Nagorno-Karabakh’s Hot Political Summer: A Revolution That Didn’t Happen

By Tigran Grigoryan

Editor’s Note: The author’s use of unqualified place names in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is a reflection of his analytical perspective, and does not necessarily represent the official view of EDSN, CSS, or its affiliates.

The velvet revolution in Armenia was a political earthquake which few had anticipated. In less than a fortnight, the popular movement led by Nikol Pashinyan managed to mobilize the overwhelming majority of Armenian society in a dramatic struggle against the autocratic and corrupt regime of Serzh Sargsyan. The movement reached its initial goal on April 23, when Sargsyan announced his resignation. The following two weeks were marked by political instability caused by the reluctance of the ruling regime’s representatives in the Parliament to satisfy the protesters’ demands and elect Nikol Pashinyan the new Prime Minister of Armenia. However, On May 8, the revolutionaries prevailed and Pashinyan became the new leader of the republic.

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Brexit and the Eastern Partnership – opportunities as well as risks?

 

By Alexander Nice

Barring any last-minute drama, the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union in just a few months’ time, on 29th March 2019. Brexit represents a fundamental challenge to the European Union, which will lose its second biggest economy and a critical security actor. It also poses a serious questions over the future of the EU itself. It has shown that the direction of travel for EU states is not foreordained; countries can leave as well as join the bloc; and “ever-closer Union” is not inevitable. Moreover, the concerns that drove the UK to leave the EU –over immigration, sovereignty and democratic control – are not unique to British voters.

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Tulevik ilma e-ta: Eesti roll ELi idapartnerluses

By Emmet Tuohy

Ametlikult, Euroopa Liidu idapartnerluse poliitika sai ametlikult alguse 2009. aastal Praha tippkohtumisel ELi liikmesriikide heakskiitmisega—sealhulgas üks, mille nimi algab E-tähega—ning hõlmab koostöö suurendamist kuue idanaabriga: Armeenia, Aserbaidžaan, Gruusia Moldova, Ukraina ja Valgevene. Continue reading Tulevik ilma e-ta: Eesti roll ELi idapartnerluses

Astroturf or Grass? Civil Society, the EU, and the Eastern Partnership

By Emmet Tuohy

In the post-Communist political philosophy tradition, the concept of “civil society” (an ostensibly flourishing collection of independent organizations freely able to pursue their interests, ranging from activist groups to bird-watching clubs, from academic institutions to bricklayers’ unions) is distinguished from “political society,” i.e., that dominated by the personnel and ideology of the state itself.

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Thirty years of war over Nagorno-Karabakh: what are the challenges for democracy?

By Licínia Simão

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh started in 1988, initially as a political demand by the Karabakh authorities for formal inclusion in the Armenian Socialist Soviet Republic. It rapidly escalated into violent confrontation, as Azerbaijani authorities refused this demand and Moscow proved too absent to manage the contestation. The final days of the USSR were particularly violent in this region of the world and thirty years after the conflict escalated into a violent confrontation there has been no peace and there are no perspectives of a way out of the status quo. Besides the obvious human costs of the war, the permanence of this protracted conflict has had an immense negative impact in the post-Soviet transition of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as of Nagorno-Karabakh. Democratic institutions have been pressured to produce leaderships that have the management of war as their main priority; democratic choices have fallen victim of militarisation; regional partnerships have been skewed to produce alliances and balances of power. In this scenario, what challenges does democracy face in the region, thirty years into this war?

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Helsinki 2.0 – An Old-School Solution to an Old-School Problem?

By Emmet Tuohy

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015, OSCE chairman-in-office Ivica Dačić (then, as now, foreign minister of Serbia) called the agreement a “historic triumph of cooperation over conflict that set the stage for the end of the Cold War.”  In historical context, that is certainly true enough. Yet, even then, given the well-known events in Ukraine the previous year—specifically Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the military intervention in the Donbas region—there was ample cause to prompt a reassessment of the long-term impact of the Helsinki agreements. Former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves argued that the main principle of the Act—that hat state borders cannot be changed by force—was „no longer valid.”  But if the problem is the emergence of a „new Cold War,” then perhaps the Cold War era can be the source of a solution?

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To Sleep, Perchance to Reform: The Continued Relevance of the EU’s Eastern Partnership

By Emmet Tuohy

Much as the related “Ukraine fatigue” pandemic swept Washington in the aftermath of the 2004-05 Orange Revolution, Eastern Partnership (EaP) fatigue is alas an increasingly common illness among many contemporary observers, both within the EU and in the six partner countries. Even in Tallinn—the capital of one of the most enthusiastic and effective supporters of the EaP—one occasionally hears critiques (if more often whispered or off-the-record) that the initiative is “irrelevant” or “ineffective.”  And its showcase event, the biennial Eastern Partnership Summit, was (accurately) described as “low-key” and “aimed at avoid[ing] drama.”  Following Shakespeare’s Danish prince—who was actually, frequent misquoting aside, talking about a rather more final state of repose—are the EaP’s dreams of ever-closer European integration eastward  simply dead?  Or, like Hamlet, has the initiative found a reason to keep going?

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Armenian Dreams of Democracy

By Licínia Simão

The month of April 2018 in Armenia was marked by an unprecedented level of popular mobilization demanding the resignation of Prime-minister Serzh Sargsyan and the end of the corrupt system he enabled as President over the last decade. He announced his resignation on April 23, following 11 days of protests in Yerevan and other major Armenian cities. By May, the “Velvet Revolution” had catapulted to power. Armenia’s case is a clear evidence of the domestic desire for democracy of the societies of the South Caucasus and the steps they are ready to take when these dreams are not fulfilled, neither by their leaders nor international partners. Continue reading Armenian Dreams of Democracy

Baltic Cooperation and its Impact on Conditionality: the Case of Astravets Chance

By Emmet Tuohy

On the level of cooperation among the “B3” countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, progress towards accomplishing concrete and needed goals on energy (as well as transport) infrastructure has lagged badly. Not only has this lack of cooperation hampered each country’s ability to pursue its policies effectively in within Euro-Atlantic institutions, but it also threatens their security in this situation.

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