Regions / Russia & FSU

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...

The Foreign Policy of Post-Soviet Georgia: Strategic Idealism and the Russian Challenge; Vasif Huseynov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:14 PM

This article discusses Georgia’s foreign policy in the aftermath of the disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s in regard to its relations with Russia. This perspective reveals the entrenched traditions of strategic idealism in the country’s political culture, and argues that this approach has shaped Georgia’s foreign policy strategies. On this basis, regardless of the geographic and geopolitical challenges, since the early years of independence, Georgia has remained committed to the pursuit of EU and NATO membership. This Western-oriented geopolitical predisposition caused the gradual deterioration of its ties with Russia, and eventually led to the current deadlock in bilateral relations. Through its analysis of the foreign policy of the Georgian Dream coalition, the article concludes that current relations between Russia and Georgia vacillate between rapprochement and confrontation, jeopardizing the security of the region as a whole. Read more...

Armenia, Transnational Terrorism and Global Interests: What Do CIA and DoS Documents Suggest? Oleg Kuznetsov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:42 PM

The 1980s witnessed intensive theoretical engagement with and reflection on the issue of state-sponsored transnational terrorism in and outside Armenia. During that decade, this terrorism existed on an unprecedented and as yet unrepeated scale, effectiveness and emotional intensity. Scholarly debate on the subject was taking place against the backdrop of continuing geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, forming the primary foundation of this socio-criminological phenomenon with its mainstream experiencing deep and structural modernization, consolidation and crystallization. An adequate understanding of the goals, objectives and practical orientation of the academic discussion on Armenian terrorism has only become possible in recent years, following the release of CIA documents on Armenian terrorist organizations (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, Justice Commandos against Armenian Genocide, and New Armenian Resistance) into the public domain. A comparison of the US intelligence documents and those of the United States Department of State (DoS) with academic research materials has demonstrated a high degree of correlation across their content, potentially indicating that the majority of the theoretical analyses of the time were carried out indirectly or directly in the service of US government interests. The main purpose of the contemporary academic discourse was to study different theoretical perspectives and different angles on the possibility of the use of resources and potential of Armenian state-sponsored terrorism against the Soviet Union as a “hot tool” in the Cold War. The affirmative answer to this question became the catalyst of aggression of originated in the Middle East Armenian terrorism against the Soviet Transcaucasia and marked the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh con-flict. Read more...

OSCE and Conflict Resolution in the Post-Soviet Area: The Case of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict; Azad Garibov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:40 PM

The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the several conflicts in the post-Soviet space in which Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is involved in mediation of peace negotiations, but failed to facilitate any kind of sustainable resolution of the conflict. The OSCE continued peace-making efforts from 1992 to date; it has deployed several institutions that are tasked dealing with conflict, including the OSCE Minsk Group. In the environment of impunity coupled with the inefficacy of OSCE, Armenia refuses to compromise for the sake of peace and repeatedly sabotages the negotiations process, rendering resolution of the conflict virtually impossible. In such a complex situation, the OSCE needs to be very committed and to have a significantly more effective and coherent peace building strategy. However, OSCE’s peace efforts and mediation strategy suffers significant setbacks; the major purpose of the Minsk Group troika’s efforts seems to have become ‘conflict management’ rather than genuine conflict resolution. Read more...

Global Energy Governance Needs to be Multi-level and Regionalized; Robert M. Cutler

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:39 PM

The exclusive focus on universal-level global energy governance is problematic. Even in the European Union, emphasis is placed on multi-level governance in the energy policy issue-area. Yet although the EU has been near the forefront of advocacy for global energy governance, it has failed to consider systematically, or at all, the advantages of multi-level governance from the global through the regional to the national levels, as well as the cross-cutting transnational and transgovernmental levels. The contrast between the failure of regional European-Ukrainian-Russian energy cooperation on the one hand and, on the other, the success of regional Azerbaijani-Georgian-Turkish energy cooperation drives the point home. Incentive structures of practitioners and academics, conditioned by the sociology of knowledge, inhibit common dialogue over energy governance. Academic-policy boundary organizations represent only a special case of knowledge transfer processes. If overarching global policy goals are to be achieved, then idiosyncratic regional contexts cannot be ignored in global energy governance. They must be respected and allowed their relative autonomy. Read more...
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