Nations in Transit?
The US-based Freedom House has released a new study on "Challenges and Opportunities for Democracy in Former Soviet Countries." The short report says that "revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan offer a new hope for the democraticization of the former Soviet space. Armenia, however, didn't do so well.
Widespread corruption and weak governance remained defining features of Armenia's political system in 2004. Little progress was made in reducing the powers of the presidency, despite international pressure. The opposition continued to press for a referendum vote of confidence in President Robert Kocharian, but its weak parliamentary position and the general public's disillusionment with the political class prevented success. A disturbing rise in the number of assaults on journalists results in a deterioration of Armenia’s Nations in Transit rating for independent media. The use of so-called administrative arrests, torture within the police system, and a new Law on Demonstrations in 2004 results in a lower rating in the category of judicial framework & independence.On a scale of 1 to 7, with a lower number representing a greater level of democracy, Armenia scored 5.18 whereas Azerbaijan and Georgia scored 5.86 and 4.96 respectively. This doesn't surprise me because I've always believed that Armenia will always be somewhere between its two neighbors in terms of democratic development. Even so, there's a long way to go for all three republics in the South Caucasus.
The press release for Freedom House's report can be read here and another longer report on Armenia can be found in the new Nations In Transit 2005 report.