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ROOTS OF DEMOCRATIC DEFICIENCY Armenian News Network / Groong March 13, 2003 by Razmig B. Shirinian Abstract The current post-Soviet bureaucracy in South Caucasian republics, and notably in ethnically diverse Azerbaijan and Georgia, has yet been unable to link ethnicity, territory, and political administration in the process of state-building and democratic development. Bureaucratic evolution from communism to liberalism has simply contributed to the establishment of a handy "electoral democracy" and lucrative economic liberalism for the elites. * * * * * Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, particularistic identities, reinforced differences, and fragmentation of societies have been the dominant characteristics of the South Caucasian republics of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan (or Trans-Caucasus). A repudiation of universalistic and totalizing values (such as federalism, egalitarianism, pluralism, and even the Western notions of progress and rationality) is apparent among a variety of political and intellectual trends that have emerged in recent years. Increasing demand and spread of "electoral democracy," rising sensitivity of domestic societies to external socioeconomic and political events, expanding national sentiments, population pressures and the powerful pull of ethnicity have certainly been among the contributing factors to the recurring events that have and are reshaping the political structure of the region. Notably, these change factors have been conducive to authority challenges, and the transfer of political power from traditional authoritarian states to smaller units or ethnic groups and nationalities. Indeed, such developments have initiated sharp departures from past practices in the affairs of former Soviet states bringing new forms of tension into the region. Notably, the challenges of democratic development have intensified despite an apparently smooth communist to liberal bureaucratic transition. Since 1991, - when all three republics of South Caucasus declared their independence, - democracy has been a natural alternative to authoritarian rule, and economic liberalization is pursued indiscriminately and in a haphazard fashion. To be sure, the three republics appear to be economically liberalized. However, the process of economic liberalization has been abrupt, disorganized, and violent. Political democratization, on the other hand, or the process of electoral democracy has been sluggish, incomplete, and without any institutional hold. A less strenuous and easier transition has been that of bureaucracy from authoritarian to liberal. Ironically, however, increasingly liberal bureaucracy seems to be at the core of democratic deficiency since the early 1990s. In fact, what we have witnessed in those South Caucasian states was a bureaucratic transition from communism to nationalism; a process in which electoral democracy has come in handy to consolidate power, and economic liberalism has simply been lucrative for the elites. A TRACE OF DEFICIENCY A noticeable feature in the current post-Soviet political ideological climate of South Caucasus has been the dominant presence of nationalist, liberal, religious, and regional sentiments, as well as increased interstate and intergroup antagonisms. Traditionally the non-Russian areas were usually looked at by the western scholarship as particular ethnic/national groups and as a distinct and separate aspect of Soviet policy. Such an approach has tended to neglect the examination of the underlying social and political dynamics operating within the republics and between different nationalities and indigenous ethnic groups in a peripheral region such as South Caucasus or Central Asia. In retrospect, one might assert that the South Caucasian region, certainly impacted by general Soviet nationality policy, has not been shaped to any great extent by the twists and turns of that policy, but rather by uniquely regional and indigenous sociopolitical, economic, psychosocial, and demographic developments. These, in turn, have often tended to pit native elites in fierce bureaucratic competition, ethnic rivalry and inter-nationality clashes ever since the early 1920s when all three republics lost their independence to the Soviet Union. After sovietization in the early 1920s, the newly created autonomous regions within these republics (e.g. Nagorno-Karabagh, Abkhazia, Ossetia, and Nakhichevan) as well as the union republics themselves were evidently formed on the basis of a nationality criterion and in the name of protecting their rights. National minorities maintained their cultural and political autonomy within the Soviet system dominated by the Communist Party. Armenians and Azerbaijanis as large minorities, for example, were organized into republics in return for the loss of their political independence. They were assured territorial status as well as cultural and linguistic rights. The smaller minorities were organized into sub-republic units, or Autonomous Oblasts within union republics, as was the case of Nagorno-Karabagh in Azerbaijan. In fact, a fundamental institutional policy carried out by the Soviet leadership was the establishment of ethno-territorial administrative divisions extending from national republics to national districts. The national-territorial formations did not intend to carry out any egalitarian scheme nor did they encourage any participatory or democratic politics. They simply contributed