Dear Caucasus Edition Readers,
We are pleased to present the November Quarterly Issue. The issue focuses on the impact of conflict on social, political, and economic development in the South Caucasus region. It is no secret that armed conflict – ongoing or “frozen” – can seriously stunt development and progress. It precludes regional cooperation in the economic and security spheres. It detracts precious resources from important initiatives such as improving education and health systems and addressing unemployment and toward ever-increasing military expenditures that fuel dangerous arms races. It hampers democratic development and empowers autocratic rule, which strengthens its grip on power based on fear of “the other”. It forces millions from their homes, who are often unable to return or integrate. It instills fear and hatred in the younger generations, thus ensuring the vicious cycle of conflict for decades to come. The authors of the November Issue explore some of these themes and provide recommendations on how the South Caucasus region can begin freeing itself from the grip of destructive conflict.
Laurence Broers provides a stark analysis of the risks associated with maintaining the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict status quo. He discusses the damaging impact of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on democratic processes in Azerbaijan and Armenia, including deteriorating state-society relations and lack of political pluralism. While acknowledging the meagerness of options on moving forward, he nevertheless provides realistic recommendations on how the Azerbaijani and Armenian governments can seize the “low-hanging fruits” in normalizing the relations and inching away from the hair-trigger tension that can easily lead to an “accidental” war.
Narek Samsonyan analyzes the effects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on regional security, democratization, and economic development and notes that while a peaceful resolution is in the best interest of parties involved, it contradicts the interests of regional hegemons such as Russia. He emphasizes that finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict will facilitate democratization in Armenia and Azerbaijan, while also acknowledging that democratically-oriented governments that represent the interests of their people are more likely to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Fuad Aliyev explores the role of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Internet freedom and Internet infrastructure development. While acknowledging the violations of Internet freedom both in Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as increasing crackdown on online activism particularly by the Azerbaijani government, he points to a positive development: The fierce competition between the conflicting countries in the sphere of information and technology has resulted in fairly developed Internet infrastructure that is widely accessible to many in Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Finally, Lilia Chikhladze brings a Georgian perspective to the issue, discussing the social and economic implications of the 1990s conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and, more recently, the 2008 August War. She focuses particularly on the plight of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia, discussing the obstacles of their economic, political, and social integration into the Georgian society. She acknowledges the economic toll that the influx of IDPs has had on the Georgian economy, while noting that the inadequate response of the Georgian government to the crisis has resulted in instances of human rights violations of IDPs. She concludes her analysis with recommendations to the Georgian government and international community on how to better address the needs of IDPs and facilitate their integration.
We hope you enjoy this issue!
Caucasus Edition Editors
Analysis - Nov 1, 2013 0:13 - 0 Comments
Since the conflicts of the1990s and 2008 August War, Georgia has experienced a high influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), which has further complicated the country’s economic and social problems. Conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia during the 1990s have caused around 236,000 people to become internally displaced. Later, due to the 2008 August War, 17,000 people had to flee from their homes. Moreover, there are “3,000 people who have been displaced more than once” (IDMC, 2012, pg 3). As a result, there are 265,109 IDPs registered as of April 2012,largely concentrated in the capital (98, 550) and western part of Georgia (89,538 in Samegrelo region and 25, 539 in Imereti region) (IDP Figures, MRA).
There are different social and economic problems that IDPs face in Georgia – most notably obstacles to resettlement, unfavorable living conditions, high unemployment rates, and lack of awareness of IDP issues among the population at large. The Government of Georgia has taken steps to address some of these issues, but implementation is still lacking. In 2007, the Government of Georgia adopted the State Strategy for IDPs which focused on achieving two main goals: creation of conditions for the dignified and safe return of IDPs and support decent living conditions for the displaced population and their participation in society (GoG, 2 February, 2007). Later, in 2012 the government introduced an action plan for the implementation of the State Strategy on IDPs 2012-2014, which focuses on socio-economic integration of IDPs by providing durable solutions to the housing problems, reducing dependency on the State and integration of vulnerable IDPs into the state social assistance programs.
Although the government has started the resettlement process, there are many obstacles related to resettlement. The most problematic issue is that resettleme . . . Read More
Analysis - Nov 1, 2013 0:12 - 0 Comments
The unbearable starkness of choices: What lies between solution and resumption of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict?
The risk of neglect and the neglect of risk
Although the lack of ongoing headline news about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict for Nagorny Karabakh (NK) means that it is rarely remembered or talked about, those closely watching it seem to share a rising sense of urgency. Next year it will be 20 years since the ceasefire; in the intervening period, although we have seen five different peace proposals and some near-misses for the peace process, the overall picture is one of entrenchment, increasing militarization and contagion of the conflict’s effects across all spheres of political life in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia and the Armenians of NK, victors of the three-year war in 1991-94, are committed to the status quo; in a commanding defensive position, they also occupy wide swathes of Azerbaijani territory beyond that originally under dispute. Territories once seen as chips to trade in a bargaining game have increasingly come to be portrayed and understood as organic – hence non-negotiable – Armenian lands. Letting go of them becomes more difficult with each passing day, yet holding onto them is also an affirmation of the use of force and the spoils of war, and undermines Armenian claims on other conflict issues.
Azerbaijan is the revisionist challenger seeking to change the status quo, transformed over the last five years by Caspian petrodollars into a wealthy regional hub, and the driver of an arms race to which it is committed to spending $4 billion a year. Belligerent rhetoric and military display have become part of the public face of the Aliyev regime, closing off space for non-violent alternatives. To this day, no one knows what “the highest level of autonomy in the world” promised to Karabakh Armenians means; the only reference point is the Soviet-era Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, taking us back twenty . . . Read More
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who . . .Read More
by Arzu Geybullayeva
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30 November 2013
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