By Fuad Shahbazov
December 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On October 30, 2017, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, along with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia’s Prime-minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov attended the opening ceremony of the long-delayed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. “The opening of the railway is of historic and strategic significance,” Aliyev said at the ceremony in the Caspian port city of Alat, south of Baku, to mark the departure of the first trains. In fact, the opening of the new railway provides an alternative route to existing rail services carrying goods from Asia to Europe.
By John C. K. Daly
December 1, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On November 15 during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-VII) in Ashgabat Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement providing for a major international trade and transport corridor stretching from Turkey to Afghanistan via the post-Soviet Central Asian republics, named the “Lapis Lazuli Corridor.” While many practical problems remain, the development and operation of such a railway corridor has enormous implications for the countries along its route, particularly Afghanistan.
By Natalia Konarzewska
October 26, 2017, the CACI Analyst
In August, Georgia commemorated the ninth anniversary of its five-day war with Russia over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the 25th anniversary of the war in Abkhazia. Although years have passed since the hostilities, the conflicts remain unresolved while the political situation around the two de facto entities as well as Russia-Georgia relations remain tense. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Abkhazia and reiterated Russia’s military support for the region. In the preceding months, Russia increased its military pressure on Georgia by conducting large-scale military exercises in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In parallel, Russia continues the illegal demarcation of the so-called frontier between Georgian-controlled territory and the separatist regions, moving the occupation line further into Georgian territory.
By Ilgar Gurbanov
July 24, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On May 23, the defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey (AGT) held a trilateral meeting in Batumi, followed in June by the joint trilateral field training Caucasian Eagle 2017 of the three countries’ Special Operations Subdivisions in Georgia’s Vaziani base. The negative impact of terrorism and aggressive separatism on stability and development in the region makes it necessary to pool the capabilities of these countries to confront potential threats directed against their security and sovereignty. The AGT tripartite partnership has proven more successful than other regional integration blocs and initiatives.
By Boris Ajeganov
January 23, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Foreign investment in Georgia is strengthening the country’s importance in connecting East Asia with Europe, which has positive implications for the broader region. The rise in FDI in commercial and transportation infrastructure in combination with the signing of international free trade agreements will reduce Georgia’s vulnerability in terms of economic and, ultimately, ‘hard’ security. The growing importance of the South Caucasus as node for EU-China trade will weaken Russia’s incentives to undermine its southern neighbors by military, political, and economic means as it has done in the past. Accordingly, Tbilisi’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy is set to improve despite the absence of Western security guarantees.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.