Tuesday, 28 April 2020 00:00

Uzbekistan's "System Reset"

Uzbekistan's "System Reset"

 By: Eldor Aripov

FA Aripov Screenshot 4-28-20

On January 24 Uzbekistan’s President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, delivered his third annual report to Parliament. This address marks an important step in Uzbekistan’s reform effort. 

As he has done before, President Mirziyoyev emphatically stressed the need to replace old, ineffective structures and work methods with market-based management of the economy and democratic political practices. This time, however, he laid special emphasis on the urgent need to strengthen representative forms of governance at each level. To this end, he strongly urged members the newly elected Parliament to participate actively in the reform process. He pleased for them to act bold and decisively on their own, and not to wait for guidance from the executive branch
of government. Instead, he said that their positions should reflect the views and interests of their constituents.

In his effort to enhance the effectiveness of the national Parliament, President Mirziyoyev appears to be seeking a stable system based on checks and balances. He clearly realizes that the alternative – to construct a system based on a rigid "power vertical" would be counterproductive.
But the alternative is not possible if the country has only "a puppet Parliament." Instead, he envisions an independent Parliament or Oliy Majlis. His goal is to develop an independent Oliy Majlis that has the will and skills required to initiate and adopt laws based on the interests of citizens and the nation as a whole. Hence the call to enhance the status and authority
of parliamentarians. To this end, also, he sharply broke with tradition by proposing a law that will oblige ministers to respond personally to requests from members of parliament.

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Published in Feature Articles

By Umair Jamal

April 13, 2020, the CACI Analyst

Pakistan’s Corona virus cases have doubled over the past few days after hundreds of pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive. In response to the Pakistani government’s attempt to impose a lockdown on thousands of Shias at the Iran-Pakistan border, the community has vowed to start a mass movement against the state. Pakistan’s Iran border has become its single biggest security threat with regional and global implications. Given that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state with a weakening economy, a weak health care system, a controversial regional security policy and a blooming militant landscape, the region and the world at large should follow developments in the country closely.

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Published in Analytical Articles

By Armen Grigoryan

January 21, 2020, the CACI Analyst

A year after winning a two-thirds majority at the snap parliamentary elections, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has acknowledged flaws in the government’s previous approach to the reform process, admitting that some essential reforms have practically been stalled. Pashinyan continually enjoys a considerably high level of public support, and needs to take decisive steps towards more drastic reforms, possibly by mobilizing support from different groups that welcomed the “Velvet Revolution” and the wider expert community.

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Published in Analytical Articles

By Natalia Konarzewska

December 16, 2019, the CACI Analyst

Before the dust from the June anti-government demonstrations had time to settle, Georgia saw a new round of protests in November. This time, Georgians took the streets after the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party declined to reform the electoral system despite earlier promises. A majority of Georgians support switching from a mixed to a fully proportional electoral system before the 2020 parliamentary elections, since this will break the ruling party’s electoral domination and ensure a fairer parliamentary representation for small parties. GD proposed electoral reform in June to meet opposition demands, however, in November the ruling party surprisingly backed away from the idea after failing to collect the essential number of votes among its deputies to pass the constitutional amendment.

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Published in Analytical Articles

By Eka Janashia (10/01/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

A dispute between Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili gained momentum in mid-September, as both the head of state and the head of government decided to attend the September 23 Climate Summit at the UN headquarters in New York.

PM Gharibashvili declared his intention to participate September’s UN General Debates in July. Meanwhile the President’s office declared that Margvelashvili received a personal invitation from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) withheld the letter.

Deputy Foreign Minister David Zalkaniani later explained that the UN invitation was initially mistakenly addressed to former President Mikheil Saakashvili and the MFA had to resend it, causing the delay. To verify their respective versions, both sides disclosed their correspondence while Georgia came close to the diplomatic embarrassment of sending two simultaneous delegations to the UN.

Finally, Margvelashvili was dissuaded from attending the UN Summit. Commenting on the outcome, he said that “serious, organized efforts were undertaken against the visit of the Georgian President and as a result of these efforts the visit to the United States is thwarted.”

The embarrassing episode was not the first sign of discord between Margvelashvili and the leadership of the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition in general, and between the president and PM in particular.

