By Carolin Funke
October 6th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In the absence of Euro-Atlantic guarantees for deeper economic and political integration, Georgia is further diversifying its cooperation with states outside the Western hemisphere. Over the last year, Georgia has particularly been strengthening ties with the People’s Republic of China, which seeks to increase its presence in the South Caucasus as part of its Silk Road Economic Belt. Due to declining Western involvement in the region, the U.S. and European Union have little reason to complain about Tbilisi’s new alignments. Nevertheless, anchoring China as a long-term player in the region will likely lead to a further decline of Western influence in Georgia.
By Erik Davtyan
September 28th, the CACI Analyst
On September 7, Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan visited Moscow and met his counterpart Vladimir Putin. This meeting, which took place nearly two years after President Sargsyan declared Armenia’s decision to join the Russia-led Customs Union, is the fourth in this year. The first meeting in 2015 took place in April, when Putin attended the events dedicated to the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial. The second and third meetings took place in May and July when Sargsyan attended the events in Moscow dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War and then during the joint summit of BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and SCO leaders in Ufa.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
September 30th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Since a few months, Armenia’s civil society, expert community and military are debating the threat that the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) poses to Armenia. In parallel, disillusionment is growing with the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and its reaction to the escalation in tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since at least three out of six CSTO members continually sell arms to Azerbaijan, it is now disputed whether the organization is capable and willing to ensure Armenia’s security. In this atmosphere, the idea has recently emerged that Armenia could reduce its dependence on Russia and restore relations with the West by joining the global coalition against ISIS.
By Tomáš Baranec
October 2nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
According to a recent survey by the U.S. National Democratic Institute, support for membership in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has doubled in Georgia since 2014, to 31 percent. Simultaneously, support for the trade agreement between Georgia and the EU fell from 80 percent before the Ukraine crisis to 68 percent in April 2015. Many commentators have linked this development with a temporal disappointment among Georgians with the country’s slow western integration following the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Riga. Others stress the Russian “soft offensive” on Georgia conducted through Russian-sponsored media and NGOs. However, the underlying reasons for why increasing numbers of Georgians become receptive to demands for reorienting the country towards Russia may be deeper, less temporal and much more serious.
By Natalia Konarzewska
September 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Armenia’s economy is currently experiencing a significant decline, which is primarily caused by spillover from Russia’s recession. At the end of 2014, Armenia’s national currency, the dram, saw rapid depreciation, which boosted inflation. Falling remittances from Russia are putting additional pressure on the dram, negatively affecting the livelihood of many ordinary citizens. Additionally, export volumes to Russia, which is Armenia’s top export destination, have decreased significantly. Armenia currently has few options to boost its faltering economy due to a falling number of foreign direct investments, high national debt and a shortfall of budget revenue. Economic forecasts for Armenia remain grim and since June the country has seen a wave of protests over the price hike on electricity.
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.