By Najia Badykova
July 20th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 27, Moscow announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a personal letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing his “regret and sorrow” for the downing of a Russian plane last November and his wish to reestablish bilateral relations. This ended a seven-month standoff between Turkey and Russia that seriously threatened their political and economic relations. Moscow welcomed the apology. Both sides have strong reasons to resume and reinforce their relations. The rapprochement will allow a restoration of diplomatic relations, and remove trade sanctions and barriers to the development of a number of joint projects, including the planned Turkish Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea. Yet while Ankara and Moscow may return to pipeline negotiations, the gas supply situation to Europe has changed since November. Moscow has made substantial progress pushing an alternative option – an expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline.
By Najia Badykova
June 17th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Free of many sanctions, Iran is becoming an active player in the South Caucasus, taking steps towards greater involvement in the region. Russia is not objecting, and even appears to be supporting these initiatives. In March, Armenia’s Energy Minister Levon Yolyan announced that Iran will build a gas distribution network in southern Armenia. Russia’s Gazprom, which currently controls that country’s gas distribution system, has not opposed this plan. Iran is also involved in another initiative with Russia, Armenia and Georgia. The four countries have agreed to build the North-South Energy Corridor, linking them to a unified electric grid. These recent initiatives are just the first to take off. Iran and Russia have been deepening their economic ties with all South Caucasus countries, securing reliable transit corridors while keeping other foreign competitors out of the picture.
By Natalia Konarzewska
March 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
In late December 2015, Turkmenistan officially announced the completion of the East-West gas pipeline. This 773 kilometer route with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) will connect natural gas from fields located in eastern Turkmenistan to those along its Caspian Sea coast, with the potential of further transfer via the Caspian Sea and onward to the Turkish and European markets. The construction of the pipeline is complementary to Turkmenistan’s current strategy for gas exports. Ashgabat seeks broader export opportunities in Turkey and Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia and China as major gas export outlets. However, despite positive political shifts, which might enhance Turkmenistan’s energy cooperation with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the EU, several obstacles remain to the westward transfer of Turkmenistan’s gas.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
March 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On March 4, 2016, Georgia and Azerbaijan reached a deal that allows Georgia to receive close to 500 million cubic meters (mcm) of additional gas annually from Azerbaijan. Georgia’s Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze announced after the signing that Georgia will no longer need to buy additional volumes of gas from Gazprom. This ends several months of speculation about Georgia’s concessions to Gazprom, fueled by a number of controversial statements by government officials. This agreement strengthens the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Georgia, and keeps Georgia from becoming further affected by Gazprom’s coercive power.
By Boris Ajeganov
March 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Uncertainty on the future of Georgia’s energy security has been growing since late 2015, when Georgia’s minister of energy and deputy PM Kakha Kaladze met with Alexey Miller, CEO of Russia’s Gazprom twice in the span of a month. Discussions on Gazprom’s potential return to the Georgian market quickly raised eyebrows in Baku and caused popular protests in Tbilisi. In a March 4 turnaround, Kaladze announced a deal to receive additional gas from Azerbaijan, thus removing the need to import Russian gas. Party politics aside, Tbilisi appears to have skillfully used its strategic position in the South Caucasus to secure a favorable energy deal without sacrificing its sovereignty.
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.