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.
By Natalia Konarzewska
March 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
In late December 2015, Turkmenistan officially announced the completion of the East-West gas pipeline. This 773 kilometer route with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) will connect natural gas from fields located in eastern Turkmenistan to those along its Caspian Sea coast, with the potential of further transfer via the Caspian Sea and onward to the Turkish and European markets. The construction of the pipeline is complementary to Turkmenistan’s current strategy for gas exports. Ashgabat seeks broader export opportunities in Turkey and Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia and China as major gas export outlets. However, despite positive political shifts, which might enhance Turkmenistan’s energy cooperation with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the EU, several obstacles remain to the westward transfer of Turkmenistan’s gas.
By Boris Ajeganov
March 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Uncertainty on the future of Georgia’s energy security has been growing since late 2015, when Georgia’s minister of energy and deputy PM Kakha Kaladze met with Alexey Miller, CEO of Russia’s Gazprom twice in the span of a month. Discussions on Gazprom’s potential return to the Georgian market quickly raised eyebrows in Baku and caused popular protests in Tbilisi. In a March 4 turnaround, Kaladze announced a deal to receive additional gas from Azerbaijan, thus removing the need to import Russian gas. Party politics aside, Tbilisi appears to have skillfully used its strategic position in the South Caucasus to secure a favorable energy deal without sacrificing its sovereignty.
By Armen Grigoryan
February 22nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The confrontation between Russia and Turkey, and the fast-changing situation on the oil and natural gas markets, have strongly impacted the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, as well as the internal state of affairs in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia recently increased its military presence in Armenia, which has unsuccessfully sought support from fellow CSTO members in its confrontation with Azerbaijan. The ongoing clashes along the line of contact imply that the situation will likely remain tense in the short term. Meanwhile, the economic downturn in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia, increases the risk of domestically motivated escalation of the conflict.
By Fariz Ismailzade
February 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After a decade of cold relations, Azerbaijan and Iran are eager to warm up to each other, as both nations are hungry for foreign investments and boosted regional trade. As world oil prices hit low levels, Azerbaijan and Iran are looking for ways to develop their non-oil economy, integrate regional transport networks and boost mutually advantageous business projects. In that respect, thorny political issues that have dominated the bilateral relations appear to have been put on the backburner. President Ilham Aliyev’s upcoming visit to Iran will aim at lifting Azerbaijani-Iranian relations to a new high.
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.