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Author: Adam Reichardt

Why the “Russian law” is so dangerous for Georgia

There is an apparent attempt to distance Georgia from the geopolitical area which is supported by the vast majority of Georgians and put this Eastern European country in isolation under the claws of Russia. The stakes could not be higher.

May 5, 2024 - Grigol Julukhidze Mariam Gubievi

Issue 3/2024: South Caucasus out of balance

How the region struggles to break free from the shadow of conflict. Issue 3/2024 is now available for purchase and download!

April 11, 2024 - New Eastern Europe

The legacy of the displaced in the South Caucasus: from yesterday till today

The South Caucasus is no stranger to the plight of displaced persons. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, refugees and internally displaced persons have numbered in the hundreds of thousands due to conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Recent geopolitical shifts, such as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Azerbaijan’s 24-hour military offensive, have reignited concerns about this unresolved issue and the ongoing challenges faced by displaced persons in the region.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 was heralded by many western politicians, academics and others as a largely peaceful event. For many Central Asians and South Caucasians, however, it was far from tranquil. Tajikistan experienced a devastating civil war (1992-97). Georgia fought two wars with Russia over the regions of Abkhazia (1992-93) and South Ossetia (1991-92), while Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a war over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh (1992-94). Both Georgia and Azerbaijan were left with large internally displaced person (IDP) populations, the vast majority of whom are still displaced today.

April 11, 2024 - Jennifer S. Wistrand

Is peace possible between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Following the September 2023 campaign by Azerbaijan to re-establish its sovereignty over all Karabakh region, the question now turns to the chance for a stable peace in the South Caucasus. Yet, to answer this question, one needs to examine the many dimensions of the conflict, including internal and geopolitical, to identify the main obstacles to peace. Only then can a strategy for such a process be developed.

In the shadows of the war in Ukraine, another regional development, interconnected to some extent with that conflict, also has the potential to shape the future of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet sphere. This is the Armenia-Azerbaijani peace process and the changing power balance in the South Caucasus. The geopolitical players shaping Ukraine's war and peace landscape also keep the Armenia-Azerbaijani peace process in focus. Nevertheless, there are distinctive features in both cases worth exploring.

April 11, 2024 - Ahmad Alili

Navigating the new reality: Armenians seeking adjustment after leaving Nagorno-Karabakh

On September 19th and 20th 2023, Azerbaijan took the Nagorno-Karabakh region by military means and forced the local authorities to dissolve their institutions. As a result, nearly the entire population of local Armenians fled their homes to Armenia. It is still difficult to try to make sense of how this unfolded so swiftly.

After many years of negotiations under the co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group, in September 2020, Azerbaijan decided to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh (in this article many of the interlocutors refer to the region as “Artsakh”, which is its name in the Armenian context – editor’s note) conflict via military means and attacked the region. As a guarantor of the security of the Armenians living there, Armenia supported the local population.

April 11, 2024 - Razmik Martirosyan

“In these difficult times the EU and Armenia stand shoulder to shoulder”

Amidst the consequences of three major crises, Armenia is on the path to confronting past failures and shifting its policy westward to overcome its peripheral status. As it grapples with an unstable situation on its borders and coercion from Russia and Azerbaijan, the country’s pursuit of democratic reforms and EU alignment calls for a reconfiguration of the regional alliance system that would secure peace in the South Caucasus.

Armenia is a country in the process of democratic transition that must face the challenges posed by both its aggressive neighbourhood, which hinders regional integration, as well as external and systemic problems that shape the country’s social environment. Armenia is suffering from the consequences of the 2018 revolution, the pandemic and especially the 2020 war – a trifecta of shocks that have shaken the country to its core.

April 11, 2024 - Valentina Gevorgyan

Ivanishvili’s third coming. Georgian democracy ahead of elections

As Georgia prepares for the 2024 parliamentary elections, it faces challenges that threaten the nation’s already fragile democracy and undermine its pro-European stance. Given the problems of a fragmented opposition, overwhelming public distrust in political parties and the return of the pro-Russian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili on the political stage, the upcoming elections are expected to be a defining point for Georgia’s democracy and European path.

Georgia, a country whose democratic system has been shaken lately, is now facing a critical test of its democracy as it gears up for the 2024 parliamentary elections. The elections will determine if the Georgian Dream (GD) party stays in power for a fourth term. The upcoming elections have become more important since Georgia received EU candidacy status in 2023. While a significant step towards the country’s Europeanization, candidate status does not formally guarantee EU membership.

