By Najia Badykova
January 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 24, a Japanese delegation met in Ashgabat with the deputy foreign ministers of five Central Asian states in a “Central Asia plus Japan” format to discuss regional security, sustainable development, trade and investment, as well as regional cooperation and disaster prevention. In October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all of the Central Asian states as a part of Tokyo’s efforts to strengthen economic relations with the resource-rich region, holding talks with Central Asian leaders mainly devoted to the energy issue. This is an important shift in Japanese foreign policy. Its long-time competitor China is already established in Central Asia and Tokyo’s recent initiatives have been described as part of the growing competition between China and Japan.
By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.
By Johan Engvall
December 14th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Since independence, Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – and its multilateral relations in particular – has expressed a clear logic: to develop a role as a respectable international citizen that can be a pragmatic partner with all quarters of the globe. The decision to launch its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2017 can be seen as the ultimate commitment to this role. At the same time, seeking a UNSC-seat is but one part of an increasingly urgent need to assert Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and statehood and to counter the Western notion of the country as being under Russia’s thumb.
By S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell
December 10th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
A number of initiatives have combined to make the development of continental transport and trade across the heartland of Eurasia a reality rather than a mere vision. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region. Yet Europe, which launched the visionary TRACECA program in the early 1990s, is largely absent from the scene today. Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
December 2nd, the CACI Analyst
On October 12, 2015, nine prisoners convicted on extremism and terrorism charges broke out of prison No. 50 near Bishkek, killing three guards and leaving one heavily wounded, who died later in the hospital. Shortly after the escape, police captured five of the fugitives and returned them to prison. A few days later, one of the four missing escapees was killed after he tried to attack a police officer with a knife. The scene took place in one of Bishkek’s suburbs. It took almost another two weeks for the state security services to capture and disarm the rest of the escapees on October 22.
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.