to the relative calm and consolidation of ethnic identity and institutionalized nationality in the Soviet federal system. Moreover, ethnic enclaves, locked within the administrative apparatus of the irresponsive bureaucracy of their respective republics, could not enjoy their distinct rights. As such, nationality based autonomous regions also created and intensified serious social and political problems, especially in areas where minorities have a distinct language and sufficient size and geographic concentration (e.g. Southern Ossetia and Mountainous Karabagh). The nationality question, henceforth, became the implicit part of all social, economic, and political conflicts among the South Caucasian republics since the early 1920s, and was raised quite explicitly after 1988 when secession became a viable alternative. Under the Gorbachev policy of perestroika and glasnost and particularly after the total breakup of the Soviet Union, bureaucratic competition and ethnic rivalry accelerated remarkably and led to further consolidation of nationality and indigenous ethnic aspirations. These rivalries and clashes led to growing discrimination and deportation of local minorities, changed the demographic picture of the area, and further impeded rule of law and democratic development. Post-Soviet Moscow, on the other hand, gained a new impetus and invited opportunities to maneuver its influence and presence in the affairs of this peripheral region. Moscow still maneuvers through these opportunities and explores the means to utilize new political/bureaucratic and economic/military tools, approaches, and concepts and to perpetuate new vertical ties between Moscow and the three republics. Inherent in the Soviet past the unresolved and resurfaced nationality question in South Caucasus threatened the process of democratization and impeded the normal political and economic development in the region. South Caucasus remains a region of unresolved and "frozen conflicts," far from being democratized. THE WAR OBSTACLE The dominant political motif of the post-Cold War/post-Soviet South Caucasus includes self-determination, disaggregation of former societies, and creation of new independent states. Democratic development has been severely impeded by the continuing regional military tensions and clashes. To be sure, minority populations are making strident demands for political rights and increased autonomy as in the case of Ossetia within Georgia, or fighting for outright independence such as the cases in Karabagh and Abkhazia. The turmoil that has progressed in these areas has posed a direct and long-term threat to regional stability and an acute dilemma for American, European, as well as the region's policymakers. Western governments, however, have been too hesitant in taking a direct interest and involvement in the events of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The United States policy of trivializing the crises in the region, in turn, has contributed to an overtly tense relations among the regional powers, particularly between Iran and Turkey, over the control and security of the region.1 Both Iran and Turkey today are the two of the most powerful countries in the Middle East and if there were to be a military confrontation between those two it would come in the South Caucasus, particularly in Armenia and Azerbaijan, where their interests will most aggressively clash. Azerbaijan's oil, in particular, is of vital interest to Iran and Turkey as they seek to become strategic players in the region as well as in the landlocked republics of Central Asia. More important is the presence of Russian troops in the region. Not surprisingly, their presence has been contested by several leaders in the region who see them as a pretext to reassert Russian authority on their territory. Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, in particular, has often and quite openly accused and denounced Russian involvement in Georgian fighting on the Abkhazian side. Ironically, by all accounts the Georgian government in mid-September 1993 was also saved by the intervention of Russia from the offensives of the Abkhaz separatists and the rebels loyal to former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. In general, the position South Caucasian republics occupy as transport routes between Asia and Europe as well as the natural resources they contain underlie the aspirations of the regional powers and undermine a normal process of state-building and democratic development. In considerable haste, both nationalist and liberal sentiments in those three republics filled the ideological vacuum created in the aftermath of the retreat of communism. In the autonomous regions within the republics, on the other hand, not only was reversion to nationalism and increased ethnic sentiments evident, but also the resurfacing of strong antigovernmental sentiments accompanied by many of the conflicts inherent in colonialism. Notably, demand for drastic changes against irresponsiveness as well as against the exploitative and oppressive measures of respective governments, and the right for self-determination all became the familiar political motifs of the region. Through most of the 20th Century, self-determination movements were associated with anticolonialism and were nourished by evolving interpretations of international law that accent democracy and minority rights. The collapse of the Soviet Union has produced a new and a different strain of the Cold War. Many of the Soviet successor