Lawrence Sheets, South Caucasus Project Director, talks about International Crisis Group’s work in the South Caucasus, promoting communication across the lines of the region’s most intractable conflicts.
Showing posts tagged as "lawrence sheets"
Showing posts tagged lawrence sheets
Georgia’s Political Factions Now Must Govern Together | Voice of America
By James Brooke
Georgia’s future prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, met President Mikheil Saakashvili at Tbilisi’s modern steel-and-glass presidential palace on Tuesday. Afterwards the two rivals posed for pictures, and the president told reporters, “We will transfer the majority of the government’s function to the opposition peacefully for the first time in this region.”
For his part, Ivanishvili said, “I am glad we have had this chance to meet, and I must say that we are a civilized nation, and we can get along in a democratic way with our opponents.”
Photo: Uncornered Market/Flickr
Is ‘Soviet Union Light’ the Future of Putin’s Russia? | Voice of America
By James Brooke
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin once described the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Two decades later, he is laboring to create what some critics call a “Soviet Union Light.”
Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr
Georgia: Does Saakashvili Have a Second Political Act in Him? | Eurasianet
By Justin Burke
The statesmanship exhibited by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili following his party’s electoral defeat in parliamentary elections may give him more room for political maneuver down the road.
Especially in recent years, outside observers expressed concern about Saakashvili’s controlling governing style, even as he promoted a reform-minded and Western-oriented agenda in Georgia. His administration also drew criticism for blurring the lines between the state and the governing United National Movement (UNM) during the parliamentary election campaign.
But Saakashvili’s fast acceptance of the October 1 election results appears to have restored much of the shine on his political reputation, at least in the international arena. When it became clear that his UNM would not retain its parliamentary majority, he quickly conceded defeat and vowed to work within the constitutional system. Based on the preliminary election results, the Georgian Dream coalition, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, will enjoy a solid majority in the incoming parliament.
Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
What now for Georgia after change of power? | Euronews
“It is still possible there will be disturbances or street protests if the two sides cannot agree on what is going to occur in the next year. Mr Ivanishvili has stated as late as yesterday that he still expects President Saakashvili to resign, which President Saakashvili is not ready to do by all signs. So you still could have an unstable situation if the two don’t come to an agreement,” explained International Crisis Group’s Caucasus Project Director Lawrence Sheets.
"C’est possible qu’il y ait des manifestations dans les rues de la part des deux camps s’ils n’arrivent pas à s’entendre sur ce qui va se passer l’an prochain, analyse Lawrence Sheets, du groupe international de recherche sur le Caucase. Monsieur Ivanichvili a déjà appelé le président Saakachvili à démissionner, ce que ce dernier ne compte pas faire. Alors la situation peut être instable tant que les deux hommes n’ont pas conclu un accord."
tiré de «Géorgie, les dangers de la cohabitation», Euronews
Sunset for Misha? Georgia’s Pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili Defeated by Pro-Russian Challenger | The Daily Beast
By Anna Nemtsova
Exhausted of revolutions, wars, intrigues, and conflicts—80 percent polled negatively regarding Georgia’s conflict with Russia—Georgians are eager to take a peaceful break.
“A majority of Georgians do not feel anger for Russian people. But nothing is easy here: a pro-Russian figure loyal to Moscow would not solve all problems,” said South Caucasus project director for the International Crisis Group Lawrence Sheets.
Photo: World Bank/Flickr
Georgia Challenger Draws Strong Support, Exit Poll Shows | The New York Times
By Ellen Barry
TBILISI, Georgia — Exit polls in Georgia’s hotly contested parliamentary race suggested on Monday that a party backed by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has edged out the party headed by Georgia’s larger-than-life president, .
Photo: Kun Jung Lee/Flickr
Ignore the Georgian Elections at Your Own Risk | Bloomberg
By Lawrence Sheets, Crisis Group’s Caucasus Project Director
What with the Arab Spring, Israeli threats to attack Iran, and the bloodshed in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the world has largely forgotten the troubled Caucasus region.
But European and Western leaders would do well to take another look at what is happening there, four years after Georgia’s 2008 war with Russia proved the dangers still posed by unresolved military conflicts from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Photo: Lindsey Vaillancourt
Armenia: An Opportunity for Statesmanship
Yerevan/Tbilisi/Istanbul/Brussels | 25 Jun 2012
Unless Armenia’s next presidential election is fair and gives its winner a strong political mandate, the government will lack the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reforms, tackle corruption and negotiate a peaceful end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Armenia: An Opportunity for Statesmanship, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the challenges before a pivotal presidential vote early next year that will determine whether the country has shed its more than a decade and a half of fraud-tainted electoral history. Whoever is elected must accelerate implementation of much-needed governance and economic reforms and help restore momentum to diplomatic efforts to tackle the long-running territorial conflict with Azerbaijan that poses a danger to regional stability.
“Another election perceived as seriously flawed would further distract from peace talks and severe economic problems”, says Lawrence Sheets, Crisis Group’s Caucasus Project Director. “The likely consequences would then be even more citizens opting out of democratic politics, as well as increased emigration”.
May’s competitive parliamentary elections produced positive signs, with more balanced media coverage and widely respected rights of free assembly, expression and movement. They also exposed longstanding issues. Widespread abuse of administrative resources; inflated voters lists; vote-buying; lack of sufficient redress for election violations; and reports of multiple voting have damaged trust in government bodies and institutions. It is crucial that the February 2013 vote, in which President Serzh Sargsyan will likely seek a second term, becomes “the cleanest elections in Armenian history”, as he had already promised the 2012 polls would be.
Though the president initially took bold steps, most noteworthy among them an attempt to normalise relations with Turkey, broader change has been slow. Political courage is needed to overhaul a deeply entrenched system in which big business and politics are intertwined, and transparency is lacking.
The economy remains unhealthily reliant on financial remittances from Armenians abroad. Rates of emigration and seasonal migration out of the country are alarmingly high. There have been few serious efforts to combat high-level corruption. The executive branch still enjoys overwhelming, virtually unchecked, powers. The judicial system is perceived as neither independent nor competent, and mechanisms to hold authorities accountable are largely ineffective. Media freedom is inadequate, with a glaring lack of diversity in television, from which most Armenians get their news.
To address these shortcomings and establish the basis for a free and fair election, the president should take the lead in encouraging authorities to pass a new criminal code, hold officials involved in corruption and elections abuses to account and increase civilian control of the police and independence of the judiciary. International partners should provide technical and financial assistance and hold the government accountable for any backsliding in reform.
“President Sargsyan has a window of opportunity, in advance of the 2013 elections, to demonstrate statesmanship and make Armenia a better place to live”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “A failure to embrace both immediate and long-term structural reforms would neither capitalise on Armenia’s strengths nor make for a good presidential campaign strategy”.