"The Parliament of Georgia, taking into consideration the colonial politics of the Russian Empire towards Circassians during the Russian-Caucasian war (1763-1864)..." So starts the draft resolution adopted by the Georgian Parliament in its plenary sitting. So Georgia is going to be the first country in the world to recognize the Circassian genocide. The reason for this recognition, in the words pronounced by the Chairman of the Committee on Diaspora and Caucasus Issues Nugzar Tsiklauri, seems far from being the purest human pity for what happened to Circassians two/one and half century ago: "Georgia and Tbilisi has always been the intellectual as well as political center of the Caucasus region. We would manage to return the leader’s function to Georgia in the region. Now is the moment of great Caucasus solidarity and consensus and solving the above-mentioned issue will contribute to a new political derivation”. (http://www.parliament.ge/index.php?lang_id=ENG&sec_id=63&info_id=31728)
So, if human rights violations have no time and space limits, so has not Georgian ambition, at least at regional level. Not by chance the text of the draft resolution is available in Russian from the web site of the Parliament. Doubtfully Russian is normally the language used for Georgian parliamentary resolutions. The plenary session was held during the same week in which the Russian State Duma lower house was working on a special statement on counteracting terrorism and extremism, after a warning by the Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev about the danger of high-profile terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus, theater of more than 150 terrorist attacks from the beginning of the year. An issue that doesn't need a new alleged hegemonic competition, but - urgently - a limit.
No limits for Armenian-Azeri confrontations. A mass brawl between some members of the two communities, outside Moscow, resulted in one killed, 7 injured (gunshot). Hate knows no territorial limits.
Azerbaijani singers won Eurovision, a highly popular (and highly politicized) competition. So, next year Eurovision will be held in Baku. Speculations have already started about Armenian participation, for such a case.
In the same week Azerbaijan failed to win EU PA appreciation for its HR protections (EU PA resolution, 12 May). The Parliamentary Assembly criticized the repression of the opposition. Among others, Eynulla Fatullayev is still in jail although ECHR has already ruled out the legitimacy of his detention. HR protection/democracy represent the missing ring in the chain of Azerbaijani good relations with OSCE, EU, CoE. Perhaps, not the only ring. YAP party - that is to say the entire ruling elite of the country - complained to OSCE for the allegedly planned settlement of Armenian families in Nagorno-Karabakh. Let's say that HR/democracy are the benchmark for the Government flexibility to meet the international expectation, as much as Nagorno-Karabakh is for Azerbaijan's ones. Frustrated expectations, so far, in both cases. All losers?
Talking about Parliaments, Armenia, and OSCE, it's worthy to recall the meeting between the Special Representative of the OSCE PA on Migration of the Parliament of the Netherlands Kathleen Ferrier and Hovik Abrahamyan, chairman of Armenian National Assembly. The first has to prepare a report on migration in Armenia, this summer. Waiting for the report to be issued, it cannot be forgotten the tragic situation of the losers among losers: Armenian women victim of human trafficking. Some measures were taken in the past, but there's room for improvement to stop this national shame.
And again talking about OSCE and international commitments in South Caucasus, Georgia and its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia hosted the co-Chairs of the Geneva Discussions. Next session will be June the 7th and the UN, OSCE, EU chairmanship travelled to the region for negotiations with the parties. UN chairman, Antti Turunen, has won his battle to have his position, and that of his team, armoured. After months of uncertainty and dire tensions among UN member States (a couple in particular...) his mandate has been fully confirmed. This should legitimize and stabilize the chairmanship. The format of the Geneva Discussions seems itself legitimate and stable, after more than two years of regular sessions. Still, on the 09 May Georgian Prime Minister mentioned a possible "enlargement of the negotiations", during his trip to Istanbul.
