In Georgia’s recent local elections, Kakha Kaladze won handily in his bid to become Tbilisi’s mayor. As the nominee of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Kaladze was the strong favorite in an election where the ultimate outcome was never really in doubt. Perhaps understandably, the international media has not paid much attention to Kaladze’s victory — which is essentially a minor story in the global context — except to note that Tbilisi’s new mayor was once a football star. Headlines at ESPN (“Ex-AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze elected mayor of Georgia capital Tbilisi”), the BBC’s sports section (“Kakha Kaladze: Ex-AC Milan defender elected Tbilisi mayor”), and Reuters (“Former Soccer Star Kaladze Becomes Mayor of Georgia’s Capital”) are all examples of this.
by Michael Cecire
With November’s fifth Eastern Partnership (Eap) summit in Brussels looming, the once-ambitious EU platform looks to be taking a back-to-basics approach towards its eastern neighbors. Launched in 2009 as a mechanism of calibrating the European aspirations — latent or overt — of Armenia Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, the EaP has seen its star fade over the years as the conceptual frontiers of realistic integration were truncated as European appetites for expansion waned. It was almost as though breakthroughs by EaP states inversely (and adversely) impacted the platform’s sense of mission and ambition.
Over the last few years, the issue of Russian so-called “hybrid warfare” — and Moscow’s deft, if nefarious, use misinformation and media more generally — have been a central theme in global politics. This narrative found widespread traction in earnest with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and accelerating substantially with the ongoing revelations of Moscow’s role in the US election of 2016. In Georgia, much of this began earlier, going back at least to the 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.
On October 15, Kyrgyzstan is holding presidential elections. These elections are being widely hailed as particularly momentous for Kyrgyzstan (and Central Asia), where incumbent is observing term limits and standing down amid fierce competition from presidential hopefuls. In the days ahead of the vote, however, it remains uncertain whether the Kyrgyz president indeed intends for the elections to be special. While belligerent and active on election-related issues, he has not addressed one hypothetical, but important, question — whether or not he is ready to accept the very real possibility that his hand-picked candidate may be defeated.
On 22-23 July 2017, the first introductory meeting of the EDSN fellows was held at the Borjomi Rixos Hotel in Borjomi, Georgia. EDSN fellows and project leaders gathered to kick off the fellowship, bond amid Borjomi’s highland beauty, and, most importantly, discuss critical issues of democracy, security, and conditionality in Eurasia.