Security and Defense Working Group

The aim of the EST Working Group on Security and Defence is to provide analyses on past and present issues that have a relevant role in shaping security policies across Europe and more in general the Atlantic Allies at multiple levels. In other words, our strategy is to understand what security and defence challenges the EU is facing, and how it positions itself on these issues. Therefore, the Working Group studies the European security regime and its relations with NATO as well as several aspects of European foreign policy, such as EU external missions or relations with other states. All in all, giving voice to young researchers and engaging with the views of the youth in Europe is also a central objective. We seek to present research in a way that is informative for younger audiences and also expresses the views of the youth to policymakers. Lastly, we will collaborate with  other EST Working Groups to produce research and organise events  (seminar, webinar, podcast, Q&A).  

Head of the Working Group – Iraki Gabidzashvili

Irakli Gabidzashvili is a Policy Analyst with over 3 years of experience in providing research support to various stakeholders on topics of foreign policy and development. Currently, Irakli works as a Policy Analyst at Parliament of Georgia, where he provides extensive research assistance to MPs to conduct parliamentary diplomacy and oversight.

Previously, Irakli Gabidzashvili worked at the OECD in Paris as a junior policy analyst, where he assisted the OECD’s work on Ukraine, focusing on the country’s reconstruction and recovery process. He also served as a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. As part of his fellowship, Irakli worked on issues of transatlantic dialogue, democracy and youth engagement.

Irakli Gabidzashvili holds BA in International Relations from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and MA in South European Studies from the University of Glasgow.

Claris Diaz

Claris Diaz is a final year master’s student in international security and development at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the biological sciences, where she was able to publish work in evolutionary biology and neuroscience. She was born in the Philippines but grew up in California where she completed her bachelor’s degree, and then moved to the UK for her graduate studies. In the last two years, she was an intern for the US Department of State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, with the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. This year, she is working with the US Department of Defense International Strategy and Research Center working on cyber conflict. Her interests are in emerging and disruptive technologies and how they can undermine national security, and the dynamics of the geo-strategic alliances of the BRICS members.

Mai Lan Tran

Lan holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Academy of Journalism and Communication and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. During her studies, she had the opportunities to be involved in research works related to European countries’ policies in the Indo-Pacific, lethal autonomous weapons systems, nuclear weapons, food security and the international law of the sea. With those experiences, she has developed her interests in foreign policy, maritime security and international law.

Francesco Macci

Francesco is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree in Security, Intelligence and Strategic Studies (IMSISS), and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Having spent periods of his life near the Strait of Gibraltar, he developed an interest towards the geopolitics of the Mediterranean and the MENA region. After completing an internship at the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis researching on the growth of the Moroccan aeronautical military sector, he now seeks to delve more into the threats the aforementioned areas confront, along with the challenges facing the EU and NATO in the space domain. His main areas of interest also include the multiple intelligence disciplines and their applications in security, defence, and conflict analysis.

Francesca Barbieri

Francesca holds a BA in History and Politics from the University of Warwick, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs at the Hertie School in Berlin, where she specialises in International Security. Having previously worked as an Analyst for Polis Analysis and volunteered for several organisations helping refugees alongside her studies, she is now conducting research as part of an internship with Africa in Motion, an NGO based in the Netherlands. Her area of research lies mainly in security and conflict within Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus region, where she is particularly interested in exploring the intersection between war and the information space, along with the role that emerging technologies can play in defence.

Lea Bhathal

Spanish, with Indian and American origins, Leandra is a recent bachelor’s graduate in Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. Her interest in security, particularly women’s and climate security and private military, developed through her ongoing MSc in International Relations at the Luiss University (Rome). She will complete an Erasmus specializing in International Economics at IE University (Madrid) to gain insights into the links between security and economics. Leandra is also an intern at the Embassy of Mexico in Rome and has volunteered in Tanzania, Serbia, Italy and Germany to foster integration, democracy and youth political participation.