1/5 Georgia votes in a key parliamentary election on Oct. 31. If you missed @Carnegie_Europe excellent (if quite bleak!) discussion on #GVote20 with Giorgi Gogsadze, Salome Asatiani and Stephen Jones, watch here. Some key points:
2/5 Consensus: Despite progress, Georgia is still not a consolidated democracy. Ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party led by Bidzina Ivanishvili commands massive resources and is likely to win unprecedented third term. Parliament likely to have “raucous but not united” opposition.
3/5 Gogsadze: New electoral rules mean 120/150 seats decided proportionally, 1% threshold of entry to parliament. Quota of women means at least 30 female MPs. Coalition possible but GD predicted to win 45-50% of seats. Had big boost from good handling of pandemic.
4/5 Asatiani: Can Georgia end tradition of “monstrosity” of one party dominating state? Unlikely. In 2012 system centred around one individual (Saakashvili), was unexpectedly handed to another (Ivanishvili). Biggest missed opportunity since 2012 is lack of judicial reform.
5/5 Jones: Elections in post-Soviet space generally do not deliver democracy--protests after elections more likely to. Georgia fits the pattern. Big economic problems, so why no strong left-of-centre party? Partly due to Soviet legacy, yet G had social-democratic govt in 1918.

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More from @Tom_deWaal

18 Oct
1 Reports already of breakdown of last night's #Karabakh truce hours after it was agreed. Again a reminder of why a truce is desperately needed: the huge human cost of conflict. (If you don’t need reminding, please look at my Twitter feed over last three weeks.)
2 Take note of what OHCHR, ICRC, Amnesty, have said: Sustained Azerbaijani bombardment of NK itself and its Armenian population, many civilian casualties, destruction of civilian infrastructure, tens of thousands displaced, use of banned weapons (cluster munitions).
3 Many Armenian strikes on Azerbaijani town of Ganje, Terter, Barda, including places where IDPs from war of 1990s were living and were displaced again. Worst strike with many casualties, mass destruction, occurred yesterday in Ganje.
Read 10 tweets
28 Sep
New thread. I'm quoted here on the #Karabakh fighting. (There is a lot more nuance if you watch the whole interview) I’m aware that people like to quote me selectively so important for me to state a few core beliefs I have about this conflict
1 No side has a monopoly of justice. Both sides have historical claims to Karabakh. It was the site of a medieval Armenian kingdom in the 12th century and an Azerbaijani (Persian Turkic Shia) khanate in the 18th c. Both peoples have lived together here, mostly peacefully.
2 There is a lot of propaganda out there. Both sides cannot be right, but both cannot be wrong – and frequently are in their assertions. Treat all official statements from both sides with a big pinch of salt!
Read 11 tweets
27 Sep
Horrible news. This AM a military offensive by Azerbaijan on #Karabakh frontline. Already a small war. Heavy weapons used, Internet down in Az, Arm. side announced mobilization. Follows rise in bellicose rhetoric from both sides—Karabakh Arm. leader declared today...
2/ that, if Az. "declares war, it will get war." Early indications suggest Baku wants to remake facts on the ground in regions it lost in 1990s. Perhaps tries to seize a moment when int. community is disengaged, US in election season, OSCE leaderless, before winter comes.
3/ Can't overstate how dangerous this is. Two sides are now heavily militarized, able to strike civilian areas and strategic assets as never before. In 2016 they had a “limited” but tragic short war in which 200 people died. Pressure on both to "achieve" more than back then.
Read 8 tweets
25 Sep
#Azerbaijan reading day! Two excellent articles on its complex identity and how this is represented in cartography and political discourse. First is by teh brilliant @LaurenceBroers who explores changing ideological outlook of post-Soviet Azerbaijan.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10…
Laurence analyses 3 phases, each with their cartographic products: in recent times cartographic, sometimes irredentist, obsession with Armenia; before that “cartography of consensus” under Heidar Aliev stressing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within its Soviet-era borders
The first phase n Popular Front era of '90s was cartographic obsession with "southern Azerbaijan" (Iran). The Iranian dimension is also the topic of Benoit Filou's excellent article. bakuresearchinstitute.org/two-shores-the…
Read 5 tweets
17 Aug
One big Question hangs in the air, as #Belarus crisis deepens, #Lukashenko loses his 26-year-old grip on power. How will Russia respond? I’ve followed Russia’s relations with its post-Soviet neighbours for 25 years. A THREAD on how Russia has no good options. 1/7
Putin--contrary to conventional wisdom--hesitates to intervene in "Near Abroad" crises. @MarkGaleotti calls him "cautious and risk-averse. He is only happy to play the maverick when he thinks he can predict the outcome.” books.google.co.uk/books?id=X2tkD… 2/7
In 2010 the Kremlin stood by and saw Kyrgyzstan’s Bakiev ousted (he took refuge in Minsk). The same in 2018 with Armenia's Serzh Sargsyan. Belarus protests much more resemble Yerevan in 2018 than Maidan. No EU slogans, only the national flag. origins.osu.edu/article/armeni… 3/7
Read 7 tweets
15 Jul
1/8 Thread on latest fighting between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan. I wrote this piece last October worrying that with no political movement in #Karabakh talks, the conflict could heat up. (writing this also as cannot respond to interview requests)
2/8 Nothing accidental here. Ceasefire violations are a political decision. Violence went down to almost zero in 2018 after revolution in Armenia due to instructions from both leaders, and with now-ignored 2019 promise to "prepare populations for peace." osce.org/minsk-group/40…
3/8 This is not (yet) repeat of 4-day War of 2016. Fighting is on int. recognized border. This densely populated region was locus of ceasefire violations before 2018 Population is v vulnerable. See excellent @crisisgroup explainer (and read @Olesya_vArt) crisisgroup.org/content/nagorn…
Read 8 tweets

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