By pretty much any historical standards, the wider Europe at the dawn of 2014 is incredibly peaceful. However, peace in Europe should be a signal not for Panglossian optimism but for redoubled Europeans to be vigilant against the risk of new conflicts, large and small.
From Tbilisi’s perspective, deeper integration with the EU is a policy trajectory that enjoys consensual support, in a political landscape that is otherwise not prone to consensus politics. Now, the post-Vilnius challenge is to retain this legitimacy and continue to develop qualitative anchorage.
The new Georgian government’s proposed legislation would dramatically decentralize power exercised by the center. Should this bill pass in a meaningful form, Georgian democracy and economic development might seriously benefit.
As the focus is all on Putin's effort to reshape his neighborhood this week, a Kazakh and a Belarusian silence is an awkward reminder that the Eurasian Union was supposed to be a collaborative project and that the more Putin grabs the headlines, the less that is the case.
Now that Saakashvili is finally history, the chances that Russia will soon take an active interest in Georgia are going up. This would concern the settlement of the main issue in Georgian-Russian relations—the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Ilham Aliyev is attempting modernization without wholesale political reform. Most of the veterans of the Azerbaijani elite remain in their jobs, including the elderly prime minister and presidential chief of staff. The skyline is changing in Baku, but so far the street-plan remains the same.
The experiment of a peaceful power transfer in Georgia, if successful, will determine more than just the country’s future. It will reveal the possible trajectory of other post-Soviet states that will attempt to move toward an open society.