Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NEWS: 24 Apr 09 | Caucasus Reporting Service 490 (

NATO’s Georgia Exercises Test Russian Resolve
The exercises won’t be cancelled as Kremlin has demanded but Georgia should beware of lending them too much significance. By Mikhail Vignansky in Tbilisi (CRS No. 490, 24-Apr-09)
Armenia Presses On With Courtship of Turkey
While Turkey holds out for concessions over Nagorny- Karabakh, Yerevan remains convinced a restoration of diplomatic ties lies on the horizon. By Tatul Hakobian in Yerevan (CRS No. 490, 24-Apr-09)
Armenia Talks Strain Turkey's Ties With Azerbaijan
Perceived cooling in relationship between Ankara and Baku may have ramifications for the latter’s energy strategy. By Seymur Kazimov in Baku (CRS No. 490, 24-Apr-09)

JOB: Fach- und Führungskräfte "Fachlaufbahn Sprache" im Goethe-Institut (

Ansprechpartnerin: Frau Schade
Bewerbungsfrist: 17.05.2009

Fach- und Führungskräfte "Fachlaufbahn Sprache"

Arbeitgeber: Goethe-Institut


Das Goethe-Institut sucht im Rahmen seiner weltweiten "Fachlaufbahn
Sprache" Fach- und Führungskräfte als

* Leiter/Leiterinnen der Spracharbeit
* Referenten/Referentinnen für Sprachkurse
* Referenten/Referentinnen für Bildungskooperation Deutsch

an Goethe-Instituten im Ausland, z. B. in:

* Algier
* Nowosibirsk
* Peking
* Seoul
* Teheran
* Tiflis


* Möglichst in Deutschland abgeschlossenes wissenschaftliches Hochschulstudium (Germanistik, Deutsch als Fremdsprache oder eine Fremdsprachenphilologie in Verbindung mit einer Zusatzqualifikation DaF) * Mehrjährige Berufserfahrung im Bereich Deutsch als Fremdsprache in Unterricht, Fortbildung und Management sowie fundierte, aktuelle Fachkompetenz
* Erfahrung in Leitungspositionen
* Erfahrung in Netzwerkarbeit, Multiplikatorenschulung sowie in Projektmanagement
* Erfahrung in der Anwendung von Qualitätsstandards für Unterricht und Sprachkursorganisation
* Gute IT-Kompetenz (MS Office)
* Vertrautheit mit elektronischen Lehr- und Lernformen
* Deutschkenntnisse auf muttersprachlichem Niveau, außerdem gute Kenntnisse (B 2) in Englisch und mindestens einer weiteren Fremdsprache
* Möglichst überwiegender Aufenthalt in Deutschland während der letzten zehn Jahre
* Auslandserfahrung, fundierte interkulturelle Kompetenz in mindestens einem außereuropäischen Kulturraum
* Bereitschaft, im Rhythmus von 5-6 Jahren den Einsatzort im Netzwerk des Goethe-Instituts zu wechseln (Rotation)

Online-Bewerbung unter:

PHOTOGRAPHY: Udi village of Zinobiani (Oqtomberi). By Sandro Shanidze

The Udis are a small people in South Caucasus, Zinobiani is one of their just 2 villages.

BOOK: Andrew Beattie wrote about the Culture of the Caucasus ....

I’ve been reading a bunch of novels in a row (such are the vagaries of my alphabetical by author order in which I read books), but next I’ve broken open Andrew Beattie’s The Alps: A Cultural History, which is, if you can believe it, the second book about a mountain range I’ve read (the first was about the Caucasus).

source >>>

AmazonShop: Books, Maps, Videos, Music & Gifts About The Caucasus

STUDIES: No.5 NATO and the South Caucasus (

By Ahto Lobjakas, Archil Gegeshidze, Alexander Iskandaryan

This issue of the Caucasus Analytical Digest provides analyses of NATO's potential role in the South Caucuses, post-war Georgian Euro-Atlantic aspirations and the relations between NATO and Armenia. Further, it features opinion polls on Georgian popular opinion on NATO membership and policy priorities in the South Caucasus as well as a chronicle of NATO-Georgia relations for the period 1992-2009.

© 2009 Center for Security Studies (CSS), Heinrich Böll Foundation, Jefferson Institute, Forschungsstelle Osteuropa (FSOE)

PODCAST: Political not ethnic reasons behind Caucasus clashes (

Political not ethnic reasons behind Caucasus clashes

Vicken Cheterian on the Georgian conflict

April 2009

Until recently, Georgia’s wars were fought against separatist movements of ethnic minorities. In August 2008 it took on the Russian army. In this podcast, George Miller talks to journalist and political analyst Vicken Cheterian about the nature of the five-day war and its consequences for the Caucasus and beyond.

podcast >>>

VIDEO: Debating Georgia (

By Robert Amsterdam

Below is a video compilation of some of the interviews I shot in Washington DC this month with various Russia and Caucasus experts, this time commenting on the current political crisis in Georgia, the August invasion by Russia, and the general trend of confrontation in the region. Svante Cornell, of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of Johns Hopkins University, Paul Goble, a former U.S. official and blogger at Window on Eurasia, and David Satter are featured in the video.

