Crisis in Abkhazia: What You Need to Know

Tornike Zurabashvili is a former editor of Civil.ge and a fellow at the Eurasia Democratic Security Network (EDSN).


The past few months have been eventful in Abkhazia, a region of about 200,000 inhabitants located on the north-western edge of Georgia, and controlled – militarily, politically and economically – by the Russian Federation.

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The Ghost of National Movements Past

By the Eurasia Democratic Security Network 
March 17, 2020

Vano Merabishvili was surprisingly energetic when he emerged from prison in February. The 51-year-old had been behind bars since 2013, put away for abuses of power allegedly committed between 2004 and 2012. Georgia’s former minister of interior and prime minister, he looked pale and had dark circles around his eyes. Nonetheless, he radiated defiance, declaring the intention to “keep fighting in order to remove this regime [the ruling Georgian Dream government] this year.”

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Should revolution reach the Constitutional Court? Armenians will decide on April 5…

By Armen Grigoryan

On 6 February, an extraordinary session of the National Assembly of Armenia approved a referendum on amending the Article 213 of the Constitution. The decision was approved by 88 votes, including the ruling My Step coalition and the only independent MP, Arman Babajanyan. The Bright Armenia faction’s 15 present members voted against, while the 25-member Prosperous Armenia faction did not vote. The latter’s abstention also made it impossible to appeal the decision at the Constitutional Court, as petitions to overrule the parliament’s decision require signatures of one-fifth of 132 MPs. The referendum is scheduled to take place on 5 April; the required participation number is about 26 percent less than the number of votes received by My Step at the snap parliamentary elections in December 2018, and a simple majority of votes in favour would suffice to adopt the proposed amendment.

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A Year in Review: Armenian Government Hampered by Path Dependence

By Armen Grigoryan

In 2019, Armenia’s economic situation markedly improved, registering GDP growth of 6.5 percent, a stable financial system, upgraded credit ratings, higher budget revenues and reduced public debt (Emerging Europe, December 30, 2019). According to a poll conducted in September and October by the International Republican Institute (IRI), 28 percent of citizens noted a significant improvement in their households’ financial situation, compared to 17 percent in 2018, although the majority of respondents saw no change for the better. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government remains popular, with 70 percent of the population feeling optimistic about the country’s future and expressing satisfaction with the government’s anti-corruption campaign. But on the other hand, the proportion of respondents emphasizing socio-economic issues and the need for job creation has increased significantly in comparison with previous polls from October 2018 and May 2019; and 82 percent of respondents consider judicial reform a priority (Iri.org, December 9, 2019).

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Armenia’s Post-Revolutionary Government Seeks to Speed up Reform

By Armen Grigoryan

A year after winning a two-thirds majority at the snap parliamentary elections, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has acknowledged flaws in the government’s previous approach to the reform process, admitting that some essential reforms have practically been stalled. Pashinyan continually enjoys a considerably high level of public support, and needs to take decisive steps towards more drastic reforms, possibly by mobilizing support from different groups that welcomed the “Velvet Revolution” and the wider expert community.

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State Capture by Means of Constitution: Armenian and Hungarian Cases

By Armen Grigoryan

Introduction

In 2012, when President Serzh Sargsyan suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary after the extradition of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan, most Armenians’ perception that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself played an important, if not decisive role in the unfortunate decision to extradite the notorious axe-murderer, was quite accurate. It is a bit ironic that Orbán’s certain actions have become a reference point for some Armenian political actors connected to the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).

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Tsnelisi-Chorchana Crisis: Facts, Details and Chronology

By Tornike Zurabashvili

The decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to set up an observation post between the village of Chorchana in the Khashuri municipality and the village of Tsnelisi in the Russian-held Tskhinvali Region/ South Ossetia in August 2019 caused weeks of crisis at the occupation line. The situation did not escalate into an open confrontation but the high concentration of armed security actors significantly deteriorated the security environment on the ground.

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Tearing apart: what drives political polarisation in Georgia?

Lessons learnt from the 2018 Presidential elections

By Tornike Zurabashvili

Tornike Zurabashvili is an independent political analyst based in Tbilisi, Georgia. From December 2016 through June 2019, he edited Civil.ge, Georgia’s leading English-language daily news and analytical platform. He is currently a fellow at the Eurasia Democratic Security Network.

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Running out of steam: Georgian politics after the May 2019 elections

By Max Fras

Local mayoral by-elections and parliamentary by-elections in May and June 2019, Georgia’s last electoral test before the 2020 parliamentary elections, signal a turbulent year ahead for Georgian politics and society. Although the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party won throughout, the elections revealed that both GD and opposition parties are struggling to present a meaningful offering to the electorate, whilst stuck in a pattern of path dependency, relying on the same style of political competition since United National Movement’s departure from power in 2012-2013.

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