Kateqoriya arxivləri: South Caucasus

The EU and the South Caucasus 25 years since Independence: Azerbaijan in the Geopolitical Strategy of the EU

Caucasus International Magazine. Photo credit: 1News.Az
Caucasus International Magazine. Photo credit: 1News.Az

Caucasus International Magazine; Vol: 7 No: 1; Summer issue

PDF version is available for download

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.

Introduction

The South Caucasus is an extraordinarily complex region in many ways. Having re-gained independence in 1991, the South Caucasus remains one of the world’s most security-challenged regions, facing a host of internal and external security threats. Despite its small size and relatively small population, the South Caucasus occupies an important place in international geopolitics. Oxumağa davam et The EU and the South Caucasus 25 years since Independence: Azerbaijan in the Geopolitical Strategy of the EU

Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia: A Geopolitical Axis or an Accidental Alliance?

Azerbaijani, Turkish, Georgian high-ranking military officials observe Azerbaijani-Turkish joint exercises; June 2017. Photo Credit: Azvision.az
Azerbaijani, Turkish, Georgian high-ranking military officials observe Azerbaijani-Turkish joint exercises; June 2017. Photo Credit: Azvision.az
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 14 Issue: 75

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?

Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Eurasian Economic Union: A Risky Game or an Opportunity?

The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.; Photo credit: Sputnik Agency
The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.; Photo credit: Sputnik Agency

No. 3, Jan.-Feb. 2017 » UNCOVER story

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?

Georgia and Iran: A new bridge between the Persian Gulf and Black Sea?

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif  shakes hands with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017.

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.

Seemingly, by hosting the business forum for a number of Iranian companies, Georgia seeks to encourage them to invest more in various spheres of the country such as tourism, telecommunication, city infrastructure, and so on. Oxumağa davam et Georgia and Iran: A new bridge between the Persian Gulf and Black Sea?

Azerbaijan: From a Country with Soviet-Era Industry to a Weapons Exporter

Special Forces of the State border Service of Azerbaijan with domestically-produced "Cobra" vehicle
Special Forces of the State border Service of Azerbaijan with domestically-produced “Cobra” vehicle

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

Baku-Beijing Relations and China’s Growing Interest in the South Caucasus

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcoming ceremony for Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Beijing, Dec. 10, 2015. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

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

Karabakh: Diplomatic Attention Needed to Address Growing Risks

An Azeri serviceman stands guard at the frontline with the self-defence army of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan
An Azeri serviceman stands guard at the frontline with the self-defence army of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. Photo: Zulfiya Safkhanova/Reuters

On February 25, Armenian troops alongside allied separatist forces in Karabakh attempted to carry out sabotage in the Khojavend – Fizuli sector of the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact (LoC) that separates Azerbaijani – Armenian military zones. While around five Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, the latest flare-up in the frontline demonstrated the ever-present risk of a new wider escalation of the conflict. As a result of the deadly ongoing skirmishes in the frontline, the bodies of the killed Azerbaijani soldiers remained in the neutral zone between two sides including Major Agshin Abdullayev and Senior Lieutenant Tural Hashimli. It took two days before Azerbaijan has removed the bodies of servicemen from the neutral zone.

The Defence Ministry of the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan of launching night attacks in the south-eastern section of Khojavand (Martuni) with the TR-107 rocket launcher. Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, however, accused the Armenia-backed forces of initiating provocative incursions in hope of gaining certain strategic points.   Oxumağa davam et Karabakh: Diplomatic Attention Needed to Address Growing Risks