Kateqoriya arxivləri: South Caucasus

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 Being a former Soviet country with an outdated industry, Azerbaijan has significantly developed and diversified its military industry since the end of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war.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

The case of Lapshin: How it will affect Azerbaijan – Israel partnership?

Blogger Alexander Lapshin at Baku airport. Photo: Trend Agency
Blogger Alexander Lapshin at Baku airport. Photo: Trend Agency

On 8th of February of 2017, a plane carrying Russian travel-blogger Alexander Lapshin landed at Baku International Airport. Alexander Lapshin, who was detained in Belarus a month ago at the request of Azerbaijan, is charged with violating the country’s legislation by illegally visiting occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Reportedly, Alexander Lapshin, who illegally travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2011, and 2012, presented Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh as an “independent state” on his social media account, and supported the “independence” of the unrecognized regime. The Supreme Court of Belarus on Tuesday upheld a government decision to extradite blogger to Azerbaijan, which raised a huge outrage in Armenian mass media. Oxumağa davam et The case of Lapshin: How it will affect Azerbaijan – Israel partnership?

Azerbaijan’s Growing Military Cooperation With Pakistan

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ilham Aliyev during joint press conference in Baku (2016)
Prime minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ilham Aliyev during the joint press conference. Baku, 2016

Baku is seeking out increased defense imports from Pakistan, including JF-17 aircraft.

Azerbaijan and Pakistan have a unique political relationship that has surpassed territorial boundaries and geographical distances. Pakistan was among the first states to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence following the 1991 Soviet collapse. Today, Pakistan is the only country that has not established diplomatic relations with Baku’s main foe, Armenia. The bilateral strategic cooperation between these two countries embraces the economic, cultural, political, and especially defense fields. Taking into account their close ties, the current level of military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Pakistan needs to be emphasized. While Azerbaijan’s defense industry has strategic relations with various countries, Baku has been seeking ways of expanding military cooperation with Pakistan in particular over the last years.

Given the Pakistan’s status as a nuclear power, combined with its dynamic military muscle, military cooperation can be seen as another fundamental building block of the bilateral relationship. Oxumağa davam et Azerbaijan’s Growing Military Cooperation With Pakistan

Why does Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia strengthen military cooperation?

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On 5th of May, following a private trilateral meeting in Qabala city, Azerbaijani Defence Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov, Georgian Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli and Turkish National Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz agreed to hold joint military exercises on enhancing the combat readiness of the three countries armed forces in order to achieve the further development of trilateral cooperation on regional security. Simultaneously, the trilateral military activities, which arose huge concerns in neighbouring Oxumağa davam et Why does Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia strengthen military cooperation?