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 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.
By Roger N. McDermott
May 31st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s Armed Forces are conducting a series of exercises in Central Asia ostensibly designed to reassure regional allies that Moscow will assist in the face of an insurgency or incursion led by the Taliban or the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, these exercises are increasingly demonstrating the Kremlin’s intention to reassert Russia’s security role in Central Asia, while some features of such military exercises are also betraying increasingly sophisticated Russian technology and warfare capabilities, and consequently a widening gap with the country’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
By Najia Badykova
March 30th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On February 29, 2016, the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council met in Baku for the second time and asserted that the diversification of EU energy sources remains a key component of the Union’s energy security policy. But the project faces serious hurdles. After many years of discussions with potential gas suppliers, Brussels has only been able to secure 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas per year for the corridor, a tiny fraction of EU members’ needs. Without securing significantly larger new gas supplies, it will be difficult economically and politically to justify such a large and expensive infrastructure project. While EU officials continue to assert their commitment to the corridor, it is unclear whether Brussels is moving toward the pragmatic approach necessary to secure more gas for the scheme or if we are only witnessing further rhetoric from bureaucrats.
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.