Peace Rank: Balkans and Eastwards

June 14, 2010

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is implemented by organization called Vision of Humanity, which groups together a number of interrelated initiatives focused on global peace. As its mission Visions of Humanity brings a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peacefulness to humanity’s survival in the 21st century. Now on May Vision of Humanity published its fourth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI). It has been expanded to rank 149 independent states and updated with the latest-available figures and information for 2008-09.

Indicators

The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from respected sources, which combine internal and external factors, such as violent crime, political stability and military expenditure, correlated against a number of social development indicators such as corruption, freedom of the press, respect for human rights and school enrolment rates and relations with neighbouring countries. These indicators were selected by an international panel of academics, business people, philanthropists and members of peace institutions.


Some reservations:

  • Vision of humanity, its expert panel and GPI are representing mainly western methodology, approach and values
  • GPI is based to data available of different indicators and as such a compromise
  • The 2010 scores are based information collected mainly information for 2008-2009 so there is some delay

With these reservations I however find GPI both interesting and useful and anyway I haven’t seen any better global survey.


The Rank


To the table below I have collected the GPI rankings from the Balkans and Eastwards on countries analysed in 2010 report. In addition I have included to table also top-3 and worst-3 countries, the BRIC countries and USA. Besides 2010 ranking I show also rankings in 2009, 2008 and 2007 reports to see trend during last years as this may help to track when and how some countries become more or less peaceful. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. My source – Vision of Humanity Org, GPI results, full list of 149 countries, methodology and other explanations and scores per country/indicator can be found from here!

Country 2010 2009 2008 2007
Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score
New Zealand New Zealand 1 1.188 1 1.202 4 1.350 2 1.363
Iceland Iceland 2 1.212 4 1.225 1 1.176
Japan Japan 3 1.247 7 1.272 5 1.358 5 1.413
Slovenia Slovenia 11 1.358 9 1.322 16 1.491 15 1.539
Croatia Croatia 41 1.707 49 1.741 60 1.926 67 2.030
Romania Romania 45 1.749 31 1.591 24 1.611 26 1.682
Bulgaria Bulgaria 50 1.785 56 1.775 57 1.903 54 1.936
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 60 1.873 50 1.755 66 1.974 75 2.089
Albania Albania 65 1.925 75 1.925 79 2.044
Moldova Moldova 66 1.938 75 1.925 83 2.091 72 2.059
People's Republic of China China 80 2.034 74 1.921 67 1.981 60 1.980
BrazilBrazil 83 2.048 85 2.022 90 2.168 83 2.173
Republic of MacedoniaMacedonia (FYR) 83 2.048 88 2.039 87 2.119 82 2.170
United StatesUSA 85 2.056 83 2.015 97 2.227 96 2.317
The image “https://i2.wp.com/europeandcis.undp.org/uploads/public1/images/Montenegro_Flag-RESIZE-s925-s450-fit.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Montenegro 88 2.060
Serbia Serbia 90 2.071 78 1.951 85 2.110 84 2.181
Ukraine Ukraine 97 2.115 82 2.010 84 2.096 80 2.150
Armenia Armenia 113 2.266
AzerbaijanAzerbaijan 119 2.367 114 2.327 101 2.287 101 2.448
TurkeyTurkey 126 2.420 121 2.389 115 2.403 92 2.272
IndiaIndia 128 2.516 122 2.433 107 2.355 109 2.530
Georgia (country) Georgia 142 2.970
Russia Russia 143 3.013 136 2.750 131 2.777 118 2.903
AfghanistanAfghanistan 147 3.252 143 3.285 137 3.126
Somalia Somalia 148 3.390 142 3.257 139 3.293
Iraq Iraq 149 3.406 144 3.341 140 3.514 121 3.437

Some developments

Central and Eastern Europe remains, on average, the third most peaceful region, after North America. The recent members of the European Union are ranked highest, with Slovenia leading the way in 11th place. Non-EU countries in the Balkans are ranked between 60th and 90th in the 2010 GPI and nations in the Caucasus and Central Asia occupy the lower reaches of the index, as before. Croatia also fared well, with a robust score increase and a rise of eight places to 41st position, amid growing political stability and improved relations with neighbouring countries as it closed in on accession to the EU. Romania’s score also deteriorated sharply and it dropped 14 places in the overall ranking. Particularly large score rises for Russia and Georgia, which were embroiled in conflict in 2008. Serbia and Montenegro were covered earlier as the state and the scores of Serbia does not include Kosovo province as figures from there were not available.

