February 2011

Tajiks likely to grant Russia access to Ayni air base, says analyst

By Martin Sieff

Russia looks to be beating out the United States and India to win the use of Tajikistan's Ayni air base. READ MORE

Unrest and Libya's Energy Industry

Libya’s political strife has already begun to impact its energy production, and this is just the beginning. READ MORE

Early presidential elections in Kazakhstan

This April Kazakhstan will see early presidential elections. A relevant decree has been signed by the head of state, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This decision is alternative to a referendum that was suggested to extend his current term in office until 2020. READ MORE

Putin in Brussels, and what it could mean for Libya

By Peter Spiegel

Vladimir Putin and 12 of his ministers blew through Brussels Thursday, reiterating many of their long-stated complaints about the European Union’s energy policies, which Russian leaders believe discriminate against Russian energy giant Gazprom. READ MORE

Europe rethinks dependence on Libyan oil

By Andrés Cala

Italy and Spain depend on Libya for as much as 22 percent and 13 percent of total crude consumption, respectively, a supply not easily replaced on short notice. READ MORE

Central Asia, Caucasus: Washington Seeks Cut in Foreign Assistance Budget

By Joshua Kucera

The United States intends to cut funding for assistance programs in most countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia, under the new budget proposed by the Obama administration on February 14. READ MORE

“Gazprom” Promises to Raise Exports Costs

By Sergey Kulikov

The Group of Companies Plans to Increase Supplies of More Expensive Gas. READ MORE

Uranium development set for growth on back of good results in 2010

The establishment of a national industrial complex, competitive in both domestic and overseas markets, is the top goal of the Kazakhstan's national atomic company, Kazatomprom, the country's operator for production, import and export of uranium, rare metals, nuclear fuel, power plants, special equipment and dual-purpose materials. READ MORE

Italy and Czech Republic back Gaddafi despite bloodbath

The EU is struggling to speak with one voice following a massive loss of life in Libya over the weekend and the regime's vow to fight protesters to the "to the last bullet. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has spoken of her "extreme concern," while Rome does not want to "disturb" strongman Moammar Gaddafi and Prague has warned of a "catastrophe" if he falls. READ MORE

China, Kazakhstan tightly connected by both friendship and strong strategic partnership - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

The three-day state visit of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to China at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao completed. READ MORE

Turkish-Iranian Economic Ties Flourish

By Saban Kardas

Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, paid a four-day state visit to Iran starting on February 13, to discuss ways to further bilateral cooperation. The sheer frequency of such high level mutual visits between the two countries in recent years indicates the growing multi-dimensional ties between Ankara and Tehran. Coupled with the convergence of both countries’ positions on many regional problems, the Turkish-Iranian cooperative relationship in economic and political affairs has been one of the most constant elements in the emerging Middle Eastern geopolitical map which is often fluid and full of uncertainties. READ MORE

A difficult balancing act for head of Gazprom

Alexei Miller has to champion natural gas, while playing down price pressure from alternative supplies, says Sarah Arnott. READ MORE

Dispatch: Crisis in Libya

Analyst Reva Bhalla examines Libya’s spreading unrest and the threat of civil war. READ MORE

How Europe Can Help the Revolutions in the Middle East Succeed

By Michael Elliott

All revolutions have their own distinct trajectories, and any attempt to locate what is happening in the Middle East within the framework of what has gone before will get us only so far. READ MORE

Kazakhstan: Russia Worries that Customs Union Outpost is Smugglers’ Paradise

By Richard Orange

A line of 150 trucks waits to enter Kazakhstan. It takes so long to clear customs here that each rig usually only makes two round trips a month. And yet, contrary to appearances, documentary discrepancies suggest the checkpoint is a smuggler’s paradise. READ MORE

Interview: Kostyantyn Gryshchenko

By Susan Glasse and Joshua E. Keating

Ukraine's foreign minister on what Egypt could learn from the Orange Revolution and the prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko. READ MORE

Afghan leader says U.S. bases depend on neighbors

By Hamid Shalizi

The possibility of the United States retaining long-term bases in Afghanistan could only be addressed once peace has been achieved and must take into account the country's neighbors, the Afghan president said on Saturday. READ MORE

Ukrainian Way of Caspian Oil

By Arthur Dunn

Oil Pipeline Odessa-Brody Have Waited Caspian Oil Transit to Europe for Ten Years. READ MORE

Lithuanian-Polish cooperation on strong track

President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė and President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski, who arrived in Lithuania to participate in February 16 commemoration events, discussed economic and cultural cooperation. READ MORE

Handling Irregular Immigration in the EU

By Diego Acosta

The two-tier system of national and supranational EU legislation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs has proven problematic for the implementation of measures designed to deal with Europe’s significant, but greatly exaggerated, challenge of irregular immigration. READ MORE

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Visits Bishkek

By Erica Marat

During his visit to Bishkek on February 2, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with Kyrgyz President, Roza Otunbayeva, and the head of government, Almazbek Atambayev. The meeting yielded a number of important political and economic results. By the end of 2011, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey will have a visa-free regime. Erdogan promised the funds will be transferred as early as next month. Erdogan will also encourage up to $450 million in investment. READ MORE

