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  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the dispute between Georgia and Russia in a new, dangerously confrontational phase, the risk of war in the South Caucasus is growing. Concerned by NATO's plans for further extension to former Soviet republics and Kosovo's unilateral but Western-orchestrated independence, Russia has stepped up manipulation of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflicts. Georgia remains determined to restore its territorial integrity, and hawks in Tbilisi are seriously considering a military option. Both sides need to recognise the risks in current policies, cool their rhetoric and cease military preparations. Russia should cease undermining its peacekeeper and mediator roles and be open to a change of negotiating formats. Georgia should adopt a new approach to the Abkhaz, encouraging their links to the outside world to lessen dependence on Russia and emphasising incremental con­­fidence building to establish the mutual trust needed for successful negotiations. The U.S. and European Union (EU) should be firm and united in cautioning both Moscow and Tbilisi against military adventures.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union, Kosovo, Georgia, Tbilisi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Russia-Georgia conflict has transformed the contemporary geopolitical world, with large consequences for peace and security in Europe and beyond. Moscow's initial moves into South Ossetia as large-scale violence broke out there on 7-8 August were in part a response to a disastrous miscalculation by a Georgian leadership that was impatient with gradual confidence building and a Russian-dominated negotiations process. But Russia's disproportionate counter-attack, with movement of large forces into Abkhazia and deep into Georgia, accompanied by the widespread destruction of economic infrastructure, damage to the economy and disruption of communications and movement between different regions of the country, constitutes a dramatic shift in Russian-Western relations. It has undermined regional stability and security; threatened energy corridors that are vital for Europe; made claims with respect to ethnic Russians and other minorities that could be used to destabilise other parts of the former Soviet Union, with Ukraine a potential target; and shown disregard for international law.
  • Topic: NATO, International Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Asia, Soviet Union, Moscow, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Coca leaf and cocaine production in the Andean region appear to have set new records in 2007. Cocaine trafficking and use are expanding across the Americas and Europe. Despite the expenditure of great effort and resources, the counter-drug policies of the U.S., the European Union (EU) and its member states and Latin American governments have proved ineffective and, in part, counterproductive, severely jeopardising democracy and stability in Latin America. The international community must rigorously assess its errors and adopt new approaches, starting with reduced reliance on the measures of aerial spraying and military-type forced eradication on the supply side and greater priority for alternative development and effective law enforcement that expands the positive presence of the state. On the demand reduction side, it should aim to incarcerate traffickers and use best treatment and harm reduction methods to avoid revolving and costly jail sentences for chronic users.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The policies of a decade or more to stop the flow of cocaine from the Andean source countries, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, to the two largest consumer markets, the U.S. and Europe, have proved insufficient and ineffective. Cocaine availability and demand have essentially remained stable in the U.S. and have been increasing in Europe. Use in Latin American transit countries, in particular Argentina, Brazil and Chile, is on the rise. Flawed counter-drug polices also are causing considerable collateral damage in Latin America, undermining support for democratic governments in some countries, distorting governance and social priorities in others, causing all too frequent human rights violations and fuelling armed and/or social conflicts in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. A comprehensive shared policy reassessment and a new consensus on the balance between approaches emphasising law enforcement and approaches emphasising alternative development and harm reduction are urgently required.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Latin America, Chile, Peru, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There are strong indications that Uzbek security forces murdered one of Kyrgyzstan's most prominent journalists, Alisher Saipov, in October 2007 during the build-up to Uzbekistan's end of year presidential elections, most likely because of his involvement in Erk (Freedom), a leading exile opposition party. If this is the case, it would appear that the security organs, which are the key to keeping President Islam Karimov in power, are increasingly willing to move against any perceived danger, even if it involves pre-emptive strikes in foreign territory. This may be a sign not only of the ruthlessness of the regime but also of its increasing fragility. At the least it underlines the need for the U.S. and the European Union (EU) to resist the temptation to respond to Karimov's dubious December 2007 re-election with efforts at re-engagement, in the apparent hope of regaining or retaining military bases for Afghanistan operations or of outflanking Russia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: One more major effort, strongly encouraged by the UN and European Union (EU), should be made in 2008 to resolve the long-running dispute between ethnic Greeks and Turks on Cyprus and achieve a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island. All sides have much to gain from such a settlement. For the Greek Cypriots, it would end lingering insecurity, give them access to the Turkish economy, the most dynamic in the region, and increase their service industry's value as an eastern Mediterranean hub. For Turkish Cypriots, it will mean being able to enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship of which they are presently largely deprived. For the EU, the unresolved Cyprus problem now hampers its functioning on issues as diverse as cooperation with NATO in Afghanistan and Chinese shoe imports. And for Turkey a settlement would overcome a major obstacle to its convergence with the EU.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Cyprus