governments began to impose themselves on the indigenous peoples and failed to represent and respond to the needs and demands of the national and ethnic groups constituting their states. The post-Soviet governments, in the name of state supremacy and control, have denied minorities their right to a responsive and democratic government, pushing them further to break away (Karabagh, Abkhazia, and Ossetia are prime examples). Thus, struggles for self-determination initiated in those areas are also struggles for independence and largely against oppression. It is noteworthy that they are not simply struggles for separation and disintegration of states since inherent in them is also the drive for national unification; consider, for example, Karabagh Armenians' demand for integration with the Republic of Armenia and the Ossetian movement in Georgia for unification with Ossetians in the north of the border. In this context, culturally diverse societies that were forcefully summed to form macro wholes have been disaggregated into smaller but culturally more homogeneous and "pure" national units. Aggregation of culturally and ethnically homogeneous units, or attempts in that regard allude to patterns of integration hinged on forces of nationalism with social, cultural, and territorial roots. For the peoples of South Caucasus the establishment of their particularistic national identity against dominant state powers remains the highest priority, and the assertion of their identity is certainly pushed to exceed the limits of pluralism established through state sovereignty. The continuing persistence of nationalism and self-determination has threatened the new sovereignties of those ethnically plural states, and objections to state sovereignty continue to be made on the ground of nationalism and self-determination. Thus, along with patterns of fragmentation that are so evident in the current transformation of South Caucasian politics, one might also point to movements in an aggregative direction. Surely, the breakup and disaggregation of traditional state units have transformed the image of regional politics profoundly but, on the other hand, the existing national and state-centered structure of the region is being preserved through deep-seated continuities. Inter-ethnic rivalries notwithstanding, the Caucasian republics have also undertaken the difficult task of building their states complicated by wartime conditions. For a second time in this century they have gained their independence. However, as nations under stress, their viability is still difficult to assess. Georgia, particularly, is the most susceptible to disorder and is battered heavily by both Abkhazian and Ossetian separatists. The southwestern region of the country, Ajaria, is almost completely controlled by warlord Aslan Abashidze. The Javakheti region in the south is also a constant concern for the Georgian government since it seeks increased autonomy and close association with the Armenian government. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has centered on the movement for self-determination of the Armenian people in mountainous Karabagh, an autonomous region formed in early 1920s by the Bolshevik authorities. Since 1988 the Karabagh problem has deepened into a full-scale war between Armenian forces and the Azerbaijanian army, and has profoundly influenced politics in both countries. Armenian victories in spring 1992 opened a corridor linking Armenia and Karabagh in the south through the city of Lachin, and triggered unrest in Azerbaijan leading to the ouster of the communists from power and the rise of the Popular Front, largely a nationalist organization. The tide of war, however, turned against Armenia in the fall of 1992, when Azeri forces recaptured the Shahumian region in northern Karabagh. The non-communist and hastily liberal government in Armenia (the All-Armenian National Movement) which came to power in 1990, came under increased criticism from opposition forces within the country. A loose coalition of opposition parties for the most part of the 1990s accused the government for not developing a viable military and economic policy, for corruption, for continuing to seek a negotiated solution, and for being too ready to compromise. The 1993 spring offensive by the Karabagh Armenian forces resulted in the recapture of most of Karabagh and, notably, the capture of much of the Kelbajar region uniting Armenia and Karabagh in the north. These significant territorial losses to Armenians stirred unrest within Azerbaijan, and a colonel Surat Guseinov launched his rebellion against the ruling Popular Front, bringing Azerbaijan's fragile democracy to the brink of collapse. The June 1993 rebellion toppled popularly elected nationalist President Abulfaz Elchibey and brought back the former communist leader Haidar Aliev to power, diminishing the chances of pluralism and democratic development in the country. After witnessing long periods of fighting and the seesawed advantages between the two sides, one might still wander whether increased mediation efforts by the international community, through the United Nations or the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, could not have given these newly independent countries a chance to pursue the process of state-building and democratic development under more stable conditions. Ironically, the truce since 1994 has not advanced nor has been conducive to the state-building process on both sides. The conciliation efforts have been