With Latvia’s economy outgrowing the rest of Europe’s, returning to its 2007 peak, the Baltic country is prepared to enjoy the benefits of the euro currently not really enjoyed by the European south.
2014 will be the year that Europe’s mettle is truly tested.
An end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would end reliance on Russian military power; an end to blaming the grandchildren of the Ottomans for the sins of a long-fallen empire would allow new trading vistas and hope to open again.
Beneath the success of these individual stories is a somewhat odder truth: the Baltics only fit the European Union slightly better than they did the Soviet one.
It probably struck everyone involved as terribly clever, the problem is that someone left it to Kyrgyzstan’s government to execute it.
Georgia is now indisputably tilted more toward Moscow than it has ever been. It continues to claim a European future, but its dominant political class is coming to see the value of Moscow not merely as a trading and foreign policy partner, but as a governing model.
Every great power in the region is courting the landlocked little crossroads within an inch of its life.
While Georgia has gone very far to show its European bona fides, its recent actions speak of a nation not so much hungry for Europe as expecting it.
There is a tragedy here, one that goes even beyond the thousand and one failures of governance that marks this as perhaps the very worst run of the former Soviet Republics.
Officially, the mine accounts for 10 percent of GDP, and employs thousands of locals. Unofficially, its total impact on the official economy is 30 percent, and its impact on the shadow economy is even higher.