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Turkey is entering a critical year, in which its prospects for European Union (EU) membership are at make or break stage. Domestic crises over the past two years have slowed national reform, betrayed the promise of a new constitution and undermined the political will needed to pursue accession negotiations. Its leaders show scant sign of changing course, at least before the March 2009 local elections, and EU states are applying little pressure to reinvigorate reform. Both sides need to recall how much they have to gain from each other and move quickly on several fronts to break out of this downward spiral before one or the other breaks off the negotiations, which could then well prove impossible to start again.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: North Korea's relations with Russia have been marked by unrealistic expectations and frequent disappointments but common interests have prevented a rupture. The neighbours' history as dissatisfied allies goes back to the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) with Soviet support and the Red Army's installation of Kim Il-sung as leader. However, the Soviets were soon written out of the North's official ideology. The Sino-Soviet split established a pattern of Kim playing Russian and Chinese leaders off against each other to extract concessions, including the nuclear equipment and technology at the heart of the current crisis. Since Vladimir Putin visited Pyongyang in 2000, diplomatic initiatives have come undone and grandiose economic projects have faltered. Russia is arguably the least effective participant in the six-party nuclear talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kosovo's transition to the status of conditional, or supervised, independence has been greatly complicated by Russia's firm support of Serbia's refusal to accept that it has lost its one-time province. Recognition of conditional independence has broad international, and certainly European Union (EU) and American, support. Under threat of Moscow's veto, the Security Council will not revoke its Resolution 1244 of 1999 that acknowledged Serbian sovereignty while setting up the UN Mission (UNMIK) to prepare Kosovo for self-government pending a political settlement on its future status. Nor will the Council be allowed to approve the plan for a conditionally independent Kosovo devised by the Secretary-General's special representative, Martti Ahtisaari, earlier this year and authorise the EU-led missions meant to implement that plan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Kosovo, Moscow, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The pro-reform AK Party's resounding victory in the July 2007 parliamentary elections gives both it and the European Union (EU) a chance to relaunch Turkey's accession process, which has floundered since 2005 due to Europe's enlargement fatigue and a neo-nationalist backlash in the country. That process, pursued with real application, has the capacity to help both sides. Popular opinion may show fatigue but leaders and diplomats need to keep avenues open for when political confidence returns, as past experience with the enlargement process suggests it can.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Uzbekistan remains a serious risk to itself and its region. While 69-year-old President Islom Karimov shows no signs of relinquishing power, despite the end of his legal term of office more than half a year ago, his eventual departure may lead to a violent power struggle. The economy remains tightly controlled, with regime stalwarts, including the security services and Karimov's daughter Gulnora, exerting excessive influence, which drives away investors and exacerbates poverty. The human rights situation is grave, and those who seek to flee abroad live in constant danger of attempts to return them forcibly. While the government cites the "war on terror" to justify many policies, its repression may in fact be creating greater future danger. Efforts at international engagement have been stymied by its refusal to reform and to allow an independent investigation of the May 2005 Andijon uprising. Little can be done presently to influence Tashkent but it is important to help ordinary Uzbeks as much as possible and to assist the country's neighbours build their capacity to cope with the instability that is likely to develop when Karimov goes.
  • Topic: Corruption, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The preferred strategy of the European Union (EU) and the U.S. to bring Kosovo to supervised independence through the United Nations Security Council has failed, following Russia's declared intention to veto. With Kosovo Albanians increasingly restive and likely soon to declare unilateral independence in the absence of a credible alternative, Europe risks a new bloody and destabilising conflict. To avoid chaos on its doorstep, the EU and its member states must now accept the primary responsibility for bringing Kosovo to supervised independence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Serbia finally has a new government but one that is deeply divided between pro-Western and nationalist forces. Facing two difficult issues–Kosovo status and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)–its choice is between moving towards European integration or on to a more isolationist path. The government's composition, deep mistrust among many of its members and the parliament's nationalist majority suggest it will follow the second option. Pro-Western forces have suffered a significant setback, the government is vulnerable to manipulation by the security services and oligarchs, and the system of divided responsibility for the security services renders unlikely serious cooperation with the ICTY, especially the arrests of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. Although Kosovo independence could destabilise the government, it may surprise and last far longer and prove more stable than expected. The West should prepare for Serbia turning increasingly away from Europe and towards Moscow.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Moscow, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The experience of Germany, with the largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France, shows that a significant Muslim population at the heart of Europe need not produce either violent Islamist groups or destabilising social unrest. Politicians now acknowledge it is a country of immigration, with a large and permanent Turkish and Muslim component. Citizenship is at last on offer, if still under difficult conditions. Neither political nor jihadi currents of Islamism have had much appeal for those of Turkish origin, three quarters of the Muslim population, and the handful of terrorist suspects that have been found have been either German converts or dual nationals of Arab origin. But there are issues that must still be addressed more effectively if the genuine integration that will ensure social peace and stability is to be created. While the political system has been preoccupied with finding, or creating, a single Islamic interlocutor for itself, more important are practical issues, especially education and jobs, which matter to the many still disadvantaged among the more than two million of Turkish origin and the hundreds of thousands of others of Muslim background.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Demographics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, Western Europe
