Monday 14 June 2004
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.
February 05, 2004
Azerbaijan: Aliyev's Moscow Visit Shows Son Picking Up Where Father Left Off
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today begins a three-day official visit to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and top government officials. Observers expect the trip to further strengthen already warm ties between Moscow and Baku. But they say Azerbaijan's new leader is also attempting to maintain the delicate balancing act mastered by his father and presidential predecessor Heidar Aliyev -- maximizing relations with both Russia and the U.S.
February 03, 2004
Western Press Review: Intelligence Failures On Iraq<end/>; Iran's Political Crisis; And Human Rights In Azerbaijan
Prague, 3 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Commentary in the press today focuses largely on the announcement by U.S. President George W. Bush that an independent investigation will be launched into the apparent intelligence failures surrounding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The papers also look at the ongoing standoff between Iranian reformists and the conservative Guardians Council over upcoming parliamentary elections. Other items consider a proposal to revise the Dayton Peace Accord and alleged human rights abuses in Azerbaijan.
January 28, 2004
Armenia: PACE Hears Of Progress Domestically, But Also Of Voting Flaws, Lack Of Progress On Nagorno-Karabakh
The Council of Europe has presented a report on the progress made by Armenia in fulfilling its obligations to maintain democratic and human rights standards in the three years since it became a member. The report criticizes the Armenian government for widespread flaws in elections last year and for its failure to make progress in peace talks with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
January 27, 2004
Azerbaijan: PACE Lambastes Baku Over Political Prisoners, Slow Pace Of Reforms
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today held a debate on the controversial issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and examined Baku's commitments to democratic standards. The debate followed the publication last week of a report by Human Rights Watch that strongly criticized Azerbaijani authorities for stepping up pressure on their opponents following last October's disputed presidential elections.