By Eka Janashia
January 22nd, the CACI Analyst
On December 18, the European Commission (EC) issued the “Fourth progress report on Georgia’s implementation of the action plan on visa liberalization” approving the country’s progress in fulfilling legislative and policy reforms, and meeting institutional and organizational principles and procedures in line with European and international standards. The EC’s positive assessment entitles Georgia to visa-free travel with the Schengen area. However, the EC’ legislative proposal, slated to be submitted in early 2016, still needs to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament.
By Stephen Blank
January 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Throughout its tenure, the Obama Administration has minimized U.S. involvement with and engagement in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. However, a change in this policy may now be visible. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent, and first, visit to Central Asia suggests a new interest in an expanded and hopefully regular mutual dialogue with the region. In the case of Azerbaijan, three high-ranking U.S. delegations have come through Baku in the last few months, clearly signifying renewed interest in dialogue and the subjects of their discussion, as revealed in the press, tend to corroborate that impression.
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 Eka Janashia
December 9th, the CACI Analyst
On November 23, a group supportive of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video via social media calling on Georgian Muslims to join the “Islamic caliphate” and admonishing that the time of beheading “infidels” would soon come.
The twelve-minute video containing the “message to the Georgian people” was posted on the Russian-language Furat’s social media accounts and a Georgian-language pro-ISIS website, proclaiming itself to be the “Caliphate’s Georgian Information Channel.” The video, featuring Russian subtitles, shows four Georgian-speaking men, armed with AK-47 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
By Natalia Konarzewska
December 7th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
After meeting with Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller in Milan on September 25, Georgia’s Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze announced that the parties discussed increasing Russia’s transit of gas to Armenia and opened a possibility for Georgian commercial entities to buy additional volumes of Russian gas. In October, Kaladze reiterated that Tbilisi wants to diversify its natural gas routes and suppliers through imports from Russia and possibly Iran. No details about the eventual increase of gas shipments from Russia have so far been revealed. Yet the prospective agreement has already caused controversy among Georgian political opposition, which questions Gazprom’s reliability as a gas supplier, and raised concerns in Azerbaijan, which is Georgia’s largest gas provider.
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.