Freedom 2010 in Balkans and Eastwards

May 1, 2010

“Freedom of the press, freedom of association, the inviolability of domicile, and all the rest of the rights of man are respected so long as no one tries to use them against the privileged class. On the day they are launched against the privileged they are overthrown.” (Prince Peter Kropotkin)

diagram by David Nolan

diagram by David Nolan

Different aspects of freedom are globally fundamental value of human rights, civil liberties or human development in general. Human development has been described in UNDP as “a process of enlarging people’s choices”. This in turn requires the freedom of people to make their choices and the opportunities to realize them. Rankings or ratings are one kind of (process) benchmarking in which organizations or in this case states evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice.

In this article I make a short update about political rights and civil liberties, freedom of press and some economical aspects in mostly Balkans and Black Sea regions. As sources (described next paragraph) I have used last reports available. Besides regions mentioned I have included to table also top and worst scores, U.S. as old superpower and BRIC countries as rising superpowers.

Sources of this story:

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is is the UN’s global development network. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity and climate change. The Human Development Index (HDI)Table HDR 2009 measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living. More: UNDP http://hdr.undp.org/en/

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights. Founded in 1941 by prominent Americans organization’s viewpoint is mostly Anglo-American. Freedom House has been publishing its Freedom in the World reports since 1972 and it publishes also Freedom in the Press report since 1980. More: Freedom House

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Together with The Wall Street Journal they publish e.g. “Economic freedom index”. More: The Heritage Foundation.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. WEF believes that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while social development without economic progress is not feasible. WEF aims to be: the foremost organization which builds and energizes leading global communities; the creative force shaping global, regional and industry strategies; the catalyst of choice for its communities when undertaking global initiatives to improve the state of the world. WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. World Economic Forum has published “The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010” which gives an other viewpoint to economic freedom.

Reporters Without Borders is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations. Reporters Without Borders is present in all five continents through its national branches. Reporters Without Borders: defends journalists and media assistants imprisoned or persecuted for doing their job, fights against censorship, gives financial aid to journalists in difficulty and works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones. Reporters Without Borders has fought for press freedom on a daily basis since it was founded in 1985.

Summary table of Freedom in Balkans, Black Sea and some comparison data

(Note: the order below is made according UNDP’s “Human development index”, in other categories order can be checked from ranks)

Human development index

(UNDP)

Freedom Status

(Freedom House) Political Rights/ Civil Liberties

Economic Freedom (WSJ/THF) & Competitiveness (WEB) Press Freedom (Reporters w. borders/Freedom House)
Rank

(↑..↓

2006)

Country ///

Name & Score

P R C L Status HF/WSJ Rank/Scr

WEB Rank/

Trend

RWB

Rank/ Score

FH Rank
1. Norway (0.971) 1 1 Free 37./69.4 14 +

1./0,00

1
13. ↓ U.S.A. (0.956) 1 1 Free 8./78.0 2 – 20./4.00 24
25. Greece (0.942) 1 2 Free 73./62.7 71 — 35./ 9,00 29
29. Slovenia (0.929) 1 1 Free 61./64.7 37 ++ 37./ 9,50 25
45. Croatia (0.871) 1 2 Free 92./59.2 72 — 78./ 17,17 85
61. ↓ Bulgaria (0.840) 2 2 Free 75./62.3 76 68./15,61 76
63. ↑ Romania (0.837) 2 2 Free 63./64.2 64 + 50./12,50 88
65. Montenegro (0.834) 3 2 Free 68./ 63.6 62 + 77./17,00 80
67. Serbia (0.826) 2 2 Free 104./56.9 93 — 62./ 15,50 78
70. Albania (0.818) 3 3 Partly Free 53./66.0 96 + 82./21,75 102
71. ↑ Russia (0.817) 6 5 Not Free 143./50.3 63 – 153./60,88 175
72. Macedonia FYR (0.817) 3 3 Partly Free 56./65.7 84 + 34./ 8,75 94
75. Brazil (0.813) 2 2 Free 113./ 55.6 56 ++ 71./15,88 88
76. Bosnia-Herzegovina (0.812) 4 3 Partly Free 110./56.2 109 – 39./ 10,50 97
79. ↓ Turkey (0.806) 3 3 Partly Free 67./63.8 61 + 122./ 38,25 106
NA Kosovo (under UN 1244) 5 4 Partly Free NA NA 75./ 16,58 108
84. ↑ Armenia (0.798) 6 4 Partly Free 38./69.2 97 111./31,13 146
85. ↓ Ukraine (0.796) 3 2 Free 162./46.4 82 — 89./ 22,00 108
86. ↑ Azerbaijan (0.787) 6 5 Not Free 96./58.8 51 + 146./53,50 172
88. ↓ Iran (0.782) 6 6 Not Free 168./43.4 NA 172./104,14 187
89. ↑ Georgia (0.778) 4 4 Partly Free 26./70.4 90 81./18,83 126
92. ↑ China (0.772) 7 6 Not Free 140./51.0 29 + 168./84,50 181
117. Moldova (0.720) 3 4 Partly Free 125./53.7 NA 114./33,75 144
134. India (0.612) 2 3 Free 124./53.8 49 + 105./29,33 72
182. Niger (0.340) 5 4 Partly Free 129./52.9 NA 139./ 48,50 151

