The Georgian ruling party – United National Movement (UNM) – has expressed its satisfaction with a National Democratic Institute (NDI)-commissioned poll, fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) in June in Georgia, whereas the opposition coalition Georgian Dream (GD), led by Bidzina Ivanishvili denounced the poll results.
Azerbaijan is increasingly considering the Nabucco West project linked with the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP) as the best option for transporting Caspian gas to West European markets. Azerbaijan’s Industry and Energy Minister Natik Aliyev recently stated that “I consider that Nabucco West is the best option from all points of view because it is a project of the European Union and they always supported this project,” to reporters ahead of a formal decision. “It has a big capacity, big diameter, and it gives us the opportunity to deliver gas to east and central Europe. It's a more reliable market for Azerbaijani gas.”
The competing political and economic interests of the five littoral countries of the Caspian Sea after the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in a prolonged dispute over the definition of the legal status and fair division of the basin according to national segments. Different legal interpretations have led to political and even military clashes between countries. The former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have recently exchanged barbs over a disputed oilfield in the Caspian Sea.
On June 8-14, member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held a joint military exercise, Peace Mission 2012, at the Chorukh-Dayron training range in Sughd Province, northern Tajikistan. According to the Tajik Ministry of Defense, the exercise was designed to test and strengthen the capacity of the SCO member states to respond jointly to terrorist threats in Central Asia’s mountainous areas.
The Georgian Dream coalition led by tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili started a vigorous election campaign in May to beat the ruling United National Movement in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for October. On behalf of three opposition parties (Georgia-Free Democrats, Republican Party and National Forum) and individual politicians united under the coalition, Ivanishvili outlined political priorities to thousands of Georgians at large demonstrations held in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Ozurgeti in May and June. At the rallies, the billionaire-turned politician outlined the policies of Georgian Dream in case they win the parliamentary elections. The coalition aims to reduce unemployment rate “to a minimum level in the shortest period of time.”
On May 24, 2012, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia party (PA, ”Bargavach Hayastan” in Armenian) Gagik Tsarukian declared that his party, the second largest in the parliament according to the results of the vote of May 6, would not enter the governmental coalition with the Republican Party (RP) of President Serzh Sargsyan. The president later entered a coalition agreement with a smaller party, Country of Law (“Orinats Yerkir”). Thus, PA interrupted the cooperation which started in 2007, to the great surprise for Armenian politicians.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Washington’s decision to start accepting neutral travel documents and identification cards issued by the Georgian government for the residents of breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia during her visit to Georgia on June 5-6. The decision prompted protests from the Kremlin, voiced in a statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs blaming Secretary of State for inducing “Tbilisi’s revanchist aspirations.”
On May 21, Muhiddin Kabiri, the leader of the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) announced that his party will reward Tajik athletes who bring home medals from the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games in London. Each medalist will receive a one-bedroom apartment in the country’s capital Dushanbe. Such an apartment can cost anything between US$ 30,000 and US$ 80,000. According to Kabiri, the move aims to support the country’s athletes who manage to achieve results at high-performance international competitions despite limited financial assistance from the government. “Our main goal in offering to reward Olympic success is to support the nation’s sportsmen and to call on other individuals, political parties, and organizations to follow suit,” he said. “Tajik athletes should receive all the support they need because they represent our country and build its image. I will be happy if this also helps to strengthen our party’s image.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Azerbaijan on the third day of her tour of the South Caucasian states to promote peace and democracy in the troubled region.
On June 4, 2012 President Almazbek Atambaev signed the decree “Day of remembrance of tragic events in cities of Osh, Jalalabad and separate districts of Osh and Jalalabad regions in June 2010” in Bishkek. As stated by the office of the President, June 10 serves as a day of remembrance of victims of the tragic events, help consolidating society, and promote peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan. A minute of silence was held throughout the country on June 10, 2012 at 10 am.