unproductive and the region as a whole remains a war-zone, although a "frozen" one. HASTY NATIONALISM AND BUREAUCRATIC CHANGE Among the South Caucasian republics Armenia was the first to demonstrate radical nationalistic challenges against the Soviet system and to initiate a drastic and historic departure from Soviet affairs. As early as February 1988 demonstrations and massive popular rallies (over one million people) both in Armenia and in Karabagh were unprecedented in the sense that for 70 years during the Soviet era no spontaneous popular movement of such magnitude has ever occurred. However, radical challenges and movements were not followed by radical changes as the movement leaders,2 after assuming power, became increasingly reactionary and less reformist in their attempts to articulate and devise a new national agenda. Surely, the national agenda articulated by the new leadership included independence, sovereignty, democratization, and liberalization but it fell short of fundamental socio-political and economic changes, essential transition schemes and developments, and short of widely expected unification of the national entity as a whole. The movement leaders in Armenia relied on nationalism, advocated liberal ideology, overthrew communism, and took over the government. However, and after declaration of independence in September 1991, the leadership also relied on old bureaucratic, inept and corrupt government structures (public services, judicial system, etc.) as a ready-made and easy way of governing. Thus, Armenia could not move away from an inefficient Soviet system of bureaucratic ministries. Heavy reliance on old bureaucratic/administrative structures and state machinery provided the available path to governing, but it also stalled the democratic advances and neglected popular socio-political and economic changes intended earlier. The new leadership as it bureaucratized itself through the existing political, administrative, social, and economic structures became increasingly reluctant to devise policies of change and processes of restructuring. Consequently, it also alienated itself from radically oriented popular as well as broad-based intellectual support. After gaining some initial legitimacy, the leadership in Armenia soon assumed the pejorative characteristics of bureaucracy; namely, heavy reliance on formalism, acute hierarchy, power play within itself, and the forceful identification of its own interests with those of the state. Consequently, harmony between the leadership and society at large was not achieved even though continuous attempts were made to interpret the interest and the world outlook of the leadership as the interest and outlook of all. In fact, it is this uneasy (or enforced) harmony that compelled many observers and politicians among the opposition groups to see the present bureaucracy as the institutional incarnation of political alienation deeply rooted in the Soviet system. The practical egoism of the bureaucracy and the illusory universality of its policies revealed the gulf that divides two major policy orientations in Armenia. There is, on one hand, the leadership's dominant concept of open and somewhat western oriented national interests and, on the other, implicit yet widespread opposition ideology associated with an inward looking and compacted Armenian society "biologically conceived as an organism which must be protected from degradation"3 and defended from the surrounding foreign influences. Two polarized and diametrically opposed orientations manifested in different ways have been involved in bitter struggle and, so far, seem to be far from reaching a common ground. Events in both Georgia and Azerbaijan unfolded differently where the anti-Soviet movement was less radical in nature and could not mobilize the masses as it did in Armenia. The process of change and challenges against communism in Georgia, for example, was not organized around a particular group or leadership until after the collapse of the communist government. Politics in Georgia then revolved around former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, whose seven-party Round Table, a loose anti-communist coalition of parties and activists, in October 1990 won the first genuine multiparty legislative election in Soviet history, and eventually caused the communist party to self-destruct. In Azerbaijan, on the other hand, the nationalist movement of the Popular Front also did not revolutionize nor did it mobilize the masses until after the fall of communism. Unlike the popular fronts in the Baltic republics, the Azerbaijani Popular Front "did not assert near-or long-term claims for the separation of Azerbaijan from the Soviet polity."4 As the initial change process in Armenia centered equally on nationalism and on popular social, economic, and political demands, both in Georgia and Azerbaijan it focused on enhanced political and economic sovereignty and on a highly narrow ruling elite and its control attempts on minorities and oppositions. Revert to nationalism was certainly a consequence of an ideological vacuum as much as it was a driving force in the struggle against communism. However, it also provoked further inter-ethnic antagonisms, increased anti-plural sentiments and tension between nationalism and liberalism. These, in turn, hindered the leadership's ability to manage the emerging and magnified crises in all social, political, and economic domains. In the aftermath of perestroika and the breakdown of Soviet central