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  • 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
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Premier Vojislav Kostunica won a high stakes gamble with passage of Serbia's draft constitution in the 28-29 October referendum. However, numerous credible reports indicate the process was deeply flawed and the result falsified. The referendum cannot be characterised as either free or fair. The new constitution could prove a step away from European values. It opens the door to increased centralisation of the state, curtailment of human and minority rights, destruction of judicial independence and potentially even a parliamentary dictatorship. The process used to pass the constitution illustrates how Kostunica continues to transform Serbia into something closer to illiberal authoritarianism than liberal democracy; yet, the referendum was welcomed by the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After the indiscriminate killing of civilians by Uzbek security forces in the city of Andijon in 2005, the European Union imposed targeted sanctions on the government of President Islam Karimov. EU leaders called for Uzbekistan to allow an international investigation into the massacre, stop show trials and improve its human rights record. Now a number of EU member states, principally Germany, are pressing to lift or weaken the sanctions, as early as this month. The Karimov government has done nothing to justify such an approach. Normalisation of relations should come on EU terms, not those of Karimov. Moreover, his dictatorship is looking increasingly fragile, and serious thought should be given to facing the consequences of its ultimate collapse, including the impact on other fragile states in Central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Germany
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With Romania's expected entry into the European Union in 2007, the EU will share a border with Moldova, a weak state divided by conflict and plagued by corruption and organised crime. Moldova's leadership has declared its desire to join the EU, but its commitment to European values is suspect, and efforts to resolve its dispute with the breakaway region of Transdniestria have failed to end a damaging stalemate that has persisted for fifteen years. Young people have little confidence in the country's future and are leaving at an alarming rate. If Moldova is to become a stable part of the EU's neighbourhood, there will need to be much greater international engagement, not only in conflict resolution but in spurring domestic reforms to help make the country more attractive to its citizens.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is a still incomplete Balkan success story. Since international and Serbian government diplomacy resolved an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, donors and Belgrade have invested significant resources to undo a legacy of human rights violations and improve the economy. Tensions are much decreased, major human rights violations have ended, the army and police are more sensitive to Albanian concerns and there is progress, though hesitant, in other areas, such as a multi-ethnic police force, gradual integration of the judiciary, and Albanian language textbooks. Ethnic Albanians appear increasingly intent on developing their own political identity inside Serbia and finding a way to cohabit with Serbs, something that should be encouraged and supported. Nevertheless, the Kosovo status process threatens to disrupt the Presevo Valley's calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans, Albania, Southern Serbia