First published at www.reporter.am on Saturday December 27, 2008.
by Emil Sanamyan
UN study: Armenia falls behind Turkey in “human development”
The greener and the blacker.
An annual United Nations study of the world's development released on December 18 placed Armenia 83rd of 175 countries ranked. The Human Development Index takes into account life expectancy, education levels, and per capita economic activity.
For the first time since the 1990s, Armenia was ranked behind Turkey (79), although still ahead of other neighbors: Iran (84), Georgia (93), and Azerbaijan (97), all grouped with countries with "medium human development."
The report showed Armenia's HDI fall from 0.732 in 1990 to 0.695 in 1995 and then rebound to 0.735 in 2000 and 0.777 in 2006 (the latest statistics provided); Turkey meanwhile has made consistent progress from an HDI of 0.700 in 1990 to 0.798 in 2006.
In the former Soviet territory, the three Baltic republics were ranked most developed, occupying places from 42nd to 44th; Belarus was ranked 67th, and Russia 73rd, all among countries with "high human development." The HDI list was topped by Iceland, Norway, and Canda, while Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone were ranked at the bottom.
The HDI report is prepared by the United Nations Development program based on national statistics. See http://hdr.undp.org.
U.S. signs security charter with Ukraine, plans one with Georgia
Ogryzko of Ukraine with Rice last September. AP photo.
A Charter on Strategic Partnership between Ukraine and the United States was signed last week in Washington and a similar deal is in the works with Georgia.
Earlier this year, the United States lobbied NATO to grant a membership action plan (MAP) to both countries, but faced opposition from European countries careful not to further aggravate relations with Russia.
The charters with Ukraine and Georgia are reportedly modeled on the U.S.-Baltic charter signed with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1998. The three countries joined NATO in 2004.
The U.S.-Ukraine charter signed on December 19 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ukrainian foreign minister Volodymyr Ogryzko calls for mutual "support for each other's sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders [as] the foundation of our bilateral relations.
The defense section of the charter calls for expansion of bilateral security cooperation and recalls NATO support for eventual Ukrainian membership.
The economic section includes a specific reference to Crimea, which is home to a Russian naval base and where the United States is planning to establish a diplomatic presence.
The charter's two other sections are dedicated to democracy building and people-to-people contacts. As part of the latter section, the United States pledged to cooperate with Ukraine "to promote remembrance and increased public awareness of the 1932-33 Great Famine (Holodomor) in Ukraine."
In a press statement on December 23, the State Department confirmed that a similar charter is being prepared with Georgia, whose foreign minister Grigol Vashadze said that it was expected to be signed before the New Year.
One of Georgian opposition leaders, Kakha Kukava, said on December 23 that the charter should be first discussed publicly.
"The Conservative Party welcomes cooperation with the Western partners, but we believe, that Georgia's current authorities no longer have a mandate to unilaterally take decisions related with the country's long-term security issues," civil.ge cited Mr. Kukava as saying. "Georgia should be insured from new irresponsible and provocative actions of the Saakashvili regime."
Former Georgian diplomat adds voice to early elections calls
Irakli Alasania, former Georgian representative to the United Nations who resigned earlier this month, blamed the country's leader Mikheil Saakashvili for failing to avoid the war with Russia and said he is consulting with other Georgian politicians on taking the country out of crisis via early elections, Civil Georgia reported.
Mr. Alasania turned 35 on December 21 and is now eligible to run for the presidency. The former envoy made his comments at a press conference on December 24, a day after returning from New York.
The New Rights and Republican parties have said they would forge an opposition union in support of Mr. Alasania's presidential bid.
Other opposition leaders, including former Parliament speaker Nino Bourjanadze have already called for early elections. Ms. Bourjanadze's husband, former border police head Gen. Badri Bitsadze, said he expected his wife to run. Mr. Alasania said he was open to cooperation with Ms. Bourjanadze.
Mr. Saakashvili had recently ruled out early elections, suggesting they were too expensive to hold.
Born in 1973 in Batumi, Mr. Alasania was trained as a security officer and a diplomat in Tbilisi. He is a son of Soviet-era police General Mamia Alasania who was killed in 1993 during the war in Abkhazia.
Prior to becoming Georgia's UN envoy in 2006, Mr. Alasania was advisor to Mr. Saakashvili on Abkhaz conflict-resolution issues, having earlier served on the national security council, as deputy defense minister, deputy state security minister and in the foreign ministry under both Mr. Saakashvili and his predecessor President Eduard Shevardnadze.
According to news reports, Mr. Shevardnadze this week praised Mr. Alasania as "smart and educated" and "with good prospects." Since August the former Georgian leader has frequently criticized Mr. Saakashvili who forced him to resign in 2003.