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CRS — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound to and from Afghanistan.

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CRS — Georgia’s October 2013 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications

November 20, 2013 Comments off

Georgia’s October 2013 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report discusses Georgia’s October 27, 2013, presidential election and its implications for U.S. interests. The election took place one year after a legislative election that witnessed the mostly peaceful shift of legislative and ministerial power from the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), to the Georgia Dream (GD) coalition bloc. The newly elected president, Giorgi Margvelashvili of the GD, will have fewer powers under recently approved constitutional changes.

Most observers have viewed the 2013 presidential election as marking Georgia’s further progress in democratization, including a peaceful shift of presidential power from UNM head Mikheil Saakashvili to GD official Margvelashvili. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns over ongoing tensions between the UNM and GD, as well as Prime Minister and GD head Bidzini Ivanishvili’s announcement on November 2, 2013, that he will step down as the premier.

In his victory speech on October 28, Margvelashvili reaffirmed Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic foreign policy orientation, including the pursuit of Georgia’s future membership in NATO and the EU. At the same time, he reiterated that GD would continue to pursue the normalization of ties with Russia.

On October 28, 2013, the U.S. State Department praised the Georgian presidential election as generally democratic and expressing the will of the people, and as demonstrating Georgia’s continuing commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. The State Department called for all Georgian political forces to work together to ensure Georgia’s political stability and stated that the United States looked forward to building upon the strong bilateral strategic partnership and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

CRS — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

November 5, 2013 Comments off

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro- Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound to and from Afghanistan.

CRS — Georgia’s October 2012 Legislative Election: Outcome and Implications

October 29, 2012 Comments off

Georgia’s October 2012 Legislative Election: Outcome and Implications (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Georgia’s continued sovereignty and independence and its development as a free market democracy have been significant concerns to successive Congresses and Administrations. The United States and Georgia signed a Charter on Strategic Partnership in early 2009 pledging U.S. support for these objectives, and the United States has been Georgia’s largest provider of foreign and security assistance. Most recently, elections for the 150-member Parliament of Georgia on October 1, 2012, have been viewed as substantially free and fair by most observers. Several Members of Congress and the Administration have called for a peaceful transition of political power in Georgia and have vowed continued support for Georgia’s development and independence.

In the run-up to the October 2012 election, Georgia’s Central Electoral Commission registered 16 parties and blocs and several thousand candidates to run in mixed party list and single-member constituency races. A new electoral coalition, Georgia Dream—set up by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili—posed the main opposition to President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement, which held the majority of legislative seats. A video tape of abuse in a prison released by Georgia Dream late in the campaign seemed to be a factor in the loss of voter support for the United National Movement and in the electoral victory of Georgia Dream. According to observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the election freely reflected the will of the people, although a few procedural and other problems were reported.

In the days after the election, Saakashvili, Ivanishvili, and other officials from Georgia Dream and the United National Movement have met to plan an orderly transition, including the appointment of a new cabinet. Ivanishvili has pledged that GD will continue to support Georgia’s democratization and anti-corruption efforts, and its European and Euro-Atlantic orientation.

The White House has described the election as “another milestone” in Georgia’s development as a democracy, and has called for Ivanishvili and Saakashvili to work together to ensure the country’s continued peaceful transition of power. The Administration also stated that it looked forward to strengthening the U.S.-Georgia partnership. Several Members of Congress observed the election, and several Members of the Senate issued a post-election statement commending President Saakashvili for his efforts to transform Georgia into a prosperous democracy, and pointing to the competitive and peaceful election as evidence of his success. At the same time, they raised concerns about some bickering and unrest in the wake of the election, and cautioned that the future of U.S.-Georgia relations depends on the country’s continued commitment to democratization.

Some observers have suggested that relations between the two parties in the legislature and between a Georgia Dream cabinet and the president may well be contentious in coming months, as both sides maneuver before a planned 2013 presidential election. Saakashvili is term-limited and cannot run, but the United National Movement plans to retain the presidency. Under constitutional changes, the legislature is slated to gain greater powers vis-à-vis the presidency, so a divided political situation could endure for some time. In such a case, statesmanship and a commitment to compromise and good governance are essential for Georgia’s continued democratization, these observers stress.

CRS — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

October 15, 2012 Comments off

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of the U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The South Caucasian troops serving in Iraq departed in late 2008. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound for Afghanistan.