control, national and ethnic sentiments in South Caucasian republics were transformed from being "a force for liberation and democratization to one of ethnic hegemonism and anti-pluralism."5 The region as a whole, thus, sank deeper into a violent inter-ethnic conflict the resolution of which still remains uncertain, despite its present calm. In ethnically diverse Georgia and Azerbaijan the contour of conflict expanded beyond the inter-ethnic rivalry to include different oligarchic groups and socio-political strata of the society. As a result, popularly elected leaders, Gamsakhurdia and Mutalibov in Georgia and Azerbaijan respectively, fell often marking acute, violent confrontations. Leadership in both countries was assumed by active opposition groups (e.g. the Popular Front in Azerbaijan and the National Council in Georgia) which, in turn and not surprisingly, faced rebellious and separatist movements. Both countries remain delicately volatile since, as William Maggs puts it, they are a "patchwork of geographically compact groups of peoples with irredentist claims and national ambitions."6 BUREAUCRATIC DEFICIENCY Max Weber conceptualized bureaucracy as an administrative apparatus corresponding to rational-legal type of domination. Bureaucracy conceived as an instrument for implementation of goals and provision of services, rather than an instrument for gaining, maintaining, and exercising power. As such, the role of bureaucracy is considered as a central explanatory factor in understanding and explaining economic growth and socio-political development (establishing rule of law, constitutional rights, etc.). Broadly observed, the newly independent South Caucasian societies have evoked a general assumption that, distinct from most of the underdeveloped states, their new states comprise a different set of socio-political and economic problems encompassed in the notions of state building and institution creation. The underlying need in their cases is administrative practices preoccupied with services, infrastructure and development that are deemed vital for institutionalization of social, political, and economic life of the society. Moreover, the pressing need is for an adaptive administration and service oriented bureaucracy suited for developmental activities and capable of incorporating continuous and profound changes and transformations. However, and as pointed out, contrary to the emerging developmental needs, administrative practices in the South Caucasian republics derived from preoccupation with power and control, rendered little public service and institutionalization, and contributed to the expansion of power either in the interest of the bureaucracy itself or together with some other oligarchic groups (e.g. mafia-type organizations). Thus, one evident characteristic of South Caucasian administrations is the absence of a developed bureaucracy in the Weberian sense; or the existence of a relatively small ratio of adept and qualified officials to population and tasks. The problem is both quantitative and qualitative, in the proper sense of shortage in trained manpower. For in spite of the growing need for an efficient and effective administration to handle the emerging socio-political and economic developmental needs, the South Caucasian societies remain in a state of relative "organizational underdevelopment." They also remain in continued inter-national and inter-ethnic conflicts which, in turn, have not allowed for a proper (rational-legal) bureaucratic growth. It is certainly misleading to view the early political movements that opened up the way for independence, such as the ANM (All-Armenian National Movement), or the APF (Azerbaijan's Popular Front), or the ruling State Council in Georgia as being bureaucratic. Such organizational arrangements, largely imported (both ANM and APF, one might point out, have been poor imitations of movements initiated in the Baltic states) and transplanted from above, and due to the fact that they did not rest on a sound socio-economic infrastructure, had little bureaucratic content in the precise sense. It is not surprising to see that this low level of formal bureaucratization has also revealed low degree of constructive impact of bureaucracy on society.7 For the most part, policy processes and the processes of change in those new and developing countries need to be hinged on the exigent and central concepts of state building, institutionalization and development. This implies both quantitative and qualitative change, including socio-political development as well as economic growth. The processes of socio-political development and economic growth in South Caucasus have direct bearing on the characteristics of the emerging bureaucracy which, not unexpectedly, has increasingly been pejorative in character preoccupying itself with control and power. As such, public leaders like Shevardnadze of Georgia and Gamsakhurdia before him, Mutalibov, Elchibey and Aliev of Azerbaijan, Ter Petrosian and Kocharian of Armenia with their primary or personal constituencies, largely trained as Soviet autocrats, have either been ousted from power or faced strong opposition and popular discontent. Notably, for socio-political and economic development the much needed decentralization, more independence and services, conducive environment for innovation, diffusion of influence, and less parochialism have been absent in the South Caucasian bureaucracy. The compatibility between the economic aspect of the developmental process and