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Category: issue 6 2021

Issue 6/2021: The Road to Pax Caucasia

Now available! Issue 6 (November-December) / 2021 which focuses on the current situation in the South Caucasus as well as the legacy of the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.

December 2, 2021 - New Eastern Europe

Infrastructural connectivity of the South Caucasus: A chance for a community of interests?

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has shown the world the anachronistic nature of the problems faced by the politicians, armies and citizens of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, this real and grim conflict that continues to cause tension in the region contrasts greatly with the hopes of many for peace and well-being. The prospects for development, prosperity and peaceful coexistence between the peoples of the Caucasus are still overshadowed by territorial and ethnic conflict. Despite this, they do not match the aspirations and dreams of the societies present in this region.

December 2, 2021 - Mariusz Maszkiewicz

A new corridor, a new impetus

The South Caucasus has serious potential to become a full-fledged logistics hub of regional significance. While opposition to developing a new corridor remains, the potential benefits for all countries in the South Caucasus and beyond will outweigh any costs or perceived risks.

The region of the South Caucasus is located at the intersection of logistics routes leading from north to south and east to west. Of course, the countries of the region are interested in increasing their logistical attractiveness. In this regard, significant funds have been invested in the development of logistics infrastructure over the past ten years. In particular, the Alat port in Azerbaijan was recently built and is now operational. In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the International North-South Transport Corridor, Baku allocated a soft loan to Iran of 500 million US dollars to finance the construction of the Astara-Rasht railway line. The investment was also used for the creation of logistics-related infrastructure to service this line. Azerbaijan took on a long-term lease of the Iranian section of the railway, as well as a railway station and a cargo terminal located there.

December 2, 2021 - Ali Hajizade

The South Caucasus after the Second Karabakh War

The trilateral co-operation format – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – has inexhaustible potential. Of course, not all external players claiming special interests in the region will be happy about this development. However, the time has come to encourage a radical increase in the culture of co-operation and pursue more ambitious goals. This will ultimately lead to the formation of a common vision of regional development as a space belonging to all three of these countries.

Despite the fact that the South Caucasus is undoubtedly a region with clearly delineated natural borders, it can hardly be called a full-fledged region. For almost 30 years after the restoration of independence, the states of the South Caucasus have not used the opportunity to create an integrated space of stability and security. Nor have they been able to provide their populations with decent levels of prosperity and opportunities for economic growth. Today, we instead face a reality marked by dividing lines and alienation.

December 2, 2021 - Valery Chechelashvili

Understanding the Kremlin’s logic after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Kremlin’s rationale for helping end the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also explains its attitude towards transportation infrastructure projects that have appeared as a result of the ceasefire agreement. By understanding the Kremlin’s strategy, as well as the subsequent challenges and risks, other states may be encouraged to develop their own effective counterstrategies.

Only a simplified comparison of the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh with Russian aggression in Ukraine and other parts of the world could confuse readers more than a question of whether the Kremlin experienced a simple victory or defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh. After all, we first ought to know what criteria Moscow may use to judge its actions during the recent war.

December 2, 2021 - Volodymyr Kopchak

Caucasian geopolitics: Finding a path towards stability and peaceful coexistence

The Caucasus region is a wealthy area in terms of its geopolitical position, strategic importance and history. Certainly, the geoeconomic relevance of the region has once again become clear following the end of the latest fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Caucasus is the name of a mountain range and geographical region that includes the southwest of European Russia, as well as the territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. This region encompasses a 440,000 square kilometre space between the Black and Caspian Seas and has a population of approximately 30.6 million people. As a result, the Caucasus faces its own distinct geopolitical realities that could become even more important given talks of a new Cold War.

December 2, 2021 - Vakhtang Maisaia

The Zangezur corridor: An Azerbaijani perspective

The opening of the Zangezur corridor will play an important role in the security of Azerbaijan’s newly liberated lands. It would cement the implementation of the November agreement and signal that the former status quo is over. This would subsequently help Baku to pursue its most ambitious undertaking in years – rebuilding the war-torn Karabakh region.

The ninth and final clause of the November 10th tripartite ceasefire agreement stated: “All economic and transport links in the region shall be unblocked. The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with a view to organising the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions.” In practice, this condition implied the opening of the so-called “Zangezur corridor” – a 43-kilometre stretch of land along Armenia’s border with Iran. In Soviet times, this area used to provide a road and railway connection between Nakhchivan and mainland Azerbaijan. However, these routes were blocked after a war over Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding regions erupted in the early 1990s.

