Sunday 1 May 2005
April 29, 2005
World: Was Soviet Collapse Last Century's Worst Geopolitical Catastrophe?
Putin (in file photo) called the USSR's breakup the "biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the century" In his state-of-the-nation address on 25 April, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised the West by calling the Soviet Union's collapse the "biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." His declaration, however, has caused little stir at home. Political analysts view the Russian president's comments as simply an attempt to lift his declining popularity rating among the elderly.
April 29, 2005
Georgia: U.S. 'Challenge' Aid For Tbilisi Seen As Catalyst For Development
The U.S. government is expected soon to approve a large aid package to Georgia through its new Millennium Challenge Account program. A top Georgian official says the program -- aimed at rewarding poor countries that are thought to be governed honestly and transparently -- has already triggered a dramatic change in the way Georgians approach economic development. A nationwide consultative process has produced initiatives to improve road and energy infrastructure, agriculture and tourism. Funding is likely to be approved this summer.
April 28, 2005
Russia/Georgia: Counting Russian Chickens Before They Hatch
Georgian Premier Noghaideli is pushing for a Russian withdrawal by 2007 (file photo) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's 25 April statement after talks in Moscow with his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili that Russia could begin withdrawing troops from its two remaining military bases in Georgia before the end of this year is being hailed as a breakthrough in bilateral relations.
April 27, 2005
North Caucasus: European Commission Eyes Reconstruction Work In North Caucasus
Ready for reconstruction? A European Commission assessment team that visited Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia in mid-April has returned with what officials describe as a "broad impression" that EU-backed reconstruction work in the area has now become feasible. That work would go beyond the immediate humanitarian relief the EU has so far provided for the region.
April 27, 2005
GUUAM: Ukraine Aspires To Leadership Role In Revitalized Organization
How much has GUUAM's face changed since this 2002 summit, which included (from left)Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliyev, Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze, Ukraine's Leonid Kuchma, and Moldova's Vladimir Voronin? 27 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Following Viktor Yushchenko's election late last year as Ukrainian president and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin's espousal of an unequivocally pro-Western foreign policy orientation, many observers anticipated that the long-awaited summit of the GUUAM alignment in Chisinau on 22 April would herald a new era in that body's activities.
April 26, 2005
Georgia: Tbilisi, Moscow Report Breakthrough Over Russian Military Bases
Just days ago, Moscow and Tbilisi blamed each other for scuttling talks on the withdrawal of Russian military bases in Georgia. But now both sides are reporting progress on the issue. Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili said on a visit to Moscow yesterday that Russia is now willing to vacate both facilities by 2008. Although there is still no formal agreement on a pullout date, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested yesterday that a compromise is in sight.
April 23, 2005
World: OSCE Debates Its Election Monitoring
The OSCE -- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe -- has come under sharp criticism from Russia on the criteria it uses and conclusions it reaches in monitoring elections. Russia charges that the process is politically weighted. Leaders of the organization have just completed a two-day review in Vienna. Debate was lively but few minds appear to have been changed about the way the OSCE decides whether elections are fair and democratic.
April 22, 2005
East: GUUAM Summit In Chisinau Focuses On Separatism, Regional Cooperation
Ukraine's Yushchenko was active in Chisinau (file photo) The presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova gathered today in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau for a summit of the regional grouping GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova). It's the group's first gathering since "velvet revolutions" brought pro-Western leaders to office in Georgia and Ukraine, and Moldova shifted its foreign policy priorities toward the West. EU and NATO expansion have also altered the European political landscape. This evolving perspective laid the groundwork for today's gathering, which focused on separatism, regional cooperation, and promoting GUUAM's geopolitical profile.
April 21, 2005
East: GUUAM Summit Aims To Revitalize Regional Body
GUUAM -- the group comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova -- was formed eight years ago with the aim of fostering regional cooperation outside the boundaries of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). But GUUAM's accomplishments were largely reduced to a series of signed agreements that never came to fruition. But now efforts are under way to revitalize the group. Leaders from four of the five member-states are gathering tomorrow in the Moldovan capital Chisinau in an attempt to breathe new life into a group that is increasingly turning away from Moscow and looking toward the West.
April 21, 2005
Georgia: EU Legal Mission Head Says Judicial Reforms Will Take Years
The EU will in July call back its first ever rule-of-law mission from Georgia. The union then expects the country to adopt and implement a comprehensive reform strategy for its criminal-justice system. The mission is headed by an experienced French judge, Sylvie Pantz, and comprises eight senior legal experts from a number of EU member states.
April 19, 2005
Georgia: EU Set To End Successful 'Rule Of Law' Mission
The European Union is preparing to conclude its first-ever “rule of law" mission on the territory of the former Soviet Union, in Georgia, describing it as a clear success. A team of EU, experts led by French Judge Sylvie Pantz, has spent nearly a year advising the Georgian government on criminal-justice reforms. Georgian authorities are now expected to draw up their own reform blueprints for the next three-to-five years to come. Other EU experts are then likely to arrive to oversee implementation.
April 19, 2005
East: Regime Change On The Cheap
Otpor protesters in 2000 (file photo) A persistent impression in the non-Western media is that the U.S. government along with a group of Western foundations financed the recent revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Georgia by funneling money to the revolutions' most activist element, young people.