NEW BLOG: Jamestown Foundation Blog (

Jamestown Foundation Blog
Timely analysis and commentary of geopolitical developments in Eurasia

SYMPOSIUM: Georgia at the Crossroads of European and Asian Cultures (

The Harriman Institute, Columbia University Presents Symposium on Georgian Culture at the Crossroads

Georgia at the Crossroads of European and Asian Cultures
Culture as a tool for the mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue

Monday, May 4, 10:00 am – 19:00 pm
Kellogg Center, 15th Floor, SIPA building
420 W 118th Street. New York, NY

Georgian culture, an integral part of Caucasian civilization, has been and is created at the crossroads of European and Asian influences. Over the centuries this culture has represented tolerance and mutual understanding, and while keeping its national identity it emphasizes the potential breadth and depth and rewards of intercultural relations maintained with understanding and integrity.

Today, such understanding is a central and urgent issue, given the cultural and ethnic situation in Georgia’s conflict regions – Shida (inner) Kartli, the so-called “South Ossetia” and Abkhazeti, especially in terms of analysis and awareness from the historical point of view.

In addition to the political and humanitarian problems there is also great danger for these two regions’ cultural identity and their historical monuments. Academic knowledge in this field is very limited and therefore raises the importance of the scholarly work and discussion in the fields of culture, history and ethnicity in these territories.

The different historical epochs provides the best historical documentation and evidence of the formation of these regional identities and provides proof of tolerance and peaceful coexistence between these regions and the nations adjoining them. The conference’s thematic timeframe will not be limited to any of periods but will cover all cultural epochs including nowadays.

Programm >>>

ARTICLE: "We Are All Armenians", Hugh Pope in The Wall Street Journal (

27 April 2009
The Wall Street Journal

Obama was right not to jeopardize reconciliation between Ankara and Yerevan.

President Barack Obama trod a fine moral line this month between his past campaign promises to use the word genocide to describe the World War I massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and his present opportunity to nurture normalization between Armenia and Turkey. But his compromise was no capitulation to the realpolitik of U.S.-Turkish strategic interests, as some Armenians may suspect and some Turks may hope. It is actually a challenge to both parties to move beyond the stalemates of history.

full article >>>


A EurasiaNet Photo Story: Text by Shahin Abbasov; Photos by Rena Effendi

The global downturn is punishing Azerbaijan’s third largest city, Sumgayit, a onetime center for the Soviet military-industrial complex that is still struggling to find its stride in the global economy.

Sumgayit’s industrial base has been ravaged by the combined effects of sharply lower energy prices and the contraction of credit. Factory employees, who asked not to be named, told EurasiaNet that all five of the state-owned chemical company Azerkimya’s plants and the state-owned Azerboru pipe factory in the city stopped production in early March. Another industrial giant, Azeraluminum, which produces 70 percent of Sumgayit’s annual industrial output, is working at just 15 percent of its usual capacity, producing only 25 tons of primary aluminum per month.

full article >>>

Saturday, April 25, 2009

VIDEO: Diana Gurtskaya Singing Georgian Folk Song "Cincyaro" (

Diana Gurtskaya- Georgian representative in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest
singing Georgian folk song "Cincyaro".

Behind the scenes at the Eurovision. ESC 2008

PHOTOGRAPHY: "Psychiatric Hospital In Georgia". By Tina.

For me is Tina one of the best photographer from Georgia I met in Her work is very expressiv ...

marielito in flickr said: "one of the most soulful photographers in flickr.her photos are like a key that leads to to the hysteria of different is this that makes her work so powerful and unique.keep it on dear Tina.."

Friday, April 24, 2009

NGO: Civil Society Institute (

CSI is one of the leading NGOs in Georgia, known for high performance and wide scope of activities. Established in 1995 CSI facilitates the formation and development of civil society and democratic state by promoting democratic values and the rule of law, educating social actors and increasing their civic activity, and creating a facilitating legal environment for civil society organizations.
CSI aims at fostering of legal environment conductive to the formation of a rule of law state and civil society; support of economic development and reducing poverty; raising legal awareness and establishment of respect to law; support of good governance, including development of local government and decentralization of power; elaboration of effective public policy and improvement of administration; increase of civic activity; advocating citizens’ interests; development of civil society organizations; support of educational reform. CSI has 9 year experience in facilitating CSO development and improving their operating environment. CSI has drafted and lobbied all not-for-profit legislation in Georgia. SCI helps Civil Society Organizations in General and Financial management and legal and tax compliance issues. Since 1996 CSI provides consultations and trainings in the field.
CSI has been actively involved in law-making process since 1996. Five out of six laws drafted by our experts has been enacted by the Parliament. Besides these, 200 drafts laws has been reviewed and 5 laws in force has been monitored by CSI experts. Implementation of the Transparent and Accountable Government project has witnessed most intense collaboration of CSI with the Parliament, Ministries and Adjara Supreme Council – most drafts in 2004-2005 were reviewed and lobbied during the committee hearings by our experts. SCI has strong capacity of advocating and lobbing as well. The organizations’ capacity in this area has increased considerably in the last four years. Implementing Citizens Advocate! Program (CAP) CSI has conducted particularly targeted and effective lobbying campaign resulting in inclusion of the tax deductions for charity contributions clauses to the text of the new tax code.
SCI is actively involved in the process of reformation of governmental organizations and state institutions. In this regard the organization has collaborative agreements and well established contacts with the Parliament of Georgia, High Council of Adjara, Supreme Court of Georgia, the Ministries of Justice, Finance, Economic Development, Education and Science, Environment Protection and Natural Resources and Labour, Health and Social Affairs as well as with Tbilisi, Batumi and Poti City Administrations.
SCI is experienced in crafting effective policies and monitoring their implementation. Lately our experts advised Tbilisi Administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, and the State Employment Agency in developing policies on appropriate issues. CSI monitored several state polices and developed reports.
SCI actively supports court reform in the country. In 1999-2001 CSI assisted the Supreme Court by providing brochures containing laws and other normative acts in order to eliminate serious deficit of legal documents in the 64 regional courts of Georgia. In 2002-2005 CSI, in cooperation with the Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice, for first time in Georgia created and published unified Register of noncommercial organizations.
SCI is actively involved in poverty reduction process. The organization accumulated good experience in supporting small and medium business through lobbying appropriate legal environment, advocating their interests, providing consultations and trainings. SCI has developed schemes for increasing population formal employment security and poverty reduction.
SCI has 10 year experience in multi-component grant management. Since 1995 CSI has implemented more than 30 projects. Grants received in 2005 fiscal year exceeded 300 000 USD. Through reforms conducted in 2001-2003 the organization developed effective management structure headed by the volunteer board and executive director. Internal regulations, manuals on accounting policy, human resource policy and procedures, procurement policy and driving policy are on place.

