By Boris Ajeganov
August 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili became the first foreign head of state to visit Turkey after the failed coup attempt by parts of the Turkish military in the evening of Friday, July 15. Kvirikashvili met with his counterpart, PM Binali Yildirim, and President Erdoğan in Ankara on July 19 as part of an inaugural meeting of the High Level Georgia-Turkey Strategic Cooperation Council. The visit — the PM’s first official to Turkey — was planned long before the attempted coup. Although the event focused on bilateral trade and economic issues, both parties emphasized that the official visit demonstrated Georgia’s continued support for Turkey’s democratically elected authorities, despite concerns that Erdoğan used the coup attempt as pretext for a major purge of political opponents at all levels of government. In the end of the day, regardless of what direction Turkey’s politics take, Georgia does not have much of a choice but to toe its neighbor’s line, come rain or shine.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
July 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 30, Armenia’s Parliament ratified the Russia-Armenia United Regional System of Air Defense in the Caucasian Region, thereby moving it to the operational stage. The agreement was preliminarily signed in in Moscow by Armenia’s and Russia’s defense ministers in December 2015, on the basis of analogous accords with Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2009 and 2013 respectively. While the approval was accompanied with speculations on how Armenia could benefit from the accord, Moscow’s potential to exploit the agreement in its anti-Western posture has received less attention. In particular, the joint air-defense system presumably constitutes a reinforcing element of Moscow’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the eastern flank of the Black Sea region.
By Eka Janashia
July 10th, the CACI Analyst
At a June 20 meeting in Luxembourg, the EU’s foreign ministers again acknowledged Georgia’s eligibility for visa-free travel in the Schengen area for a short-stay. However, the country’s much-awaited exemption from visa requirements remains obscure.
At the end of last year, the European Commission (EC) issued the “Fourth progress report on Georgia’s implementation of the action plan on visa liberalization,” endorsing the country’s success in conducting legislative and policy reforms and praising its diligence in meeting institutional and organizational principles and procedures in line with European and international standards.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Once again, NATO will likely turn down Georgia’s bid for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) during the Alliance’s fast-approaching Warsaw summit on 8-9 July. Instead, NATO assures that Georgia will receive a firm declaration and a strengthened package of support during the summit, but no details have been yet specified. Apparently, some of NATO’s most powerful members are anxious that offering Tbilisi more will irritate Russia, which is already protesting plans to further strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. While NATO at present does not close the door to the future enlargements, Georgians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their country’s inability to clear the path to membership – a fact eagerly exploited by outlets for Russian propaganda, which are gaining strength in Georgia.
By Najia Badykova
June 17th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Free of many sanctions, Iran is becoming an active player in the South Caucasus, taking steps towards greater involvement in the region. Russia is not objecting, and even appears to be supporting these initiatives. In March, Armenia’s Energy Minister Levon Yolyan announced that Iran will build a gas distribution network in southern Armenia. Russia’s Gazprom, which currently controls that country’s gas distribution system, has not opposed this plan. Iran is also involved in another initiative with Russia, Armenia and Georgia. The four countries have agreed to build the North-South Energy Corridor, linking them to a unified electric grid. These recent initiatives are just the first to take off. Iran and Russia have been deepening their economic ties with all South Caucasus countries, securing reliable transit corridors while keeping other foreign competitors out of the picture.
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.