The Georgian zero-tolerance drug policy, inherited from the Saakashvili administration, has faced wide criticism lately. Revisions are currently being discussed at Parliament, based on the recommendations of the Georgian Drug Policy Platform. In the context of a tense social debate, punctuated by street demonstrations, the question of mandatory drug testing, together with criminal liability, is a key issue. However, little has been said about Georgia’s policy of mandatory Workplace Drug Testing (WDT) which is much stricter than the accepted practice in neighboring countries, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan. In both European countries and Georgia, WDT is a complex topic to address. The issue of administrating drug tests to civil servants, which is mandatory according to Article 18 and 25 of the Law of Georgia on Public Service is thus even more sensitive. (more…)...
On April 13, 2018, in response to reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Douma, Syria, the United States, United Kingdom and France (Three out of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, hereinafter referred as P3) launched ‘precision strikes’ on the chemical weapon facilities in Syria. The joint military action was preceded by a series of UN Security Council meetings and an exchange of threats between Russia and the United States over the consequences of the anticipated strike. Similar, albeit smaller, military strikes were already carried out by the United States in 2017 in response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack executed by the Syrian regime.
Nearly one year ago, on March 28, 2017, Georgian citizens received the right to travel to the EU’s Schengen Area without a visa. Prior to granting visa-free travel, the EU put a suspension mechanism in place that would allow for visas to be reinstated under certain circumstances.
The European Commission’s first report under the visa suspension mechanism found that, in general, Georgia has been meeting the visa liberalisation benchmarks. The December 2017 report also noted, however, that “further improvement of the implementation is expected,” (more…)...
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…)...