This week's editors

Darian Meacham, Europe the Very Idea team Francesco Tava, Europe the Very Idea team Darian Meacham and Francesco Tava introduce this week's theme: Old ideas for a new Europe.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The failed "mental revolution": Georgia, crime and criminal justice

Crime has been near the top of Georgia's political agenda for a decade. But successive governments have still to address fundamental questions of legitimacy and trust.

Georgia and the Ukraine crisis

Georgians see the struggle for Ukrainian sovereignty as an analogue of their own fate.


Georgia looks west, Armenia east

Arm-Geo flags [courtesy of Armradio] crop.jpg

This summer, Georgia signed an Association Agreement with the EU, but its southern neighbour, Armenia, has opted for the rival Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.

From Georgia to the EU is a long road

Georgia has signed an association agreement with the EU. But there is a long road ahead toward establishing transparent and accountable government.


Complaints Choir: what is it?

"This project stays dynamic when people take the Complaints Choir as a tool and make use of it in their own context and modify it. That’s the spirit of open source." Hilde C. Stephansen interviews the founders of the choir for Participation Now.

Ukraine, the west, and the issue of strategic thinking

Despite many weeks and months having passed since protests erupted in Ukraine in late November 2013, the west has continued to act like a passive and awe-struck bystander.

Georgia and migration: a policy trap

Europe's politics of migration control are being exported to Georgia with potentially dangerous results, says Gavin Slade.

Georgia through a glass, darkly

Since the break-up of the USSR, the South Caucasus has trodden a chequered path, both political and economic. Is democracy really what the people want? Or just what Western donors and investors think they should have? Stephen F Jones reflects

The polyphonic president

Mikheil Saakashvili, ex-president of Georgia, was once hailed as the very archetype of a model post-Soviet leader – smooth-tongued and sharp-suited. But was the fluency with which he promoted himself as a modern messiah merely a case of pouring old Georgian wine into new bottles?

Neighbourhood watch

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

Five Years after the Russian-Georgian War

Five years after the Russian-Georgian war, Georgian Premier Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced that Tbilisi is ready for direct talks with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that improving relations with Russia alone is not sufficient for conflict resolution. Liana Fix offers her analysis of the situation. 

Is Georgia a terrorist state?

Was there a secret programme to arm and train North Caucasus militants under the previous Georgian government? A clash in the Caucasus last summer exposed secrets that Georgia needs to confront, says Aage Borchgrevink

Civil society in post-Soviet Europe: seven rules for donors

The west's contribution to building more democratic and open societies in the post-Soviet region leaves much scope for improvement. Orysia Lutsevych draws lessons and offers recommendations to both public and private donors.

Breaking the vicious circle - reconciliation in OSCE areas

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?

Bidzina Ivanishvili and the new-old Georgia

The election victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili has reconfigured Georgia's political landscape, dominated by Mikheil Saakashvili since the "Rose Revolution" of 2003. But there are already concerns over what the billionaire leader is doing with his power, says Donald Rayfield.

US elections: hopes and expectations from a ‘post-rosy’ Georgia

The recent parliamentary election in Georgia brought defeat to the party of President Saakashvili, though he himself remains in power until the 2013 presidential election. The country’s main strategic partner is the US and Georgians are following the contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney closely. Vladimer Papava explains why.

Georgia's election: lesson and prospect

The first constitutional transfer of power in Tbilisi has implications for an assessment of the immediate past as well as for the future, says Ghia Nodia.

Post-election Georgia: turning the dream of peace into reality?

Georgian Dream Coalition's election victory will go down in history as Georgia's first peaceful transition of power. The nominees for the new cabinet now also bring names to the fore with long experience of peacebuilding, presenting fresh hope amidst the challenges.

Georgian divisions: a dangerous poison?

Georgia goes to the polls today for tightly contested parliamentary elections. Despite an horrific prison abuse scandal on the eve of the vote, Mikheil Saakashvili believes his party has done enough to win; Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream party hope their energetic campaigning means otherwise. In reality, it is the post-election politics in Georgia that will matter, says Denis MacShane.

Georgia: from roses to ashes

The eve of an election is usually a moment to predict which side might win. But as interesting with regard to Georgia's vote on 1 October 2012 may be to suggest who might lose, says Nino Nanava.