Findings

One of the more remarkable findings from the 2010 Global Peace Index is that societies that are highly peaceful also perform exceptionally well in many other ways. The most peaceful societies share the following social structures and attitudes peaceful also perform exceptionally well in many other ways. The most peaceful societies share the following social structures and attitudes

Photo: dreamstime.com

Well functioning government

Sound business environment

Respectful of human rights and tolerance

Good relations with neighbouring states

High levels of freedom of information

Acceptance of others

High participation rates in primary and secondary education

Low levels of corruption

Equitable sharing of resources.

These qualities act as a facilitator making it easier for people to produce, businesses to sell, entrepreneurs and scientists to innovate and governments to regulate. A detailed review of these qualities is contained in discussion paper.


Monetary value of peace

Peace has also its monetary value in terms of business growth and economic development. The index authors estimate that the total economic impact of an end to violence could have been US$28.2tr between 2006 and 2009. A 25% reduction in global violence would add an annual $1.85tr to the global economy. If an improvement of 25% in global peacefulness could have been achieved in 2009 then this would have unleashed $1.2 trillion in additional economic activity. (Source: Peace, Wealth and Human Potential)

However also war has its monetary value and in short term business – especially inside military-industrial-complex – world the profits from war can be more attracting than those from peace. In my previous article “Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?”. I described situation as follows:

Global military industrial consumption per year is 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars, representing a few percent of GDP and still rising. U.S. share of the cake is about 40% to the current year, 664 billion dollars. This is a good comparison of the UN budget (27 billion), which is a sum of nearly three per cent of its Member States on military expenditure. UN’s “Millennium Development Goals” are dreaming 135 billion per year, this one only a fraction of military spending.

An other comparison (dollars / year): the world’s military spending 1.2 trillion, the OECD Development 106 billion, Peace work 6 billion and 0.6 billion of conflict prevention. The international community is now willing to invest 200 times more to the war than peace. Peace Research, could help prevent conflicts, but development of tools for killing is much more lucrative. Against one peace researcher, is estimated to be more than 1100 researcher for weapon (and their use) developers.

Peace and global challenge


Global challenges, such as climate change, decreasing biodiversity, lack of fresh water and overpopulation, call for global solutions and these solutions will require co-operation on a global scale unparalleled in history. Peace is the essential prerequisite because without it the level of needed co-operation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve these challenges will not be achieved. The big challenge at global, regional and state level is to strengthen factors – or “drivers” of peace in social structures and attitudes.


Global Peace Rank – Balkans & Black Sea

June 14, 2009

The results of the Global Peace Index for 2009 suggest that the world has become slightly less peaceful in the past year, which appears to reflect the intensification of violent conflict in some countries and the effects of both the rapidly rising food and fuel prices early in 2008 and the dramatic global economic downturn in the final quarter of the year. Total 144 countries was analysed in 2009.

 

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is implemented by organization called Vision of Humanity, which groups together a number of interrelated initiatives focused on global peace.  As its mission Visions of Humanity Org.brings a strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peacefulness to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.

Indicators

Twenty-three indicators of the existence or absence of peace were chosen by the panel of experts, which are divided into three broad categories: measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization. Measures of ongoing conflicts include e.g. number of external and internal conflicts, estimated number of deaths from organized conflict (external/internal), level of organized conflict (internal) and relations with neighbouring countries.

Some reservations:

  • Vision of humanity, its expert panel and GPI are representing mainly western methodology, approach and values
  • GPI is based to data available of different indicators and as such a compromise

With these reservations I however find GPI both interesting and useful and anyway I haven’t seen  any better global survey.

