What's in the news for Georgia and Armenia today

South-Ossetian leader Kokoity: "The bias of international observers is clear. Their activities are not helping the situation, they are making it worse".

Full article (AFP) here.

Spain Calls for Closer EU-Georgia Ties: "We are working on certain practical steps of visa facilitation, some free-trade relationship, but I think we need a political signal... and this signal could be a potential agreement between Georgia and the European Union."

Full article (Deutsche Welle) here.

Spain: Georgia should get NATO membership: "Spain will champion Georgia's bid to join NATO and build closer ties with the European Union when Madrid takes the EU's rotating presidency in 2010, the Spanish foreign minister said Saturday.

Miguel Moratinos also pledged to increase ties with Georgia and spoke forcefully in defense of its territorial integrity.

"Always, Spain has defended this principle, not like other countries that consider that this principle can be used in certain circumstances," he said at a news conference."

Read the full article here.

Obama or McCain - who is better for Armenia? "...both candidates have issued statements intended to solicit the votes and financial support of Armenian-Americans. Both have praised Armenians for their significant contributions to America. They have addressed the tragedy of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but the glaring difference between the two is over the use of the word “genocide.” McCain carefully avoided the term, but Obama did not hesitate to call the calamity of 1915, genocide. He said, “The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.”

Moreover, the statements of both candidates on contemporary Armenian issues differ as well. McCain said he “appreciated Armenia’s support of coalition forces in Iraq and Kosovo” and added that in his visits to Armenia he was impressed with “the tremendous progress made in very difficult circumstances,” difficulties which he did not identify. On the other hand, Obama showed no hesitation to state the causes of hardship. He said, “I will promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that is agreeable to all parties.” The reaction to these statements in Baku and Ankara showed wide concern about Obama’s strong support for Armenia’s security future. Press accounts clearly were fearful of an Obama presidency.

Under a McCain Administration, the current attitudes in Washington towards the South Caucasus will continue to tilt towards Baku for reasons of energy resources and Azerbaijan’s proximity to a problematic Iran. Bush and McCain demand wider sanctions against Tehran and view Iran as a threat to the security of Israel and American interests in the Middle East. Obama’s stated willingness for direct talks with the Iranian regime has been derided by the McCain campaign as evidence of weak leadership.

Under these circumstances, the Armenian government faces valid security concerns. Yerevan should be aware that a McCain Administration is likely to continue the current cozy relations with Azerbaijan. Washington views Caspian oil as an alternative source of petroleum be that from the Middle East or Russia. This reality is the prime motivation for Washington’s Caucasus’ policy. And there is also the legitimate worry that America’s silence at Baku’s rapid militarization and large-scale arms sales from Israel is a growing security problem for Karabakh and Armenia."

Read the full article here.

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