Civil Society Institute Annual Reports:
2008 Annual Report .
2007 Annual Report .
2006 Annual Report .
2005 Annual Report:
Part I, Part II, Part III;
2003 Annual Report .

Homepage in english:
Homepage in georgian:

PHOTOGRAPHY: Marika Amurvelashvili (

A friend sent me this link to the homepage of the photographer Marika Amurvelashvili. I couldn't find any information in the internet for publishing here ;-).

Great photos from her work and some informations about this person can you see here:

Last year on December 26 Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel hosted the journalists’ awards ceremony to recognize the excellence in the social coverage.

One of the winners were awarded in four categories was Marika Amurvelashvili:

1. Best television report – Temur Bardzimashvili;
2. Best radio report – Jimsher Rekhviashvili and Goga Aptsiauri;
3. Best article – Maka Jaiani;
4. Best photo report – Marika Amurvelashvili.

The contest was supported by IC Group insurance company having set a special prize – 1-year health insurance for all four categories. Journalists, civil sector representatives and MPs attended the awards ceremony. (source:

COMMENT: Here Should Have Been a Title About Georgia that is Always on My Mind... By Diana Chachua

... I had a dream the other night. I dreamt about Tbilisi. The streets of the capital were full with thousands of protesters. Again? I thought to myself. What was most concerning, the capital had become a city of cells, yes cells, literally CELLS with volunteers inside, and there were people, probably organizers who had masks on their faces and were fooling people. What was most sad: these masses trusted and supported them.... I don't believe in dreams but this was a special one. I woke up all stressed and called Tbilisi. Soon I found out that it wasn't just a dream, it was what ectually has started in Georgia...

... So, from dreams back to reality. The opposition rallies continue in the capital of Tbilisi... If asking for my opinion, I would express my deep concern about ongoing events in Georgia and would call opposition for more constructive, diplomatic and democratic ways of solving problems. I think the time for choosing presidents by revolutions are over. Of course if we still have claims for being a democratic state with the inspiration of joining EU and NATO. Though, stating this I don't mean that people shouldn't have a right to go out and protest. I always respected Georgian citizents' high grade civil responsibility and fight for its better future. But do they really understand what for are they standing in front of the parliament today? I am afraid for the sake of some politicians' ambitions and unclear aims. The point is that ongoing protests and their leaders doesn't bring any sympathy and trust to me and if protesting, then I would claim for some reforms and would suggest particular changes and not like they do: "Georgia without Saakashvili". It seems to me that's all about personal hatred and political ambitions. Removing Saakashvili won't solve all the problems. And what if Saakashvili resines, what will be after, does this opposition have a plan? I never succeeded to get any argumentative answer on this question.

So, you can think of me as a suporter of Georgian president or whatever, it's your right, but what I care most is the future of my country. I am deeply concerned of seeing Tbilisi as a "city of cells and tants" again and again and hearing hundreds of unacceptable speeches during these protests in Tbilisi. I am tired of hearing how foreign journalists tell my Georgian collegues, what a nice place my country is because even when there is nothing going on in the world to report, there are always some protests, rallies and revolutions in Georgia...

What I suggest? I would have advices not only for Georgian government and opposition, but for western Institutions as well. Concerning local authorities, I am for stopping this circus and starting a dialogue between the current government and the opposition. As for International community, I would call for their higher level support. You would be probably surprised and ask me "what does EU or NATO or western communities as a whole have to do with this rallies"?! Well, I will give you an answer. I recall the words of famouse professor of political sciences Svante Cornell that he published in his work "Learning from Georgia's Crisis" and this will be my response: "the consequence for the West of the August events is not that Georgia has failed the test of democracy and therefore deserves less support, but exactly the opposite: that only more substantial investments in Georgia’s security can contribute to the building of a stable and democratic Georgia, itself something in the interest of the West," - - - and another very important point - - - - "It should be abandoned the false premise that sustainable democratic development in Georgia or anywhere is possible in the absence of sovereignty and security. The events of November 2007 only reinforce the conclusion that long-term sustainable democracy is unlikely to be built in the absence of basic security. This is one area where the comparison between Georgia and the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe breaks down. Compared to the successful democratization processes in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, Georgia faces a security threat much more acute and existential in nature than any of those countries, including the Baltic states, ever did. Moreover, Georgia enjoys less Western – in particular European – support in terms of membership prospects in the EU and NATO, than those countries did. As long as that is the case, Georgia is unlikely to single-handedly develop into a consolidated and secure democracy."

