By Almaz Rza
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
“Sagol Azerbaijan,” German Formula 1 driver for the Mercedes team Nico Rosberg tweeted on June 20. The leader of the 2016 F1 season thanked the host country of the F1 Grand Prix of Europe. Rosberg collected his 19th Grand Prix win with Ferrari’s Seb Vettel in second and Force India’s Sergio Perez third.
This June, the Baku City Circuit, a street track in Azerbaijan, saw F1 cars thunder for the very first time. A six-kilometer track with 20 turns is the latest design of Herman Tilke, a 61-year-old German engineer, who has designed every new F1 venue since the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in 1999 and also redesigned several older tracks. Like Monaco’s, the Baku track is built through the existing streets of a seaside city but unlike Monaco, which hosted its first race in 1929, the Baku track has a long straight (2.2 kilometers along the seaside boulevard) for overtaking.
By Erik Davtyan
July 12th, the CACI Analyst
On June 20, the Presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan – Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev – met in Saint Petersburg. After the unprecedented military escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April, the first meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents took place in Vienna on May 16. Putin’s initiative to convene the second meeting indicates the active mediation role that Russia has taken in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the escalation. In April, Russian high officials paid several visits both to Yerevan and Baku to discuss the recent developments with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaderships. In Saint Petersburg, Sargsyan and Aliyev agreed to increase the number of international observers. The parties also welcomed the fact that the ceasefire regime has generally been upheld in recent months. The presidents also decided to continue similar regular meetings in the future.
By Stephen Blank
July 1st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Despite the ongoing terrorist insurgency, Russian officials claim significant progress in pacifying and reintegrating the North Caucasus. For example, in 2015 alone, Ministry of Interior forces in the North Caucasus (VVMVD) allegedly killed over 70 militants. Yet the National Anti-Terrorist Committee expects that the situation in 2016 will show no signs of marked improvement. Moreover, despite many Jihadis’ departure for Syria or Iraq, local insurgent activity has not slackened. In this context, Russia is reaching out to Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and their investment vehicles, as well as Azerbaijan in what may signify more than just a search for foreign investment. Arguably, these moves mark another stage in the recession of Russian power from the North Caucasus.
By Almaz Rza
June 8th, the CACI Analyst
“Greetings! I am out of prison! Thank you all for your support! I am strong and full of energy. I will continue my work as a journalist,” Khadija Ismayilova posted on her Facebook page right after she was released from custody. On May 25, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court ordered the investigative journalist released after changing her prison term from 7 1/2 years in custody to a suspended term of 3 1/2 years.
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.
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.