Regions / Russia & FSU

Trans-Eurasian Energy Transportation Networks and the Necessity of Regional Cooperation; Mikhail A. Molchanov

By Editor CI

Jul 25, 2016 - 2:20 PM

The Central Asia-Transcaspian region is rich in energy resources. However, these resources cannot be fully developed without fostering international cooperation. The ‘pipeline wars’ between competing consortia is not conducive to profit maximization. A cooperative regional regime for oil and gas exploration, extraction, and transportation could help improve the business climate and international security. The existing regional integration organizations with a degree of sway in the area – the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – still have some way to go to prove their usefulness as true promoters of multilateralism. Regional countries that do not belong to either of the two organizations prefer to cooperate on a bilateral basis – and this is also true of member states. Regional coordination is necessary to overcome self-interested, beggar-thy-neighbor behavior by business players and states alike in order to maximize regional welfare. Read more...

The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict as the Key Threat to Peace and Cooperation in the South Caucasus; Farhad Mammadov

By Editor CI

Jul 25, 2016 - 2:18 PM

Among the conflicts in the South Caucasus, the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is undoubtedly the most complex, as well as the most dangerous conflict. It holds the most serious security and humanitarian implications not only for the South Caucasus, but also for the whole Eurasian region. The 23-year-old peace process, led by the OSCE Minsk Group, has so far failed to deliver peace and stability to the region. Impeded by problems such as lack of commitment, focus on conflict management instead of conflict resolutions, intergovernmental nature and rotating chairmanship of the organization, the OSCE is failing to address the resurgence of violence in this simmering conflict. Taking advantage of the shortcoming of OSCE Minsk Group’s peace efforts, Armenia has refused to make any compromises for the sake of peace. During the recent negotiations in Vienna and St. Petersburg, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on the phased resolution of the conflict, creating hope that the deadlock would be broken and the peace process would be reactivated. However, the danger remains that if the peace process fails again, the resumption of violence will become inevitable and renewed war will have serious regional and global repercussions. Read more...

Georgia’s Integration into the EU: After the Riga Summit?; Sarah Lain

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:26 PM

Georgia has made significant progress in its move towards European integration. The EU has fully supported this decision, but the Ukraine crisis has served as a stark reminder of the security risks facing Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in terms of their economic and political choices. The EU should be more nuanced in its approach to Georgia to ensure its own de-politicization of the issue and greater clarity around what it is, and is not, aiming to achieve through European integration initiatives. This paper suggests that this should not only be to combat Russian false messaging on the issue, but also to reassure the Georgian people of why they are committing to the EaP. As a corollary, the EaP strategy should also make a greater connection between economic stability and increased resilience against certain security threats. Georgia is now facing a somewhat uncertain political future domestically due to the parliamentary elections in 2016. Without an attempt at a more defined strategy, therefore, the EU could risk greater disillusionment within Georgia as to the benefits of the EaP. Read more...

Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey Triangle: The Main Features of Cooperation; Javid Valiyev

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:25 PM

The South Caucasus region has often been associated with negative developments such as military occupation, separatism and militarization. It is also, however, a region with a high level of cooperation and solidarity. Intra-regional cooperation, such as the trilateral relations between Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan- Turkey, and Azerbaijan-Iran-Turkey offer opportunities for regional cooperation and diplomatic resolution of regional problems. Among these, the Azerbaijan-Georgia- Turkey (AGT) triangle is the most functional; the relationship is built on interdependence and supported by trade and transportation relations. The AGT emerged as a result of the regional geopolitical balance and energy relations, but rapidly developed after the 2008 Georgian-Russian War. The first trilateral meeting among the Ministries of Foreign Affairs took place in 2012. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs have now held four meetings, all of which have resulted in adoption of joint declarations. All these declarations cover issues relating to economy, energy, transportation and security. Meetings of the triangle reached a presidential level. This paper examines the reasons and dynamics behind the evolution of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey in the 1990s into a trilateral strategic relationship, and the priority areas that have deepened and enhanced this trilateral partnership. Read more...

Bringing Russian and Iranian Gas to the Georgian Market: Technically Challenging, Economically Unfeasible and Politically Costly?; Bartosz Mendyk

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:24 PM

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the three South Caucasus countries found themselves in a power vacuum, which led to various geopolitical events and even catastrophes (such as territorial conflicts and separatism). However, this vacuum also enabled two of the newly independent South Caucasus countries – Azerbaijan and Georgia – to jointly implement major oil and gas projects, the Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, both of which bypassed Russia. Initially, the two states were dependent on Russia which was a key transit country for Azerbaijan and a major gas supplier to Georgia. After August War in 2008, Georgia suspended its gas imports from Russia, except the volume received as a ‘transit fee’ for the gas supplied to Armenia. Since 2007, Azerbaijan, by virtue of its vast energy resources, has been supplying the majority of Georgia’s oil and gas demand and almost completely met its strategic ally’s energy needs when the Russian supplies were cut down during 2008 war. However, a statement by Georgia’s Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze in September 2015 on the purchase of Russian and potentially Iranian gas by Georgia raised some questions. This article will examine the extent to which the purchase of Russian gas is realistic and compatible with Georgia’s national interests and to what extent it poses the risk to its relations with Azerbaijan, as well as the feasibility of bringing the Iranian gas to Georgia given the technical shortcomings and political backlash displayed by Russia. The author’s arguments are based on the reliability of Azerbaijan as both supplier and neighbor, as well as the technical difficulties and political repercussions respectively of bringing Iranian and Russian gas to Georgia. Read more...

