Hey, it’s that Caucasus Guy!

by Marc W on 4/3/2008

I’m back from a couple of weeks in England and Ireland. I have to say, I didn’t follow the news too much about the Caucasus. I did catch a decent amount of BBC, but their international coverage was primarily confined to Tibet and Zimbabwe. I did, however, have an interesting in-flight magazine on BMI. All three Caucasian republics got mentioned.

There was a little blurb about this game called Yerevan Drive, which is apparently the first Armenian 3D game. You drive around the streets of Yerevan in a modestly souped up Niva. Sounds like a party.

Then there was a full page ad about Georgia. I don’t remember exactly who took it out, but it was primarily (maybe exclusively) plugging the region of Kakheti, which is the center of the wine industry.

Finally, there was a rather lengthy article about things to do in Baku (I think BMI recently started direct service there). As in-flight magazines are wont to be, it was pretty superficial and entirely positive, but a somewhat interesting read nonetheless, at least for the unitiated (like myself). The gist of it is that Baku is resurgent, and flush with oil money. A great place to see a confluence of ancient and modern, Western and Eastern.

As for real news, the biggest thing, at least in the American press, has been the NATO summit. Despite strong support from the US (or maybe because of it), NATO decided not to offer MAPs to Ukraine and Georgia. The MAP, or Membership Action Plan, is kind of a preliminary agreement – if I still had my notes from my graduate school class on NATO and EU expansion, I could tell you all about it, but I got nothing. From what I can gather, the US was joined by Britain (surprise!) and many of the Central and Eastern European countries in pushing for extending the MAPs, but this was strongly opposed by France and Germany (surprise again!). The two most common reasons for this opposition I’ve seen are not wanting to antagonize Russia and concern that Ukraine and Georgia are not exactly stable democracies at this point. Both are legitimate points, though I can’t help wondering if the French and German governments were also leery about letting in two new countries that would presumably lean more towards the US-Britain side of things. I think it’s a little bit bogus, but then, I’m not sure how much it really matters anyway.


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