Last October’s appointment of 35-year-old, Georgia-born Demna Gvasalia as creative director of the Paris-based fashion powerhouse Balenciaga is helping to put the South Caucasus country of Georgia on the international fashion map.
As Russia’s economic downturn continues, some experts and politicians are sounding an alarm about the country’s long-term competitiveness, and are calling for increased government spending to stimulate manufacturing and bolster education. Investment in those sectors has not seemed to be a government priority of late, but there are signs that official thinking may be changing.
For both Azerbaijani and Armenian peace activists, the resumption of fighting over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh last week meant a severe test of their stated commitment to peaceful conflict resolution. Now, with calls for retribution running strong on both sides, many question whether the differences between the two countries can ever be bridged.
When the deadliest fighting in decades broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and the rest of the world struggled to figure out what was going on. Did Azerbaijan, as it claimed, really seize villages and strategic heights? Were there really hundreds of casualties on each side? How did the fighting start?
Since Russian troops occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia have found themselves in competition to see which country has the world’s worst-performing currency. Russia’s ruble took an early lead in late 2014, but the Kazakh tenge and Azerbaijani manat have done their best to keep pace in the race to the bottom.
A tenuous ceasefire may still be holding in Nagorno-Karabakh, but civilians living in the conflict zone remain traumatized, with many being forced to relive painful decades-old memories of loss and displacement.
The renewal of armed conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave can potentially have global ramifications, participants at the recent nuclear security summit in Washington cautioned.