Tag Archives: armenia

Observations of an expat: Geopolitical fault line

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Throughout history the Caucasus region has been one of the world’s key geopolitical fault lines and a potentially explosive ethnic, religious, cultural and political melting pot.

It links Europe and Asia. It connects the Black Sea to the riches of the landlocked Caspian. It straddled the Silk Road which connected the Turkic-speaking tribes which stretched from Anatolia to China’s troubled Xinjiang region. The Caucasus region is at the centre of dividing line between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Islamic world of Central Asia. It has been disputed, fought over and occupied by the Ottomans, Russia, the Mongols and Iran.

At the very heart of this fault line are Islamic Azerbaijan and Orthodox Christian Armenia. Separating these two countries is mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh; internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but with a majority ethnic Armenian population that has set up their own government (The Republic of Artsakh) which nobody – not even Armenia – recognises. However, Azerbaijan has not governed the area since 1988.

During the days of the Soviet Empire the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was smothered by political control from Moscow. But when the Soviet Union fell apart the two South Caucasus nations fell out over Nagorno-Karabakh. From 1988 to 1994 they fought a war which left 30,000 dead and displaced a million people from their homes. In the end, Moscow managed to broker a ceasefire, but not a peace.

Since 1994 there have been sporadic clashes along a “Line of Control”, but this week the clashes quickly escalated into a proper renewal of hostilities. With the rest of the world distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and the US presidential elections, the conflict has the possibility to drag Russia and NATO Turkey into opposing positions.

Russia is doing its best to assume the honest broker position, but Turkey makes no bones about its diplomatic stance. It fully backs Azerbaijan and demands that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh accept that they are part of that state.

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ELDR Council: between a rock and some very hard places indeed…

I’m not always the most prepared person in the world, especially when it comes to meetings. Usually, that doesn’t matter, because I’m surrounded by people who are prepared. But what happens if they don’t turn up on time?

The sun was shining in Armenia’s capital, in the shadow of Mount Ararat, and whilst one of the delegation’s Parliamentarians was meeting ‘Our Man in Yerevan’, I was off to attend the Resolution Working Group, where resolutions on a Common Consolidated Corporate tax base for Europe and on Cyprus were to be …

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ELDR: a caucus in the Caucusus…

When I was elected to the Liberal Democrat delegation to the Council of the European Liberal Democrats (ELDR), adventure was not necessarily high amongst my expectations, and trips to Dresden and Palermo last year were, whilst very nice, not particularly off the beaten path. And so, when it was announced that the Spring Council meeting would take place in Yerevan, I have to admit to an awakening of my passion for obscure routes and means of transport. So, why Yerevan, and what will be happening at the end of next week?

Sunday sees Parliamentary elections in Armenia, and this, combined with …

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Daily View 2×2: 11 October 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. It’s time for the Daily View, today with an science fiction meets ukulele musical extra.

2 Big Stories

English Defence League takes to streets, violence follows

Perhaps someone should tell the English Defence League that the best way for them to defend the values they claim to stand up for would be to wind themselves up given how little of that traditional English value of tolerance its members display. But in the meantime, here’s the latest news:

More than 40 people have been arrested during two political demonstrations in Manchester city centre.

At least 2,000 people attended the protests, by the English Defence League (EDL) and members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) on Saturday afternoon.

Witnesses said “ugly scenes” broke out between rival protestors and police.

Forty-eight people have been arrested, four among them were held on suspicion of affray. Most of the other arrests were for public order offences. (BBC)

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