By Sergei Gretsky (06/10/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) was presented as a vehicle for economic development of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia as a result of the removal of barriers to free movement of goods, capital, and labor between the three states and creating a common market. Its inauguration on January 1, 2015, happened at a very inopportune moment as Russian economy, the largest of the three, was sharply contracting due to falling global commodity prices and western sanctions over Ukraine. Economic recession in Russia has had a negative ripple effect on Belarusian and Kazakhstani economies, which led some in Kazakhstan to second-guess the benefits of joining the EEU.
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 Rafis Abazov and Andrey Khazbulatov (05/13/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
In his presidential election campaign, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev pledged special attention to cultural policy through implementation of the Concept of Cultural Policy, envisioned to streamline the country’s policies on culture, cultural education and arts to strengthen what he calls “the genetic [cultural] code of the nation.” In introducing this Concept, Kazakhstan’s government emphasizes cultural policies despite the current financial crisis and significant budget cuts due to falling oil prices in the international market. But will reforming its cultural sphere deliver expected outcomes and results?
By Jakob Zenn (04/29/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Central Asian governments are speaking openly about threats they face from the multiple security and economic crises surrounding their region. In November 2014, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed in his annual address the region’s “worsening geopolitical context” with new crises in Ukraine, as well as in Syria and Iraq, the still unresolved “old” conflict in Afghanistan, and the negative impact on Central Asian economies resulting from Western sanctions on Russia. To counter these negative security and economic trends, Central Asian governments have adopted various approaches ranging from more progressive ones in Kazakhstan to stagnant or indecisive ones in other countries.
By Nurzhan Zhambekov (04/01/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan face a tough year as oil prices plummet. A dramatic shift has occurred in the international oil market in recent months as oil supply has gone up, particularly with the U.S. oil production increase, and demand has weakened with the economic slowdown in China and the EU. Saudi Arabia, the world’s second largest oil producer, did not reduce its oil production despite the oil price decline, indicating that it would like to maintain its international oil market share. The precipitous decline in oil prices has resulted in a sharp fall in export revenues for Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, the third and second largest oil producers respectively in the former-Soviet Union after Russia. This dramatic price drop has put the two countries’ currencies under severe pressure.
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.