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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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

Henry Kissinger’s legacy and European geopolitics

With its assertiveness, Russia persistently pursues its unjustifiable goals through various means, reminiscent of Henry Kissinger's theories on power politics. However, despite great effort, Russia's track record of significant victories on the battlefield remains lacking. This presents an opportune moment for Europe and the broader western world to assert their dominance.

On November 29th 2023, a brilliant statesman, celebrity diplomat, exponent of power politics and influential scholar passed away at his home in Connecticut. Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, had advised dozens of policymakers during his outstanding long career. His legacy is assessed on a rather bittersweet note due to Kissinger’s realpolitik style of understanding global affairs. The notorious Nobel Peace Prize winner remains a controversial figure in rethinking power and strategy in philosophical and even existential terms.

April 11, 2024 - Erekle Iantbelidze

Another Russia is possible

When Putin is finally gone, a majority of the elite and population will want Russia to return to Europe. Europe should facilitate that. There is a massive generational shift currently underway in Russia. These people are open to the outside world, western culture and are independent of the Russian state and Soviet ideology. That shift is closer than people think and the world needs to be ready. That is where the next battle will take place and it is one the West could lose.

On an alcohol-fuelled Zoom catch up, my friends and I put the world to rights. The usual suspects came up: sports, holidays, our kids, women and politics. Before we knew it, the conversation turned to the elephant in the room: the war. Eyebrows were raised, deep breaths exhaled and shoulders shrugged. A couple of heads were scratched. What more can we say? How much guilt should we feel for something we did not personally choose, support or want? We abruptly moved on, but exactly one week later Russian forces recaptured Avdiivka. They had the wind in their backs.

April 11, 2024 - Jesse Sokolov

A super elections year: Romania’s 2024 political landscape

This year Romanians will experience an unprecedented four elections: local, European, presidential and parliamentary. The ruling mainstream parties have already demonstrated their joint strategy to curb the rise of populist and extremist parties. How the society will vote in this marathon of democracy remains unknown.

Romania has never had four rounds of elections in a single year. However, 2024 brings them all: European, local, presidential and parliamentary. Over the past year, there have been discussions about the possibility of merging some of them, especially European and local elections. Yet, until recently, the political calculations within the governing coalition did not favour this option as a means of simplifying the electoral calendar.

April 11, 2024 - Eugen Stancu

The double murder that traumatized North Macedonia

Two recent disappeared person cases in North Macedonia could not have looked more different at first glance. However, further investigations have brought to light connections to an obscure pro-Russian network in the country. Such a shocking turn of events only further shows Moscow’s influence during a time of heightened uncertainty across the region.

North Macedonia, a nation with a rich history and vibrant culture, has, unfortunately, experienced its fair share of distressing incidents, including public shootings, criminal clashes, and cases of femicide over the years. But rarely has Macedonian society been so shaken to its very core as after the double murder of Vanja Gjorchevska, a 14-year-old teenager from Skopje, and Pance Zhezhovski, a 74-year-old retired barber from the town of Veles. What makes this crime particularly horrifying is the unprecedented cruelty inflicted upon a minor and an elderly citizen.

April 11, 2024 - Jovan Gjorgovski

The rise of the pro-Putin Revival party in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian far-right Revival presents themselves as “the only patriotic party” in Bulgaria. However, a review of their public discourse uncovers a rather disturbing fabric of their patriotism – a strange mix of anti-NATO rhetoric, unrefined populism, xenophobia, and profanity. Their sudden electoral success raises many suspicions.

From an underdog with merely 37,896 votes in the 2017 parliamentary election, Bulgaria’s Revival party (Vazrazhdane) has managed to gain 358,174 votes in the 2023 election and to secure itself 37 seats in the country’s 240-seat parliament. Its meteoritic rise is often used as an argument justifying the shameful union between the reformists (PPDB) and the establishment (GERB; DPS) in Bulgaria which, in turn, resulted in the election of Nikolay Denkov’s government in 2023. The marriage of convenience between PPDB, GERB, and DPS, which emerged in 2023, is presented as a Euro-Atlantic micro alliance protecting Bulgaria from the malicious influence of Vladimir Putin’s circles allegedly channelled by Revival – an account that feeds into the current dominant geopolitical narrative.

April 11, 2024 - Radosveta Vassileva

Empire or democracy

Democracy and imperialism are mutually exclusive. No empire was, is or can be democratic. The British Empire was not, the imperial People’s Republic of China is not, nor will imperial Russia become a democracy, even when a self-professed democrat is installed at its helm. The necessary precondition of democratization in an empire is decolonization.

In February 2024, the death (or rather, extrajudicial killing) of the leading Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sent shock waves across the democratic world. It could have been a subdued affair, as in the case of the Chinese 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Beijing arrested him on trumped up charges in 2008 and withheld medical care, leading to the dissident’s premature death in 2017. The Chinese authorities did not want to turn Liu Xiaobo into a martyr for democracy. Hence, he was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. No grave means no pilgrimage site.

April 11, 2024 - Tomasz Kamusella

The Orthodox churches still think in imperial terms

An interview with Cyril Hovorun, a professor of philosophy at University College Stockholm. Interviewer: Vazha Tavberidze.

VAZHA TAVBERIDZE: I have read your essay published in 2015, titled “Christian duty in Ukraine”. I wanted to ask, nine years later, what is the duty of a Christian when it comes to Ukraine?