April 11, 2024 - Nino Chanadiri

Is Abkhazia being absorbed by Russia?

After the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, Moscow recognized the independence of the separatist regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region. After the recognition, Moscow pursued relations with both regions, which Georgia considers to be occupied by Russia, as those with equal states. Moscow took into account the sentiments of the local population and the political elite in the occupied regions, especially in Abkhazia, and refrained from intense pressure. However, after the start of Russia's full-scale military aggression in Ukraine in 2022, Moscow's attitude has changed.

Before the August 2008 war, Moscow formally recognized the territorial integrity of Georgia and refrained from relations with the separatist regions at the official level. It was only after the August war when the situation changed. Russia recognized the independence of both regions, after which Moscow's influence over Sokhumi (the capital of occupied Abkhazia) and Tskhinvali (the capital of the occupied Tskhinvali region) increased in all directions. In particular, the fourth and seventh military bases of the Russian defence ministry and Federal Security Service’s border service were established to ensure the security of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region. The budget and economic life of the occupied regions are also completely dependent on Russia.

April 11, 2024 - Mamuka Komakhia

Occupiers declare war against Georgian language in Abkhazia

According to data from 2020, about 225,000 people live in the territory of Abkhazia. Of these, 47,000 are ethnic Georgians and most of them, about 45,000, live in the Gali region. Yet, as of today, no Georgian-language school is functioning in occupied Abkhazia.

Since the beginning of the past school year, teaching in Georgian in Georgian-language schools in Gali (in occupied Abkhazia) has been stopped, and education will now be conducted in Russian. Seventeen-year-old Natia K. is an 11th grade student of one of the schools in the low-lying area of Gali. Since September 1st, she has been taught Georgian as a foreign language at school.

April 11, 2024 - Tamuna Shonia

Constant escape – how women live in Khurcha, near the occupation line

The war in Abkhazia began in August 1992 and lasted for 13 months. By the end of the war, Georgia had 300,000 internally displaced people. Today, Abkhazia is recognized as occupied and the Russian occupation army is stationed there. The people living on both sides of the de facto dividing line are friends and relatives, but now they cannot meet or rarely manage to see each other, as Eliso Shamatava explains through her experiences.

“Eighty-five families live in the village of Khurcha. At least one person from almost each household has emigrated. My son is also gone. He took a gap year at the university and left to work in Poland. We, women living along the dividing line, work. But when we want to sell produce at the Zugdidi market, we are not allowed to take it with us on the municipal bus. We have to hire a taxi. This is how we live here,” says 52-year-old Eliso Shamatava from Khurcha in Georgia, who tells us about the specifics of living along the administrative boundary line.

April 11, 2024 - Manana Kveliashvili

It is time to take the improvement of the Ukraine-EU border seriously

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, the country’s border with the EU, particularly that with Poland, has been in the limelight for reasons both good and bad. While in recent months it mainly attracted attention due to the Polish farmers and freight carriers’ blockade, the overall problems related to the Ukraine-EU border are far more complex and require a more comprehensive set of solutions.

When Polish President Andrzej Duda travelled to Kyiv at the height of Ukraine-Poland relations in May 2022, he talked mostly about Russia’s aggression and the need to enhance cooperation. But he also touched upon another, no less important matter. Namely, that Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine which caused a massive exodus of people during a short period exposed the Ukraine-Poland border’s subpar condition, adding that the border must “unite, not divide”. This statement was warmly greeted in Ukraine, as by then the border had turned into the country’s lifeline, with dozens of hubs created in bordering Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary to quickly process all sorts of critical supplies.

April 11, 2024 - Lesia Dubenko

Defence diplomacy: Ukraine and the Global South

Based on previous experience, strategic communications – including defence diplomacy – are usually built on the principle of the “Five Ms”: messages, messengers, media, mediums and mechanisms. The messages should be tailored carefully to the audience, addressing political narratives, shared historical experiences, socio-psychological aspects, instrumental issues and cultural affairs. Ukraine should come out strong in the messaging and other pillars of this strategy when trying to cooperate with the “Global South” and procure military support.

April 11, 2024 - Omar Ashour

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