Sunday, December 16, 2007

Week: 10-16 December: Democracy, one word, different meanings

Countries watch each other, sometimes to protect the interests of fellow citizens there, sometimes as models of democracy.

Russia watched at the Western democracies at the beginning of the ’90, but a rich and well documented article from Kommersant gives a description of Russian democracy, as an adapted one, or even a “russified” one. (

Azerbaijan follows the presidential campaign in Georgia, stressing the fact that, although rather unpopular in large stratus of society, Mikhail Saakašvili is the only candidate who visited the azeri minority (on the 11th he went to Marnueli, promising to the local inhabitants that more means of integration will be given).
And talking about azeri democracy, it is described as “decorative democracy”, not even that “controlled democracy” in which Western partners had hopes. The critics are raised in reference to the high number of political prisoners in the country, up to 72, and to the fact that OSCE, the organization mostly in charge of promoting democracy in the area, should be more demanding towards a CoE permanent member as Azerbaijan. By the way, the azeri delegation at PACE is supporting the Russian candidate to its presidency, and it doesn’t sound very encouraging to the azeri opposition.

In Armenia, another independent journalist, Levon Sardaryan, of H2, was fired. Public tv is dedicating 80% of its electoral coverage to the Prime Minister Sargsyan’s campaign (source: Yerevan Press Club). Is it a kind of “pre-electoral democracy”?
The main opposition candidate, Levon Ter-Petrosyan is often claimed to be supported by Turkish press, used as a mean of anti-propaganda against him.

And mentioning Turkey, what about its democracy? What does the Ak Partiyası mean to many not-Muslim voters, and what is its role in the process of democratization of the country? An intriguing article by Ilnur Cevik, on the English-language newspaper The New Anatolian, challenges many western (conflict-of-civilizations-led?) common senses… (

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