ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 August 8, 2003 




Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home


This has been a momentous week for the future of the Caucasus. The long anticipated transfer of power in Azerbaijan began to take effect with the ailing grey fox Heidar Aliev apparently on his deathbed, first in Turkey and now in the United States, and his son Ilham confirmed as Prime Minister and heir-in-waiting. The former Soviet Union's first dynastic succession makes democracy a matter of genetic inheritance in Armenia's neighbor, a generation game that the presidential elections in October are expected only to affirm rather than to alter.

In Georgia, the jostling for power will soon begin to succeed the equally venerable Eduard Shevardnadze as President. Unlike in Azerbaijan, where the Aliev shuffle has been much rehearsed, nobody is predicting who will emerge as victor in Tbilisi or how. This is not so unusual - few people had heard of Vladimir Putin in early 1999 but by the end of that year he was acting President of Russia. However, the likelihood is that whoever wins in Georgia will be much closer in age to Robert Kocharyan and Ilham Aliev than to Eduard and Heidar.

Shevardnadze and Aliev are steeped in the history and governing techniques of Soviet times, they understand how to run things from the center and how to play the game of political survival. Uniquely in the region, independent Armenia has never turned to its former Communist boss when times got tough, though it came very close (some still insist it was more than close enough) during the 1998 presidential contest between Kocharyan and the late Karen Demirchyan. Kocharyan has always stood out in the region for the reason that he rose to power through a non-traditional and unexpected process.

Soon, however, he will be the senior political figure in the Caucasus. He will be the most experienced of a fresh generation of political leaders whose formative experiences owe nothing to the Soviet past but are instead the products of ethnic strife, economic collapse, and national uncertainty. They will share a common background and the question will be whether it produces a common language that meets the challenges of the time.

How will Kocharyan react to his elevated new status? Will it make him bolder in the search for peace and stability in the region? Or more guarded in the face of an unpredictable and possibly unstable regime?

How will Aliev junior seek to consolidate his grip on power? By playing a crude nationalist card over Nagorno Karabakh? Or by advancing a national interest which sees a guarantee of peace as an essential prerequisite of real improvement for all the countries and peoples of the Caucasus?

It must be hoped that strategists on the Armenian side have been game-playing the probable scenarios that arise from the transfer of power in Azerbaijan. That they see where the opportunities and obstacles may arise. The region is entering a new landscape, which will reveal ultimately whether Kocharyan has what it takes to become a statesman or whether his ambitions and abilities are much more narrowly defined.

That seems a strange sentence given the cloud of suspicion that hovers over Kocharyan following the corrupted election process that delivered him a second term of office in March. Opposition parties preparing a fresh attempt to oust him from office, while Kocharyan's international reputation and that of Armenia have rarely if ever been lower. But the region is entering strange times and odd things can happen. Just look at
Azerbaijan.


According to Agnes
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  Inside
 

Clean-up: New center hopes to assist the fight against corruption

Full story

 
 
 
 

Karabakh/Azerbaijan Relations: Negotiations will continue despite potential political change

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Hope and Housing: Project gives shelter, encouragement to vulnerable families

Full story

 
 

 


The Week in seven days

 

  Photo of the week
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Dancing Prez

President Robert Kocharyan attended closing ceremonies of the second Pan Armenian Youth gathering "Baze" at Lake Sevan on Wednesday. The Chief of State put away Presidential Pomp in favor of boogieing with the kids.

 

 





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