CYRIL HOVORUN: I think that duty stems from the Gospel, from the words of Jesus. Everything that Russia does actually violates all ten commandments, which are basic for all monotheistic religions, but particularly for Christianity.

April 11, 2024 - Cyril Hovorun Vazha Tavberidze

Winter is a constant struggle for survival. On the Avdiivka front, the challenges faced by Ukrainian paramedics in the cold

The second winter of Russia’s war against Ukraine is much harsher than the last, with temperatures sometimes nearing minus 20 degrees centigrade. Yet, the low temperatures do not change the intensity of the combat. The Russians waited for the deep cold and the ground to solidify to launch new offensives, including in Avdiivka, where volunteer combat medics attempt to evacuate and save the lives of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

In Donetsk Oblast, the purplish-blue flashing lights of an armoured 4x4 turned ambulance tear through the thickness of the night. On the battered asphalt, fires sketch reddish stains. Fog covers the ground, and Oleh Kyrsa, 32, the ambulance driver, presses on the accelerator. The night is calm and the vehicle, noiselessly, makes its way up the M030 road connecting the Bakhmut sector to the city of Sloviansk. Earlier in the day, Ukrainian forces had stopped a new Russian assault. "It's just another day," Oleh smiles, without taking his eyes off the road.

April 11, 2024 - Joseph Roche

Who are the Russians fighting on the side of Ukraine

After Russia invaded Ukraine, around a million Russians left the country and moved abroad, fearing mobilization or in protest against the war. While most of the new exiles are involved in different types of political or social activism, a small minority has decided to take up arms against their own people. They have organized into battalions fighting on the side of Ukraine.

In mid-March this year, Russians in the Belgorod and Kursk regions took to the polls to vote for their president to the tune of shots and explosions. Just days before the election, the two regions bordering Ukraine fell under relentless attack from Ukraine-based Russian military units. This was the third time that Russian citizens fighting under the command of GUR – Ukraine’s military intelligence unit – had made an incursion into their homeland following the Bryansk and Belgorod raids in March and May last year, respectively.

April 11, 2024 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

Minority communities and their future in Ukraine – the case of Roma

Today, all of Ukraine’s communities are fighting to protect the country from Russian aggression. This includes the Roma, an ethnic group that faces particular challenges in relation to their place in society. The integration of Roma, both now and after the end of the war, will be a key test regarding the success of a new Ukraine.

Ukraine is home to more than 100 national minorities and communities. Members of these communities are victims of Russia’s full-scale aggression just as much as the members of the majority population. The communities in Ukraine also participate in defending Ukraine against the Russian aggressors. Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Hungarians, Roma, Koreans, Romanians, Moldavians, and individuals from various other communities are fighting on the frontline. They often stand together with Jews and Muslims, who are defending the country alongside their Christian and Atheist neighbours.

April 11, 2024 - Natali Tomenko Stephan Müller Volodomyr Yakovenko

Murivat Beknazarov’s art as memory

: The collapse of the Soviet Union meant more than just the fall of a government. For many, it also brought about the end of a way of life. This includes the artist Murivat Beknazarov, who through his work fought to defend the memories of Soviet Tajikistan’s unique cultural life.

When I went to meet Murivat Beknazarov in his studio in Dushanbe for the first time, on a warm autumn day in 2018, he explained to me the location by phone. Since street names are rarely known due to frequent renaming, he told me to find the so-called “artists’ house” in the north of the city. “Just ask around, everyone knows this place,” he said. That was probably the case in Soviet times, but not anymore. As it turned out, no one knew where this place was, not even people living in neighbouring buildings.

April 11, 2024 - Karolina Kluczewska

Serbian director finds way to confront dark past

Serbian film director Vladimir Perišić seems perfectly content belonging to a tradition of cinema that operates outside of the mainstream. There are no big budgets or huge audiences. But he is okay with that and can still find a cult audience across Europe that appreciates his work. “I like to work with small crews and non-actors and being in this marginal position allows me to have this artistic freedom,” he admits.

Vladimir Perišić is not intentionally trying to sound like Vladimir Putin. But the Serbian director is deadly serious when he says that “the break-up of Yugoslavia was a huge historical mistake.” He claims the six ex-Yugoslav republics – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (including the regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina) – are today “all obsessed with their national histories, most of which are a total fantasy”.

April 11, 2024 - J P O’ Malley

Through empathy you also become a witness

An interview with Marianna Kiyanovska, Ukrainian poet and translator. Interviewers: Kinga Anna Gajda and Iwona Reichardt

KINGA ANNA GAJDA: In your collection of poems The Voices of Babyn Yar you speak about the Holocaust through the voices of those who witnessed this atrocity. Your poems are not a one-person narrative but a polyphony of the different voices of witnesses who talk about what happened during the Second World War. That perspective is understandable. However, now Ukraine is again in a state of war and you and your loved ones are the witnesses to the crimes and destruction. What does this experience mean to you and how is it reflected in your poetry?

MARIANNA KIYANOVSKA: It is a very complicated experience. To answer this question, I need to refer to my book, titled in Ukrainian Блискавка зустрічає воду і вітер, which could be translated into English as The lightning meets water and wind. This collection of poems was published in Ukraine in 2023 and is in a sense a continuation of The Voices of Babyn Yar.

April 11, 2024 - Iwona Reichardt Kinga Gajda Marianna Kiyanovska

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