By Almaz Rza
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
“Sagol Azerbaijan,” German Formula 1 driver for the Mercedes team Nico Rosberg tweeted on June 20. The leader of the 2016 F1 season thanked the host country of the F1 Grand Prix of Europe. Rosberg collected his 19th Grand Prix win with Ferrari’s Seb Vettel in second and Force India’s Sergio Perez third.
This June, the Baku City Circuit, a street track in Azerbaijan, saw F1 cars thunder for the very first time. A six-kilometer track with 20 turns is the latest design of Herman Tilke, a 61-year-old German engineer, who has designed every new F1 venue since the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in 1999 and also redesigned several older tracks. Like Monaco’s, the Baku track is built through the existing streets of a seaside city but unlike Monaco, which hosted its first race in 1929, the Baku track has a long straight (2.2 kilometers along the seaside boulevard) for overtaking.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
July 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 30, Armenia’s Parliament ratified the Russia-Armenia United Regional System of Air Defense in the Caucasian Region, thereby moving it to the operational stage. The agreement was preliminarily signed in in Moscow by Armenia’s and Russia’s defense ministers in December 2015, on the basis of analogous accords with Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2009 and 2013 respectively. While the approval was accompanied with speculations on how Armenia could benefit from the accord, Moscow’s potential to exploit the agreement in its anti-Western posture has received less attention. In particular, the joint air-defense system presumably constitutes a reinforcing element of Moscow’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in the eastern flank of the Black Sea region.
By Erik Davtyan
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
On June 20, the Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan – Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev – met in Saint Petersburg. After the unprecedented military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, the first meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents took place in Vienna on May 16. Putin’s initiative to convene the second meeting indicates the active mediation role that Russia has taken in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the escalation. In April, Russian high officials paid several visits both to Yerevan and Baku to discuss the recent developments with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to increase the number of international observers. The parties also welcomed the fact that the ceasefire regime has generally been upheld in recent months. The presidents also decided to continue similar regular meetings in the future.
By Eka Janashia
July 10th, the CACI Analyst
At a June 20 meeting in Luxembourg, the EU’s foreign ministers again acknowledged Georgia’s eligibility for visa-free travel in the Schengen area for a short-stay. However, the country’s much-awaited exemption from visa requirements remains obscure.
At the end of last year, the European Commission (EC) issued the “Fourth progress report on Georgia’s implementation of the action plan on visa liberalization,” endorsing the country’s success in conducting legislative and policy reforms and praising its diligence in meeting institutional and organizational principles and procedures in line with European and international standards.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 24th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Once again, NATO will likely turn down Georgia’s bid for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) during the Alliance’s fast-approaching Warsaw summit on 8-9 July. Instead, NATO assures that Georgia will receive a firm declaration and a strengthened package of support during the summit, but no details have been yet specified. Apparently, some of NATO’s most powerful members are anxious that offering Tbilisi more will irritate Russia, which is already protesting plans to further strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. While NATO at present does not close the door to the future enlargements, Georgians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their country’s inability to clear the path to membership – a fact eagerly exploited by outlets for Russian propaganda, which are gaining strength in Georgia.
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.