politico-administrative attributes has received a considerable emphasis in the general literature on bureaucracy since the mid-1960s. It has been largely argued that a great number of prerequisites for economic liberalization and development depend on governmental initiatives (such as the provision of services and other aspects of infrastructure needed for economic growth), as well as on direct governmental participation, such as entrepreneurship of the bureaucracy. This last theme has also suggested that some professionalization of the bureaucracy is needed for the success of economic development. The achievement of national independence in the three South Caucasian republics has manifested itself in an intended process of change from the supremacy of Soviet administration and bureaucracy to the supremacy of national politics with little or no liberal administrative experience. Moreover, the hasty process of bureaucratic change has also alluded to the current lack of professionalization and lack of efficient organization and administration, in turn a considerable obstacle to economic liberalization and democratic development. Since early 1990 experience in South Caucasus has suggested that problems of an administrative, organizational, and political order emanating from violence, irreconcilable political divisions, and absence of appropriate schemes for economic infrastructure are among the main obstacles to democratic growth. Administrative deficiencies have been as crippling to democracy as lack of capital to economic growth. Although Azerbaijan continues to pump crude oil from its Caspian fields and Armenia continues to maintain a bare minimum of working infrastructure, both countries face ruinous economies as their economic policies are primarily drawn upon the commercial dealings of oligarchic elites and hardly drawn upon the popular needs. Georgia's predicament, on the other hand, is worse than its neighboring republics. The ludicrous and inept bureaucracy has created the despotic and institutional corruption, which brought the Georgian economy and its chance for democracy to the verge of total collapse from the very beginning. Local warlords, such as Loti Kobalia who led a band of soldiers loyal to late president Gamsakhurdia, and the former cabinet of Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua which was forced to resign in August 1993 gathered widespread scorn as a corrupt holdover from the communist past. Even Eduard Shevardnadze, who was welcomed by almost all Georgian political factions as well as by the populace, is not immune nor can he dissociate himself from corruption. Notably, Shevardnadze came to power in March 1992, "after a paramilitary group known as the Mkhedrioni, or horsemen, ousted popularly elected Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The 2,000-strong Mkhedrioni are known locally as ex-convicts."8 In general, because of administrative deficiencies and lack of socioeconomic and institutional infrastructure in South Caucasian republics, most economic policies and democratic change fell short of popular expectations and needs. Notably, the significance and compatibility of bureaucracy with the overall process of political change and development have been evident even before the days of independence, and since the early days of Mikhael Gorbachev's policy of perestroika and glasnost. Although nationalization of bureaucracy has emerged as an underlying concern and a major long-term challenge, it also and simply meant replacing or filling the bureaucracy with nationals. It did not mean changing the whole orientation of the bureaucracy from that of preserving soviet-style control and order to one that attempts to be geared towards processes of national integration and socio-economic development. In the process of state-building and national consolidation the endeavors of the national bureaucracy have thus failed to assume 1) a more active participation in the economic life and development of the emerging state and, 2) a service role in promoting a political unity and a national identity. Since the achievement of national independence the South Caucasian states, like the rest of the Soviet successor states, have also been engaged in the difficult process of relating the newly emerging administrative and authoritative structures of government to the political forces and parties within their societies. This implies a difficult task of finding and promoting working relations between the public bureaucracy and the large number of newly formed political groups and parties. The process of finding working relations between the public bureaucracy and the parties certainly leads to democratic development depending, to a large extent, on the way in which such tasks are faced and dealt with. However, the relationships between the bureaucracy on the one hand and political groups, organizations, and parties on the other, have developed in an unbalanced way. The bureaucracy has acquired considerable advantage, influence and power through the way in which it executed policies as well as through its manner of defining them. Both military and former communist bureaucracy in Azerbaijan, for example, after ousting popularly elected president Elchibey from power and gaining control since June of 1993, largely suppressed the Azerbaijan Popular Front, arrested many party leaders and members, and used force to break up street demonstrations organized by the opposition. The ruling elite in Armenia since 1991, particularly under the