01 February 2016
International Criminal Court authorised investigation into alleged war crimes during 2008 Georgia-Russia war by Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces.
More than two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the three-sided conflict involving breakaway Abkhazia, Georgia and Russia is far from a solution so all should concentrate on achievable goals, including intensified dialogue on basic security-related and humanitarian issues.
Whether the smooth transfer of power Georgia achieved after October’s bitter election sets a standard for democracy in its region depends on whether the new government can strengthen the independence and accountability of state institutions in what remains a fragile, even potentially explosive political climate.
Unless Armenia’s next presidential election is fair and gives its winner a strong political mandate, the government will lack the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reforms, tackle corruption and negotiate a peaceful end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
As negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh stall, the Azerbaijan government has improved living conditions for the internally displaced (IDPs), though return to the occupied territories remains by far the preferred solution.
On the third anniversary of their war over South Ossetia, talks between Georgia and Russia are needed to create positive momentum in a still unstable environment.
To ensure political stability and that there is no opportunity for Russia or others to manipulate local politics, Georgia needs to improve integration of its mostly Armenian-populated Javakheti region.
Escalating front-line clashes, a spiralling arms race, vitriolic rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks increase the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh, with devastating regional consequences.
Georgia has maintained political and economic stability despite the shock of the 2008 war with Russia, but the government needs to use the two years before the next elections to create public trust in democratic institutions by engaging in meaningful dialogue with the opposition over further reforms.
International Crisis Group at Work: South Caucasus
15 Jan 2012: Lawrence Sheets, South Caucasus Project Director, talks about International Crisis Group's work in the South Caucasus, promoting communication across the lines of the region's most intractable conflicts.
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