The village of Salvard, 220 km from Yerevan in Armenia’s southernmost province, Syunik, lies near the border with Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan. With no gas connection and just a dirt road leading to the village, for years the young have migrated away; the local residents who have remained behind say the village is dying.
With their new peace initiative, ‘A Step to a Better Future’, Georgia’s government hopes to tempt students from Abkhazia and South Ossetia to enrol in Georgian universities by letting them sit entrance exams in their ‘native language’. But for Abkhazia’s ethnic Georgians in Gali, banned from studying in Georgian there and whose Abkhaz language skills are far from native, the initiative does little to help.
Reform of the oft-maligned Armenian Police Force is in full swing following April’s ‘Velvet Revolution’, with reformers frequently citing neighbouring Georgia as a blueprint. While the reforms seem to have made a real dent in corruption, calls to take on the force’s reputation for brutality appear to be gaining less traction.
Since 2008, the port city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast has attracted visitors with the bright lights of tourism, trade, and gambling. Soaring tourism statistics in the popular casino town has brought with it a construction boom — one that seemingly has no end in sight. [Read more…]
Having swept to power in a landslide electoral victory, the new government of revolutionary leader Nikol Pashinyan is now laying out its vision for a ‘New Armenia’ — with ambitious plans for peace and reform.
While Azerbaijan’s authorities deny that there are political prisoners in the country’s prisons at all — local and international rights groups disagree. Many former prisoners and their families complain that those locked up on political grounds face not only an unjust deprivation of their liberty, but special prohibitions such as on reading and speaking with their families. [Read more…]
In Georgia, it’s generally assumed that jarti (scrap metal) collectors are simply called when people wish to get rid of their Soviet-era refrigerators, stoves, and other outdated pieces that carry valuable metal in them. However, a closer look at the uneasy industry shows how Georgia’s present situation reflects in the piles of tin, copper, and brass. [Read more…]
As more and more women choose to enter politics in revolutionary ‘New Armenia’, a debate is raging within the country’s feminist circles: how best to transform Armenia's patriarchal systems — from within or without. [Read more…]
Salome Zurabishvili has been elected the 5th president of Georgia in 28 November’s presidential runoff, winning 60% of votes according to preliminary results. Her win is historic, given that she is the first woman to run and succeed in the marathon for the presidential seat. Constantly emphasising her European origins, she has promised to help Georgia integrate into NATO and the EU and as she likes to say, ‘bring Georgian society together’.
Almost a million Armenians live below the national poverty, around a third of the country. For over two decades successive governments have promised— and failed — to tackle poverty; following the Velvet Revolution, Pashinyan’s government has promised the same. [Read more…]