By Mamuka Tsereteli (05/27/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The South Caucasus enjoyed significant political support from U.S. policy makers since the mid-1990s, when the region was seen as an integral part of the proactive U.S. security and energy policy towards Europe. Those policies were successful, resulting in several pipeline projects connecting Caspian resources to European and world markets. But a direct natural gas connection between Caspian fields and Europe remains to be developed. It is in the common interest of the U.S., EU, producer and transit countries to overcome multiple challenges and make this connection work. While the debate currently includes efforts to build a false connection between Caspian producers and exemptions from the Iran sanctions, Washington needs a serious and strategic discussion on America’s role in Caspian energy.
By Gaël Chataignère (05/27/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
EU policies toward the two junior members of the Eurasian Union are an indication of the EU’s struggle to balance its normative, geo-economic, and political interests in the former Soviet space. This April, Nursultan Nazarbayev secured a fifth term in office with a full 97.7 percent of the vote, prompting only a mild response from the EU. The European External Action Service simply reiterated the conclusions of the OSCE observation mission, and the importance of the EU’s partnership with Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, despite an ongoing diplomatic thaw, Belarus remains subjected to a comprehensive set of EU sanctions. This seeming paradox questions the consistency and priorities of the EU, just a few months before Belarus holds its own presidential election.
By S. Frederick Starr (10/29/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Kazakhstan may have not had a choice as to whether or not to join the Customs Union, given geographical realities and President Nazarbayev’s long advocacy of that course. Now that it is joining, however, Kazakhstan has advanced a new strategy that seeks to rescue and preserve its “balanced” or “multi-vectored” foreign policy and to extend it beyond geopolitics into economics and security. This requires the full engagement of the EU and U.S. The EU’s October 2014, Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan advances this goal in the economic realm, but does not touch security. The U.S. has yet to take make similar advances in its economic or security relations with Kazakhstan.
By Stephen Blank (10/01/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Iran is seeking to recapture lost ground in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Earlier signs that the nuclear issue might be moving towards a peaceful resolution has encouraged some of Iran’s neighbors to take preparatory steps to resume dialogue with Tehran. Iran has extensive ties with and influence in Afghanistan. Thus Iran’s vital interests are connected with the future of that country. As NATO winds down its presence there, the widespread concern about the future of Afghanistan may lead improved ties between Iran and Central Asian states who clearly want as many foreign governments as possible to exercise a moderating influence on Afghan developments.
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.