The format of South Caucasus may also undergo changes due to victory of the Georgian Dream led by billionaire Bidzina (Boris) Ivanishvili, ranked 153rd among the world’s richest people by Forbes. Ivanishvili is a businessman, unlike Saakashvili who, seeking illusory approval of the West, actually made Georgia hostage of the Turkic world, in particular, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Let's hope the new government of Georgia will not repeat Saakashvili's mistakes.
In Azerbaijan, the situation has not changed; despite the glorification flooding the media, which looks indecent already, Ilham Aliyev's position is not that solid now. After deterioration of relations with BP and Russia, Baku risks sharing the fate of Arab countries, with all ensuing consequences. Aliyev would desperately need a small triumphant war at the moment, and the rival would not even matter. Unfortunately, the condition of Azerbaijan's army, despite the abundance of purchased armament, cannot ensure victory. Aliyev's hopes for potential hostilities by the U.S. against Iran are also vain. It might succeed in case of Syria, but Baku simply won’t be allowed into Syria, and Turkey will be the first to keep it away.
The current year did not bring any changes into the negotiation process over Karabakh either, despite loud statements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs who mentioned some new proposals for discussion. There had been hopes for talks until August 2012, but Ramil Safarov's extradition from Budapest to Baku put an end to the regular course of negotiations. Well, one could expect something of the kind, be it Safarov's release or something else, to suspend the high-level meetings. It is worth noting that the Armenian President has never strived to meet Ilham Aliyev since he rightly believed they have nothing to talk about. Aliyev has to hold talks with the president of Karabakh, and this will happen sometime in the future.
Meanwhile, the attitude of the international community to Azerbaijani leader is somewhat unclear, and even criminal, if we call a spade a spade. Aliyev declares the whole nation the enemy of his own people and blames the Armenian lobby for all his troubles, and the world just reproaches him. Same was the case with Safarov's extradition; the West just voiced usual phrases of condemnation.
Meanwhile, Armenia is preparing for the presidential elections. By the way, all three countries of South Caucasus will hold vote in 2013. In Armenia and Azerbaijan the outcome of elections is quite predictable, while Georgia will have a tougher situation. However, Ivanishvili will perhaps find a proper candidate, and the next president will obviously follow the Prime Minister's instructions, if, of course, the PM maintains his position until fall 2013.
Russia will attempt to strengthen its position in Caucasus next year; this will be a challenging task, though. The top priority for Moscow is “returning” Georgia, indeed. After this, it may settle the situation with Azerbaijan, in particular, with regard to the radar station, Karabakh conflict, and pipeline routes. We limited the article to South Caucasus only; coverage on Turkey and Iran, as well as the outcome of the “Arab spring” will follow shortly.