President Timofti’s forceful rejection of just such an effort last year shows that he has the political instincts and courage to stand up to Russia. He must now show that he can manage a more subtle form of coercion – diplomatic pressure to make a deal.
If a vibrant democratic culture that respects the people’s basic rights and provides them with a viable choice in future presidential elections is to be realized in Armenia, the opposition parties must come together around a common agenda.
Democratic governance – as the Western-educated Saakashvili should understand and the Russian-groomed Ivanishvili must accept – requires compromise.
Given the lack of enthusiasm surrounding the presidential contest this year, there likely won’t be a repeat of the unrest in 2008. Even so, we cannot help by despair at the lack of serious challengers in this month’s presidential election.
This deal, should it come to pass, should confirm for Europe once and for all that Ukraine is ready to chart a new course in the West.
While some observers, such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, see the ECU as a genuine attempt to improve economic prospects for the developing nations of the former USSR, Ukraine is wise to remain wary.
Astana has embarked on a campaign to shut down independent media outlets critical of the government. The government cannot ban enough newspapers and Internet domains to make its violent suppression of peaceful protests and denial of basic political freedoms acceptable.
Azerbaijan has great potential for growth and has set its sights on attracting foreign investment from Europe and the broader Western world. Before Baku can realize these goals, it must demonstrate the confidence and political maturity to allow a vibrant opposition to flourish.
Just as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues to serve as a drag on two countries’ potentially bright futures, so does the Sokh enclave hamper local and national development in Central Asia.
The Kremlin is concerned enough about increasing ties to the West to feel the need to pooh-pooh Ashton’s visit. One gets the impression that Putin doth protest too much.