Day 2 of the Global Briefing has come to an end. We began with an intense discussion on Syria and wrapped up with parallel sessions on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Sudan.
Showing posts tagged as "caucasus"
Showing posts tagged caucasus
"There is an awareness among government officials, both in the United States, Russia, and among European officials, that this conflict is getting worse. There should be something done to stop it."
—Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director, on rising tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in “Ax murderer’s pardon stirs fears of war”, CNN
The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia drove thousands of ethnic Georgians from their homes in South Ossetia. Lawrence Sheets, Caucasus Project Director for the International Crisis Group, and Medea Turashvili, Caucasus Analyst, analyze the challenges faced by Georgia’s internally displaced and the prospects of a political reconciliation permitting their return.
The complete set of Communications & IT Officer Ben Dalton’s photos from a recent trip to Crisis Group’s Tbilisi office is now up on Flickr. But click above for a sampling!
Engelbert Humperdinck, the 75-year old chosen by the BBC to represent Britain at the Eurovision song contest, is more famous for such hits as “After the Lovin’” than for political campaigning. But some activists hope that when he showcases his crooning in Baku in Azerbaijan on May 26th, the event will be made memorable for another reason. With some 120m people expected to tune in, they want to highlight the country’s deteriorating human-rights record.
Azerbaijan’s government is spending a great deal of money tarting up its capital for the contest. The contest will take place in the new Baku Crystal Hall, a gleaming 23,000-seat arena. But a new report from Human Rights Watch highlights the abuses that were committed along the way. Local authorities expropriated houses and evicted residents with scant regard for due process or the rights of homeowners.
One family woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of bulldozers. They made it out of the building in one piece, but lost many of their belongings. Police broke down a door to arrest another family; by the time of their release five hours later, little remained of their home.
President Ilham Aliev hopes the event will serve as a celebration of Azerbaijan as it celebrates 21 years of independence. His government has spent millions of dollars on a public-relations campaign to boost the country’s standing. It is streamlining its unwieldy visa regime to encourage international visitors.
Indeed, Azerbaijan has come a long way since the dark days of the early 1990s, when the country fought a bitter war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. True, 13-16% of the country’s territory (depending on how you count) remains in Armenian control, the conflict remains frozen, and Azerbaijan hosts roughly 600,000 people displaced from their homes.
But huge oil revenues have led to a flurry of infrastructure and reconstruction projects. Social-welfare payments trebled between 2006 and 2010, and living standards have been boosted considerably as a result, according to the World Bank. Another newreport, from the International Crisis Group, describes how this wealth has benefited some of the displaced—even though many more need help.
Communications & IT Officer Ben Dalton traveled to Crisis Group’s South Caucasus office in Tbilisi, Georgia—and here are some photos from the trip. Included are shots from Tserovani IDP settlement, one of the largest settlements for those displaced by the 2008 South Ossetia war, and residents of an all-but-abandoned border village just a stone’s throw from the closely guarded Administrative Boundary Line that now defines South Ossetia. To listen to a podcast from Ben’s trip, click here—and look for more material from the trip in the coming weeks!
Lawrence Sheets, our South Caucasus project director, has a book out, 8 Pieces of Empire, on his career as a journalist covering many of the conflicts that flared up in the wake of the Soviet collapse.
David M. Shribman has a review today in the Boston Globe:
Through travels in Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and other intoxicating venues to witness what he calls “the pathology of upheaval,’’ Sheets finds both pathology and upheaval aplenty: battlefields without fronts, commercial airlines without pilots, roads without automobiles, showers without hot water, confusion without end.
The “pieces” in the title refers not only to geography but to people who were scattered: a Bulgakov-loving, rebellious racketeer in Leningrad; a Russian officer left behind at a forlorn border post between Armenia and Turkey, guarding a foreign frontier with another foreign state and trying to flog snake venom to passing journalists; an ageing former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, who helped to end the cold war but failed to prevent a hot one from starting in his native Georgia, which he came to rule in the 1990s.