Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 2-8 May: The internal enemy

"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" (, 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, 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.

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