Dr. Alexander Kupatadze*
On December 1, two schoolboys were stabbed to death in a violent incident on Khorava street in downtown Tbilisi. The day before, on November 30, the court hearing for Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted from Tbilisi in May allegedly by members of Georgia’s security services, concluded in the Belakan province of Azerbaijan. These two events are seemingly unrelated, but in fact they are interlinked in fundamental ways.
Originally published in Emerging Europe
When the Soviet Union dissolved on New Year’s Eve, 1991, it was replaced by 15 newly-independent countries with vastly different cultures and levels of development. One of those countries, Georgia, emerged with the determination to shed its Soviet baggage and return to Europe as a modern, functioning nation-state. For this country, Europeanisation became synonymous with “desovietisation.”
On September 27, a Syrian delegation paid a so-called “official” visit to Russian-occupied Abkhazia. The visit was preceded by a visit to Damascus by the de-facto authorities of Abkhazia. High-level officials attended both meetings. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia condemned the Syrian visit to Sokhumi and labeled it as a continuation of provocative actions by Russia and its occupation regimes.
These visits raise a key question: If the Syrian government considers Abkhazia to be an independence republic, then why is it abstaining from officially recognizing the occupied territory as independent? (more…)...
On October 1, Catalonians voted in a referendum to become independent from Spain. The vote was deemed illegal by the Spanish central government in Madrid. Even though police interfered in the voting process and left about 900 people injured, it has been reported that over 2.2 million people voted in the referendum. (more…)...
Joseph Larsen and Mariam Grigalashvili*
On September 18, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed a military budget for 2018. Formally titled the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018”, the Act needs to be reconciled with the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by President Trump. The Act commits to $696 billion in defense spending for the next year, about $630 million more than what the White House requested.
Germany’s next parliamentary elections will be held on September 24. According to the polls, current Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) are set to win the elections once again. However, because of Germany’s political culture and electoral system, the Christian Democrats will lack enough votes to form government independently/on their own. Once again, they will have to form a coalition government.
The now stateless former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was candid when interviewed by France24 about the revocation of his Ukrainian citizenship: “Everybody understands that this whole thing stinks.” The stripping of his citizenship is the logical conclusion of spoiled relations between Saakashvili and the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. (more…)...
Most observers expected U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent visit to Georgia to follow a tight script: Show up, reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, eat some khinkali and khachapuri, and leave.
For the most part, that’s what Pence did. However, he took things further by reaffirming the outcome of the 2008 Bucharest Summit, when the U.S. and its NATO allies pledged that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO.” Pence said the following:
Recent public surveys have confirmed a paradoxical trend in Georgian political life: despite pressing problems, political blunders, and a troubling socio-economic situation, the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party remains the most popular political force in Georgia. It has been almost five years now since GD first came to power, and its list of achievements remains quite short. (more…)...
The geopolitical shift resulting from the European Union’s Eastern Enlargement in 2004 led to the introduction of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), an ambitious program designed to enhance political and economic relationships between the EU and its eastern and southern neighbors. (more…)...