Justice GeorgiaBy Johanna Popjanevski

June 2015

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Over the last several years a gradual politicization of justice in Georgia has put into question the country’s democratization progress. Most attention has centered on the judicial campaign launched beginning in late 2012 against a number of former government officials, including former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been ordered to pre-trial detention in absentia. This policy of selective justice has resulted in domestic as well as international criticism and raises important questions with regard to the independence of the judicial structures and, overall, the current state of the rule of law in Georgia.This paper examines the question of the politicization of justice in light of two key issues: first, the degree to which the prosecution is under the influence of the executive; and second, whether arrests of key individuals are purely punitive, or seek to weaken political opponents.

NATO Leaders Should Ease the Path of Georgia’s Entry

http://www.newsweek.com/nato-leaders-should-ease-path-georgias-entry-356917

BY MAMUKA TSERETELI 7/24/15 AT 10:53 AM

The Warsaw summit of NATO in July 2016 has a chance to become another milestone in the history of the organization, if the alliance chooses to take the next step forward toward further enlargement.

There are several aspirant countries expecting bold decisions. Georgia is one of them.

The Georgian government is taking a more aggressive stand in demanding acknowledgment by the alliance of Georgia’s progress in political and military reforms. The Ministry of Defense issued a statement in June stressing that Georgia requests a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Warsaw summit, and Minister of Defense Tina Khidasheli made several statements about the proactive position that the government is going to take on this issue.

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This firm position on Georgia’s part should be welcomed. But based on past experiences of NATO’s inability to make a decision on Georgia, and in order to avoid further frustration of the Georgian public if no decision is made, it is essential to design the right strategy and accompany it with the right wording for both domestic and external consumption.

In terms of the strategy, pushing for the MAP should no longer be the priority for Georgia. In terms of the military compatibility and political-military reforms, Georgia is already very close to NATO standards. In addition, current instruments of bilateral relationships, such as the NATO-Georgia Commission and the Annual National Plan, provide mechanisms that could lead Georgia to membership.

The priority is to convince the NATO partners that short of granting membership, Georgia expects an announcement at the Warsaw summit that current political and military components of the Georgia-NATO partnership can lead to membership without the MAP. This decision will allow the alliance to grant Georgia membership at the right political moment.

Russia Factor vs. Security Interests of NATO

There is no secret that the key factor preventing Georgia’s membership in NATO is Russia. For years, Washington and many of its allies in Europe were keen to avoid anything that could escalate tensions with Russia.

Looking at developments in Ukraine, that cautious approach didn’t really produce desirable results. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’sdeclaration in March 2014 that “neither Ukraine or Georgia are currently on a path to NATO membership,” was understood by Moscow as Russia’s veto power over the enlargement of the alliance. That led to much greater escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in fall 2014.

Recently, Russia, yet again, moved the so-called borders of the breakaway South Ossetia region of Georgia deeper inside Georgia. As a result, part of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and supplies European and Israeli refineries, is now under Russian control. Clearly, the language of unilateral concessions doesn’t work with Russia.

Skeptics insist that bringing Georgia into NATO is dangerous since it cannot be defended against a Russian invasion. But the fact is that it is easier to defend the mountainous terrain of Georgia than most of the eastern borders of NATO—and this was the case during the Cold War as well.

In addition, while it is true that Georgia cannot defend itself alone, it is also true that with adequate military support, Georgia’s military can inflict very high costs on Russia in case further aggression takes place. NATO and U.S. defensive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry, as well as training, will serve as a significant deterrent to Russian aggression against its smaller neighbor.

The focus on the burden that Georgia would impose on the alliance also needs to be balanced with consideration of the wider contribution the country makes to Western security. With Western interests challenged in the Middle East by radical ISIS militants, as well as by Russia in Ukraine and potentially in the Baltics, maintaining a strategic Western presence in the potentially volatile South Caucasus is even more important.

Georgia is also a central part of the East-West energy and transportation corridor, providing pipelines, ports, railways and highways to bring vital energy resources from Central Asia. This East-West corridor via the South Caucasus has the potential to become the shortest and fastest land route for container shipments between Europe, the Mediterranean and China, thus becoming an important pillar for global trade.

Georgia’s Goal for Warsaw

What Georgia needs in Warsaw is the formal declaration by the alliance’s leaders that Georgia can be admitted to NATO at any given moment without a MAP. This would avoid providing Moscow with any pretext for further negative escalation in the Caucasus.

Currently, Moscow believes that NATO is not ready to accept Georgia in the alliance. By not giving Georgia MAP, NATO will confirm Russian expectations. At the same time, by removing the impediment of a MAP, NATO would strengthen the Georgian public’s faith in the vision of “joining the West.” The understanding then will be that Georgia may become a member when NATO makes a political decision about the issue, and there will be no technical impediments for membership at that moment.

In addition to traditional allies from Eastern Europe who always supported Georgia’s NATO aspiration, the focus of Georgian diplomacy during the next 12 months should be on three key NATO members: the United States, Germany and Turkey.

U.S. leadership will be decisive in the process, but Germany and Turkey in many ways hold the key for Georgia’s NATO future. Both countries should see incentives for their support. Germany may become the key beneficiary of the China-Europe land trade in the future and thus should care more about the security and stability of Georgia.

Turkey is a key member of NATO and a neighbor of Georgia with whom Georgia is enjoying close political and commercial ties. But Turkey is facing increasing challenges in the Middle East, and having a stable and reliable ally next door would be important.

