Saturday, July 21, 2012

July in bloom (under the storm)

It's a weird summer in Caucasus.
The stormy weather that swept Krasnodar is swirling above south Caucasus as well.
As a result Georgia and Azerbaijan suffered distructions and losses.

Still, at least two men are in bloom.
For Bako Sahakyan and Vano Merabishvili 2012 is the summer of personal satisfaction.
The first has just been re-elected president, allegedly by 47.000 Karabakhi - that is to say the 66% of the (depopulated) region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Previously he had been Interior Minister and head of Security Service of the self proclaimed Republic.
This is his second term. Five years ago he received 85% of votes.
It means he has lost 20% of supporters in five years. Still his leading position is not trembling.
Not as much as the ceasefire, at least.

The low intensity conflict along the ceasefire line goes on, but Sahakyan is not losing his cold blood or his temper.
He sounds quite confident that no conflict will really threat the national security.
In the last month he received visits from the top officials of Armenia, actually during the election campaign.
He promises to promote Karabakh development for the next five years.
Is there something going on - e.g. a flurry of bullets - that deserves a bit more efforts or not?

The second is also another Minister of Interior Affairs is in full bloom: newly appointed Prime Minister Merabishvili.
Once the grey eminence of Georgian security system, he has now turned into a kind of manager on loan to politics.
And as the storms hits badly Georgia, he is displaying his crisis management abilities, like the perfect businessman.
No "international" tributes to him (and to his new government, which looks pretty much militarized). Still, it all smells like a election campaign as well.
And it's a long election campaign, indeed, that is draining not waters, but energies and legitimacy in the country already since months. And it's yet a long way till October.
A long, rocky and steep path, under a persistent storm of rain and hail.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

End of June: Unnecessary crises

The last two month, and even more the last days, saw a proliferation of measures that would be meaningful only in the context of crises.
Just, there are no signs of the crises which would have possibly have pushed to adopt such measures.

This unexpected development doesn't prevent, by the way, real crises from going on and exacerbating (the low intensity conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijan, the suspension of the Gali IPRM).
The perfect "new wave of crises" generators seem to be the Georgian government.
Popular, stable, in a leading position since years, it's taking steps that look totally irrational to an external observer.
First of all all the management of the "Ivanishvili issue": an overreaction to the rise of a challenger - who would have had very few chances to overcome the present majority - which is mining the credibility of the government abroad, creating an unprecedented mess in the legal framework of the country, polarizing society and displaying a hardly bearable level of public manipulation.

Then, in the last two days, two other incomprehensible measures adopted by a Parliament and a Government which are entering in the last three months of their activity: the new strategy towards North Caucasus and The Great Reshuffle of the government itself. Both measures are legitimate, of course, but sound weird and very unnecessary, especially compared to the declarations of all Georgian high ranked public officials so far, starting from the President himself.
Mikheil Saakashvili always praised the good cooperation between Georgian and North Caucasian and never mentioned the need to create a new strategy. And in the way it is put it won't be surprising to see it taken as a blatant provocation by Russian authorities.
As for The Big Reshuffle, that is to say the appointment of Vano Merabishvili as the new Prime Minister, it's a total enigma. First of all because Merabishvili is himself a bit of an enigma: the hardliner former Minister of Interior Affairs cannot be blamed for being too talkative. All that it's clear about him is that he is tough, perhaps radical, powerful and loyal, apparently, to the President.

The personal relations between Saakashvili and Merabishvili - or even the "inter-personal hierarchy" - are somehow a matter kept for the corridors of Georgian higher institutions. So what led Saakashvili to move Merabishvili to the second highest cadre of the Government will be an issue of speculations for days, or perhaps weeks.
One thing is for sure: never in the last months was a frustration for the performances of the former Prime Minister expressed. And there was no perception, as well, of a dysfunction within the Government Cabinet.

If it's an electoral step, one wonders on what bases. Society is indeed satisfied with the improvement of security, but it doesn't mean that Merabishvili himself is loved and popular. The program he's submitting to the Parliament sounds indeed like an electoral platform (employment, agriculture etc.) so it may mark the start of the un-official National Movement political campaign. Did the Party need all this?
A very unexpected move, thou.

And talking about government and speculations: it took more than one month to unveil the composition of the new Armenian government. Surprisingly and unexpectedly - again - long negotiations, whereas the clear success of the Republican Party might have suggested a fast process.
Even more in the light of the urgent need for stability to face the ongoing border crisis.
So, is it a mis-perception of what's going on? And who's not sensing properly? Observers of actors?