So more we go into the topic more we see that the roots of Georgia's current problems are burried somewhere on the banks of the river called "security"........!!!

In the end, I want to recall the words of a friend of mine who once told me in a very optimistic way: "don't worry, this is a normal process and everything, including those mass rallies are part of this wide process of screening and purification of Georgian politics...". As a final remark, I would like to finish my letter in the same optimistic mood as my friend while sharing his ideas with me: "And I totally agree with him", but I more feel for "And I hope events proove he was right"...


EXHIBITION: Mini Books exhibition at London Azerbaijan House (

The Museum of Miniature Books ( is coming to London Azerbaijan House. There is not a single museum like this one anywhere in the world. The exhibition will be named 'Azerbaijan and The Great Britain in Mini Book'.

The books will be presented by the Director of the museum Zarifa Salahova.

Time:30 of April 2009
Starts from 4 pm to 10 pm
Venue:The Azerbaijan House
228 Kingsland Road
E2 8AX, London
T: 07809146861
AmazonShop: Books, Maps, Videos, Music & Gifts About The Caucasus

FEATURE: Georgia: The ZAKVO Refugees (

Posted on 23 April 2009 by Paulo Nunes dos Santos

In the first days of August 2008, the Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili ordered and attack against the separatist region of South Ossetia. As retaliation, the Russian troops took over the regions of Abdkazia and South Ossetia and bombed several locations in Georgian territory.
During the conflict thousands fled their villages and towns, leaving homes, family members and most of what they had behind. Around 25,000 displaced of Georgian ethnicity traveled to Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, in a desperate attempt to find a safe shelter and wait for the time to return to their homes.
Several local and international NGOs made about 170 city buildings, including schools and warehouses, available for refugees. One of them is the former Headquarters Transcaucasus Military District - also known as ZAKVO, a degraded old building in the outskirts of Tbilisi.
Here more than 1500 people, mostly from the villages around Tskhinvali, live now in poor conditions, depending uniquely on the help from NGOs and population in general.
This essay intent to show the daily life and living condition of the people now known as the ZAKVO refugees.

Photojournalism for a globalized world

BLOG: Georgia Protests: HuffPost Blogger Feet On The Ground (

By Jirair Ratevosian and Amy Hagopian

Tbilisi, Georgia -- We arrived in Tbilisi late at night April 21 and encountered a 24-hour occupation outside the Marriott Hotel off the main Rustaveli Avenue in front of the Georgian Parliament building, reportedly 4 days old. The street is occupied by at least 125 metal-framed boxes, dimensions approximately 6 feet wide, 6 feet high, and 4 feet deep. Each box is covered with a plastic banner fabric labeled in large red English letters, "CELL" and a unique identifying number. Each cell is occupied by one or more people gathered together on wooden pallets, where they may spend the night.

full post >>>

more here:

BLOG: Mapping A Russian Invasion Of Georgia (

With recent speculation about a possible invasion of Georgia by Russia, UltimaRatioRegis and I have developed an outline of likely Russia considerations and actions in executing any “intervention”. The pretext will likely be to come to the aid of ethnic Russians and restore stability should protests widen or get violent, or in the event of a coup. The overarching political consideration for Russia is that it knows it will win the footrace handily in its “near abroad”, and NATO won’t present a very united front, much less intervene in any significant way.
The fundamental working assumptions in estimating the Russian plan are >>>

TRANSCRIPTIONS: The Georgian trap Pt.1 & Pt.2 (

As thousands demand Saakashvili's resignation, Paul Jay investigates roots of 2008 Russia-Georgia War

For five straight days, thousands of Georgians have filled the capital of Tbilisi demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili. Saakashvili is under fire for his handling of the August 2008 war with Russia. Real News Senior Editor Paul Jay was in Georgia earlier this winter looking to better understand the causes of conflict in this resource-rich region.
BioMalkhaz Gulashvili is the Owner and Publisher of the Georgian Times, a newspaper from Tbilisi, Georgia that is published in Georgian, Russian and English.

Bio: Malkhaz Gulashvili is the Owner and Publisher of the Georgian Times, a newspaper from Tbilisi, Georgia that is published in Georgian, Russian and English.

MUSIC: Clear Spot - Rolling Stones Lisbon, London and Tbilisi (

Last night Clear Spot was a live broadcast is a collaborative project by artist Mamuka Japharidze based on recordings of watermill-stones from rural areas of Georgia, Portugal and the UK. Sound artists working in these countries will contribute to this simultaneous-broadcast by working with vinyl pressings of these recordings, the idea presented that the DJ’s turntable is analogous to the stone mill of old.
Clear Spot, 8:00 - 9:00pm Wednesday April 22nd.

Part of a pan-European radio project, entitled Intimacy & Distance. Intimacy & Distance literally connects the festival locations by presenting a series of 10 simultaneous live acts, jointly performed and broadcast in a minimum of two cities. Berlin-Bucharest-Budapest-Lisbon-London-Marseilles-Tbilisi-Vienna
For more details see

ROLLING STONES London-Tbilisi-Lisbon Japharidze/dj Tano/Rádio Zero
The artist writes:“Listen to Rolling Stone disks from rural water mills on April 22 on the day of Earth Care and find similarity between the stone machines and contemporary turntables for vinyl disks. I found common between these stone machines and contemporary turntables. Like bread and butter, mill rolling stone sound and the sound from rolling vinyl disks will synthesize to each other; DJ’s will work to mix these sounds and synchronize and broadcast it between Tbilisi, London and Lisbon radio studios.
We hope these mills, charged by water energy with modern players, charged by electricity will build distance orchestra and produce music of peace. The flower milled during the process of recording will be donated to displaced people who are victims of war violence. This is a problem of my Country Georgia, where I am from and for many countries around the world and especially for Chad, Africa, where humanitarian crisis level is very high. I hope regarding this project we will make great sound art piece and at the same time it will be a support for peace in the world.”