The Rank

To the table below I have collected the GPI rankings for the Balkans and Black Sea region countries analysed in 2009.  In addition I have included to table also top-3 and worst-3 countries, the BRIC countries and USA. Rankings for the mentioned countries analysed in 2007 are also included for comparison. Countries most at peace are ranked first. A lower score indicates a more peaceful country. 

Country

Rank

Score

2009

2007

2009

2007

New Zealand

1

2

1.202

1.363

Denmark

2

3

1.217

1.377

Norway

2

1

1.217

1.357

Slovenia

9

15

1.322

1.539

Romania

31

26

1.591

1.682

Croatia

49

67

1.741

2.030

Bosnia and Herzegovina

50

75

1.755

2.089

Bulgaria

56

54

1.775

1.936

Greece

57

44

1.778

1.791

China

74

60

1.921

1.980

Albania

75

NA

1.925

NA

Moldova

75

72

1.925

2.059

Serbia

78

84

1.951

2.181

Ukraine

82

80

2.010

2.150

United States of America

83

96

2.015

2.317

Brazil

85

83

2.022

2.173

Macedonia

88

82

2.039

2.170

Montenegro

91

NA

2.046

NA

Azerbaijan

114

101

2.327

2.448

Turkey

121

92

2.389

2.272

India

122

109

2.422

2.530

Georgia

134

NA

2.736

NA

Russia

136

118

2.750

2.903

Somalia

142

NA

3.257

NA

Afghanistan

143

NA

3.285

NA

Iraq

144

121

3.341

3.437


Some developments in Balkans and Black Sea region

If compared the developments between 2007 and 2009 few highlights could be mentioned:

  • Slovenia is rising also in this research to global top-level – from place 15 to place 9 close to traditionally peaceful Nordic countries and outstriping most of sc “Western democracies” and the rest of world
  • Croatia has improved its index from 67 to 49, amasing 18 places
  • It seems that the civilicised border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia doesn’t have any effect in GPI ranking
  • The rise of Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the bigest in GPI and is partly explained via UNCHR statistics about improved situation of displaced persons.  The other sources – as recent U.S. Intelligence report – are not so optimistic and also I have earlier been worrying e.g. about rising radical Islam in BiH
  • Moldova and Ukraine have a bit too high ranking (75 and 82) from my point of view if compared to e.g. Georgia (134).  While conflict in Transdnistria still stays in frozen stage the events during last election are sign about latent tensions.  Ethnic tensions and coming Presidential elections are already making situation in Ukraine unstabil.

Peaceful Societies?

Peaceful societies are characterized as countries with the Following:

Social Structures

  • Well functioning governments
  • Good relations with regional neighbors
  • Low levels of corruption
  • High enrolment rates in primary education
  • Freedom of the pressRespect for human rights

Social Attitudes

  • Do not see their cultures as superior to others
  • Place a high value on tolerance
  • Believe in free speech and respect human rights
  • Believe military action should be limited and internationally sanctioned

The Drivers of Peace and Violence

As separate analysis a further statistical analysis was conducted to understand better the structure of peace. As causes of peace the rechearcers studied some 40 different potential factors – or “drivers” of peace and some notable findings were following:

Drivers of Peace:

  • Functioning of government
  • Freedom of the press
  • Extent of regional integration
  • Primary school enrolment ratio
  • Life expectancy
  • Women in parliament

Drivers of Violence:

  • Importance of religion in national life
  • GPD per capita
  • Hostility to foreigners /private property
  • Electoral process

Statistical approach shows some suprising phenomen such as free and fair elections can increase the likelihood of violence.  The researchers explain this to be possible if a well functioning government is lacking and the drivers of peace are absent.

Second surprise to me at least was a finding that for some nations a high GPD income provides the state with the tools of conflict such as weapons, large security apparatuses and military forces. However if the economic indicators of nation’s wealth are relatively evenly distributed, e.g. through educations and health, the society will be more peaceful.

More about peace/violence drivers in GPI DiscussionPaper.

