In 2009 six post-Soviet nations signed up to the EU Eastern Partnership, aimed at deepening political cooperation and economic integration. Progress has been uneven because old habits die hard and closer integration with the EU has many opponents. Viorel Ursu and Iryna Solonenko consider the varying levels of success
Since Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in 2001, the country's grim human rights record has only become worse. The Council's and EU's ambiguous reactions to the October 9 presidential election raise new questions about Europe's role in Azerbaijan's transition to democracy.
If the primary concern is to establish peace in the region, then the central question is the social status of the people rather than internationally established political norms, such as territorial integrity.
Work must be done to overcome divides even many decades after official agreements to end violence have been signed. But the process is neither simple nor direct, with social media as easily a tool for vitriol as for furthering understanding of others. What, and who, can help?
For close on a millennium Azeris and Armenians co-existed reasonably peaceably. At the end of the Soviet period tensions erupted and they have been bubbling ever since. No need, thinks William Gourlay, because they are actually quite similar. Is it just a case of ‘must try harder’?
Azerbaijan has hydrocarbon riches and a strategic position, which means that all the great powers have an interest in good relations. But one family has dominated the political scene for many years, corruption is rampant and the economy needs diversifying. It’s time to open up, says Nicu Popescu
Instigating dialogue across entrenched conflict built on ethnic stereotypes is long and precarious. The pardon given to Ramil Safarov of Azerbaijan is a blow to the sense of trust built painstakingly in the region. Now peacebuilders have to weather the storm.
The recent Eurovision song contest catapulted Azerbaijan into world news and focused attention on its internal problems. But foreign policy issues are a cause of considerable concern too. The country is caught in between Iran, Russia and the West and finding a way to meet the needs of all of them is going to be extremely difficult, says Elkhan Nuriyev.
Amid signs that Armenia and Azerbaijan may once more be edging towards armed conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Wayne Merry argues that the West needs to act fast, rather than allow an old and fruitless mediation process to meander on.
With the current focus on policy interactions between Russia, the US and the EU in the post-Soviet space, many wonder what future awaits the countries of the former USSR after Vladimir Putin’s re-ascension to the Russian presidency in the 4th March election. One question is whether Putin will succeed in shaping a new, distinctive strategic space with the curious name of ‘the Eurasian Union.’ Elkhan Nuriyev discusses its implications.
A diplomatic process designed to normalise relations between Armenia and Turkey led to the signing of two protocols in 2009. Its failure is rooted in the miscalculations of both sides, says Vicken Cheterian.
Since the 1990s, post-Soviet elites have used manipulation, corruption and the government machine to maintain their grip on power. But with countries' paths diverging over time and with little opposition to speak of in many cases, Andrew Wilson asks: why is there still a need for these dark arts?
It has been ten years since Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe, but no one is in the mood for a party. The country’s media remains shackled, dubious laws continue to be used punitively, and political opponents are still sent to prison. The Council needs to take its membership criteria more seriously, suggests Giorgi Gogia.