Kateqoriya arxivləri: Opinions

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

Forgotten lessons of Libyan War

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Photo Credit: Associated Press

Since the emergence of ‘failed states’ in the Middle East and North Africa region driven by the so-called “Arab Spring” events, Russia has actively endeavoured to expand its influence across the region. In Libya – the country, which has suffered from bloody sectarian wars since 2011 and thus, became a terrorist haven, seemingly is a new target of Russian expansion. This expansion is driven by its economic interests as a major oil producer and supplier of arms, and by history.

Today Libya is a failed state. Western military intervention has caused all of the worst scenarios: nearly all embassies have closed, the south of the country has become a training camp for ISIS terrorists, and the northern coast a centre for migrant trafficking. Amid all these tensions and political instability, general-lieutenant Khalifa Haftar pretends to be the long-awaited strongman, who is able to end six-year long anarchy and chaos in Libya. General Haftar, who once was fighting alongside Muammar Qaddafi but then opposed his regime, now enjoys the full support of Russia in his fight against radical terrorist groups. Oxumağa davam et Forgotten lessons of Libyan War

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

China’s Long March into Central Asia: How Beijing Expands Military Influence in Tajikistan?

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Beijing, Sept. 2, 2015 (AP photo by Lintao Zhang).
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Beijing, Sept. 2, 2015 (AP photo by Lintao Zhang).

Published by Central Asia – Caucasus Institute (CACI Analyst)

China’s gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region’s geographic proximity to China’s dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan’s defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China’s and Tajikistan’s militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.

China’s gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region’s geographic proximity to China’s dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to Oxumağa davam et China’s Long March into Central Asia: How Beijing Expands Military Influence in Tajikistan?