EXHIBITION: Sophia Tabatadze - Presentation Of Latest Works (

Silk Museum, 28 April, 18.00

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FEATURES: RFE/RL Caucasus Report (

23.04.2009 A review of RFE/RL reporting and analysis about the countries of the South Caucasus and Russia's North Caucasus region. For more stories on the Caucasus, please visit and bookmark our Caucasus page .

Koranic Verses To Appear On Chechen Roads Traffic police plan to install boards with verses from the Koran in Chechen and Russian on major roads in Chechnya, a spokesperson for the State Inspection for Road Traffic Safety has told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service. More

Terrorism Trial Opens In Karachayevo-Cherkessia Twenty-nine men went on trial in Cherkessk last week on multiple charges of plotting to overthrow the republic's leadership and seize power; membership of illegal armed formations; and the attempted murder of Russian police officers. Twenty of those accused were reportedly apprehended in the course of half a dozen counterterrorism operations in 2007. More

U.S. Envoy Says Karabakh Talks Entered 'New Phase' A U.S. mediator says that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has entered a "new phase" after Armenian officials and fellow mediators from France and Russia discussed the issue in Yerevan. More

Russia, NATO At Odds Over Planned Georgia Exercises Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says a NATO-led military exercise scheduled for May in Georgia would be dangerous and hinder efforts to rebuild relations between Moscow and the Western alliance. But NATO insists it will go ahead with the long-planned exercises, despite Russian demands to call them off. More

Azerbaijan Continues To Eschew Genuine Democracy The passage largely unopposed last month of a referendum to allow Ilham Aliyev unlimited terms as president shows how he and his father before him have largely destroyed the conditions for Azerbaijan to develop into a democratic society. More

Waiting For A Breakthrough Speculation has been rife that Turkey may be close to reopening its border with Armenia and restoring the diplomatic ties it broke over the Armenia-Azerbaijan war. But Ankara's desire to include progress over Nagorno-Karabakh could signal a more go-slow approach. More

Are Predictions That Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement Doomed Overstated? The publication in the Turkish daily "Hurriyet" in late March of a report that Armenia and Turkey had reached the final stage of drafting a protocol on the conditions and time frame for establishing formal diplomatic relations and opening their common border gave rise to widespread euphoria and unrealistic expectations that such a deal could be finalized within weeks. That euphoria was swiftly tempered by skepticism when Azerbaijan, which has historically regarded Turkey as its closest ally, reacted with anger and outrage. More

Chechnya Still Bound To Moscow By Economic Weakness Despite its seemingly arbitrary decision to call an end to the Chechnya counterterrorism operation, the Kremlin could equally arbitrarily launch a new one, even if it's just to remind Ramzan Kadyrov which side his bread is buttered on. More

Georgia Protests Resume, But Deadlock Persists Opposition protests resumed in Tbilisi after the four-day Easter break, but the number of participants -- some 10,000 -- fell far short of the 200,000 that protest leaders hope to mobilize over the next 10 days in what one of them last week termed "the final stage" of the campaign to pressure President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign. Meanwhile, the prospects for dialogue between the authorities and the opposition appear as remote as ever, with the two sides insisting on mutually exclusive agendas. More

Moldova Vote Highlights Monitoring Doubts The monitoring arm of the OSCE has long been seen as the gold standard for judging whether elections were free and fair. But in a series of recent cases, most recently in Moldova, the group's judgment has been called into question after it gave its stamp of approval to votes that were later revealed to be flawed. More

Radical Opposition Barred From South Ossetian Parliament Ballot Eight months after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formally recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, South Ossetia's Central Election Commission (CEC) has barred the radical opposition People's Party from participating in the parliamentary elections to be held on May 31. More

'We Are Concerned' About Russia In Former Soviet Space Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives spoke with RFE/RL about how they view Russia, the struggle for democracy in the former Soviet space, and the challenges in Afghanistan and Iran. In Prague to take part in the Trans-Atlantic Legislators' Dialogue with lawmakers from EU member states, Representatives Shelley Berkley (Democrat-Nevada) and Phil Gingrey (Republican-Georgia) sat down with RFE/RL. More

Georgian Opposition Pledges To Renew Protests, Denies Reports Of Disunity Georgian opposition leaders have announced that they will suspend mass public rallies to mark the Orthodox Easter holiday. They will, however, continue picketing government sites in Tbilisi. At the same time, two prominent opposition figures have rejected media speculation of tactical disagreements among the various opposition forces that have aligned to campaign for the president's resignation and early presidential elections. More

EU Envoy Urges Government-Opposition Dialogue In an effort to facilitate a peaceful end to antigovernment protests in Georgia, European Union special envoy Peter Semneby traveled to Tbilisi on April 16 to hold separate meetings with opposition leaders. More

Kadyrov's Takeover There's an old anecdote about Chechnya that runs: "How soon after the withdrawal of Russian forces from the republic will Ramzan Kadyrov be killed?" The answer: "He will be killed several hours before the withdrawal." More

