The US-based human rights organization Freedom House published its traditional annual report on the state of democracy in Europe and Eurasia on April 28, entitled “Countries in transition 2021.” The report assesses the state of democratic governance in 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. In the opening section of the report, attacks on democratic institutions are spreading faster than ever in Europe and Eurasia.
“The decline of democracy in Europe and Eurasia is deeply troubling. Authoritarianism is not only a national problem, it can spread to the entire region and even continents,” said Zelique Csaki, director of the organization for research in Europe and Eurasia.
The organization notes that reinforced authoritarian regimes are closed societies, where dictators are an obstacle to political competition and pluralism, and are responsible for large-scale violations of basic political and civil rights of the people.
All countries in the region are either turning their backs on democracy or in decline, the report says, and notes that 18 countries in the region are showing declines in democracy. The performance of only six countries improved, and in five countries, there were no significant changes.
The section on Azerbaijan says that the Azerbaijani government claims about democratic reforms and rejects criticism of international organizations for violations of fundamental rights, accusing them of bias. There are also Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Freedom House has included Armenia in the list of semi-established authoritarian regimes. Armenia, once a real democracy, has fallen behind for the first time since the 2018 velvet revolution. In 2019, Armenia switched to a transit regime, which remained in 2020. Georgia is also referred to in the report as transit or hybrid regimes.
In the same row of hybrid regimes: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine.
The report also says that despite the prevalence of negative news, there are several striking examples in the region. Journalists, bloggers and diaspora activists from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan living in exile disseminate information about what is happening in their countries.
“Journalists are using innovative methods to continue their work in challenging environments. For example, independent media in Belarus switched to the massive Telegram network in order to avoid blocking by the government,” the message says.
The overall strength of democracy in the region has been weakening for 17 consecutive years. The number of democracies fell to their lowest level since the publication of the first report in 1995.
Source: Turan News Agency