Full reports and country analysis from each category can be found from related organizations – see sources above.

Some remarks

UNDP’s methodology includes besides data collection a serial of background seminars and regional and thematic events. Due heavy preparation process the report 2009 is based to oldest data mostly from years 2006-2008. The UNDP 2010 report will launch around the world this autumn and will have three parts. First, a systematic assessment of progress and setbacks in human development since the 1970s, in which we discuss what has been achieved, what seems to work, and what are the key gaps and constraints. The second part will revisit the concept of human development – and its measurement (including the Human Development Index) – and propose the enhancements needed to help policy-makers ensure that people are at the centre of development. In this light, the third and final part would highlight concrete implications for policy and development strategies, and outline recommendations for a new development agenda.

Freedom House’s report “Freedom in the World 2010” reflects developments that took place in the calendar year 2009. The full survey, including the individual country reports, will be available in late spring 2010. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions and 15 civil liberties questions. The political rights questions are grouped into three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions), Political Pluralism and Participation (4), and Functioning of Government (3). The civil liberties questions are grouped into four subcategories: Freedom of Expression and Belief (4 questions), Associational and Organizational Rights (3), Rule of Law (4), and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (4).

Related to some disputed regions Freedom House ranks status of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh as Partly Free, but South Ossetia and Transdnistria as Not Free.

WEF defines competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the sustainable level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy. In other words, more-competitive economies tend to be able to produce higher levels of income for their citizens. The productivity level also determines the rates of return obtained by investments in an economy.

Freedom House’s examination of the level of press freedom in each country currently comprises 23 methodology questions and 109 indicators divided into three broad categories: the legal environment, the political environment, and the economic environment. The 2010 report did note some changes in the region that includes Western Balkan countries. Improvements were noted in several countries, including Bulgaria and Ukraine, primarily due to fewer cases of physical attacks and harassment, as well as greater editorial and ownership diversity. Meanwhile, Armenia and Moldova both saw numerical gains as a result of reduced censorship and restrictions on news coverage. The score improvement for Serbia in 2009 reflected the fact that Kosovo was scored separately for the first time in this edition of the survey. Croatia’s score “fell from 38 to 40 due to the removal of and legal action against journalists covering war crimes, organized crime, and corruption. There was also less diversity due to rising concentration of private media ownership.”

Because freedom is so highly valued factor, there is constant debate over exactly what the word means. Disputes are often politically charged, and they are not likely ever to be completely resolved. James P.Young summarizes following:

Analysis of the idea is also complicated because it is impossible to consider freedom without taking into account related concepts such as democracy and constitutionalism, problems such as majority rule and minority rights, and the tension between liberty and equality. The American Declaration of Independence represents one of the climactic moments in the long development of the idea of freedom and arguably achieves universality, despite having grown out of the specific revolutionary situation in the colonies. Yet throughout their history, Americans have argued about how the principles found in the Declaration should be applied. For example, does the right to life rule out the death penalty?

(More e.g. in “A Short Historical Sketch on the Idea of Freedom” by James P. Young)

The bottom line

Democracy is a form of government that cannot long survive, for as soon as the people learn that they have a voice in the fiscal policies of the government, they will move to vote for themselves all the money in the treasury, and bankrupt the nation.”(Karl Marx)

While comparing different data it seems that there is some conflict between economic freedom and especially competitiveness and other political rights, civil liberties and press freedom. It remains to be seen whether present global and regional financial turmoil and environmental challenges will change the balance one way or the other.

We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.”(Sir Karl Popper)

Related articles:

Balkans and Failed States Index (Jan. 2009/failed state index based on social, economical and political inducators)

Competitiveness of Balkans (Oct. 2008)

Freedom in Balkans (Jan. 2009/political rights and civil liberties. Democracy, economy, poverty, movement)


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

 BlackSea International Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory Bookmark this on Delicious



Transdnistrian number game

November 5, 2008

The future status of Transdnistria – or Pridnestrovie – is again, inspired maybe the events in Georgia on August 2008, coming to negotiation tables. With local stakeholders there is some readiness to discuss further to solve this frozen conflict, however the outsiders are twisting arms about formalities. What is the content of number games 5, 5+2, 3+2, 2+1 is also designing the outcome – e.g. alternative solutions – of negotiations.

