By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.
By Johan Engvall
December 14th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Since independence, Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – and its multilateral relations in particular – has expressed a clear logic: to develop a role as a respectable international citizen that can be a pragmatic partner with all quarters of the globe. The decision to launch its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2017 can be seen as the ultimate commitment to this role. At the same time, seeking a UNSC-seat is but one part of an increasingly urgent need to assert Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and statehood and to counter the Western notion of the country as being under Russia’s thumb.
By S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell
December 10th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
A number of initiatives have combined to make the development of continental transport and trade across the heartland of Eurasia a reality rather than a mere vision. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region. Yet Europe, which launched the visionary TRACECA program in the early 1990s, is largely absent from the scene today. Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.
By Rafis Abazov
November 28th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Kazakhstan’s Minister of Education recently hinted that the country’s ambitious program for internationalizing its higher education system may stand to be revised in light of the slowdown in Kazakhstan’s economy. The experts are divided: some suggest that Kazakhstan’s government is abandoning its internationalization program and probably will cut spending on education. Others suggest that the Ministry of Education (MoE) is facing temporary difficulties due to the decline in energy exports revenue and will attempt to keep most of the existing internationalization programs and projects intact.
By Najia Badykova
November 16th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Last month, Kazakhstan’s energy minister announced that his ministry would not at present exercise its so-called pre-emption rights to purchase British oil and gas company BG Group’s share in the Karachaganak project. This could be a break in a pattern of acquisitions driven more by economic than political factors. Royal Dutch Shell’s proposed US$ 70 billion buyout of BG Group would give it a major stake in Karachaganak, one of Kazakhstan’s biggest hydrocarbon deposits. Karachaganak accounted for about 15 percent of BG’s total production volume and 9 percent of its US$ 19 billion in revenue in 2014, a BG report has stated. Indeed, it has been a cash cow for BG.
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.