Baku hosted the first joint gathering of the heads of the railway administrations of Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Poland, on June 19. The meeting was dedicated to the newly-launched “South-West Transport Corridor,” which links into the broader Trans-Caspian International Route project launched in 2016. The event concluded with the signing of a new joint protocol that envisages expanding cooperation opportunities along the so-called “South-West” route (Iran–Azerbaijan–Georgia–by ferry across the Black Sea–Ukraine–Poland) in order to optimize cargo transportation and increase transit capacity. Reportedly, the next joint meeting of the working group will be held in Odesa in September 2017 (Trend, June 19).
Abstract. This paper examines the European Union’s geopolitical interests in the South Caucasus, with a specific focus on Azerbaijan. The EU has maintained a relationship with the region for over two decades, but often the EU’s approach towards the South Caucasus have been deeply affected by local and regional developments. Nevertheless, EU – Azerbaijan bilateral relations may offer an alternative. Azerbaijan plays a key role in European energy security, while the EU is seeking to create a “European space” in the South Caucasus. These two interrelated developments are mutually reinforcing. This paper examines how this relationship shapes and/or is influenced by the EU’s geopolitical strategic vision in the region.
The Georgian coastal city of Batumi hosted, on May 23, a trilateral meeting of the defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia (Azertac, May 23). This trilateral cooperation format was inaugurated in 2012, during a ministerial meeting in Trabzon, Turkey. As expected, a new military memorandum was signed during the Batumi meeting: the three sides pledged to boost military ties as well as increase cooperation in the fields of military education and military medicine, counterterrorism (including the protection of pipelines and railways), and joint large-scale military exercises (APA, May 23). “Our cooperation in the field of defense contributes to strengthening security, peace and economic development,” Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov told reporters in Batumi (Azertac, May 23). Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia: A Geopolitical Axis or an Accidental Alliance?→
The regional economic integration within the globalized world has been recognized as an important driver for economic growth and job creation. Hence, free trade is one of the essential points for future regional economic development that would lead to a more productive and competitive economic structure. In this respect, the Eurasian Economic Union, which came into force in 2015, aims to establish a single regional market with the elimination of all customs barriers between its Member States. Even though a number of Post-Soviet countries have already become members of the EEU, Azerbaijan has managed to maintain its neutral position in this regard. Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Eurasian Economic Union: A Risky Game or an Opportunity?→
In the end of April 2017, Georgia and Iran held several joint events, and round table meetings aimed at deepening of bilateral strategic cooperation between two regional countries. Even though, there are certain obstacles for growing cooperation, Iranian and Georgian officials have conducted two vis-a-vis meetings in the end of April.
Firstly, Iranian delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Tbilisi on April 18. Simultaneously, on the same day, Tbilisi host the Georgian – Iranian Business Forum, where about 100 companies from both countries were represented. “Iran is a country with one of the most serious economic potentials” in the region, said Minister of Economy Giorgi Gakharia, during the opening ceremony.
Since regaining its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan set a target to increase the capability of its Armed Forces. Being a former Soviet country with an outdated industry, Azerbaijan has significantly developed and diversified its military industry since the end of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. Throughout these years, Azerbaijan has done a lot to acquire international experience in the military industry.
At the beginning of the 2000s, official Baku adopted a new military policy, which would allow it to strengthen its military/defense industry. While oil-gas contracts brought billions of dollars and further foreign investments to Azerbaijan, the country’s military budget has implicitly increased between 2004 and 2012 years. As a part of this policy, in 2005, the Azerbaijani government established the Ministry of Defense Industry, which targeted to modernize the Soviet-era weaponry (mostly BMP, BRDM) in the balance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, and oversee arms manufacturing.Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan: From a Country with Soviet-Era Industry to a Weapons Exporter→
This past January, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended a session on “The Silk Road Effect” at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, alongside Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili (President.az, January 19). Presumably, the intention of both leaders was to promote the importance of the new China-led “Silk Road Economic Belt” project and its role in the future development of the economy and infrastructure in the South Caucasus. As a source of and as a transit corridor for strategic global resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as the intersection of important transportation routes between the East and West as well as the North and South, the South Caucasus holds great geostrategic importance. While a relatively low priority for China during the early 2000s, more recently the South Caucasus has become an area of great interest as an extension of the highly ambitious Chinese Silk Road project, which aims to connect Europe and East Asia via new roads and railways across the Eurasian landmass. Oxumağa davam et Baku-Beijing Relations and China’s Growing Interest in the South Caucasus→