An Olympic torch has been lit in Azerbaijan; an Olympic stadium has been opened in Baku. All seems ready for the June 12 opening of the inaugural European Games, a mini-Olympics for European states. There is only one big question still hovering over the event: how will Azerbaijan pay for it all?
The results of the April 26 presidential election in Kazakhstan offer a good illustration of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s aversion to what he described last month as “forced democracy.” He won reelection with almost 98 percent of the vote.
For more than a decade, I taught an area studies course at the Foreign Service Institute that focused on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. My students were US diplomats, military staff, and government workers headed to assignments in the Caucasus. Several classes focused on the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the First World War, and Armenia.
Three years ago, at age 15, Maftuna’s parents married her off to an older man she had never met. Today she is an 18-year-old single mother living in with her parents in a suburb of Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city.
Posters in supermarkets all around Kazakhstan implore shoppers these days to “Be a Patriot – Buy Kazakhstani!” Their appearance is a clear sign of Kazakhstani discontent with the Eurasian Economic Union, a Russia-led trade group that was supposed to promote mutual growth but which critics say has so far only inflicted economic pain on Astana.
Tajikistan is a donor-dependent state, but that does not stop President Emomali Rahmon’s administration from undertaking extravagant building projects. The latest case of grandiosity involves the construction of what the president’s website boasts will be Central Asia’s largest theater.