In 1992, the Moldovan government engaged in a short war with authorities in Transdnistria. Hostlities ended after a Russian military intervention by the then Russian 14th army stationered in Transdnistria. Since then Transdnistria has de facto been on its own like independent state.

The original 5

The format created after war was 5, which always consisted of the five “full” participants:

  • Moldova and Transdniestria as the parties to the conflict;
  • Ukraine and Russia as mediators and also guarantor states, guaranteeing to both parties to the conflict the fulfilment and respect of (and enforcement of) whatever negotiated outcome the talks could bring;
  • OSCE as joint mediator, alongside fellow mediators Russia and Ukraine.

2+1 = Kozak plan

In the spring of 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin had named Dmitri Kozak — at that time the deputy head of his presidential administration — as his special envoy to Moldova. His task was clear – to find a solution to the frozen conflict that had emerged in 1992. Thanks to compromises brokered by him, Moldova and Transdniestria found common ground for agreement know as “Kozak plan” or Kozak memorandum.

The Basic Principles laid out in this document was about the unitary, democratic, demilitarized and neutral character of the state. The federal state had to have 2 sub-entities, PMR and the Gagauz autonomy, with their own recognized local government structures, anthems and flags.

Kozak plan was initialed page by page by both Moldova’s President Vladimir Voronin and Transdniestria’s President Igor Smirnov. The idea was that on 25 November 2003, the thenRussian President Vladimir Putin scheduled a surprising visit to Moldova to witness the signing of a federalization document as the solution to the conflict.

The visit was canceled by President Voronin’s last minute rejection. Moldova nixed the “Kozak plan” within hours of its planned signing as the result of pressure by hardliners in the West: The Moldovan President was informed by the then OSCE Dutch chairman Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the U.S. Ambassador to Moldova Heather Hodges and the EU Council Secretary General Javier Solana about opposition that Washington and Bruxelles had concerning the mutually agreed-upon settlement plan between the two sides.

5+2 is not 7

The two sides were then at starting point without any settlement. Transdniestria continued to act like a sovereign independent state under the name of PMR (Pridnestrovskaaia Moldavskaia Respublica). Moldova had rejected the only viable plan that both sides could conceivably agree on.

With this background the “5″-format became “5+2″ in 2005, when the European Union and the USA joined the table. They joined as mere observers, a role which they still have today. They are the “2″ add-on’s and the reason why the 5 didn’t become the 7 when they were added: Because they are not full fledged participants but are merely there to watch and, at most, give suggestions and constructive advice if asked. Some times there is also 3+2 format meetings including representatives of the mediators – the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE – as well as the European Union and the United States as observers.

1+2 = Kozak plan II

August 2008 was the turning point in negotiation process. Conflict in Georgia was in background when Russian President Medvedev first held talks with Moldova’s President Voronin in Sotchi on August 25th and later with Transdnistria’s leader Smirnov on September 3rd. 5+2 format was replaced with 1+2 format including Moscow as mediator, Chisinau and Tiraspol as the parties of conflict.

The basic elements of new deal are probably similar like in Kozak plan I. The price of reunion will be high to Moldova because probably federation form with strong minority or veto rules would neutralize Moldova’s foreign policy related integration towards EU and Nato.

Higher price for Moldova could be even stronger sovereignty of Transdnistria with thread that also other autonomous territory of Moldova – namely Gagauz region – would follow the steps of Transdnistria.

Negotiations are now ongoing and the aim is signing the conflict-settlement documents in a Medvedev-Voronin-Smirnov meeting soon. One part of time frame is the fact that reunifying Transdnistria with Moldova could bring the win to Moldova’s current leadership in general elections in the Spring 2009.

Progress in sight 2008

Year 2008 has showed gradual progress to solve Transdnistria/Moldova conflict. However there is still the number game on table. From my point of view I always prefer bottom to top approach over opposite process. So if 1+2 format can bring a solution mutually acceptable to “conflicting parties” – i.e Moldova and Transdnistria – it should be legitimate.

EU and US are of course not pleased about today’s development and e.g. Kalman Mizsei – EU representative/Moldova – said that the approved international format of 5+2 should be followed, adding that the EU won’t accept any solution brokered outside this format. This can be seen a bitter statement of bystander but if outsiders can not facilitate constructively so let parties find solutions on their own.

