By Natalia Konarzewska
January 16, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On November 28, 2018, Georgians elected their next president in the second round, in the last direct presidential elections before the country fully switches to a parliamentary system. Salome Zurabishvili, an independent candidate endorsed by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, won the election by securing 59 percent of the vote against opponent Grigol Vashadze from United National Movement (UNM) who received 40 percent. Zurabishvili received the largest number of votes in the first election round on October 28 but did not reach the 50 percent threshold needed to win. Observers assessed that elections were largely competitive but not fair. Some irregularities and incidents occurred during the voting, however, they did not seriously affect the outcome.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
December 20, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On September 26, the heads of Ingushetia and Chechnya, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Ramzan Kadyrov, signed an agreement on a proposed land swap between the two Northeast Caucasian republics. While the Chechen public welcomed the plan, which was kept secret until it was signed, the agreement sparked unprecedented protests in Ingushetia. Several thousand Ingush protesters in the republic’s capital Magas have found sympathy from both Ingush siloviki and the public in their resistance to the deal. With bottom-up opposition to the land swap spreading in Ingushetia, this “Maidan” in Russia’s geographically and demographically smallest republic may have far-reaching implications not only for Ingushetia and Chechnya, but also for the rest of the Russian Federation.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
December 17, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On October 24-26, a U.S. State Department delegation headed by National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton visited the South Caucasian republics after talks in Moscow. The delegation’s visit to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia was immediately dubbed a reinvigoration of U.S. policy towards the Caucasus and a pragmatic reengagement with the conflicted region. Bolton appeared to refine the evolving U.S. priorities with each country, categorizing them in accordance with political capabilities, shared interests and the roles that Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia respectively seek in relations with the West. The visit, however, caused an angry reaction from Moscow, especially given the issues Bolton raised in Yerevan.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
December 7, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Georgian wine and its narrative are emerging as a major driver for the global marketing of the country. The evidence of 8,000 year old wines, discovered in Georgia, helped galvanize the promotion of the country as a Cradle of Wine. The story of Georgian wine contributed to reaching record numbers in wine exports, as well as record numbers of visitors to the country, thus contributing to the development and economic growth of Georgia.
By Stephen Blank
November 29, 2018, the CACI Analyst
The signing of the Caspian convention in August 2018 has opened up exciting new possibilities for getting Central Asian oil and gas to European and global markets. The long-desired Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) from both shores of the Caspian has thus become a possibility. By thinking big, we can use Caspian gas for beneficial economic and political purposes. Whatever route Caspian energy takes to Europe, it must traverse the Caucasus and can be of substantial value in transforming the Eurasian geopolitical scene and agenda. Specifically, those parties who have the most to gain form resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can now devise a peace program that incorporates the use of energy to help foster an enduring peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, reduce Russia’s ability to manipulate this conflict, and at the same time enrich them both as well as European consumers.
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.