Sunday, February 3, 2008

Week 01/28-02/03: East, West, and what lies in between

The Kosovo issue, oppositions, new Presidents: how to get away with foreign pressures and local strategies.

Azerbaijan: polemics about Russian language in the country, started a couple of weeks ago, then a decree signed by the President to open a branch of Lomonosov University in Baku… and Ali Kerimli, from Popular Front of Azerbaijan, denied his passport to go in the West to gather support for the opposition, thus Zerkalo newspaper suggests.
Georgia: Saakašvili proposes to open a Department of Russia - “our traditional and key partner” - within Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a deputy foreign minister, Gia Vašadze, with a long soviet-foreign-policy curriculum.
Armenia: the candidature of Serž Sargsyan seems to be enforced and to receive the blessing of the Russian leading party, which signed an inter-party cooperation with Prosperous Armenia and Republican Party.

Balance and counter-balance of different interests that sometimes are used, and others are suffered, but never exhaust the complex relations of the various political forces in the three countries.

In Georgia, after the elections, there are two parallel lines, which tried to meet with a first round of talks on the 1st and, again, for the second round to come, the 5th of February.
On one side, the nine parties opposition plus Industry Will Save Georgia, New Rights and Party of Future, the 28th laid out a Memorandum with 17 proposals to:
a. Overcome not legitimate results of Presidential Elections;
b. Ensure political freedom;
c. Ensure freedom of speech;
d. Hold fair Parliament Elections.
If the proposals are not met in full, allegedly, permanent rallies will be held from 2.00 pm 15th of February.

Some of these demands - of course just points b, c and d - were addressed in speech and in action by the Saakašvili administration. A new General Prosecutor has being appointed, Eka Tkešelašvili, 31 year old, ex Minister of Justice, the first female GP of South Caucasus, who hastened to declare the repression of 7th November a big mistake never to be repeated again. In his speech at PACE Saakašvili himself talked about the need to reform TV boards and to make decisive steps towards further democratisation. On the other side, he claimed to have being voted for his commitment to NATO, for his fight against poverty, corruption and for his remarkable results in economy, in re-shaping the country and its legacy.

The new Cabinet was approved with 141 for and none against, but the opposition boycotted the vote and in the point 3 of the Memorandum calls for constitutional amendments requiring that the cabinet resigns after parliamentary elections. Do parallel lines meet somewhere, if they have to?

(Full text of the Memorandum:;
Video of Saakašvili’s speech at PACE, in English:

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