The best outcome could be if a political settlement made directly in the 1+2 format by conflicting parties and Russia’s mediation would afterward be referred in 5+2 format for Western blessings so everybody could be officially happy.

 caucasus

International Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory
Bookmark this on Delicious


Is GUUAM dead?

November 4, 2008

After “Cold War” US has all the while expanded its influence post-Soviet territory with aim to guide those region’s natural resources under US companies.  As stakes have been control over the oil and gas  of the Caspian Sea/Black Sea/Caucasus basin, and the control of multiple key energy pipelines criss-crossing the region.  Economical interests have been linked to political game e.g. Nato enlargement.  While EU has been more bystander Russia has during last couple of years weight down the scale in favour of its own interests by series of successful operations.

GUUAM & SRS

GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was founded 1999 with help of US to foster favourable conditions conducive to economic growth through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.  GUUAM was dominated by Anglo-American oil interests, ultimately purports to exclude Russia from oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area, as well as isolating Moscow politically.

From its part GUUAM was designed to support sc. Silk Road Strategy Act – adopted by US Cogress March 1999 –  which defined America’s broad economic and strategic interests in a region extending from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Silk Road Strategy (SRS) outlines a framework for the development of America’s business empire through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.  (More about this in my previous article “War on Pipes” Sep. 2008, in my Archive:Blog )

Cracks

Now GUUAM is coming to end of its short road.  Already earlier Uzbekistan withdraw from it leaving behind a stump GUAM.  Then Georgia started its aggressions with false idea of western support leading today’s situation and possibility to escalate to “small intensity war” between present Georgian leadership and separatist regions Abkhazia and South-Ossetia.

Moldova was aiming towards Nato and EU but after conflict in Georgia it started to look other alternatives.  Russia has offered its help to solve Moldova’s long term problem with Transdnistria and if a federation model will be accepted by local stakeholders it probably neutralizes Moldova’s position between US/EU and Russia.

Last weekend was also highlight of tendency where political attitudes of Azerbaijan and Russia have approached each other.  Russia again took the initiative acting as a mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve long term conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh and a common memorandum signed 2nd November 2008 is first step of solution.

The last piece of GUUAM is Ukraine, which is deeply divided pro-Russian East and pro-Nato/EU West.  When political struggle now has made cracks also inside western orientated part also this last fortress has degenerated to stagnation.

KO

Parallel with Russia’s able foreign policy the US actions have been short-sighted, weak and fruitless.  Waiting for elections and financial turmoil have took their part but in energy sector also some states in South-America have now more independent and selfish position than before.  Same time Iraq occupation is coming to end when also Alaska can keep its energy reserves when new US President takes his office the perspectives of US energy giants are more foggy than for a long time.

If one would like to see a bright side with this depression – or even knock out –  of US foreign/energy policy it could be the need to reduce pollutions and to support alternative energy solutions which at global scale could help to deal with clima change.


OSCE report fault Georgia – one trivial statement more from EU summit

September 2, 2008

Europe’s leading human rights and security body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accused the Georgian government of committing likely war crimes in the Georgian rebel region of South Ossetia, Der Spiegel said in a report published on Monday 1st September 2008. The Vienna-based OSCE massively criticized Georgia’s western- backed leadership for its assault on South Ossetia, saying Tbilisi planned the invasion well in advance.

According OSCE report by Spiegel there is at least four interesting facts which mainstream Western media now must swallow:

  • First, the article presents evidence showing how Georgia prepared military actions against South Ossetia before the event transpired,
  • Second, it demonstrates how Georgia attacked South Ossetia before Russian tanks even entered the Roki tunnel,
  • Third, the article includes testimonies from observers who say Tbilisi ordered an attack on South Ossetia at night while innocent civilians were sleeping,
  • Forth Spiegel writes that reports by OSCE observers point to possible military crimes, committed by Georgian troops in South Ossetia.

Same time when Spiegel published it’s cover story the EU’s Brussels summit agreed to condemn Russia’s “inappropriate response” and declared Russia’s recognition of the dissident regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was “contrary to international law”. The EU summit also stated that any solution to the conflict must “rest on respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity—and not on unilateral facts, which contradict international law”.

These remarks of EU summit are sounding a bit familiar to me. Exactly – the words above are almost same which Russia was using about Kosovo case. Then EU and USA were talking something about “absolutely unique – sui generis – case”, which is no precedent. What a double standards and hypocrisy I must say.


 caucasus

Bookmark this on Delicious
International Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory


Is Transnistria the next follow up of Kosovo UDI?

