By Nurlan Aliyev
May 21, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On March 16, Sputnik Azerbaijan published information on Azerbaijani participants of the international sport competition Football for Friendship, financed by Gazprom. On the same day, the vice-president of the Italian Senate Linda Lanzillotta, visiting Baku, stated that Russia is behind protests against the construction of the Italian segment of the TAP pipeline. This is one example of how Russia’s means for exercising soft and hard, if covert, power coexist in the former Soviet republics. Yet soft power influences receive decidedly less attention in reporting and discussion on Russia’s relations with these countries and Azerbaijan is an illustrative case in this regard.
By Fariz Ismailzade
May 11, 2018, the CACI Analyst
The appointment of a new Prime Minister and the new composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan have raised hopes for speedy economic reforms and liberalization of the national economy. New, young and foreign-educated ministers are expected to create more transparency and accountability in the system, create a more attractive business climate and further ensure the sustainable development of the country. President Aliyev’s new appointments have been welcomed by the public and foreign investors, and hint at the urgent need to deepen the pace of reforms.
By Stephen Blank
January 25, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On December 5, 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that all the key issues regarding the delimitation of the Caspian Sea had been resolved and that a treaty was being prepared for heads of state to sign in 2018 in Astana. Yet less optimistic statements from the other parties, particularly Iran, suggest that Lavrov’s assessment was premature. If Russia and Iran can nevertheless reconcile their differences on the demarcation of the Caspian, this would have important strategic consequences not only for the littoral states, but also for the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East.
By Ilgar Gurbanov
January 23, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Before the Eastern Partnership’s (EaP) Brussels Summit in November 2017, many observers expected the finalization of the new EU-Azerbaijan agreement. However, neither this agreement nor an expected aviation agreement were signed, as many technical challenges remain to be addressed. Azerbaijan signed only a visa-free agreement with the BeNeLux countries for service passports holders and the indicative maps of the Trans-European transport network (TEN-T). The summit’s final declaration clearly articulated the EU’s support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its partners and called for peaceful conflict settlement based on international law. The declaration also hailed the Southern Gas Corridor’s (SGC) strategic importance and the progress made in the negotiations for the new agreement.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
January 8, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On December 6, 2017, the Armenian Parliament unanimously ratified the Armenian-Russian US$ 100 million “state export loan.” The accord, signed on October 24, allows Yerevan to borrow funds for purchasing a wide range of sophisticated arms manufactured by Russia in order to implement the “Common Defense Sector Development Plan.” This is Moscow’s second programmed military loan to Armenia, following the US$ 200 million loan agreed in 2015 which is now in the final stage of realization. The pending loan is intended to allow Yerevan to uphold its consistent procurement of military hardware since 2011 in an effort to negate Azerbaijan’s military-technical superiority.
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.