Georgia: politics of punishment

Behind Georgia's prison-abuse scandal lies a large-scale, self-funding penal system whose effects - not least psychological - pervade the society, says Gavin Slade.

Georgia is not for sale

On 1 October Georgians go to the polls to choose between their president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and Bidzina Ivanishvili, an oligarch. Feelings are running high among the voters, with compromise not an option for most. There is such a range of opinions about the political situation in Georgia that it could be regarded as a very difficult choice. But the European People’s Party is solidly behind Saakashvili, says its president Wilfried Martens (photo: RIA Novosti Agency).

Georgia's prisons: roots of scandal

The exposure of violent abuse in the Georgian prison system has shocked its people and rocked the government of Mikheil Saakashvili. The intense focus on zero-tolerance and mass incarceration in the criminal-justice system is a key to understanding why it happened, says Gavin Slade.

The Kremlin and Georgia – collusion or illusion?

Georgia’s politicians are hypersensitive to charges of collusion with Russia, the old imperial power. President Saakashvili denounces opposition figures for being tools of the Kremlin. But the record suggests that he might himself be vulnerable to the same charge, says Vladimer Papava

Abkhazia, from conflict to statehood

A bitter post-Soviet war in 1992-93 saw the Black Sea territory of Abkhazia resist invasion from Georgia and establish an independent statehood. But amid non-recognition from all but a handful of countries, and persistent hostility from Georgia, the young republic has faced many challenges in the subsequent two decades. The leading scholar of Abkhazia and advocate of its case, George Hewitt, presents an overview of these twenty years and outlines a scenario for the future.

Tbilisi – where ‘restoration’ means redevelopment

Georgia’s capital is undergoing a massive rebuilding programme, with shabby historical buildings being replaced with facsimiles, complete with plastic ornamentation. But, as documentary filmmaker Salomé Jashi writes, an iconic square in old Tbilisi is being threatened with an even more radical remake.

Democracy: a goal or a merely a commitment for the West?

The 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia heralded a rebirth of democracy and alignment with Western countries, especially the United States. But continuing Western support in the face of the gradual unravelling of Georgian democracy compels Vladimer Papava to wonder if Western support is perhaps not all it originally seemed to be.

Is Georgian 'modernisation' leading the country to serfdom?

The 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia was portrayed as a beacon of hope for democracy and progress in the region. Far from developing society towards a free market, however, the current government has retrenched and its policies and programmes are redolent of a planned economy. This can only end badly, says Vakhtang Komakhidze

Democracy in Abkhazia: a testing year

An eventful political period in the Black Sea republic of Abkhazia that began in 2011 with the premature death of its president, Sergej Bagapsh, continued with the election of - then a murky assassination attempt on - his successor, Aleksandr Ankvab. The ensuing challenges make the integrity of the country’s institutions and processes even more important, says George Hewitt.

Georgia: the next evolution

The direction of Georgia's domestic politics and international orientation has been much disputed since the "rose revolution" of 2003. The former senior diplomat Tedo Japaridze argues that, in order to realise the democratic promise of that revolution and to become a reliable partner to its allies, Georgia now needs a peaceful transfer of power.

Putin’s plan for Russia’s neighbours - a Eurasian Union

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.

Georgia: from diplomacy to politics

A veteran Georgian diplomat has chosen to enter his country's disputatious political arena. A hard decision that had to be made, says Tedo Japaridze.

From eastern Europe, lessons for Egypt’s newborn democracy

Ukraine and Georgia - two countries in a region undergoing dramatic change in the past two decades - can help Egypt examine the circumstances in which high aspirations do or do not lead to a successful transformation.

Tbilisi, Moscow: the language of architecture

Before Soviet rule, Georgian capital Tbilisi had none of the towering blocks, highways and marble palaces that today stand as symbols to a fallen, rejected regime. Why, therefore have Georgia’s young leaders chosen to continue this imposing neo-classical language in their own buildings, asks Pawel Wargan?

Georgia awaiting the Messiah

Georgian businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced he is entering politics, and seemingly in direct opposition to the current Georgian leadership. His philanthropic work has earned him many admirers, but whether he will be given the chance to fulfil his political ambitions is quite another thing, writes Gela Vasadze.

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