Ivanshvili Returns After Never Really Leaving

By Lincoln Mitchell

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to return to a formal role as Chair of the Georgian Dream (GD) is more interesting for its timing than for the action itself. Ivanishvili, despite his protestations to the contrary, has never fully removed himself from Georgian political life since stepping down as Prime Minister in November of 2013. Over the last four and a half years his role has diminished somewhat, but major Georgian Dream, and government, decisions are rarely made without his input.

Continue reading Ivanshvili Returns After Never Really Leaving

Georgia’s European Integration, Ethnic Minorities, and Russian Propaganda

By Levan Kakhishvili

Support for the European Union in Georgia is surprisingly high. When Georgia was granted a visa-free travel to the Schengen area, former British Ambassador to Georgia Alexandra Hall Hall wrote: “While this [visa-free travel] is a landmark achievement for Georgia, counterintuitively, in some respects it is a bigger deal for the EU.” The logic behind this statement is that against the background of Brexit, Georgia celebrating a “small step” on its path to Europeanization is a heartening sign that “the post-Cold War ideal of a Europe ‘whole, free, and at peace’” was still alive.

Continue reading Georgia’s European Integration, Ethnic Minorities, and Russian Propaganda

Azerbaijan’s New Law on Status of Armed Forces: Changes and Implications

By Zaur Shiriyev

A draft law on the “Status of the Armed Forces” was introduced by the Parliamentary Committee on Defense, Security and Anti-Corruption in mid-November, and on 1 December it was heard by Parliament. The amendments were adopted upon a second hearing with a majority vote on 15 December. The issue was first on the agenda back in 2012 and 2013, when it was announced that the Parliament Committee on Defense, Security and Anti-Corruption would introduce a new law on the Status of Armed Forces and Other Armed Units. However, clearly, the law only happened recently.

Continue reading Azerbaijan’s New Law on Status of Armed Forces: Changes and Implications

The Elections and Kyrgyz-Kazakh Complications

By Shairbek Juraev

Can an exercise of democratic elections jeopardize a nation’s foreign relations? Not necessarily, but when combined with the non-democratic exercise of foreign policy, it probably can. The 2017 presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan, much praised as a rare case of peaceful power transfer from one elected leader to another in Central Asia, has also gained prominence for its major foreign policy implications.

Continue reading The Elections and Kyrgyz-Kazakh Complications

What Dreams May Come for Those that Dream of Europe

By Yaroslava Babych

If four years ago, someone suggested that a relatively small student protest camp in Ukraine, violently dispersed overnight by police , would have a profound influence on European history, many would simply laugh at the thought. For many years, EU policymakers have been walking a tightrope between integrating neighboring countries into its institutional orbit and keeping said neighbors at arm’s length, making sure that these countries do not actually “become” Europe in the full sense of the word.

Continue reading What Dreams May Come for Those that Dream of Europe

The Ballad of Misha and Petro

By Lincoln Mitchell

The latest verse in the ballad of Misha and Petro may be the strangest one yet. The former Georgian President, Misha Saakashvili, and current Ukrainian President, Petro Poroschenko, were friends from their student days. When Poroschenko was first elected President of Ukraine in 2014, it was seen as logical that he appointed Saakashvili first as a senior advisor and then later governor of Odessa.

Continue reading The Ballad of Misha and Petro

EVENT: Youth Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in Eurasia

Licinia Simão, an Assistant Professor at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and an EDSN Fellow, is hosting an interesting event at the University of Coimbra in the framework of the the EDSN project.

The event, Youth Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in Eurasia, will feature a moderated dialogue among and between international relations students at Coimbra with the participation of Georgian Ambassador to Portgual Revaz Beshidze.

Continue reading EVENT: Youth Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in Eurasia

POLICY BRIEFING: Does Democracy Still Matter in Georgia?

By Lincoln Mitchell

More than a quarter of century after once again achieving independence, fourteen years after the Rose Revolution, and five years after the democratic breakthrough that defeated the United National Movement (UNM), the state of democracy in Georgia is still mixed.

Continue reading POLICY BRIEFING: Does Democracy Still Matter in Georgia?

The Challenge of Moving EU-Georgia Relations Forward

By Licinia Simao

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit on 24 November in Brussels, represents another important milestone in Georgia’s path of European integration. After having signed an Association Agreement with the European Union that entered into force in July 2016, and having been granted visa free status, Georgia is now looking forward to seeing its position as a frontrunner in the EaP community confirmed by the EU leadership. The current challenge for the EU is to find ways to maintain Georgia committed to the agreed reforms in the absence of significant new political incentives.

Continue reading The Challenge of Moving EU-Georgia Relations Forward