By Stephen Blank
October 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
There are several signs of a possible turn for the better in the energy prospects of Caspian states, and especially Azerbaijan. The collapse of energy prices appears to have bottomed out. Even prices stagnating at US$ 40-60 a barrel gives energy producers a certain margin to cushion the shocks they will endure. A major aspect of the Caspian states’ comparative advantage is their proximity to Turkey and Southeastern Europe. As European growth recovers, the demand for energy coming through those states will likely grow. Ukraine’s growing freedom from Russian energy coercion will also stimulate it to look for alternatives and new opportunities for Caspian producers. Yet the perhaps most encouraging sign is the construction of new capacities to tie together and eventually integrate the European market.
By Rafis Abazov and Zhumatay Salimov
October 4th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The government of Kazakhstan has been among the pioneers in Central Asia in promoting the development of technoparks, perceived as vehicles for attracting investment to hi-tech industries, stimulating technology transfer and ultimately contributing to the building of a knowledge-intensive economy. The government also envisions that technoparks will help the national economy move away from dependency on commodities exports and establish competitive knowledge-intensive industries. Yet, the effectiveness of these multi-billion tenge investments has been hotly debated among experts in the country. Some argue that developing technoparks and innovation clusters is the only route towards an internationally competitive national economy. Others claim that the policy has not been effective, and that technoparks have failed to produce significant outcomes even after a decade of active investment.
By Fariz Ismailzade
September 26th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The frequently discussed but always delayed “North-South” transport corridor was finally kicked off during a trilateral summit of three Presidents in Baku in August. It will bring major geopolitical changes to the region and further cement the growing ties between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Coupled with the “East-West” transport corridor, Baku is set to become a transport hub of the greater Eurasia.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
July 19th, the CACI Analyst
Four parliamentary factions have recently offered to conduct a constitutional referendum in fall 2016, together with elections to the local municipal councils. Holding a nationwide referendum requires the passage of a special law by two thirds of the parliamentarians. Without much public deliberation, the law has already passed its first reading, with second and third readings scheduled to take place in September. The upcoming referendum will be the sixth ever since the adoption of the first constitution in 1993.
By Franz J. Marty
September 8th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Many accounts allege that the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has expanded to northern Afghanistan and intends to infiltrate Central Asia from there. Taking a closer look, however, it becomes apparent that virtually all such claims lack a sound foundation and that the remaining, more specific hints like reported sightings of black flags also stand on shaky ground. Consequentially, and contrary to the eastern parts of Afghanistan, there is no compelling evidence of a presence of the self-styled Caliphate in northern Afghanistan and, hence, also no immediate threat to Central Asia.
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.