Saturday 22 May 2004
April 23, 2004
Caspian: U.S. Puts Beluga Sturgeon On Threatened Species List
The U.S. has listed beluga sturgeon as a threatened species but has postponed for another six months any action to protect it. Environmentalists say an immediate and long-lasting ban on U.S. imports is desperately needed to help ensure the survival of the world's most valuable commercially harvested fish.
April 07, 2004
World: Freedom House Report Highlights Countries With Democratic Deficits
The U.S.-based pro-democracy organization Freedom House has issued a report that examines the problems and hurdles facing democratic development in 30 countries. The report concludes that Uzbekistan is one of the most repressive countries in the world. It also says democratic efforts in Kyrgyzstan have stalled, as they have in Armenia and Ukraine. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are described as having authoritarian systems.
March 23, 2004
Uzbekistan: Azerbaijani President Receiving Warm Welcome
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived today in Uzbekistan for a two-day state visit. He is meeting with President Islam Karimov and other top Uzbek officials and participating in many ceremonies, including the inauguration of an Azerbaijani cultural center. What explains Aliyev's warm welcome in Uzbekistan?
March 09, 2004
South Caucasus: Region Growing As Hub For International Drug Trafficking
Central Asia is known as the preferred route for Afghan-produced narcotics destined for West European markets. But drug-enforcement officials say the South Caucasus -- strategically located between Asia and Europe -- is also a major transit point for narcotics. Corruption, instability, and separatist conflicts are all cited as being behind the region's rise in smuggling.
March 03, 2004
Azerbaijan: Authorities In Baku Target Shi'a Mosque, Say It Is Being Illegally Occupied
Authorities in Azerbaijan face growing criticism at home and abroad for clamping down on political and religious freedoms. The latest target appears to be a Shi'a Muslim congregation whose imam was recently arrested for alleged anti-government activities.
February 27, 2004
South Caucasus: Is Any Real Progress Being Made In Tackling Corruption?
In its latest global corruption survey, the Transparency International nongovernmental watchdog ranked the three South Caucasus states among countries perceived as being the most corrupt. Armenia ranked 78th among 133 countries, while Georgia and Azerbaijan -- countries where the group said corruption is "pervasive" -- trailed behind, tied at 124th place. All three regional governments have taken steps that suggest a willingness to address the issue. But how far are they ready to go?
February 26, 2004
EU: Parliament Adopts Report On South Caucasus
The European Parliament today adopted a report on the South Caucasus that urges the EU to strengthen its ties with the region. The report also urges the neighbors of the three South Caucasus countries -- specifically Russia and Turkey -- to play a more constructive role in facilitating reconciliation of the region's so-called "frozen conflicts." However, the report acknowledges formidable obstacles exist to a greater rapprochement with the EU. R
February 13, 2004
East: Council Of Europe Secretary-General Seeks To Bridge East-West Divide
The Council of Europe, which sets standards for its members on the democratic conduct of government and the defense of human rights, has functioned as a bridge between Western Europe and the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. All eight of the former communist countries due to join the European Union in May are council members. RFE/RL spoke to the council's secretary-general, Walter Schwimmer, at the council's headquarters in the French city of Strasbourg, about the organization's work.
February 12, 2004
Caucasus: European Parliament Rapporteur Sees Hope For Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, more than a decade after gaining their independence, remain politically volatile and still struggle with realizing their economic promise. Separatist tendencies and frozen conflicts still plague the region. Georgia and Azerbaijan have recently undergone leadership changes, so what hope is there for a fresh start? The European Parliament's rapporteur for the South Caucasus, Per Gahrton of Sweden, has filed a report on the situation in the region, which the full Parliament is expected to adopt soon (25-26 February or 8-11 March). RFE/RL spoke with Gahrton about his views on the future of the South Caucasus.