leadership of the first President Ter Petrosian, and in the name of popular mandate, has forcefully implemented its policies, which have significantly conflicted with the policies of many highly active opposition parties in the country. The Mkhedrioni or the military bureaucracy in Georgia has not developed any working relations with other groups, and the opposition parties have been strictly controlled offering little or no criticism of the government. In the absence of working relations between the administrative structures of the government and political parties, the bureaucracy, in control of the administrative apparatus, also and ultimately gained more influential voice in stating and directing the overall political goals of society. Characteristically, it developed its own interests and instituted new "power ministries" in close alliance with oligarchic groups within the society. Once entrenched in different organizations and oligarchic groups (notably mafia-style organizations), the administrators in all three South Caucasian republics have developed vested interests of their own in considerable conflict with the interests of the society at large. In such circumstances, the bureaucracy has acted as one of the major channels for political conflict, corruption as well as interest aggregation. This, in turn, contributed to the factors working against economic development, let alone the crippling effects it had on rule of law and democratic development. It seems ironic that bureaucratic evolution from communism to nationalism in South Caucasus has not created the conducive environment for the development of independent political roles, activities, organizations, and attitudes. Particularly, other agencies of government, e.g. legislatures, courts, interest groups, voluntary organizations, etc., are either non-functioning or very weak due to their very loose political role and character. Popularly elected parliaments remain legislatively ineffective. In pejorative sense thus, the administrative apparatus has remained dominantly bureaucratic, which has given up little, if at all, of its powers and privileges, or changed its orientation in favor of a more democratic atmosphere. Generally speaking, communist to nationalist bureaucratic transition in the three Caucasian republics has affected political change and democracy in two adverse ways: first, by further jeopardizing or hindering rather than promoting the democratic development; and second, by further polarizing the populace from the elite and hardly consolidating national integration. In sum, the problems of state-building and democratic development are magnified in South Caucasian republics, particularly in ethnically segmented societies of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The primordial challenge for all three republics lies in constructing a power sharing system to involve ethnic groups, social and political organizations in the state-building process and democratic development. For an established rule of political behavior and institutionalized democracy, free elections alone (fraudulent or otherwise) have proven to be insufficient. The current post-Soviet bureaucracy in South Caucasus has yet been unable to link ethnicity, territory, and political administration in the process of state-building and democratic development. * * * * * NOTES 1. Not until much later after the collapse of the Soviet Union that the U.S. increased its attention to the region and established three Ambassador-level positions as part of implementing its geopolitical and foreign policy interests: 1) Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Policy; 2) Ambassador at large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States; 3) Special Negotiator for Nagorno-Karabagh and New Independent States Regional Conflicts. 2. These leaders are largely associated with All-Armenian National Movement (ANM), a liberal democratic movement that ruled the country until 1998. For the views and ideological orientations of these leaders see Gerald J. Libaridian, ed., Armenia at the Crossroads: Democracy and Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Era (Watertown, Mass: Blue Crane Books, 1991). 3. Nora Dudwick, "Armenia: The Nation Awakens" in Ian Bremmer and Ray Taras, eds., Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 280. 4. Mark Saroyan, "The Karabakh Syndrome and Azerbaijani Politics," Problems of Communism, vol. XXXIX, No. 5 (September/October, 1990), p. 23. 5. Stephen F. Jones, "Georgia: A Failed Democratic Transition," in Bremmer and Taras, eds., op. cit., p. 288. 6. William Ward Maggs, "Armenia and Azerbaijan: Looking Toward the Middle East," Current History, (January 1993), p. 7. 7. In the absence of essential infrastructural schemes and developmental policies, economic liberalization and rapid privatization could not benefit the populace at large. Even the introduction and passage of new National Constitutions in mid-1995 for all three republics could not reinforce rational legal type of domination. 8. Colin Barraclough, "Georgia's Instability Unravels Economy," The Christian Science Monitor (July 20, 1993). -- Razmig B. Shirinian, is a Ph.D. in Political Science (International Relations) from University of Southern California. He has Published a book and a number of articles on contemporary political affairs both in Armenian and English. He is a member of International Studies Association (ISA) and a visiting lecturer of Political Science at California State University campuses.