Chechnya's Independence Of Sorts Russia has declared an end to its antiterrorist operations in Chechnya. At least some Russian troops are expected to be withdrawn as a result. It's not clear, however, when the withdrawal will start and how many Russian servicemen will be pulled out. More

EU Envoy In Tbilisi, As Opposition Appears Split A European Union envoy is in Tbilisi to try to mediate an end to a week-long political standoff between President Mikheil Saakashvili and opposition leaders who are demanding his resignation. Street protests continue in the Georgia capital, but some opposition leaders are hinting that they might be ready to negotiate. More

The Meaning Of Chechnya's New 'Independence' Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's April 16 decree formally ending the counterterror operation in Chechnya is being touted as a major propaganda victory for Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, and possibly even as heralding the republic's de facto independence from the Russian Federation. In fact, however, it will change very little on the ground. More

Nalchik Indictment Rewrites Recent History The prosecution at the trial of 58 young men charged with participating in the October 13, 2005, multiple attacks on police and security facilities in Nalchik, capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, has begun to read out the formal indictment against them. The document contains a number of factual errors. More

Georgia's 'Cage Revolution' These days, it seems, you can't have a revolution, without having a snappy, but evocative adjective: it started with the Rose Revolution, then came orange, tulip, and cedar, and last week, a tad prematurely, Moldova's "Twitter Revolution." More

Azerbaijan's Eurovision Hopes Ride High Aysel Teymurzade, a 19-year-old Azerbaijani singer, is confident that she and her stage partner Arash are going to win the 2009 Eurovision song contest in Moscow and bring Eurovision to her native Azerbaijan next year. More

Russian Roulette In EU Neighborhood Russia has six bullets with which to wound or kill the European Union's Eastern Partnership, and put the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy out of its misery in the process. More

Georgian Opposition Rejects Coalition Government Four days after the Georgian opposition launched mass protests in Tbilisi with the stated objective of forcing President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign, parliament speaker David Bakradze floated at a meeting with civil society representatives and political analysts the possibility of inviting the opposition to form a coalition government. The opposition, however, which insists that the only possible topic for dialogue with the authorities is Saakashvili's resignation, immediately rejected that proposal. More

Armenian Of French Extraction Jailed For Alleging Plot To Kill President A Yerevan district court handed down a 3 1/2-year sentence to Sarkis Hatspanian, a French citizen of Armenian descent, on charges of false denunciation, after he claimed in an interview to have information about an imminent attempt to assassinate Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. More

Population Census Gets Under Way In Azerbaijan The second census since Azerbaijan became an independent state is expected to confirm current trends with regard to the age structure and ethnic composition of the population. What's not clear is whetherit will confirm and clarify two disturbing demographic trends that have been highlighted over the past few years in the Azerbaijani media: the increasing number of marriages involving girls under the age of consent, and a corresponding steep rise in the illegitimacy rate. More

Azerbaijan Left Out Of Turkey-Armenia Love Fest U.S. President Barack Obama's recent visit was a big boost for Turkey. But a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement was in the works even before Obama was elected president. More

Moscow's Tactics In Chechnya Draw On Stalinist Legacy Josef Stalin is dead, but his spirit lives on in Ramzan Kadyrov. The Chechen leader and his Kremlin backers seem to have closely studied Stalin's methodology: propaganda, information warfare, internments, mop-up operations, and the creation of a personality cult. More

Format, Agenda For Political Dialogue In Georgia Remains Unclear The Georgian opposition parties that launched a wave of protest on April 9 to demand the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili decided on April 11 to suspend further actions for 24 hours to mark Palm Sunday. More

Armenian President Takes Stock After First Year In Office Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on April 10 to mark the first anniversary of his inauguration as president of Armenia, Serzh Sarkisian acknowledged that the police were partly to blame for the 10 fatalities that resulted from the violent standoff in Yerevan on March 1-2 2008 between police and security forces and angry supporters of defeated presidential challenger and former President Levon Ter-Petrossian. More

Unrest In Georgia, Moldova? Blame Kosovo The streets of Moldova and Georgia are boiling with protest and anger, while Kosovo continues to grapple with its self-proclaimed statehood. We are witnessing the repercussions of the "Kosovo precedent," and they're not pretty. More

COMMENTARY: Azerbaijan Continues To Eschew Genuine Democracy. By Farid Guliyev (

RFE/RL, April 22, 2009

Lord Acton's observation that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" still holds true, at least in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

One month ago, the population of Azerbaijan voted in a referendum to remove the constitutional ban on one person serving more than two consecutive presidential terms. Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev, 47, who succeeded his father Heydar in 2003 and was reelected for a second five-year term last fall, is thus free to run for a third term in 2013.

The fact that the various constitutional amendments passed largely unopposed shows how over the years first Heydar and then Ilham Aliyev consolidated power by sidelining the liberal and democratic elements that survived from the first few years of independence in the early 1990s. In doing so, they largely destroyed the conditions for Azerbaijan to develop into a democratic society.

Typically, democratization succeeds when the capacity and determination of democratic forces to challenge authoritarian rule are backed by favorable conditions such as freedom of the media and of assembly, access to information, the existence of a vibrant civil society, plus support for democratization from external actors, including the United States and the European Union.

