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"Use of Soft Power in Tandem with Economic Expansion: Examining the Case of Chinese Soft Power in South Caucasus" by Vasif Huseynov

By Editor CI

views: 50

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:34 PM

This article examines the use of soft power in China’s foreign policy concerning the South Caucasian countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia) that are involved, though to varying degrees, in Beijing’s giant economic project called Belt and Road. It looks into China’s soft power strategy in general and its role in the South Caucasus in particular, occasionally compares this strategy with those of the Western powers and Russia in the region, and defines the peculiarities of Chinese soft power in the countries of the region. Extensively analysing news media articles, official statements by local and Chinese leaders, academic materials, and other sources, the article suggests answers to the research question: How does China use soft power as an instrument in its foreign policy regarding the three South Caucasian countries? Read more...

"Central Asia–China Pipeline Politics: Turkmenistan at a Crossroad" by Hao Tian

By Editor CI

views: 46

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:15 PM

The announcement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 revealed China’s ambitious plan in Central Asia. As demonstrated by the construction of the Central Asia–China Gas Pipeline, China has been skillful in maneuvering various strategies and toolkits to address the country’s energy problem. By using loans and other investment mechanisms to access Turkmenistan’s gas fields, Beijing creates the conditions for reaching bilateral agreements and forming joint ventures to hold individual countries accountable for supplying and transiting energy to China. With the creation of a hub-and-spoke system for regional development, China’s diplomacy is bilateral in means but multilateral in ends. However, the prospect for Turkmenistan is less optimistic following the suspension of Line D of the Central Asia–China Gas Pipeline. Therefore, this paper argues that despite the initial attempt to diversify energy export, Turkmenistan’s current loan repayment arrangement and heavy export dependence on China have locked up the country. In the foreseeable future, Turkmenistan has no other viable options to address its current dilemma. Read more...

"Legal Status of the Caspian Sea is Finally Defined: What is Next?" by Azad Garibov

By Editor CI

views: 33

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:08 PM

Negotiations to resolve the dispute over the legal status of the Caspian Sea have been long and uneasy, and began with highly divergent, if not mutually exclusive, positions of the littoral states. This article briefly reviews the negotiation process over the division of the Caspian Sea and the positions of each littoral state in it, identifies the key milestones passed in this process, and attempts to uncover why and how it was possible to come to a common agreement and sign the Convention on Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. It also presents the big picture of what the new status will actually turn out to be. Finally, the article identifies two key issues— namely, (1) delimitation of highly contentious sectorial borders of the seabed in the South Caspian and resultant clarification of the ownership of the disputed fields, and (2) construction of underwater trans-Caspian pipelines—as the major problems that still await resolution in order to achieve a final settlement of the Caspian Sea legal dispute. Read more...

"Belt and Road Initiative: The Eurasian Cold War?" by Ali Ihsan Kahraman

By Editor CI

views: 24

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:37 PM

This paper examines the One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI), led by China, and investigates the strategies of participant and non-participant countries. The main question is how this large-scale project may affect Eurasian politics. To carry out such a discussion, the paper comparatively surveys the strategies and political discourses related to BRI of both participant (China, India, and Russia) and nonparticipant countries (the US and Great Britain) who take an active part in politics and economics throughout Eurasia. In conclusion, this paper suggests that BRI will lead to some indication of the emergence of a Cold War-like conflict in Eurasia, although the main promise of this initiative is to accelerate cooperation in this interregional area. Read more...

"The Belt and Road Initiative and the Future of Sino-Russian Relations in Central Asia" by Michael Clarke and Matthew Sussex

By Editor CI

views: 21

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:26 PM

Sino-Russian relations in general, and in Central Asia in particular, have been relatively stable since the end of the Cold War due to the convergence of a number of key structural, regional, and domestic factors. These have remained relatively consistent over time, and demonstrate the interplay between “thick” (normative) and “thin” (interests) variables consistent with the concept of an alignment rather than an alliance. However, we argue that Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) is likely to bring to the fore the central dilemmas typical of the “alliance game” of international politics – hedging, accommodation, and entrapment – as China’s trans-Eurasian connectivity agenda fundamentally challenges Russian preferences across the strategic, economic, and normative domain of its interests. The article then explores these dilemmas via the discussion of a number of possible future scenarios for Sino-Russian relations and their implications for regional order in Central Asia. Read more...

