Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD) is a monthly online magazine published jointly by the Caucasus Research Resource Center/Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES) at the University of Zurich, and the German Association for East European Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, DGO). CAD analyzes the political, economic and societal situation in the three Southern Caucasus states of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in terms of the international and security dimensions of the region’s development. CAD is edited by Lusine Badalyan, Bruno De Cordier, Farid Guliyev, Diana Lezhava, Lili Di Puppo, Jeronim Perović, Abel Polese, Licínia Simão and Tinatin Zurabishvili. The correspondence editor is Heiko Pleines, and the layout editor is Matthias Neumann.
This issue of the Caucasus Analytical Digest deals with Local Dimensions of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. Firstly, Leila Alieva explores the securitization/de-securitization processes and attitudes towards the conflict in Azerbaijan in the periods before, during, and after the 2020 conflict in Karabagh; secondly, Tamar Shirinian discusses the affective connections between the two spectres of soldiers who are missing or who have died in action and the old political economic elite who now threaten to regain power, and the political implications of national trauma on Armenia’s post-war futures; thirdly, John O’Loughlin, Gerard Toal, and Kristin Bakke analyze the somewhat contradictory results of a February 2020 survey of inhabitants of Karabakh concerning the questions of territory and peace.
This issue deals with renewable energy in the South Caucasus. Firstly, Agha Bayramov looks at Azerbaijan’s renewable energy developments. Secondly, Mary Keogh predicts that the development of indigenous renewable resources will play a key role in bolstering Armenia’s energy security, in particular limiting reliance on Russia, and explores the contribution of renewable energy to Armenian energy security, focusing on the opportunities made available by cooperation with external actors on renewable energy initiatives. Thirdly, Tracey German assesses the contribution that hydropower makes to Georgia’s energy mix, detailing the lessons that can be drawn from the Georgian experience about the demands of balancing electricity needs against environmental and social costs.
The topic of this issue is “Mitigating the Social Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Firstly, Gurgen Aslanyan, Vardan Baghdasaryan and Gayane Shakhmuradyan examine the social policy response of the Government of Armenia to the COVID-19 crisis. Secondly, Farid Guliyev posits that Azerbaijan’s social assistance and income support schemes adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic need to be seen within the context of the existing social protection system and safety nets. Thirdly, Vakhtangi Demuria and Teona Absandze suggest that the Georgian government’s efforts to provide social assistance for the population were delayed and faltered in terms of efficiency, but overall, more or less complex schemes of assistance were elaborated. Finally, Ramina Murshudova, Aytan Shahmarova, Mirvari Gasimova, Gunel Poladova, and Malahat Valiyeva analyze changes in attitudes towards online education in Azerbaijan during the unprecedented global lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The topic of this issue is Agriculture and Trade with Russia. Firstly, Phatima Mamardashvili, Salome Gelashvili, Ia Katsia, and Salome Deisadze show that agricultural trade dependency on Russia is most pronounced for Azerbaijan and Armenia and is significantly lower for Georgia due to Russia’s embargo against Georgia’s food exports from 2006 to 2012. Secondly, Sophie Ghvanidze, Linda Bitsch, Jon H. Hanf, and Miranda Svanidze focus on the wine industry in the South Caucasus; while Georgia preserved its wine culture after the dissolution of the USSR, Armenia and Azerbaijan had to revitalize their wine sectors. Thirdly, Miranda Svanidze and Linde Götz point out that food security has improved during the transition period, although food insecurity is still prevalent in the countries of the South Caucasus, which are heavily dependent on wheat imports from Russia and to a limited degree from Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
This issue of the Caucasus Analytical Digest focuses on Public Opinion in Georgia: New Caucasus Barometer Results. Firstly, David Sichinava discusses the evolution of people’s attitudes towards conflict resolution in Georgia. Secondly, Rati Shubladze and Tamar Khoshtaria analyze trends and inconsistencies in popular support for democracy in Georgia. Thirdly, Dustin Gilbreath tackles the trajectory of trust in the most trusted institution in the country, the Orthodox Church of Georgia.
This issue of the Caucasus Analytical Digest focuses on the structural challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has made visible in all three South Caucasus states. Firstly, Ia Eradze states that the sober reaction to the pandemic by Prime Minister Gakharia and the handing over of key decisions to epidemiologists was viewed positively by the country’s population. Secondly, Armen Grigoryan shows that the post-revolutionary government in Armenia was hit by the pandemic in a difficult phase of its reform policy. Thirdly, Bahruz Samadov posits that, while Azerbaijan was hit not only by the pandemic but also by the temporary collapse of oil prices under 20 US-Dollars per Barrel, its leadership decided to use this crisis as an opportunity to silence independent voices from opposition parties, journalists and bloggers.
This issue of the Caucasus Analytical Digest focuses on the interplay between informal and formal institutions in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Firstly, regarding Armenia, Nona Shahnazarian looks at the deep-seated cultural roots of clientelism in post-Soviet societies and discusses the efforts by the government of Prime Minister Pashinyan to eradicate the power of oligarchs that persists to date. Secondly, Farid Guliyev looks at how formal institutions in Azerbaijan are largely a façade, although one that is used by the ruling elite to package ex ante informal power arrangements and thus maintain autocratic rule. Thirdly, Levan Kakhishvili examines the shift from the presidential to parliamentary system and electoral system reform in Georgia, and shows how formal and informal institutions complement each other in arguably most advanced reformer in the Caucasus region.
The topic of this issue is pension reform. Firstly, Gayane Shakhmuradyan argues that despite the continued public disapproval of the mandatory funded scheme, the Armenian pension system is now more sustainable and robust, and economic inefficiencies are being overcome. Secondly, Alexandra Aroshvili and Tornike Chivadze point out that the privatization of the Georgian pension scheme cannot adequately meet the needs of current and future pensioners. Their main criticism is that there is neither a basic pension nor any redistribution mechanism, which leads to injustice between the generations. Thirdly, Gubad Ibadoghlu provides an overview of the current state of the pension system in Azerbaijan. He believes that the current pension system in Azerbaijan is not sustainable in the long run and should be reformed. In particular, the social security principle should be strengthened, and non-insurance benefits by the state should be reduced.