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DRAFT: Conflict-Simulation-Seminar Caucasus 2009 (

Dear Sir and Madame,
CRISP is a Berlin based NGO dealing with conflict transformation and political participation. Last year we organized our first seminar in Kosovo, this year our organization is very interested in conducting a similar seminar which is based on the method of simulation gaming in the Caucasian area. The main goal of this seminar will be to pass on the method of simulating conflicts to people working in the field of conflict transformation. The success of the seminar is very much depending, on a close cooperation with local partners. So, if you yourself, your organization or any of your colleagues or friends are interested in any kind of cooperation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Important questions for us are: Where the seminar should take place, from which countries we could recruit possible participants, which kind of simulation we should conduct, and possible co-funds. You can find some basic information attached in a short draft. If you interested we can send you more information soon.
Best regards

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Wir sind CRISP, ein gemeinnütziger Verein, der Planspiele als Mittel der Konfliktbearbeitung durchführt. Letztes Jahr haben wir unser erstes Planspielseminar im Kosovo durchgeführt. Dieses Jahr wollen wir etwas Ähnliches im Kaukasus machen. Ziel hierbei ist es in erster Linie, die Methode Planspiel an Interessierte MitarbeiterInnen von NGOs weiterzugeben. Hierfür suchen wir gerade nach Partnerorganisationen vor Ort. Vor allem sind wir auf der Suche nach NGOs die im weitesten Sinne im Bereich der Konfliktbearbeitung tätig sind, und mit denen wir gemeinsam das Seminar planen und durchführen können. Wichtige Fragen sind hierbei unter anderem: Wo das Seminar stattfinden soll, aus welchen Ländern sich TeilnehmerInnen gewinnen lassen, die Art der Konfliktsimulation, sowie mögliche Förderer.
Wenn von Deiner Seite Interesse an einer Zusammenarbeit besteht, oder Du jemanden kennst, der vielleicht Interesse haben könnte, schicke ich Dir gerne ausführliches Infomaterial zu. Erste Informationen findest Du anbei in einer Kurzversion unserer Projektbeschreibung, oder auf unserer Homepage:

Björn Uhlig
Eisenbahnstraße 4, 10997 Berlin
cell 0172 - 1723995

Who we are:
CRISP - Crisis Simulation for Peace e. V. – facilitates seminars and trainings dealing with conflict
management and political participation. Because of our longtime experience with simulation games, we are convinced of the effectiveness of this innovative learning method. Even more after we successfully conducted a conflict-transformation-seminar in Kosovo in 2008.

Simulation-games can support a differentiated interethnic dialogue, because they offer a change of perspective and therefore lead to an examination of own prejudices. For this reason they can help to reduce fears and to promote the empathy-skills on both sides of the conflict. Furthermore simulationgames are stimulating the participant capabilities of strategic action. Potential partners on other levels can be better identified. Strengthening the individual capabilities of the participants and the adoption of a strategic perspective finally present the basis for the development of peace alliances.

Description oft the Seminar:
This year we are planning to conduct a similar seminar in the Caucasus, which hopefully could be a worthwhile contribution to the local process of conflict-transformation. The Seminar will last between 5 and 7 days and will include preparation, simulation and evaluation phases.

Goals of the seminar:
The overall goal is to pass on the described method to possible multiplicators. By participating one is not only gaining on personal level, but gets the abilities, to pass on the method effectively. By this the seminars follows the train-the-trainers-concept. Furthermore by bringing people from different regions and working fields together, the seminar offers a excellent base for Networking and further cooperation. Bringing people together and by this pushing the reconciliation process forward, has to be carried out by people on the ground. Therefore we strive for intense cooperation with local partners.

Target Group:
As we are convinced of the effectiveness of the method we want to offer an innovative instrument for conflict-transformation. That’s why we aiming for active Members of Civil Society working in the field of conflict transformation. Furthermore people with different backgrounds that are looking for new didactic methods.

February - March 2009

Identifying local cooperation Partners and co-funds.
The ZIVIK-program of the German Foreign Ministry already ensured to be one of the main-donors.

March - April 2009
Development of seminar framework in close cooperation with local Partners. Fundraising.

July 2009
Preparation Meeting in the region.

October/November 2009
Seminar: ConSim Caucasus 09

March 2010
Evaluation Meeting

adress: Kot t b u s s e r Damm 100 10967 Berl i n Germany
fon: +49 – 30 – 616 25 367

ARTICLE: Hans Heiner Buhr in: Geoprgia Today (

Romantic German Painter From Sayatnova Street
Contemporary Art Mixed by Hans Heiner Buhr

REPORT: ‘Caspian Qatar’ faces environmental challenges. By Bruno De Cordier in Baku (

In the wake of the oil boom and as a late consequence of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku and the beak-shaped Absheron peninsula are slowly growing into a urban area. The impact on the area’s environmental security is becoming clear.

A strong wind is blowing on the top of a hill at Romani, a silent, dusty village some fifteen kilometres from Baku. The heavy, fast-moving clouds and occasional sunrays piercing through create an eerie atmosphere. The view of the industrial archaeology of ageing oil derricks at the foot of the hill and of Baku’s urban sprawl beyond, both show the major environmental challenges that loom in the coming decades. Though not unique to the Caspian region, urbanization and the exploitation and control of energy resources affect the future security situation in the area a great deal more than much-hyped threats like ‘ethnic nationalism’ or ‘Islamic extremism’.

REPORT: Das “Kaspische Katar” steht vor großen Umweltproblemen. Von Bruno De Cordier in Baku. (

Übersetzt von Astrid HAGER

In Folge des Ölbooms und als Spätfolge des Krieges in Nagorny-Karabach entwickeln sich Baku und der Zipfel der Halbinsel Abscheron immer mehr zu urbanen Gebieten. Die Auswirkungen auf die Umwelt in dieser Region werden damit immer offensichtlicher.