Peace and global challenge

Global challenges, such as clima change, decreasing biodiversity, lack of fresh water and overpopulation, call for global solutions and these solutions will require co-operation on a global scale unparalleled in history. Peace is the essential prerequisite because without it the level of needed co-operation, inclusiveness and social equity necessary to solve these challenges will not be achieved.



Is it Time to Bury Nabucco?

May 21, 2009

Latest developments during last weeks related the EU’s policy of diversifying Europes’s energy supplies give a clear indication that EU’s pipedream – Nabucco – is vanishing while the rival Russia’s South Stream gets a boost both on the ground and updated aims. European Commission has tried enhance Nabucco already some nine year with modest or even backward success. Now is maybe the right time to reconsider EU’s energy plans in new context.

Russia will propose including the South Stream gas pipeline to pump natural gas from Russia to the Balkans and onto Europe in a list of EU priority projects, a Gazprom deputy CEO said Tuesday. “We are drafting an application for inclusion of the South Stream project into the list of EU priority projects, and we see no grounds why this application should be rejected,” Alexander Medvedev told journalists during a break at an international energy conference in Berlin.

Earlier Nabucco got its priority status in EU as the aim was to diversify supplies away from Russia.  Now Gazprom is to make a presentation to the European Parliament to promote South Stream later in 2009. The EU Energy Commission says Gazprom would have to prove South Stream represents “added value” for Europe to become a priority, earlier the EU has already accepted Gazprom’s Nord Stream as a priority project.

Boost to South Stream

On May 15 South Stream project got a boost two step closer to reality. As I mentioned in my previous article in addition to Italy’s ENI, Gazprom signed memoranda of understanding with Greek natural gas transmission company DESFA, Serbia’s Srbijagas and Bulgarian Energy Holding.  What I didn’t knew then was that at a meeting in Sochi, attended by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI agreed to double the planned pipeline’s capacity to 63 billion cubic meters from previous plan 31 bcm/y.  So at same day the establishment of joint ventures for the construction of South Stream pipeline was finally provided with a formal basis and the project doubled estimated gas flow. This Gazprom’s move strengthens their competitive advantage over Nabucco and at the same time affirm its dominance in the field.

The pipeline would cross the Black Sea at 2.000m depth and from there to the city of Barna, in Bulgaria and from there its north part will reach Austria after crossing Serbia while its south part will extend to Greece and Italy.

Signed contracts are boosting also regional economy. The Greek section of South Stream will cost between 700 to 1000 Mln Euros, the section in Serbia is estimated cost some  700 Mln Euro, costs in Bulgaria  depend if gas is going existing or totally new pipeline. Further investments related to final route(s) of pipes are possible also in Croatia and Slovenia.  After the gas flows the transit fees can be remarkable in transit countries.

Desperate search for gas by Nabucco

The economic viability of the Nabucco project has long been questinable. EU has only committed a small fraction of the €7.9 billion ($10.6 billion) needed to build the pipeline. The basic question is where the gas for Nabucco (ultimately targeted at 31 billion cubic meters per annum) will come from. If there is no good answer coming soon the today’s and tomorrow’s potential investors are looking better alternatives.

But despite the recent progress on Nabucco, it all still looks to many analysts like a case of too little, too late. “I believe Nabucco still looks very problematic,” says Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. “It might work, or it might not, but I don’t think it’s going to work quickly.” He argues that the pipeline probably won’t be viable until around 2020—much later than the 2014 starting date currently being advanced.

Nabucco’s supply base has been vanishing with latest developments.  Original idea was to get gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.  Gazprom’s newfound willingness to offer cash on the barrelhead for Turkmen and Kazakh gas led to Kazakhstan’s permission to construct a new pipeline that will feed gas from Central Asia into Russia’s export network.  The United States Senate offers verbal support, but Washington is no closer to brokering the tradeoffs that would be necessary for Nabucco to get off the ground.  Same time Gazprom is ready to buy all the gas from the second stage of an offshore Azeri development and Azerbaijan stll lacks a direct gas link to Europe and has been unable to agree with Turkey on terms for the transit of larger planned volumes.

