By Boris Ajeganov
January 23, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Foreign investment in Georgia is strengthening the country’s importance in connecting East Asia with Europe, which has positive implications for the broader region. The rise in FDI in commercial and transportation infrastructure in combination with the signing of international free trade agreements will reduce Georgia’s vulnerability in terms of economic and, ultimately, ‘hard’ security. The growing importance of the South Caucasus as node for EU-China trade will weaken Russia’s incentives to undermine its southern neighbors by military, political, and economic means as it has done in the past. Accordingly, Tbilisi’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy is set to improve despite the absence of Western security guarantees.
By Richard Weitz
January 19th 2017, the CACI Analyst
The Trump administration will soon undertake a comprehensive review of Russia-US relations and U.S. policy toward the rest of Eurasia. Although the new team will presumably consider many options, the president-elect’s statements imply that the U.S. will not soon support further NATO expansion or other actions that would strongly antagonize Moscow. Despite this limitation, the U.S. government will continue security ties with U.S. partners in Eurasia, such as Georgia. In practice, there are a number of steps the U.S. and Georgia can undertake to advance their mutual security.
By Zaur Shiriyev
December 20th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Georgia’s recent parliamentary election is hard to distinguish from previous elections in terms of the consolidation of power by the ruling Georgian Dream party. However, a significant difference can be observed in the increased political participation among ethnic Azerbaijanis, most clearly manifested in the number of Azerbaijani-origin candidates who not only ran but were elected, as well as their age and diverse political belonging. This recent shift has introduced a new level of electoral competition, bringing with it the complexities of party politics. The ruling party provides resources to support its own candidates – as seen when two Azerbaijanis lost amid claims of electoral violations.
By Eduard Abrahamian
December 16th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 12, 2016, Vladimir Putin officially approved a government proposal to form a permanent joint Russian-Armenian ground force. This is the second Russian initiative following the establishment of a united Russian-Armenian regional air defense system. As the crisis in Ukraine has expanded, the security thinking of the Russian leadership has undergone important changes regarding the imposition of actionable mechanisms intended to prevent allies such as Armenia from drifting westwards. By reinforcing existing military bases and simultaneously integrating Armenia’s armed forces into its Southern Military District (SMD) framework, Russia seeks to bolster its control over Armenia’s defense strategy and defense policy-making.
By John C. K. Daly
December 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On October 2, China and Georgia signed a preliminary free trade agreement (FTA), scheduled to take effect from the end of 2017, China’s first substantive FTA negotiations in Eurasia. The FTA’s 17 sections include trade goods, services, intellectual property rights and emerging issues like e-commerce, with the two parties agreeing to remove all tariffs for most of the two nations’ commodity trade, as well as pledging to open many service sector markets and improve bilateral trade laws while identifying key areas for enhancing cooperation.
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.