The U.S. can and must help Georgia deal with these allies. Welcoming Georgia’s troop contribution to U.S. and NATO operations for more than decade and not allowing Georgia to have a clear pathway to join the collective security organization that can protect the country’s sovereignty is a moral failure of the West. There is an opportunity to make a positive turn in Warsaw.

Mamuka Tsereteli is the director of research at Central Asia–Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He was a member of the Atlantic Council’s Georgia Task Force. This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site.

RTETurkey has never been an easy ally for the United States.The key question for American policymakers is whether dealing with Turkey today is fundamentally different than it has been in the past. In the Journal of International Security Affairs, Svante E. Cornell argues Turkey has indeed changed in ways that cause fundamental harm to the U.S.-Turkey alliance. Click here to download.

(Image: Thierry Ehrmann, used under license.)

Journal of International Security Affairs, Winter 2014.

Caucasus-StrategyBy Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr, and Mamuka Tsereteli

February 2015

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The South Caucasus is key to Western efforts to shape intersection between Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East, and to Western commercial and strategic access to and from the heart of the Eurasian continent. Yet far from developing, Western influence in the region is at an all-time low. As Western influence has declined, and partly as a consequence of it, the region’s development has stagnated. This situation is the result of a lack of strategic vision in the West and to a series of tactical errors. This paper analyzes the shortcomigns of western policies, and offers proposals for a new Western approach to the region.

 

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News

  • 2015 CAMCA Regional Forum to be Held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, June 20-21
    Tuesday, 09 June 2015 13:30

    2015 CAMCA Regional Forum to be Held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    June 20-21
    Regional meeting fostering an exchange of ideas on key issues throughout the Eurasia region

     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    June 9, 2015

    Washington, D.C. — Leaders from business, government, academia, and civil society will convene later this month in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia at a two-day meeting to discuss key issues and challenges facing the Eurasia region. Hosted by the Rumsfeld Foundation in partnership with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the 2015 CAMCA (Central Asia-Mongolia-Caucasus-Afghanistan) Regional Forum, will be held on June 20th-21st. 
     
    The second CAMCA Regional Forum will explore ongoing developments in the region and beyond. The Forum will include high-level speakers, plenary discussions, as well as three parallel Dialogue sessions. The themes of these Dialogues will be “CAMCA's Evolving Place in the World Economy,” “Foreign and Security Outlook of CAMCA in 2025,” and “Unlocking the Potential of CAMCA’s Human Capital.” Within the framework of each Dialogue there will be conversations on key topics relevant to the theme, featuring alumni of the Rumsfeld Fellowship Program, alongside invited officials and experts from Mongolia, the CAMCA region, and the broader international community. Keynote remarks will be provided by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, President of Gryphon Partners LLC and former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan.
     
    “Our Foundation looks forward to hosting the upcoming 2015 CAMCA Regional Forum in Ulaanbaatar. We hope it will provide an opportunity for continued dialogue and interaction among the rising leaders in this most important region,” said Donald Rumsfeld, President of the Rumsfeld Foundation.
     
    The CAMCA Regional Forum is a non-political and non-partisan entity established to promote region-wide discussions on means of advancing economic growth and development in the heart of Eurasia (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). It promotes this goal by fostering dialogue and interaction among rising young leaders from various sectors in the 10 countries of the region, as well as with international leaders and stakeholders.

    The CAMCA Regional Forum has evolved out of the Rumsfeld Fellowship Program at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, which has been bringing rising young leaders from the region to Washington, D.C. since 2008.  As of June 2015, over 120 professionals have completed the Fellowship.
     
    For more information about the Rumsfeld Foundation, please visit www.rumsfeldfoundation.org or the Foundation’s Facebook page.  For more information on the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, please visit www.silkroadstudies.org
     

  • S. Frederick Starr and Niklas Swanström testify at U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
    Thursday, 26 March 2015 11:06

    USCESRCOn March 18, 2015, CACI-SRSP Chairman S. Frederick Starr and Niklas Swanström, Director of ISDP and a co-founder of the Silk Road Studies Program, both spoke at a Hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Starr's prepared remarks, "Looking West: China and Central Asia", is available here; Swanström's prepared remarks, "China's Military Engagement with Afghanistan", is available here.

  • Svante Cornell testifies in House of Representatives Hearing on U.S. interests in Azerbaijan
    Thursday, 12 February 2015 20:55

    On February 12, Svante Cornell testified at a Hearing of the Subcommitte for Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Click here to download PDF of prepared text. 

  • Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani promotes Frederick Starr's "Lost Enlightenment" in London Speech (Video)
    Sunday, 07 December 2014 01:59

    In his 4 December talk at Chatham House in London on "Fixing Failed States: From Theory to Practice", Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani referred to Frederick Starr's recent book, Lost Enlightenment. In the video below, the remark comes two minutes into the video clip.

    "The dissolution of the Soviet Union, the takeoff of Central Asia now, is opening up a set of possibilities regarding resources that previously just were not there. We are reconnecting to our remote pasts. There's a fantastic book by Fred Starr, let me plug it, it's called "Lost Enlightenment." It's about Central Asia from the third century before the common era, to the twelfth century. Ant it shows how connected the area was. How the connectivities, the culture and the economy, interplayed. So with very deep structures, in Braudel's sense, that allow us no to resume, the story we are saying about the roundabout is not new. It is being realized, and it gives us opportunity to connect."

     

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