Ongoing sanctions against Iran made an extension line from Turkmenistan to Turkey a non-starter.  They also meant that no Western government could countenance even an informal arrangement where Iranian gas might compensate Turkey so that more gas flowing through Nabucco would reach other European markets.

Nabucco tinkering with Middle East dreams while South Stream works on the ground in Europe

A couple of days after Sochi meeting four UAE and European companies told an oil and gas contracts between them and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to supply gas from Iraq’s Kurdistan region to kick-start the Nabucco pipeline project to supply Europe.

The Iraqi government on Monday 18th 2009 rejected an $8 billion Kurdish plan calling new contracts illegal.  The KRG, which has clashed with Baghdad over draft oil legislation, has countered that the deals are legal and comply with Iraq’s constitution. In Iraq gas normally has been a side-product in oilfields so increasing gas production has been related increasing oil production.  Whatever the legal output will be a strong estimation is that gas starts flow for export after 2020.

Schroeder’s view

Speaking at a business meeting in Russia’s Kaliningrad on Monday, Schroeder, who chairs the Nord Stream shareholders’ committee, said that Russia cannot be blamed for recent gas shortages at the EU.

“When we get Russian gas, the problem is not the supplier, but the fact that 80 percent of the pipeline is located in the Ukraine. We should look for independence not from Russia, but from such transit schemes,” he was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. “Both Nord Stream and South Stream allow to avoid unstable transit countries,” Schroeder added.

My view

As Nabucco’s supply base has vanished and its economical reliability is going same way while South Stream is gaining distance on the ground it is time to revise European Commission’s pipedreams. Does EU want be dependent on Russia’s gas (South and Nord Stream), Ukraine’s transit (today’s lines), Turkey’s blackmail combined middle-East as supplier (Nabucco)?

Power play has many aspects – I have touched only gas.  Searching and increasing use of renewable energy sources, increasing nuclear energy, decreasing consumption etc are all as part of a whole.  However from my point of view need of gas will be the at least the same if not bigger than today in EU and Europe for next two-three decades.

I would like to see EU to change priority status from Nabucco to South Stream.  Nabucco could still be kept alive in case to wait stabilisation in middle-East.  Besides whole the time there is improvements in liquefaction plants and tankers to increase the share Liquefied natural gas/LNG compared to gas supplied via pipes.  Selecting South Stream now could secure its smooth implementation before 2015; help EU focus other aspects of its energy sources and policy and improve EU-Russia relationship with its geopolitical consequences.

Sources and more about topic:


Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway

April 19, 2009

Twitter revolution did not change government in Moldova but created big drama instead including a couple of conspiracy theories and “fast-track” mini enlargement of EU with one million new EU citizens Moldova possibly losing a quarter its citizens. So a relatively small improvised demonstration can lead its (mis)use for possible purposeful utilization of multidimensional aims of different players.

In my post “Twitter Revolution-Case Moldova I described a bit implementation and motivations about events occurred after 5th April elections in Moldova. Conclusions about elections itself are in my post Election in Moldova – Nato Perspective blocked”.

Some random pickings from Moldovan twitters about situation are describing situation afterward:

…about 200 people was arrested and nobody know where they are now…communist president had a meeting will all school and university deans, and told them that they’ll be fired if police catch one of their students at protest….also they close borders with Romania, and don’t let international journalists to enter in country. 3 journalists was denied entry in airport…2 Moldavian journalists disappeared after they filmed undercover police beating students…while in Chisinau people was protesting and fighting, national tv had on a documentary film…

 

On the other hand demonstration has been characterized also as an act where

youth, paid by older internationally-acting manipulators with money, alcohol and drugs, seized a presidential office, planted a Romania’s flag on a president palace and set on fire country’s parliament, demanding inclusion as a province in Romania.”