Auf dem Gipfel eines Berges bei Romani, einem verschlafenen staubigen Dorf ungefähr fünfzehn Kilometer von Baku entfernt, weht ein starker Wind. Die schweren, schnell vorbei ziehenden Wolken und die Sonnenstrahlen, denen es ab und zu gelingt, die Wolken zu durchbrechen, schaffen eine schaurig schöne Atmosphäre. Der Blick auf die Industrieruinen mit ihren veralteten Ölbohrtürmen am Fuße des Berges und die ausufernden Ballungsgebiete Bakus im Hintergrund veranschaulicht auf eindrucksvolle Weise, vor welch großen Umweltherausforderungen Aserbaidschan in den kommenden Jahrzehnten stehen wird. Auch wenn die kaspische Region sicherlich kein Einzelfall ist, haben Urbanisierung und Ausbeutung und Kontrolle von Energierohstoffen wesentlich größere Auswirkungen auf die künftige Sicherheitslage als die oft zitierten Erscheinungen wie "ethnischer Nationalismus" oder "islamischer Extremismus".

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Photo: copyright Ralph Hälbig

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REPORT: Aprildemonstrationen in Georgien: weder Revolution noch Evolution. Von Nicolas Landru (

Übersetzt von Jennifer EGGERT

Der 9. April, der in Georgien hoch symbolbehaftete nationale Trauertag, war von der uneinheitlichen politischen Opposition als Ausgangspunkt für einen neuen Anlauf zur Mobilisierung der Bevölkerung gegen das Regime des Präsidenten Michail Saakaschwili angekündigt worden. Das erklärte Ziel eines Großteils dieser politischen Kräfte war es, die Menschen auf der Straße dazu zu bringen, den von der Opposition als illegitimen Amtsinhaber betrachteten Präsidenten abzusetzen. Die Oppositionsparteien, die durch die Niederlage während der Präsidentschafts- und Parlamentswahlen 2008 geschwächt wurden und während des Blitzkrieges gegen Russland im August 2008 stumm geblieben waren, haben nun ihr Versprechen doch gehalten und besetzen seit über einer Woche die Straßen. Doch von der kämpferischen Atmosphäre vom Winter 2007 / 2008 ist wenig zu verspüren. Die Regierung hat einen anderen Ton angeschlagen und predigt den Dialog. Eine Strategie, die der Protestbewegung, die die erneute Mobilisierung der Massen in Tbilissi bisher nicht erreicht, kaum entgegen kommt.

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ARTICLE: Wendell Steavenson: Saakashvili, Run (

English speakers associate cowardice with a chicken; in Georgia, it’s a rabbit. So in Tbilisi, protesters have been chucking carrots at President Mikhail Saakashvili’s office in his new, imposing Chancellery, built on a cliff overlooking the city. The crowds are down from this month’s big rally, which independent observers had at around 40,000 to 50,000 protesters. Still, somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand demonstrators each day are keeping the atmosphere in the Georgian capital uncertain, blocking roads from time to time, besieging the State TV channel, and pitching tents at the entrance to the Chancellery. The government would like to negotiate—on parliamentary reform and issues of judicial and media independence—but the opposition has stuck to its maximalist demand: the only negotiation it’s willing to enter into, its leaders say, is the terms of Saakashvili’s resignation.
Irakli Alasania, who was, until a few months ago, Georgia’s ambassador to the U.N., but who broke with the government, in part over the disastrous consequences of the war with Russia last summer, should be the leading figure of the opposition: Alasania is young and handsome, and has a diplomat’s reputation for being reasonable. But he’s also politically inexperienced; when he mentioned negotiation with Saakashvili in a speech a few days ago, the crowd booed and other opposition leaders took over the demonstration with more radical rhetoric.
This kind of polarization is a shame and a lost opportunity—there’s a huge middle ground of disaffection in the country that would support an opposition movement organized around the issues. Many—probably even most—Georgians harbor deep concerns about Saakashvili’s regime, but don’t wish to risk another upheaval. Georgia has overthrown both of its previous Presidents; Saakashvili himself led the demonstrations that resulted in Eduard Shevardnadze’s resignation in 2003, in what became known as the Rose Revolution.
But for the time being, Georgia remains mired in politics of personality. Last autumn, I
profiled Saakashvili as he began to deal with the fallout from the Russian war. (Entire article available to subscribers.) He now faces the Obama Administration, which is proving less gung-ho about Georgia’s inclusion in NATO and more pragmatic in its relations with Russia, as well as a global economic downturn that has slashed foreign investment. Despite all of this, he still retains his famous bluster, and isn’t put off by flying vegetables. “Carrots, some cabbages too—we’ve been making soup!” Saakashvili told me.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

CEREMONIA: Orthodox Christians mark Easter (

Orthodox Christians have been marking Easter at celebrations throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Georgia 'battle'
Video: Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili joined worshippers to celebrate Easter

In neighbouring Georgia, President Mikhail Saakashvili attended an Easter service in the Tbilisi Central Trinity cathedral with his wife and two sons.

Mr Saakashvili has been facing opposition calls for him to step down for the past week.

Protesters have taken a short break for the Easter festivities, but opposition leaders have vowed to launch the "final stage of the battle" after the holidays.

"It is a great celebration for the entire Orthodox world," President Saakashvili said in the cathedral. "Georgia, as one of the most ancient Christian nations, is celebrating it and we are sharing it with all the Orthodox Christians worldwide."

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