Beginning on August 7, 2008, Russia and Georgia warred over Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops quickly swept into Georgia, destroyed infrastructure, and tightened their de facto control over the breakaway regions before a ceasefire was concluded on August 15. The conflict has had long-term effects on security dynamics in the region and beyond. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the United States and nearly all other nations have refused to follow suit. Russia established bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia—in violation of the ceasefire accords—that buttress its long-time military presence in Armenia. Although there were some concerns that the South Caucasus had become less stable as a source and transit area for oil and gas, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are barging oil across the Caspian Sea for transit westward, and the European Union still plans to build the so-called Nabucco pipeline to bring Azerbaijani and other gas to Austria.

Key issues in the 112th Congress regarding the South Caucasus have included Armenia’s independence and economic development; Azerbaijan’s energy development; and Georgia’s recovery from Russia’s August 2008 military incursion. At the same time, concerns have been raised about the status of human rights and democratization in the countries; the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region; and ongoing threats posed to Georgia and the international order by Russia’s 2008 incursion and its diplomatic recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Congress has continued to oversee the region’s role as part of the Northern Distribution Network for the transit of military supplies to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Some Members of Congress and other policymakers believe that the United States should provide greater support for the region’s increasing role as an east-west trade and security corridor linking the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, and for Armenia’s inclusion in such links. They urge greater U.S. aid and conflict resolution efforts to contain warfare, crime, smuggling, and terrorism, and to bolster the independence of the states. Others urge caution in adopting policies that will increase U.S. involvement in a region beset by ethnic and civil conflicts.

Grandparenting and mothers’ labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey

July 23, 2012 Comments off

Grandparenting and mothers’ labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey

Source:  Demographic Research
BACKGROUND
It is well known that the provision of public childcare plays an important role for women labour force participation and its availability varies tremendously across countries. In many countries, informal childcare is also important and typically provided by the grandparents, but its role on mothers’ employment is not yet well understood. Understanding the relationship between labour supply decisions and grandparental childcare is complex. While the provision of grandparental childcare is clearly a function of the social and institutional context of a country, it also depends on family preferences, which are typically unobserved in surveys.
OBJECTIVE
We analyze the role of informal childcare provided by grandparents on mothers’ labour force participation keeping unobserved preferences into account.
METHODS
Bivariate probit models with instrumental variables are estimated on data from seven countries (Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Russia and The Netherlands) drawn from the Generations and Gender Survey.
RESULTS
We find that only in some countries mothers’ employment is positively and significantly associated with grandparents providing childcare. In other countries, once we control for unobserved preferences, we do not find this effect.
CONCLUSIONS
The role of grandparents is an important element to reconcile work and family for women in some countries. Our results show the importance of considering family preferences and country differences when studying the relationship between grandparental childcare and mothers’ labour supply.
COMMENTS
Our results are consistent with previous research on this topic. However, differently from previous studies, we conduct separate analyses by country and show that the effect of grandparental childcare varies considerably. The fact that we also include in the analyses Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia and Georgia is an important novelty as there are no studies on this issue for these countries.

CRS — Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

June 26, 2012 Comments off

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of the U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The South Caucasian troops serving in Iraq departed in late 2008. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound for Afghanistan.

Beginning on August 7, 2008, Russia and Georgia warred over Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops quickly swept into Georgia, destroyed infrastructure, and tightened their de facto control over the breakaway regions before a ceasefire was concluded on August 15. The conflict has had long-term effects on security dynamics in the region and beyond. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the United States and nearly all other nations have refused to follow suit. Russia established bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia—in violation of the ceasefire accords—that buttress its long-time military presence in Armenia. Although there were some concerns that the South Caucasus had become less stable as a source and transit area for oil and gas, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are barging oil across the Caspian Sea for transit westward, and the European Union still plans to build the so-called Nabucco pipeline to bring Azerbaijani and other gas to Austria.

Key issues in the 112th Congress regarding the South Caucasus may include Armenia’s independence and economic development; Azerbaijan’s energy development; and Georgia’s recovery from Russia’s August 2008 military incursion. At the same time, concerns may include the status of human rights and democratization in the countries; the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region; and ongoing threats posed to Georgia and the international order by Russia’s 2008 incursion and its diplomatic recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Congress may continue to oversee the region’s role as part of the Northern Distribution Network for the transit of military supplies to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Some Members of Congress and other policymakers believe that the United States should provide greater support for the region’s increasing role as an east-west trade and security corridor linking the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, and for Armenia’s inclusion in such links. They urge greater U.S. aid and conflict resolution efforts to contain warfare, crime, smuggling, and terrorism, and to bolster the independence of the states. Others urge caution in adopting policies that will increase U.S. involvement in a region beset by ethnic and civil conflicts.

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