Conspiracy 1

The first conspiracy theory came public April 14th by Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review. According its sources flags of Romania and EU over Moldova’s presidential office building were run up by employees of Moldavan secret services. The Flags of Romania and the European Union which have been run up on April 7, over the building of the Moldova’s presidential office during the protest actions against falsifications of parliamentary elections, were raised up at presence of a policeman, a source in the Information and Security Service (SIS) of Moldova told news agency Regnum April 14th. According to the source, the flag of Romania overt the building was raised by an employee of the SIS. (Source AXIS)


Conspiracy 2

Few days later April 16th Moldavian President Vladimir Voronin expressed totally opposite conspiracy theory claiming that nine Serb nationals took part in organising the coup d’état in Chisinau, adding that the Moldavian secret service has information that the unrests were headed by former ‘resistance’ fighters. President Voronin said he had a photograph of a Serbian citizen who he claims is working for the Americans. – We have it all on tape and we can identify all the animals who were attacking the police – Voronin said.

Speaking in an interview for the Spanish daily El Pais, Voronin said nine Serbian citizens and several Romanian agents have been registered in Chisinau.

Danko Cosic from Serbia, the director of a non-governmental organisation “Prokoncept”, who was an observer in Moldavia during the elections, said that the country does not even have nine Serbs in it. – They showed the photograph Voronin speaks of. I am on that photo. They took the photo in front of the presidency building. I took no part in any violence. For sure, whoever is taking part in violence is not holding his hands in his pockets – Cosic concluded. He also said that the story of President Voronin is very illogical. – Nine Serbs could not organise a riot. There was me and another young man there – Cosic said. (Source AXIS)

Hasty consequences

There are growing social forces in Moldova seeking reunification with Romania for nationalist reasons and as an easy path to EU membership. Already between 10% and 20% of Moldovans have Romanian, and by extension EU, passports. The fear of Romanian expansionism frightens Transnistria away from reconciliation, while the “Kosovo precedent” gives its arguments for independence more weight.

Romanian President Traian Basescu told the Romanian parliament that he would fast-track Moldovans for Romanian citizenship following riots in the Moldova (Source DW)  . Fast-tracking citizenship to some 1m people next door in Moldova, in effect giving EU citizenship to a quarter of the population of Europe’s poorest state.

EU institutions are appalled (Source euobserver) at Romania’s proposal to give citizenship. The website quoted an unnamed EU official as describing the plans as “frightening.”

To make issue more complicate one should also note that at same time Russia is trying to draw Transdniestr into its orbit by giving out passports to (Moldovan) citizens living in this breakaway republic.



My perspective

From my perspective few points I would like to highlight, such as

  • If it is true that Moldovan government had purposeful utilization of demonstration I would claim this to be a double stupidity: First to implement this kind of action when you actually have almost landslide win in the election and second to be caught in the act of fabrication. The April 5 parliamentary election may have been flawed, but not to the degree the opposition claims.

  • Was “Twitter revolution” an attempt of another so-called “colored revolution,” or simply an expression of rage by young people who demand to live better lives? There are certainly specific individuals in Moldova who are interested see unification with Romania as the easiest way into the European Union. Looting of government buildings seems more hooliganism than a plan to take control of the country or to bring about “regime change by force.

  • One question is if using social networks with modern technology very democratic way in politics? This tactic suits mainly in urban areas by people – mostly younger generation – who are familiar with modern communication means and have infrastructure supporting them.

  • Many in breakaway Transdniester are watching the recent events in Moldova with satisfaction, in that the unrest and violence only serve as a further reason why they should not agree, in the wake of Kosovo’s independence, to once again become a part of Moldova.

  • For over a decade, Transdnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia had strong cases for independence, even stronger than Kosovo’s (My comparison Kosovo-Transdnstria in article “Transdnistria Follow-up. Today they have de facto independence, even if it is not recognized. And if now some Moldovans or wannabe Romanians are demanding border changes – after Kosovo – how can they be denied this?

  • The whole mess now in Moldova makes EU’s position challenging;  what is its position about this kind of mini-enlargement, how implement new European Partnership (EaP) program on the ground, how deal with secessionist Transdnistria, Gagauz and maybe more regions, what kind of cross-border activities to support?

