana’s PhD research is informed by the practical experience she has had with her job at Georgia’s Supreme Court, where she has been involved in that country’s Association Agreement negotiations with the European Union (EU).
She was encouraged to start her PhD by the President of the Court, and has since enjoyed the full support of subsequent Court Presidents.
“I had accumulated a great deal of knowledge on judicial administration and developing judicial strategies, and wanted to put it to use in a PhD," she explained.
When asked about having a preference between research and practice, she notes that she is most interested in a mix of the two. For Ana, "the real picture is what happens—how law and regulations work in practice."
Georgia and its desire for accession
As her research deals with criteria for greater European integration, and has direct relevance for Georgia’s aspirations to join the EU, this young Georgian has also taken time to reflect on her country’s place in Europe.
Indeed, Ana sees Georgia as having a natural place in the European Union.
“While Georgia has had a challenging history over the last century, its 1921 constitution was based on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. These are common values we share with the rest of Europe. It is not simply about the economic project.”
The Visegrad Fellowship in Florence
One month into her stay, Ana states she now "feels at home" in Florence at the EUI.
In addition to her research activity at the Archives, she has been able to take advantage of the EUI’s Library and is pleased to have made contact with EUI faculty and fellows knowledgeable about her research areas.
“In Georgia, there is still no research centre dedicated to work on the European Union. I hope other people from this region will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The HAEU awards the Visegrad Fund Research Grants in April and October of each year. Complete information about the grant is available on the HAEU website.