katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)
About a week ago Freedom House released its survey results concerning global freedom for the year 2004. The most shifts in freedom ratings occur NOT in the "Greater Middle East" (there we have minor 1-point shifts for the better in a couple countries) -- they happen instead right on the boundary where the EU sphere meets the CIS sphere. As I expected.

Here's the map for the area as I had coloured and posted it a couple months back when I first talked about Ukraine and the CIS/EU boundary, and also the new map, according to the new freedom ratings. The greener the better, the dark-red the worse.


This is a *big* change. Back when I'd posted the first map I had remarked on the clear distinguishing line between the EU+Romania+Bulgaria on one hand and the CIS world on the other -- Such a clear distinguishing line no longer exists, not because the two geopolitical spheres have moved closer together (they have not), but rather because the CIS world has itself split -- with a significant chunk (namely Ukraine and Georgia) moving a bit towards European levels of freedom, while the other CIS countries moved instead to the consolidation of their respective tyrannies.

Georgia went through the Rose Revolution late last year -- now Ukraine has gone through the Orange Revolution. Turkey's rating (not in the CIS) has likewise improved a bit with the continuation of the EU-instigated reforms. In EU itself freedom and democracy has consolidated to 1/1 levels in most of the new member states. Bosnia itself seems to show a hint of improvement, but since I'm not very informed about the situation there I'll wait for the analytic country-by-country reports.

Not including the deteriotating Kosovo situation, there are only two minor setbacks in the entire west-of-the-CIS freedom ratings -- namely in Lithuania and Romania. Both of these seem however temporary from what I know of the respective situations -- in Lithuania this concerned some scandals and political instability which I believe has by now largely been resolved. In Romania the ratings don't take into account its December elections (ratings go from November to November) which brought in a new more liberal government and removed the previous and (from what I gather) largely corrupt and authoritarian previous administration.

And ofcourse where the bad is concerned, we have the consolidation of tyranny in Russia (falls to "Not Free", and the worst rating since before the collapse of the Soviet Union), in the even worse Belarus, and lastly in Armenia.

But because of Georgia and (more importantly) Ukraine, the new Iron Curtain seems to be falling a bit to the east of what had been seen as the case just a while back.

Some predict that a "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrgyzstan will be the next step, to be taken in 2005, after the Rose and Orange revolutions, for the overthrow of the various tyrannies in the formerly Soviet world. But to tell the truth: I doubt it. There have always been the occasional cases of lone democracies surrounded by tyrannies but on the whole they are *rare*. Surrounded by China on one side, Russia (Kazakhstan but same thing really) on the other, and other remaining tyrannies on the other sides, I don't see where the democrats of Kyrgyzstan will get the strength.

I hope I'm wrong -- for the sake of Kyrgyzstan's freedom.


I went Tuesday and finally ordered the graduation photographs. Friends (and enemies :-) will have to wait for next week before I have and can post them though.
katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Politics)

There are elections coming up which, the way I see it, may very well end up determining the fate of a nation in the century that is to come.

I'm NOT talking about the United States.

Many other people have talked about the United States, and if I had any way of knowing that Kerry's policies will be significantly better than Bush's, I might comment on them also: So far Kerry's chief advantage seems to be not in actual policy described, but rather in that he's not so offensively obviously stupid, and he doesn't seem to consider arrogance a virtue in its own right. If this will translate to anything better on the ground, your guess is as good as mine.

But no more on the United States -- I don't consider the elections there to be the end of the world no matter the result. Few things really are the end of the world. In the choice between Bush and Kerry I'm not sure it's even a crossroads -- more like a choice of lanes all heading in the same direction, and you only try to choose which one has fewer bumps and less traffic, and which one will help you get off in the right place, rather than have to go another 10 kilometers because you missed your exit.

The election in Ukraine tomorrow Sunday won't be the end of the world either. But from what I hear, it has more of a feel of crossroads than any other election I ever remember hearing about. But to talk about this, I'll have to talk first about the whole global neighbourhood.

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katsaris: "Where is THEIR vote?" (Default)
Aris Katsaris

July 2011

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