Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week 10/16 March: Virtual reality

Facts&words. Sometimes words used to make reality look different.

In Armenia the lift of few points of the decree on state of emergency (political association and broadcasting of “some” news), virtually, softened the hardship of the post 1st March atmosphere. Serge Sargsyan opened a direct line through internet to communicate with his citizens, which is probably the first politically sophisticated move after many primitive ones, like the crude remark by President Kocharyan to the Civic Mediator, to remind him he’s working for Yerevan and not for Strasbourg.
In practice, everything seems to stand still. Less than one week to the expiring of the state of emergency and no political compromise in sight. Moreover, arrests are going on, and the official list counts already at least 96 detentions for tentative to overthrow the government and connected crimes.
It’s hard to guess how the society of Yerevan elaborated in the last two weeks what had happened. Under the condition of the impossibility to hold a public and open debate about the clashes, any kind of rumor was spread, from the number of deaths on, in a city where everybody found out to have a friend-of-a-friend who works in this-and-that-hospital and saw personally #-protesters-dying…As it is well known that people can be prevented from talking, but not from chatting, and all these doubts may increase the depth of the worse scare on the skin of the Armenian electorate. It could probably be partially cured with a clear and independent investigation, involving all the parts and international observers. Very unlikely, since, reading between the lines, the answer to any potential critic about the not-proportionate methods adopted to keep the situation under control will be “not a political will, but a lack of preparation”, thus more investments for security forces.

In Georgia the hunger strike of the eight opposition parties is continuing. Already six persons had to be hospitalized. Popular participation cannot be compared to what it was after the elections, it’s quite hard to keep a mass mobilized for long. So, claims from both the sides, but no decisive steps. The contested constitutional amendment about the 75 majoritarian seats passed, the margin of political action is restricted, if not for such demonstrative acts. Although well organized, is it a way out?
And talking about deadlocks, the verbal struggle that dominated the entire week is the one about the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The 13th the lower chamber of the State Duma held a hearing, not a public one, about controversial borders disputes within the CIS. The representatives of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia stressed the fact that it has many more requisites than Kosovo/a to be recognized, as, allegedly, it was artificially joined to Georgia under Stalin and it had already claimed its independence before Georgia was recognized as an independent State and entered the UN.
The result is not a binding resolution of the State Duma, but a recommendation to the Government to consider opening not embassies, but diplomatic representations in Abkhazia, South Ossezia and Transdnestria. Not an official recognition, but a sort of “Taiwan way”, which will enable to strengthen the economical and political linkage. And allow to keep playing the card of potential recognition against Georgia, if it keeps insisting on its NATO aspiration. And, back to words&deeds, after so many declarations of Tbilisi about the excellent prospects of membership, a cold shower came from Germany, first, than from France, Greece, Italy, Norway and Spain, unwilling to expand NATO Membership Action Plan.

Nagorno Karabakh (virtually Azerbaijan…), as well, states that it meets more requisites of statehood than Kosova: it doesn’t need peacekeepers to guard its own borders, its governance bodies are working, it holds regular elections and exercise fully sovereignty from more than 14 years. Azeris don’t miss the chance to underline that it is –indeed- exercising sovereignty, but till Yerevan.
But the only fact than marked a change in its position is a new UN Resolution, voted under the pressure of the Azeri delegation, which recognizes again the right to territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It is worthy to be mentioned that the troika of the Minsk Group, US, France and Russia didn’t support the resolution, considering it a wrong step on the way to the normalization of the situation. Georgia and Moldova voted for the resolution, as territorial integrity is a very sensitive issue for them, too.
Finally, talking about normalization, is it normal for a journalist to be beaten in February and stabbed in March? Agil Khalil, correspondent of Azadliq, was assaulted in the same days when talks are kept to reform the electoral code, with the aim to hold free and fair elections.

Virtual, but not virtuous, realities.

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