August 25, 2008

Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, is backing independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia  – Georgia’s two rebel provinces.   The vote came after a brief war between Russia and Georgia following Georgia’s assault on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali Aug. 7. Both countries won de-facto independence in the 1990s after wars with the government in Tbilisi.  The road which started from Kosovo UDI seems to continue long because it is estimated that there is about five thousand ethnic groups on globe.

After Georgia’s separatists my bet is that in Europe Transnistria could be the next breakaway province.  Let’s look this maybe next new state closer:

Pridnestrovie – also known by the unofficial name, Transnistria – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. Although widely seen as part of Moldova, historically, Pridnestrovie and Moldova were always separate. Throughout 2500 years of history, the Dniester River forming the current border has been a traditional border between Slav lands (Scythia, 450 B.C.) to the East and Romanian lands (Dacia) to the West.

The population is some 550.000. The inhabitants of Pridnestrovie are for the most part Slavic. This is in stark contrast to Moldova, on the other side of the Dniester River, where 4/5ths of the population are of Romanian descent and where ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians only make up 6 to 8 percent, respectively.

Pridnestrovie meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood.

The economy of Pridnestrovie is a mixed market-based economy. Following a large scale privatization process, most of the companies in the country are now privately owned. The economy is export-oriented and based on a mix of heavy industry and manufacturing. According to the latest data from the nation’s Customs, Pridnestrovie – which is also known as Transnistria, or Transdniester – now trades with 99 foreign countries.

Source and more info about Transnistria e.g. from The Tiraspol Times

 caucasus

Bookmark this on Delicious
International Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory


Out from confrontation

August 22, 2008

Caucasus suffers about US Cowboy policy

Georgia is one again failed example about US Foreign policy which aims to create classical “banana republic” to Eastern Europe where US controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. While Russia wishes to safe its “inner courtyard” – sc “Russian World” US is doing the same with its MacWorld. However today it seems that those two worlds have more and more common zone: Many ex Soviet republics have joined or are dreaming of joining NATO, missiles and radars are coming closer and closer Moscow – it feels that new cold war, old polarization/confrontation, is coming.

The bluff of US Foreign Policy has normally been “western democracy” etc. However the record in Georgia was questionable. In one report, Human Rights Watch asserted that “the fragility of Georgia’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law were revealed on Nov. 7, 2007, when government forces used violent and excessive force to disperse a series of largely peaceful demonstrations in the capital, Tbilisi.” In the other report even (the Western nearly governmental elite lobby group) International Crisis Group warned of a creeping authoritarianism in Georgia and urged Western governments to pressure the regime in Tbilisi to respect democratic principles.

To show his admiration for the U.S. president, Saakashvili even renamed the main road to Tbilisi’s airport George W. Bush Street. It is good to think globally but better act locally. Like in Balkans before Caucasia is today suffering US cowboy policy which is creating unnecessary confrontation with Russia. There is maybe way out from banana republic status when local governments start to develop their policies more from domestic needs without too much adoring transatlantic short term games.

3rd way out

As a Finn I would like to ask if third way could be possible also elsewhere. Finland has over 1000 km common border with Russia, number of wars has been between us and Russia/USSR but also lot of good times like Autonomy time 1806-1917 as well last decades with increasing economic cooperation. With this background today more Finns are against than pro to join NATO and our dear neighbours in Sweden have similar results in opinion pools.

This neutral – unallied – position makes it possible to approach world politics, human rights, economical issues etc with critical way be that critics to east or west I do not mean that critics should be end in itself or the top priority for Caucasian countries. However I am from old school and believe that real progress can be made only after fresh debate, dialogue or at least tolerance between local stakeholders not copying values or practices e.g. from Bruxelles bureaucrats.

The unallied position is same time open to all kind of cooperation to all directions. The statements about world events are our own; they are not coming from Washington or Moscow. Personally I like this third way, is it possible also for Caucasus – I hope local stakeholders can decide.

For economical development EU has e.g. its Neighbourhood programmes for non-member states. EU can also make any kind of individual agreements such as customs, visa regime etc with non-members so they can enjoy many EU benefits without membership.

Realism?

I do not know if my proposal is realistic. I know that my mother was fleeing from home when USSR occupied that part of Finland during WWII. I also know that I have found some of my best friends from Russia. Lesson learned – one can forget past wrongdoings and look forward. Dialogue and tolerance at local level is in my opinion the best quarantee for sustainable solutions. Collecting guns on the borders is from my point of view the worst scenario excluding use of them.


 caucasus

Bookmark this on Delicious
International Affairs Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory


%d bloggers like this: