Mestia (vintage look)

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Baku will Militärausgaben (in einem Jahr!) fast verdoppeln

Baku/Istanbul - Die mit Armenien verfeindete Kaukasus-Republik Aserbaidschan will ihre Militärausgaben im kommenden Jahr fast verdoppeln. Das aserbaidschanische Parlament nahm einen entsprechenden Entwurf für den Staatshaushalt 2011 am Freitag an, wie Medien in Baku berichteten. Finanzminister Samir Scharifow hatte dem Parlament erklärt, die Ausgaben für die Verteidigung sollten im kommenden Jahr auf umgerechnet etwa 1,8 Milliarden Euro steigen, knapp 90 Prozent mehr als im laufenden Haushalt...


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Zwei Ordenträger / Two people decorated with Soviet medals

(Azerbaijan, near Baku / Aserbaidschan, nicht weit von Baku)

(Tbilisi bazaar /Basar von Tbilissi)

Pictures taken in summer 2010 with:
Sony a850 + Minolta 85mm f1.4 GD, ISO200 + f2.2

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Ilham Aliyev: Armenia is ours!

If you'd like to know how likely or rather unlikely peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia is, you might want to read this excerpt of a speech that Azeri president Aliyev held during the opening-ceremony of a new public school:

"I have repeatedly said that present-day Armenia, the territory, called the Republic of Armenia on the map, is an ancient Azerbaijani land. This is true. Certainly, Zangezur, Irevan khanate are our lands!...
Where did Stepanakert come from? This name was taken from the name of Stepan Shaumyan. If this city had a historical past, related to Armenians, would they have given this name?! Its historical name is Khankendi. This is the reality. Our children must know this, they should know that present-day Armenia locates in ancient Azerbaijani lands. In addition, they also want to create the second state in our territory. They want to create the second Armenian state on the historical Azerbaijani lands. We can never be able to agree on this and we will restore the territorial integrity of our country. By any way! I do not doubt this!"

So he considers Yerevan and many other cities of Armenia (besides Nagorny-Karabakh of course) as Azeri land. Now how could Baku make peace with Yerevan, if it considers Armenia's capital to be Azeri property? This is one of the many examples of how history blocks the path to a peaceful future in the Caucasus.

The full article can be found here.

An interesting insight into the Abkhazian conflict and the abuse of history (in German): Historikerstreit als ideologischer Wegbereiter des Abchasien-Konflikts

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Restoration and Reconstruction of Old Tbilisi / Renovierung und Umbau der Tbilissier Altstadt

"THE part of Tbilisi is both enchanting and dismal. Its winding, cobbled streets, tilting houses and laced wooden balconies have a delightful, gingerbread charm; but decades of official neglect, widespread poverty and an earthquake in 2002 have taken a heavy toll. With one-fifth of the housing here categorised as slum-like, the need for restoration is urgent.Yet regeneration attempts have proved controversial. During Tbilisi’s credit-fuelled housing boom, some residents feared ruthless property developers would replace swathes of the town with gleaming office blocks. A law designed to preserve architectural heritage was enacted in 2007. But the large number of officially designated monuments, the limited availability of official funds and the commercial incentives of developers still make for hard choices.In 2008 the housing bubble burst, following the financial crisis and Georgia’s short war with Russia. This created new problems. Tbilisi’s construction industry, a major local employer, was decimated, property developers had around $700m of unfinished buildings on their books, and banks were saddled with toxic debt.In response, last year Giorgi Ugulava, the city's mayor, launched the “New Life for Old Tbilisi” scheme...."Continue reading at The Economist

Some pictures of old and new Tbilisi center (summer 2010):

New "Bridge of Peace" with Sololaki district and castle Narikhala
(Funny, this bridge even has a facebook-page!)

Rebuilt SAS. Radison hotel, former hotel Iveria, once full of refugees. (Compare with 2oo5!)

Restored houses between Narikhala and sulfur baths, tourist sight

Restaurant Kala, near Leselize Str. (tourist area with tourist prices)

Restoration is going on in Agmashenebeli str. (center east of Mtkvari).
Public financing covers facades only, though.

Agmashenebeli Str., yet unrestored

as above

Sololaki, near Puris moidani (traditional neighborhood)

as above

as above

Little side-street of Leselidze str.

as above

backyard, somewhere "behind" the parliament

backyard near patriate's seat, not far from patriarchate

backyard, Agmashenebeli str.

Backyard in the very center, the Tavis Suplebis Moidani (Freedom square)

near Saarbrückener Platz

One of the many (!) new multi-storeyed appartement blocks

Depressing architecture: Most inhabitants of Tbilisi live in one of the countless Soviet style buildings made with precast concrete slabs. (These here can be found next to the zoo.)

As you can see, public spending faces a dilemma: The historic old town consumes a lot of funding. First because an important part of the cultural heritage needs preservation, second because a picturesque old town attracts tourists. On the other hand side allocating the funding to the Soviet style apartment blocks (last picture) would certainly iniure to the benefit of many more people. (Mostly those who live in deprived suburbs anyway.)
Problem is that most apartments are private. Everybody cares as much as possible for their own apartments, while stair-cases, lifts and the entrance areas are in poor, sometimes very poor conditions. The rise of a certain "public spirit", caring about one's neighborhood etc., is still desperately needed.

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Report of the Human Rights Commissioner of the European Council

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