The euro crisis shows starkly that power in the European Union has shifted from France to Germany

When the financial crisis erupted in September 2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy was quick to seize the European lead. He summoned Britain’s Gordon Brown to emergency talks in Paris. He urged Europeans to stimulate their economies. He taunted Germany’s Angela Merkel for hesitating over a stimulus plan, declaring that “France is working on it; Germany is thinking about it.” The French counted at least as much as the Germans—indeed, they were setting the pace (in part fortuitously, as France held the European Union presidency at the time). READ MORE


UNITED NATIONS, 15 February 2011 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, outlined the goals of the country’s 2011 OSCE Chairmanship and highlighted common challenges faced by the OSCE and UN in an address to the UN Security Council today. READ MORE

Experts: Lithuania Is the Only Baltic State with Ambitions

By Konstantin Ameliushkin

Russia has no long-term strategy concerning Lithuania and Baltic states in general. Energy and history – these are two issues, which could become a platform for relations development. These are the ideas of the experts of Russian Center Carnegie Andrey Riabov, Lilia Shevtsova and Maria Lipman. According to the experts, among Baltic states only Lithuania has ambitions within not only regional level, but whole Europe. After the meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister of Lithuania Audronius Ažubalis, experts answered the questions of Lithuanian reporters. READ MORE

Will the new US-Russian arms treaty blunt the nuclear threat?

By David E Hoffman

On 15 January 1986, the Soviet Union's leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced Kremlin plans to eliminate all of the superpower's nuclear weapons by the year 2000. The proposal was visionary, but also a bit of a propaganda ploy. One that immediately caught Ronald Reagan's attention. Later that day, when Secretary of State George Shultz went to the White House, Reagan asked him: "Why wait until the end of the century for a world without nuclear weapons?" READ MORE

Kazakh-Kyrgyz relations to develop in the spirit of good neighborly relations and unity, President Roza Otunbayeva

By Arnur Rakhymbekov

One the eve of her visit to Kazakhstan President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva gave an interview to Kazinform agency. READ MORE

Has the US given up on a nuclear-free world?

By Kate Hudson

Is Obama's New Start treaty on nuclear reductions enough to revitalise US resolve on disarmament? READ MORE

U.S. Blocking NATO-CSTO Cooperation

By Joshua Kucera

NATO's General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen was ready to propose new cooperation between NATO and the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) -- until the U.S. intervened to thwart Rasmussen's initiative. That's the suggestion of a U.S. State Department cable, released by WikiLeaks via the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. READ MORE

Easing EU Dependence on Russia

By Alessandro Torello

After a trip to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan just a few weeks ago to boost support from those governments for the “Southern Corridor” to bring gas to Europe (while avoiding Russia),  José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, is organizing a dinner in Brussels on Thursday to promote the “North-South Corridor.” That’s a day ahead of a European Union summit on which the bloc’s energy strategy is the first thing on the agenda. READ MORE

Egypt's revolution to win or lose

By George F. Will

Sixty years ago, American politics was embittered by an accusation couched as a question: "Who lost China?" The implied indictment was that America had fumbled away a possession through incompetence or sinister conniving. READ MORE

Transformation in Egypt: With or Without Mubarak? – Middle East Quartet Meets in Munich

By Adrian Oroz

It is one thing if the Tunisian dictator flees. It is quite another if the regime in Egypt is shaking. The implications of the transformation in Egypt for the entire Middle East and beyond can hardly be overestimated, the participants of the conference panel held on Saturday evening agreed. READ MORE

European Union fails to see strengths of Ukraine, Turkey

By Amanda Paul

Once upon a time Turkey and Ukraine were defining the destiny of Europe. Now they have seemingly been sidelined. Both are knocking on the European Union’s door and both are being told, more or less, that they are not welcome. READ MORE

USA driving a wedge between Yerevan and Baku

By Anton Krivenuk

Probably most charismatic American diplomat Matthew Bryza, who is known well in the Caucasus, arrived in Azerbaijani capital. He landed at the airport of Baku as the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan. This event was preceded by a long-lasting behind-the-scenes fight between Barack Obama's administration and the U.S. Congress, which is strongly influenced by Armenian lobby. Armenians believe Bryza to be a partisan pro-Azerbaijani diplomat, while Azerbaijani are celebrating a small victory. READ MORE

Talking Security in Munich

By Carolin Hilpert for ISN Insights

As expected, the turmoil in the Middle East dominated the agenda of the Munich Security Conference last week - overshadowing even major developments in US-Russian relations. The crisis in Egypt cast a shadow over the 47th Munich Security Conference where world leaders and diplomats alike assembled to discuss the financial crisis and the growing threats from cyber-space, among others. With the Middle Eastern crisis threatening to destabilize the entire region, it was impossible for the Conference participants to ignore it. READ MORE

A place for Russia in the Weimar Triangle

By Andrei Fedyashin

The Weimer Triangle is just one of the many prisms through which the EU looks at Russia. After a long break, the heads of state of Poland, Germany and France came together for a meeting of the Weimar Triangle on February 7. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski started the summit off with a bang by inviting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to attend the summit, and all future summits, as a guest. READ MORE

Progressive development of Kazakhstan in the Islamic world

By Aslan Ayçiçek

Starting in June 2011 Kazakhstan will chair the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). For the first time in its 42-year-long life, the OIC will be led by a state positioning itself as the Central Asian leader with ample experience in bridging East and West, which is what this authoritative organization factually seeks: to be close-knit and respect each participating state's sovereignty. READ MORE

New nuclear power plant in Lithuania: utopia or realistic project?

