On April 21, Ukraine held the second round of presidential elections where Ukrainian citizens had to choose between the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko and the popular comedian-turned-politician Volodymyr Zelenskiy. With 73 percentof the vote, Zelenskiy secured a landslide victory across an absolute majority of Ukrainian regions. Zelenskiy is widely believed to reflect the voices of so-called “protest voters” – those who are dissatisfied with the way the state, from the economy to the public sector, is performing. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose political and ideological preferences remained intentionally vague, rode in on a wave of public dissatisfaction with incumbent President Petro Poroshenko. He offered himself as an anti-system alternative – honest and unstained by political experience. Although he is allegedly supported by powerful Ukrainian oligarch and Poroshenko’s arch-rival Igor Kolomoisky, Ukrainian voters obviously believed that Zelenskiy was the lesser of two evils.Continue reading Zelenskiy faces tough choices amidst high expectations
The Eurasia Democratic Security Network (EDSN), a project by the Center for Social Sciences with the generous funding of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is seeking applicants for its 2019-20 Research and Policy Fellowship.Continue reading Call for Applications: EDSN Fellowship 2019-20
By Mihai Popsoi
In international circles, Moldova is frequently described as a country torn between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic West, where the push-pull of geopolitical competition is the defining feature of national policy and politics. Yet, while geopolitics may fill the headlines and fuel sombre discussions in Western capitals, the flawed recent elections in Moldova reveal a simpler truth: that political expediency and corruption often wins over strategic and geopolitical orientation.Continue reading When corruption trumps geopolitics: lessons from the Moldovan election
By Dr. Karena Avedissian
For Armenia, a Russian ally, a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and once regarded as increasingly autocratic, the 2018 Velvet Revolution was a remarkable achievement.Continue reading Armenia is a Russian ally and EEU member, so how did it pull off a democratic revolution?
Amidst the war in its eastern regions with Russia-backed militants, Ukraine is struggling to maintain the functionality of the state. The ongoing reform of its diplomatic service is intended to make its foreign policy more efficient and fit for the purpose of keeping Ukraine on the international agenda and securing the cohesion of the West against revisionist Russia, an issue commonly linked to the survival of the state. This reform is not an easy endeavor, though, the problem of the public sector’s unhealthy performance is a truism casually referred to in the country. With the adoption of the long-awaited law on diplomatic service in June 2018, the situation in the diplomatic realm in Ukraine might be changing for the better.Continue reading Keeping Pace: Ukraine’s Foreign Service Reforms
After the democratic revolution in Armenia and the peaceful transition of power to the current government of Nikol Pashinian, regional experts and international observers have expressed cautious optimism about the prospects for progress in Karabakh peace talks. While many of the signs are encouraging, and represent a welcome change from the region’s more typical foreboding, the underlying dynamics of the conflict remain unchanged—along with the extended spectre of war.Continue reading COMMENT: Imitation Game – the theatre and risks of the Karabakh peace process
Turkey’s foreign and regional security policies have been deeply affected by the Syrian crisis for at least the past seven years. Different dimensions of the crisis and the spillover effects in Turkey (refugees, terrorist attacks, foreign terrorist fighters, etc.) have raised questions and concerns about the country’s approach to regional security. For years, Turkey’s Syria policy has been dominated by the idea of playing an active role in Middle East politics.Continue reading POLICY BRIEFING: How Turkey’s Initial Response to the Syria Conflict Weakened Security Governance
By Mihai Popsoi
After having visited Georgia several times since my first visit in 2016, I am in awe with the sheer splendor of the country’s booming new architectural landmarks. The controversial former president Mihail Saakashvili undeniably left a mark by embarking on a rapid modernization process that entailed drastic anti-corruption reforms as well as large investments in infrastructure. All over Georgia one can see the glass monuments to transparency, accountability and revival starting from the new offices of the Legislature, Presidency, Courts, Police Stations etc. One can discuss the aesthetics and the architectural value of the new edifices, but their symbolic importance for the young and ambitious country is unquestionable. Meanwhile, in stark contrast, Moldova has struggled for almost five years to renovate its parliament and failed to renovate the presidential office for almost a decade following the riots of April 2009. The Moldovan President Igor Dodon had to ask the Turkish President Erdogan not just to rebuild the Presidential Office, but also pay for the furniture.Continue reading What can Moldova Learn from Georgia?
Being primarily an issue of foreign policy, the local dimension of the counter-recognition policy has remained rather overlooked. How ordinary Georgian citizens react to new external contacts of Abkhazia might be meaningless for the big picture, but it sheds light to the sentiments of societies living on both sides of the division line.Continue reading Mobilizing Emojis: The HAHA Campaign to Counter the Recognition of Abkhazia
By Dr. Karena Avedissian
For Armenia, a country that is a member state of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and was widely perceived as slowly slipping into autocracy, the Velvet Revolution was a remarkable achievement.