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Fourteen years of negotiation, led alternately by the UN and Russia, have done little to resolve the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. There have been some successes on the ground: ceasefire violations are rare, approximately 45,000 internally displaced (IDP) Georgians have returned to homes in the Gali region, the two sides cooperate on operating the Inguri power plant, and a strategic railway through Abkhazia may restart. But the sharp deterioration in Russian-Georgian relations and a Georgian military adventure in the Kodori valley have contributed to a freeze in diplomacy over Abkhazia since mid-2006. In the absence of a new initiative, new violence is a real possibility. Because prospects are bleak for an early comprehensive settlement of the key political issues, in particular final status, the sides and international facilitators should shift their focus in 2007 to building confidence and cooperation in areas where there are realistic opportunities.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Georgia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 28 May 2006, President Alvaro Uribe won a second four-year term in a landslide. The first re-election of a sitting Colombian president in more than a century, combined with 12 March congressional elections which produced a pro-Uribe majority and saw the demise of the traditional Liberal-Conservative party system, heralds a profound change in the political landscape. While the outcomes could hardly have been better for Uribe, he now needs to get tough on impunity and diversify an anti-insurgency policy that has been almost exclusively military if he is to move Colombia towards the end of its 40-year armed conflict. The international community, and specifically the European Union (EU), can help by urging a new balance between the president's favoured security policies and the social and economic measures that are needed to get at root causes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Colombia, Central America
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 18 May 2006, the self-declared Republic of Somaliland marked fifteen years since it proclaimed independence from Somalia. Although its sovereignty is still unrecognised by any country, the fact that it is a functioning constitutional democracy distinguishes it from the majority of entities with secessionist claims, and a small but growing number of governments in Africa and the West have shown sympathy for its cause. The territory's peace and stability stands in stark contrast to much of southern Somalia, especially the anarchic capital, Mogadishu, where clashes between rival militias have recently claimed scores of lives. But Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is still struggling to overcome internal divisions and establish its authority in southern Somalia, also claims sovereignty over the territory, and the issue is becoming an increasing source of tension. The African Union (AU) needs to engage in preventive diplomacy now, laying the groundwork for resolution of the dispute before it becomes a confrontation from which either side views violence as the only exit.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Balkans, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The European Union is not living up to its potential as a geopolitical actor in Central Asia. The level of EU interest has been low, and Brussels is doing little to shape developments in a region that has mostly seen marked declines in its economic fortunes, political freedoms and social development in recent years but remains of considerable strategic significance. If this is to change, Europe must move away from largely unsuccessful policies, particularly the promotion of region-wide projects, and take on a more focused and active role geared to the distinct characteristics of each of the region's five states. It needs also to raise the level of its representation, spend more money and stick to its political ideals if it is to have a positive impact.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Instability in the South Caucasus is a threat to European Union (EU) security. Geographic proximity, energy resources, pipelines and the challenges of international crime and trafficking make stability in the region a clear EU interest. Yet, the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts have the potential to ignite into full-fledged wars in Europe's neighbourhood. To guarantee its own security, the EU should become more engaged in efforts to resolve the three disputes. It can do so by strengthening the conflict resolution dimension of the instruments it applies. As the EU is unlikely to offer membership to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan even in the medium term, it must identify innovative means to impose conditionality on its aid and demonstrate influence. This is a challenge that Brussels has only begun to address.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus, Brussels
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: La France a un problème avec ses musulmans, mais ce n'est pas celui qu'elle croit. L'embrasement des banlieues d'octobre-novembre 2005 ainsi que la vague d'arrestations dans les milieux jihadistes ont ramené l'Islam au centre des préoccupations françaises et ont donné du souffle à ceux qui brandissent la me nace d'un monde musulman s'organisant à partir de l'islamisme politique. Pourtant, c'est tout le contraire: paradoxalement, c'est l'essoufflement de l'islamisme politique plus que sa radicalisation qui explique les violences à prédominance musulmane et c'est la dépolitisation des jeunes musulmans bien plus que leur prétendue re-communautarisation sur des bases radicales qui de vrait inquiéter. Afin de minimiser les risques de l'émeute et du militantisme jihadiste, il faudrait à la fois s'attaquer aux problèmes socio-économiques dont souffren t les cités, réduire les violences qui s'exercent contre elles, et favoriser la participation politique de ceux qui y résident.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Human Welfare, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, France