Georgian government hands dissident Azeri journalist to Baku, Georgian gov arrest Turkish teacher on Turkish government orders, European Georgia party congress, Brink meets PM and Tedo, Bratislava, Mamaladze brother says Ilia says bro is innocent, Free Dems and Republicans join, five judge candidates, no more AKs, Abkhaz release Khanjiogli, Dutch ratify Ukraine EU deal, Gori ID theft, EU in Keda and Khulo, Red-Co in Gudauri, kids clothes shops, Kiwi opera, bank bill, Tskhinvali banks fund Donbas factories, Manchester City

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  1. The MEME this week is a cartoon posted by Gunduz Aghayev of Meydan TV about the Afgan Mukhtarli case. The cartoon shows Georgian passport control officials–portrayed as monkeys–closing their eyes while Azerbaijani security services bring Mukhtarli across the border into Azerbaijan.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2qEmdWE


    Writing for EurasiaNet, Lala Aliyeva looks at the difficult situation Azerbaijani dissidents face in Georgia. The country has been a safe haven for the past several years, but it seems the Azerbaijani government is using its considerable leverage to put that to an end. On April 19, an opposition Jamal Ali flew from his home in Berlin to Tbilisi but was denied entry by Georgian border guards at the airport. He believes he was banned for his criticisms of Aliyev regime. Also, the authorities has denied residence permits to a number of opposition figures over the past year, on grounds that the individuals are threats to Georgia’s national security. Journalists working for the Tbilisi-based Azerbaijani opposition outlet Meydan think the authorities received a list of politically active people from Azerbaijan to be denied safe haven. This article came out before the Afgan Mukhtarli story broke, so the situation looks even worse than Aliyeva thought.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2reFBw7

    Also for EurasiaNet, Nikolaus von Twickel writes about South Ossetia’s role as a financial center for the Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. In particular, South Ossetia facilitates Russian public funds going to the separatists through the International Clearance Bank based in Tskhinvali. In addition, a holding company based in South Ossetia, Vneshtorgservis, includes some of the biggest industrial plants in Donetsk and Luhansk. These activities are designed to get around Ukrainian restrictions on economic activities in the two territories.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2rnBtsc

    Paul Stronski and Alexandra Vreeman writing for Carnegie Europe look back at 25 years of Georgian independence. It’s a very broad overview of the Gamsakhurdia, Shevardnadze, National Movement, and Otsneba years, but it includes some worthy insights. For example, given political uncertainty in Europe and North America–and NATO’s uncertain future–Georgia needs to expand its roster of potential partners. Unfortunately, that means carefully managing relations with Russia why showing resilience in the face of ongoing Russian threats to its security. A deeper Chinese presence in Georgia could have economic and security benefits, as Russia’s growing economic dependence on China could reduce its leverage in the region.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2rXHZbx

    Writing for the National Interest, Kenneth Yalowitz and William Courtney look back at 25 years of relations between Georgia and the US. They argue that, given the country’s democratic progress and strategic importance, it warrants a lot more support than what it gets. Now, Georgia wants stronger assurances that the US is committed to its sovereignty and development. The Trump administration is saying the right things, but the draft 2018 budget envisages a big cut in aid to Georgia. Cutting funding would be mistake, and not only because it would increase the country’s vulnerability to Russian interference. Georgia should be included in a broader strategy to fight the Islamic State.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2rXylGd

    Social Science in the Caucasus looks at awareness about EU aid programs in Georgia. Unsurprisingly, most people don’t have very optimistic views on aid. For example, 13 percent of people don’t believe the country gets any aid at all, and 36 percent believe that politicians and high-level public officials usually benefit the most from aid. Knowledge about EU aid programs in Georgia tends to positively correlate with support for EU membership. However, even people who think Georgia doesn’t get any aid are still overwhelmingly in favor in membership.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2reDXdM

    Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty posts a video from the GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum. At the forum, Prime Minister Kvirikashvili spoke about Georgia’s security and the importance of closer ties with Europe. The panel discussion got weird when Russian State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov took over the mic. Nikonov accused many people in the room–which included Latvian, Ukrainian, and American officials–of trying to distance Russia from its neighbors, including Georgia. He also blamed the West for Russia’s invasions of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Ukraine. Also weirdly, he admitted that the Russian economy is in shambles due to US and EU-imposed sanctions, contradicting the tough face the Kremlin has tried to show to the world.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2rXsNeP

    Former US National Security Advisor and supporter of Georgia’s independence Zbigniew Brzezinski passed away over the weekend, and Foreign Affairs publishes one of his most famous essays, the Cold War and its Aftermath. Written back in 1992, Brzezinski provides a historical overview of the Cold War before providing some policy recommendations that foresaw some of the problems the region faces today. For example, he recognized that the post-communist transition would be much more complicated than the post-War reconstructions of Germany and Japan, and that in order for it to work, the US and EU would need to make an economic and political commitment equal to what it provided after the Second World War. Also, the West would have to commit fully to the consolidation of the newly-independent non-Russian states. Looking back 25 years later, the West has fallen short on both counts.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2qDZ5Yl

    Our Santa Monica correspondent tipped us off about a piece in Transitions Online about South Ossetia-State of Alania, the new name of the breakaway territory. Many historians consider the Ossetians to be the modern descendents of the Alans, an ancient people that had a state until the 13th Century, when it was destroyed by the Mongols. There are references to Alanian heritage all over Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2shaFcZ

    The Guardian has a piece on footballer Giorgi Kinkladze, who joined Manchester City in 1995. According to the author, Michael Cox, Kinkladze was one of the Premier League’s most fascinating players during the 1990s, but the club never figured out how to use him properly. According to teammate Paul Welsh, even though Kinkladze was the most talented player on the team, he ended up being more a problem than a solution. Coach Alan Ball tried to build the entire team around him, and it just didn’t work.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2qEisEK

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