Georgia in Search of Restoring Its Territorial Integrity; Nana Gegelashvili

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:22 PM

Russia’s August 2008 invasion of Georgia and Moscow’s subsequent recognition of its two former autonomous territories – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – placed the problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity high on the agenda. Since then, prospects for resolving the problem have remained dim, and no one knows what should be done to address the issue. Moscow’s official recognition of the independence of the two Georgian breakaway provinces deprived Russia of political leverage over Tbilisi, pushing Georgia much closer to the EU and NATO than previously. However, despite the active involvement of the EU and NATO in Georgia, this paper argues that neither of the two is likely to gain sufficient clout to resolve the issue of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Thus, on the one hand, there is Russia, capable of restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity; on the other hand, there is the West, open to promoting democratic values to transform Georgia into a genuine working democracy, necessary for its integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. This paper accordingly suggests that the only way to resolve the problem is to combine both Russian and Western leverage. Read more...

NATO on Its Mind: Will Georgia’s Aspirations be Fulfilled?; Brendan Cole

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:21 PM

Since the Rose Revolution of 2003, the last decade or so of Georgia’s recent history has been a turbulent one. The presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili ushered in sweeping changes, increasing westernization, and a break from the country’s Soviet past. After he was democratically ousted by the Georgian Dream coalition in 2012, this Euro-Atlantic realignment continued apace, out of a desire to join the European Union as well as NATO. The economic benefits of EU membership were obvious enough, while joining the Alliance would demonstrate Georgia’s ability to hold its own at the world’s top military table. On a more practical level, Tbilisi had hoped that membership would offer Georgia security, especially in light of the 2008 war with Russia, which led to declarations of independence by Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The breakaway republics remain points of contention in relations between Moscow and Georgia. The Georgian government’s rhetoric of optimism has not shifted one bit, and NATO has not disabused Georgia of this outlook, continuing to work with Tbilisi as a partner. However, the alliance remains non-committal regarding the prospects for a Membership Action Plan (MAP), the first concrete step to eventual membership. London-based journalist Brendan Cole asks think tanks in the British capital and the US about the likelihood of NATO membership for Georgia - and if not, what are the alternatives? Read more...

Georgia’s European Quest: The Challenge of the Meskhetian Turks; Galina Yemelyanova

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:19 PM

The article deals with the Meskhetian Turks (Ahiska Turks), who in 1944 were deported by Stalin from the Meskheti region of Georgia to Central Asia. They have never been able to return to their ancestral land, the Meskheti area of the present-day Samtskhe-Javakheti region in Georgia. The paper analyzes Tbilisi’s ambivalent policy towards Meskhetian Turks and how that relates to Georgia’s European aspirations. The author argues that Tbilisi’s commitment to the repatriation of the Meskhetian Turks is disingenuous, and that the government has used this issue to further its European quest. Georgia’s resistance to the Meskhetian Turks’ resettlement stems from a number of factors, including: its Georgian-focused nation-building project, which is not welcoming towards ethnic minorities; concerns about the reaction of the majority-Armenian population in Samtskhe-Javakheti; its energy security considerations related to Javakheti’s location on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline route; and its territorial integrity fears, especially in the light of its de facto loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The paper also examines the factors behind the survival of Meskhetian Turks as a distinct ethnic group despite their geographic dispersal across Eurasia and the wider world. Read more...

Importance of NATO’s Engagement in Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection in the South Caucasus; Ilgar Gurbanov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:18 PM

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, independent Azerbaijan and Georgia launched their new national energy policies. This enabled them to bring Western investment and technologies into their energy sectors, which led to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipelines. These pipelines empowered Azerbaijan and Georgia as politically and economically independent actors in regard to the transportation and supply of Caspian’s energy resources to the West. With Turkey’s involvement, the cooperation acquired a larger scope and led to the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor. However, the regional and national level security threats in the Southern Caucasus including Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the post-2008 Russia-Georgia War situation and its implications, ongoing skirmishes in/around Nagorno-Karabakh, and bomb attacks on pipelines in Turkey brought the security of critical energy infrastructure onto the agenda of regional states, Europe, and even NATO. The national and political security environment in Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as in Turkey, has therefore become important for European energy security. This requires NATO’s involvement in the protection of energy infrastructures in the South Caucasus region. This article examines, therefore, the possible modes of cooperation between NATO, Azerbaijan and Georgia on the protection of energy infrastructures in the light of the security threats in the South Caucasus. The paper elaborates and concludes with recommendations for deepening the cooperation between NATO, Azerbaijan, and Georgia on energy infrastructure protection. Read more...

Samtskhe-Javakheti as a Potential Flash Point in Georgia: Ethnic-Confessional Composition and Integration Challenges; Nika Chitadze

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:16 PM

This article will assess the importance of the geographical location of Georgia’s Samtkhe-Javakheti region and its administrative-territorial division. It will also provide an overview of the historical factors relating to the formation of the territory and borders of the region, which influenced its ethnic and religious composition. Taking into consideration the historic and geographical factors, a central focus of the research is a deep analysis of the ethnic and religious composition of the population of this historic part of Georgia, in order to answer the main research question: how have multi-ethnic and multi-confessional factors affected the socio-economic and political situation in Samtskhe-Javakheti? Read more...
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