December 2, 2021 - Murad Muradov

The Armenian view on the opening of the South Caucasus after the 2020 Karabakh War

The agreement that ended the 2020 Karabakh War called for transportation links to be put on the geopolitical agenda of the South Caucasus. According to the statement, Armenia should guarantee the security of transport connections between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. However, recent tensions in the Syunik region will likely impact the success of these developments.

The 2020 Karabakh War has caused a significant shift in the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan naturally strengthened its position, while Armenia was plunged into an acute political crisis without any clear solutions. Even the victory of Nikol Pashinyan’s “Civic Contract” party in the June 2021 early Parliamentary elections did not put an end to the domestic instability. Russia and Turkey have also increased their influence in the region. Moscow achieved its crucial goal of deploying troops in Karabakh, while Ankara has sent a clear message that it is now a leading regional powerbroker.

December 2, 2021 - Benyamin Poghosyan

The position of Georgia within the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Georgia has great interest in advancing peaceful and neighbourly relations with the other countries of the South Caucasus. Now, there is an opportunity to strengthen ties among the three countries. However, a realistic approach towards these relations is needed to achieve modest success in the short and medium-terms.

The main aim of Georgian policy in the South Caucasus is to sustain peace and stability while ensuring neighbourly relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Tbilisi adhered to this approach during the so-called Second Nagorno-Karabakh War last year. In particular, the statement of the National Security Council of Georgia published on October 3rd 2020 serves as a proof of such a commitment. This statement stresses that the active armed conflict should come to an end as soon as possible.

December 2, 2021 - Victor Kipiani

Vladimir the historian: Putin’s political revision of Ukrainian history

For roughly a half a decade now, there has been a radicalising shift in the Kremlin’s understanding of its relations with Ukraine. As Ukraine continues to follow its own path, Vladimir Putin assumes an evermore extreme position that Ukraine, its peoples, language and culture simply do not exist. For Putin, Ukraine has always been and will always be a part of Russia.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s longest-serving president and champion of post-Soviet stability, has accomplished much over the past 21 years. He has delivered Russia from the economic turmoil left by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, fought and won two wars in Chechnya, and brought unprecedented levels of prosperity and technological development to Russia. He has also defended traditional values the world over, once again placing Russia on the map of the world’s great powers at the expense of democracy and a fruitful relationship with the West. Putin has won many titles for this, including that of the most powerful man on earth, a modern dictator, or the greatest Russian.

December 2, 2021 - Joshua Kroeker

Who benefits from the CSTO?

The CSTO has been promoted as a regional counterpart to NATO ever since its creation in 1992. Despite this, the purpose of the organisation remains unclear, with official talk of mutual defence often giving way to unilateral action in a region still dominated by Russia and its military.

Almost two decades after its establishment, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) remains a difficult entity to define. Although often described as a vehicle for Russian foreign policy and a security guarantee for member states, it is anything but clear how the CSTO serves these purposes. Indeed, Moscow has always preferred to act unilaterally in the face of tensions in the vast Eurasian region, while member states repeatedly invoking the organisation's support have never obtained it. Furthermore, the limitations of the CSTO and the lack of clarity about its actual objectives have made it incapable of attracting new member states. Now that NATO's dramatic withdrawal from Afghanistan has been completed, new challenges await Russia and its partners. Is the CSTO ready?

December 2, 2021 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

The Central and Eastern European natural gas market 2013-19: trends and implications

Over the last decade, the natural gas market in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has changed dramatically. Today, we are seeing more cross-border pipeline routes that are bi-directional and the possibility of greater liquified natural gas (LNG) imports. These changes will bring increased economic opportunities for the full market chain under EU rules. Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine are emerging as key players in these developments.

Not long after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, western policymakers began to think about how to reduce European reliance on Russian hydrocarbon resources by expanding Europe’s alternative sources. Much of the energy diplomacy undertaken since then has focused on building pipeline infrastructure designed to bring new sources of oil and gas to Europe that bypass Russia. Of course, this strategy has seen many large successes, with the development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline and the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) perhaps the most notable examples.

December 2, 2021 - Dwight Nystrom Geoffrey Lyon

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