By Aivaras Bagdonas, VU TSPMI doktorantas

Pursuant to the National Energy Strategy which came into force in 2007, Lithuania decided to build a new nuclear power plant by retaining the infrastructure of the current Ignalina NPP. It was envisaged to finalize construction of the new NPP not later than by 2015. Realization of this project could help Lithuania to become independent on energy import in case of closure of Ignalina NPP. READ MORE

“Revolutions” in Egypt and Tunisia Highlight Dilemmas of Turkey’s Democracy Promotion Agenda

By Saban Kardas

Turkey has been following closely the unfolding popular “revolutions” in Tunisia and Egypt. While the Turkish public expressed support towards the masses demanding political liberalization, the Turkish government adopted a cautious approach initially, indicative of some of the contradictions that have been inherent in its policies towards the Middle East for some time. READ MORE

Nazarbayev confirms his adherence to Kazakhstan’s democratic policy

By E.Ostapenko, A.Maratov (Astana) contributed to the article

Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev saves the democratic process in the country by refusing to hold a referendum and offering to hold early presidential elections, experts believe. READ MORE

Cold War role reversal in US-China ties

By Benjamin A Shobert

It has become part of the political orthodoxy in America that former United States president Ronald Reagan's defense spending catapulted the Soviet Union into bankruptcy and collapse. As broad narratives go, this perspective certainly captures two things accurately: that the Reagan administration aggressively funded the US military and that the Soviet Union did in fact collapse. READ MORE

USA, China and Russia

By Dmitry Trenin

January visit of the People’s Republic of China Chairman Hu Jintao to the USA is compared by serious analysts with the historic trip of Deng Xiaoping, who “opened” China for America and foreign world in 1979. Then in 1970-s much was said about geopolitical triangle – an intricate complex of relations between Washington, Moscow and Beijing. Three decades after the issue of Russia is almost not mentioned within the discussion of the US-Chinese relations. Nevertheless further development of relations between China and the USA is significant for Russia. READ MORE

Lithuania Assumes the Chairmanship of the OSCE

By Vladimir Socor

Chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, Kazakhstan showed that it is possible to bring a successful chairmanship to a failing organization. Prerequisites to a successful chairmanship include strong motivation as the starting point; ambition to demonstrate a young state’s national competence at the international level; and carefully calculated initiatives which, even if thwarted in the veto-bound OSCE system, become reference points in the organization’s annals as sound and creative responses to major challenges. READ MORE

Rasmussen: NATO can help nations to build greater security

Anders Fogh Rasmussen Speech at the 47th Munich Security Conference. READ MORE

Article by the British Ambassador to Germany on the Munich Security Conference

By Simon McDonald

The Munich Security Conference has established itself as the premier fixture on the security policy calendar. This year’s conference – the 47th – is my third, but my first as British Ambassador to Germany. I know from personal experience that the Conference regularly attracts world leaders. It is a tribute to the organisers that this year 16 Heads of State or Government and more than 40 Foreign and Defence Ministers will take part. I am proud that, for the first time ever, the British Prime Minister will lead the UK delegation, which will include Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Security Minister Pauline Neville-Jones.   READ MORE

Abkhazia and the promises of princes

By Magdalena Frichova Grono

The success of self-determination efforts in Kosovo and now South Sudan heightens the aspirations to statehood of small Eurasian territories such as Abkhazia. But with the status of this Black Sea entity trapped in a geopolitical limbo, Abkhaz and Georgians will need more than the patronage of the powerful to solve their conflict. READ MORE

EU Strategy for the Danube Region

On 8 December 2010, the European Commission adopted the EU Strategy for the Danube Region following a request from Member States. This is a comprehensive Strategy, covering several Community policies and targeting a 'macro-region'. The Strategy takes the form of a Communication and an Action Plan which will be reviewed regularly. Implementation of the Strategy will start following endorsement by Member States during the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in April 2011. READ MORE

Azerbaijan becomes EU central energy partner against background of instability in Middle East

By U. Sadikhova

Azerbaijan becomes a central energy partner of the European Union (EU) against the background of frequent unrests in the Middle Eastern countries supplying energy resources, Carl Hamilton, chairman for the European Affairs Committee at the Swedish Parliament believes. READ MORE

Kazakh president calls early vote, rejects referendum

By Sarh Harman

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for an early presidential election, after saying he would not hold a referendum on whether to extend his rule until 2020. No date has been set for the election. READ MORE

The Turkey-EU deadlock

The impasse in Turkey's EU accession talks is likely to continue in the medium term, writes Amanda Paul, but there are still areas in which the two parties could seek closer cooperation now to prevent Turkey from "slipping away". READ MORE