By Niklas Swanström (6/18/2003 issue of the CACI Analyst)BACKGROUND: The Chinese government has made it a policy to aggressively improve trade relations with the Central Asian states, and not only in the prioritized areas of oil, gas and grain, but also for small and medium sized companies. Both Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Chinese President Hu Jintao have emphasized the strategic importance of the ancient Silk Road for China’s economic development and stability. Trade has earlier focused on commodities such as steel, cotton, food, etc, but in recent years border trade has begun to focus to a higher degree on machinery, electronic products, and high tech development as well as large investment projects in the agricultural sector and the oil/gas industry.
By James Purcell Smith (6/4/2003 issue of the CACI Analyst)BACKGROUND: Since the early years of its independence, Turkmenistan\'s President Saparmurad Niyazov has been coming up with a number of gas pipeline projects, with the aim to boost its gas exports bypassing the Northern route through Russia. The Turkmen president spent days and weeks of talks with heads of states and other officials, discussing numerous gas pipeline projects. A shortlist includes the Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey option, the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China-Japan, the Trans-Caspian Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, and the last, widely discussed project, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan with possible extension to India.
By Matthew Oresman (6/4/2003 issue of the CACI Analyst)BACKGROUND: The Shanghai Forum (as it was originally known before the addition of Uzbekistan in 2001) was founded in 1996 by China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan to simultaneously demarcate and demilitarize the new border between China and the new post-Soviet republics, as well as to introduce confidence-building measures. Since then, the organization has attempted to move beyond its ad hoc talk shop status to address new and pressing issues, particularly the continuing terrorist threat in the region and the need for economic integration. These plans have continuously faltered, especially the creation of an SCO counterterrorism center in Bishkek in 1999.
By Hooman Peimani (6/4/2003 issue of the CACI Analyst)BACKGROUND: Relations between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have at times been far from friendly and tension-free since their independence in 1991. Various factors have contributed to this situation, including border disputes, a major source of tension in the bilateral relations of all the Central Asian countries. Thanks to the Soviet division of Central Asia into five ethnically-based republics without regard to the historical and ethnic realities, the two neighboring countries have disputes over certain regions.
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.