According to former PM Ivanishvili, the disagreement started with Margvelashvili’s decision to use the glass-dome presidential palace constructed during Saakashvili’s presidency and, in Ivanishvili’s words, associated with “violence, evil and indecency” (See the 04/02/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst). Margvelashvili, however, claimed that the tensions stemmed from the ruling coalition’s attempts to make him an “obedient” figure complying with the instructions of GD and the PM.

Another spat took place ahead of Georgia’s signing of the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU in June. The question of who would sign the AA became a subject of heated debate among constitutionalists, politicians, analysts and even ordinary people. Margvelashvili expressed his readiness to delegate his right to sign the treaty to the PM but the latter argued that Georgian constitution grants him sufficient competence to sing the agreement. Although most lawyers maintained that the AA should be signed by the president, it was the PM who signed it and the president was not even invited for the AA’s ratification ceremony in the parliament.

On August 1, Gharibashvili did not attend a session of the National Security Council (NSC) presided by Margvelashvili. The meeting was intended to discuss Georgia’s preparation for the upcoming NATO summit in Wales. Notably, the role of the NSC itself has been marginalized since November 2013 when the PM formed the Security and Crisis Management Council partially duplicating the NSC’s functions. On the same day, the GD parliamentary majority voted against the president’s Supreme Court judge nominees.

Several days later, the Prosecutor’s Office lamented that despite its request, Margvelashvili did not declassify a portion of the 2009-2013 spending records from the Special State Protection Service (SSPS). Part of those secret documents were publicized in April 2013. Another part, falling under President Margvelashvili’s competence, remained confidential.

Margvelashvili responded that he is empowered to contemplate sensitive matters such as declassification of secret information as long as the law allows him to do so and that no one can pressure him to do otherwise.

Some analysts suggest that vague and implicit clauses of the amended Georgian constitution, which came into force in 2013, fueled the conflict between the head of state and the head of government. Clause 69, paragraph 2 of the Georgian constitution states that “the president represents Georgia in foreign relations.” Nevertheless, clause 78, paragraph 1.4 entitles this competence to the PM as well, saying that the “prime minister … represent[s] Georgia in foreign relations within his competence” and meanwhile charges the cabinet with the responsibility to implement foreign policy. These clauses of the current constitution are likely to prompt confrontation rather than clarifying responsibilities.

However, the true reason for the disagreement between the president and PM likely has little to do with disagreements over foreign policy. Both politicians emerged through Ivanishvili’s clout, thanks to the allegiance they proclaimed to him. As Margvelashvili’s loyalty faded, the GD leadership increased pressure on him. As soon as Ivanishvili begun to publicly criticize the president, the PM and other ministers quickly replicated the move. This suggests that political power in Georgia is still concentrated to Ivanishvili’s informal rule.

After months of simmering conflict, it is still not clear whether Margvelashvili will stay within the GD coalition or endeavor his own political game. However, he recently reminded the public that in the case of a political crisis, he retains a right to resign or dismiss the parliament. 

Published in Field Reports

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Joint Center Publications

Silk Road Paper Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr, Modernization and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: A New Spring, November 2018.

Book S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, ed., Uzbekistan’s New Face, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Article Svante E. Cornell, “Turkish-Saudi Rivalry: Behind the Khashoggi Affair,” The American Interest, November 6, 2018.

Article Mamuka Tsereteli, “Landmark Caspian Deal Could Pave Way for Long-Stalled Energy Projects,” World Politics Review, September 2018.

Article Halil Karaveli, “The Myth of Erdoğan’s Power,” Foreign Affairs, August 2018.

Book Halil Karaveli, Why Turkey is Authoritarian, London: Pluto Press, 2018.

Article Svante E. Cornell, “Erbakan, Kısakürek and the Mainstreaming of Extremism in Turkey,” Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, June 2018.

Article S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, “Uzbekistan: A New Model for Reform in the Muslim World,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, May 12, 2018.

Silk Road Paper Svante E. Cornell, Religion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan, April 2018.

Book S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, The Long Game on the Silk Road: US and EU Strategy for Central Asia and the Caucasus, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Article Svante E. Cornell, “Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?,” Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

 

The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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