And the next color will be …?

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Will there be Rose II in Georgia?

April 14, 2009

Demonstrations against President Mikhail Saakashvili continued fifth day on April 13th in Georgia. Consolidated opposition demands president’s resignation, early presidential and parliamentary elections being held in the spring 2009. So far the participation to protests is not enough to implement Rose Revolution II but two new regional questions have potential to develop conflicts and change political geography once again.

Critics accuse Mr Saakashvili, who came to power on the back of the 2003 Rose Revolution, of monopolising power and exerting pressure on the judiciary and the media. Last year’s war, when Russia crushed a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia and caused also separation of other breakaway province – Abkhazia are added to his other crucial mistakes.

During previous demonstration in 2007, Saakashvili deployed the military and successfully — though violently — crushed the protests. But that demonstration consisted of 15,000 protesters. Now the first time all 17 opposition parties have consolidated enough to organize a mass movement in the country. Furthermore, many members of the government – who were leading also Rose I – are joining the cause.

Demonstrations

Some 60,000 people turned out on Thursday for the first day of demonstrations – but far fewer were visible on Friday. About 10,000 people protested Saturday 11.4.2009 in three locations: in front of parliament, outside Saakashvili’s residence and at the headquarters of the main state television channel, where they called for the demonstrations to be broadcast live.

The Georgian opposition reversed its previous decision to hold a break for Palm Sunday and resume protests on Monday after the opposition’s press center, set up in front of the Georgian parliament’s building, was attacked by unidentified assailants on the night of April 11-12. Opposition leaders said a 50-strong mob had attacked the venue, tearing banners and ripping out computer cables at a stage set up outside parliament as dozens of protesters prepared to spend a third night on the street. Police, however, said protesters had set on street cleaners who arrived to clear the site of litter. (Source Newsdaily)

Georgia’s political opposition will erect fake jail cells at sites across Tbilisi to symbolize the country turning into a police state and to symbolise imprisoned democracy.

Adjara and Samtskhe-Javakheti

There is also concern that protests are planned in the Georgian secessionist region of Adjara, which rose up against and rejected Saakashvili’s government in 2004 after the Rose Revolution. This region was suppressed by Saakashvili once and has held a grudge ever since, looking for the perfect time to rise up again. Tbilisi especially wants to keep Adjara under its control because it is home to the large port of Batumi, and many of Georgia’s transport routes to Turkey run through it.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Batumi 9th April with demand president’s resignation. Movement for “Fair Georgia” representative said they will hold similar rallies on May 6 if the president refuses to resign.

If Adjara rises up, there are rumors in the region that its neighboring secessionist region, Samtskhe-Javakheti, will join in to help destabilize Saakashvili and the government. Georgia already officially lost its two northern secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Russian occupation during the August 2008 war and is highly concerned with its southern regions trying to break away.

In Samtskhe-Javakheti, an isolated, predominantly ethnic Armenian region in the country’s south there is a risk that socio-economic problems may turn into ethnic problems. The financial decline, crisis in central government and ethnic question makes the region a potential conflict region.

Hot early summer starting

Georgia is living now crucial moments if there will be Rose Revolution II or not. My point of view is that three aspects will show the direction:

First if opposition can get more supporters on the streets, President can manage today’s demonstrations, but if there is over 100,000 protesters this could be enough for revolution.

Second aspect is if there will be enough support for change outside Tbilisi and especially if the two secessionist regions see opportunity now implement wide autonomy.

Third aspect is the response of present government and President, violence can develop situation worse at least mid term, negotiations and concessions can divide opposition.

Georgia is not isolated state in Europe, it is only one flashpoint in northern Black Sea region. In Moldova some activities started last week, in Ukraine triangle drama between two governing parties and opposition is erupting anytime soon boosted next gas bill and rising ethnic tensions. Neighbour Balkans has its own tensions and the big game about energy and sphere of influence is going on between U.S., EU and Russia. Anyway that part of world can be a little bit different after this year.

My earlier articles over Georgia

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