"Azerbaijan continues to escalate the situation with its repetitive statements that are below any standards of civilized dialogue", so Serzh Sargsyan on the 4th of May. It's not to hard to find a mirror statement addressed against Armenia in the Azerbaijani press. Allegedly enemies number one are for Armenia Azerbaijan, threatening its peace, for Azerbaijan Armenia, which prevents the first from exercising its sovereignty on Karabakh, for Georgia Russia, which is accused to do the same in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
This is a description of the situations on the ground, undeniably ignoring the role played by Sukhumi, Tskhinvali, Stepanakert. But are really these pieces of territory the source of shortcomings in the exercise of sovereignty? Don't the three countries have a worst internal enemy, which may erode their economic, institutional, political, social, cultural bases to the point of no return, where they fail as States? This enemy doesn't know occupation, boundary lines. It's pervading, hard to stop, it mines the very roots of a modern State. It's called corruption.
Transparency International, in its just released European Neighbourhood Policy: Monitoring Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia anti-corruption commitments 2010, notes that "corruption is a poison to any reform process and is corrosive to efficiency and equality in public and private life" (www.transparency.org/publications/publications/enp_armenia_anticorruption2010, Armenia, p. 7. Following quotations are from the three reports). The reports -Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan- cover three fields: justice, civil service, GRECO commitments. The overall picture is not encouraging, with Georgia doing generally best. For all the three sectors it is analysed how things should be according to the legislation and how they are in practice, displaying how corruption affects rule of law, which itself is the backbone of a modern State. Where rule of law is deficient, its foes gain ground, that is to say privileges and abuses.
And that's how some procedures connected to the work of judges are described in the Armenia Report: "despite some progress in establishing a judiciary school, the appointment and promotion of judges continues in many cases to be based on patronage, kinship and personal contacts rather than on merit. (p.11)" with the foreseeable results that some of them won't be too devoted to the cause of justice. This may be one of the reasons why the justice systems has to face situations like the ones so described: "In many of the observed cases, judges manifested a prosecutorial bias. The report says that the perception that judges “walk hand in hand” with prosecutors undermines the impartiality of judges and the judiciary in general (p.16)", or "cases are very often delayed. The main reason is an expected gain, mainly in the form of a bribe to speed up the trial process. (p.20)"
As for Azerbaijan, its performances are improving. There's an ongoing anti-corruption campaign promoted by the President. Actually, a "campaign" is somehow not the right word to describe what's needed against corruption. A campaign is usually a short time special measure to accomplish a task, meet a deadline, prepare an event. Eradication of corruption needs short, middle and long terms measures, a change of cultural paradigm if not a re-frame of some segment of society.
Georgia's corruption, as emerges from the Report, seems more dependant on politics than strictly on money: "Promotion and rewarding/bonuses are thinly regulated and generally politicized. Political influences is evident when filling newly vacant position after reorganizations.(p. 22)". Political loyalty has a price, and it's where power and corruption meet to ensure continuity to the first. It's the well known process of abuse of its position by the ruling elite, and it's described in the report: "Practical enforcement of the regulations on separating the official state and party duties and activities is problematic. Misuse of administrative resources by the ruling party is consistently documented. State funded events are used for political agitation and high state officials routinely accompany candidates/are present at campaign-related events and meetings, while not on leave, and using state vehicles and security for transportation. (p.23)."
Caucasus Analytical Digest dedicated its last issue (n. 26, 26 April, www.res.ethz.ch/analysis/cad/) to corruption in Georgia. Underling the relevance of the connection between sovereignty and corruption it is stressed that "[...] Saakashvili’s project of building a strong state would not tolerate the existence of corruption that undermines the legitimacy of the ruling regime and works to distort the political system. The key element of Saakashvili’s state building project was fighting corruption [...]" (Alexander Kupatadze, Similar Events, Different Outcomes: Accounting for Diverging Corruption Patterns in Post-Revolution Georgia and Ukraine, p. 3).
Good point, if it's both in laws and in practices.
MA Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures,
BA Degree in International and Diplomatic Sciences,
PhD in Democracy and Human Rights, Political Sciences.
Languages: Italian, English, Russian, Turkish.
Associate Researcher ISPI (Milan), Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, DIRE (Genoa University).
Previous work experience: Political Adviser EU Council;
EUMM Team Leader and Gender Focal Point.
Assistant Professor El Manar University, Tunis