Commentary: "Georgia After the Presidential Elections" by Aleksandre Kvakhadze

By Editor CI

views: 16

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:04 PM

On 28 November 2018 the second round of the presidential election finalized the almost three-month-long electoral marathon in Georgia. According to the official results, Zalome Zurabishvili, supported by the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), became the first female president not only in Georgia, but in the entire Caucasus region. At the same time, the opposition candidate was enabled to reach the second round of presidential elections for the first time in Georgia’s history. At this juncture, this paper aims to overview the pre-election campaign, elucidate the statistics, and discuss future trends in Georgian domestic politics. Read more...

"A Hub of Hubs Initiative and its successful implementation: The case of Azerbaijan" by Mahir Humbatov

By Editor CI

views: 15

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:23 PM

After centuries of neglect, the transport corridors connecting Asia and Europe are on the brink of a rebirth. There are different initiatives to establish overland routes via trucks; to build railways; construct pipelines; improve air connections; develop maritime connections through seaways, such as TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia), CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), INSTC (International North South Transportation Corridor), and the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative); and so on. Currently, every single country in the world is developing its transportation and logistics potential with the desire to become part of these regional or global initiatives. This article will analyze where Azerbaijan stands on these corridors and what is the current status of soft and hard infrastructure development in this country as regards global transportation corridors. Regional projects initiated by Azerbaijan are already delivering benefits to friendly neighboring countries and transportation projects will also attract revenues to collaborating countries. The Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway project, newly developed Baku International Sea Trade port, renovated and reconstructed GYD airport, improvement of the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company, new legislation and presidential orders, and other relevant hard and soft infrastructural developments will be assessed in this context. Moreover, Azerbaijan's collaboration in the transportation sector with its neighboring countries and key allies will be one of the main themes of the article. Read more...

Commentary: "Analysis of the Domestic Political Situation in Armenia" by Gela Vasadze

By Editor CI

views: 13

Jan 4, 2019 - 4:51 PM

This article discusses the causes and dynamics of events occurring in Armenia from April to October 2018. The events described did not simply change the power regime, but practically reformatted the entire political field of Armenia, which in turn could not but affect the entire region. On the one hand, the new authority that came to power through the revolutionary wave cannot neglect addressing the political reality in which Armenia at present exists; on the other hand, it cannot try to impose the social order of the “street” from where the people brought Pashinyan and his team to the power. The six months of Pashinyan’s command of power have laid the practical foundation for the further rule of this political force. Now, the process of forming a new Armenian political elite is of great interest, since it is that elite, which will include both absolutely new people and representatives of the former elite, that will determine the policy of Armenia in the foreseeable future. This article will respond to the questions of “how Pashinyan came to power,” “why the ruling Republican party could not resist street protests,” “what the first steps of the new government were,” and “how Pashinyan managed to lead the situation in Armenia towards early elections.” Read more...

Caucasus Under Review - Recently Published Books

By Editor CI

views: 11

Jan 4, 2019 - 4:39 PM

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Commentary: "Belt and Road Initiative: Implications for Georgia" by Temuri Yakobashvili

By Editor CI

views: 11

Jan 4, 2019 - 5:06 PM

In the modern world, major economic initiatives possess the potential to have effects similar to those of major empires’ expansionist policies that reshaped the fate of many regions and nations. Despite always finding themselves on the fringes of those empires, relatively shielded from the largest waves, countries of the South Caucasus (SC) were still affected significantly. China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) has the potential to turn into a fate-altering development for the SC region. Key regional powers already have a long-lasting history of dealing with the countries and nations of the SC. This article will examine China’s engagement in the SC region as a newcomer and, in this context, the determination of the SC countries to become an integral part of the BRI. The article argues that these initiatives will create a sense of engagement with the global economy for the SC Region, attract an influx of new sources of investment, and create more jobs that are not related to traditional economic sectors of the economies of the respective countries. If effectively managed, European and Chinese initiatives can balance out other regional actors' economic and political interests within the region. Read more...
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