June 2011

A Moment for Peace in the South Caucasus


The United States, the European Union and Russia don’t seem to agree on much these days. But in the volatile South Caucasus, they concur that Armenia and Azerbaijan need to sign an agreement on Friday if they are serious about finding a peaceful solution to the decades-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. READ MORE

Russia's Medvedev 'Frustrated' With Karabakh Impasse

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is frustrated with the failure of his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to reach a framework agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh and could refrain from organizing more talks between them, one of his senior aides has reportedly said. READ MORE

GA chief: Negotiations to reform UN Security Council must start now

Enough talking: for the sake of credibility, countries have to start real negotiations to reform the United Nations Security Council, said Joseph Deiss, president of the UN General Assembly, in an exclusive interview with EurActiv. READ MORE

Austrians doubt widespread corruption claims

Many Austrian businesspeople are questioning investigations indicating that bribery is rampant in the country, a new survey shows. READ MORE

European leaders back Obama's troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

By Christina Bergmann

US President Barack Obama has confirmed that 33,000 troops are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2012, as NATO begins to wind down its presence in the country. France has announced plans to follow suit. READ MORE

Inflaming Iran

By Doug Bandow

Defense Secretary Robert Gates must want Iran to build nuclear weapons. He didn’t say that directly. But how else should one interpret his latest threat against the embattled Persian Gulf state? READ MORE

China seeks German nuclear know-how

By Xiegong Fischer

The People’s Republic of China turns to Germany for nuclear expertise as the EU tightens nuclear regulations and the German government votes for a nuclear phase-out by the year 2022. READ MORE

Key Link for East and West Approach

By Donald Moon

In a wide range of foreign policy interests of Kazakhstan and assurance of its national interests, special place is taken by the cooperation of the country with Muslim world. This June Kazakhstan takes up the post of the Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), uniting 57 states of Islamic world being the second biggest Organization after the UNO considering the number of participants. READ MORE

Europe Shall Not Allow New “Gas Wars”

By Oleg Gorbunov

Long-standing “gas” talks between Moscow and Kiev, another round of which shall be held in Ukrainian capital on June 29th is the most significant issue in the agenda of bilateral relations. Ukrainian Government faces a sad prospect – to cover multiple holes in the budget is only possible by reducing gas price, as neither Europe, nor the USA, IMF, World Bank wish to credit Ukraine ”just as  that“. Partners demand a real respond and progress at least in reduction of budget deficit. And this again is not possible without re-conclusion of gas contracts. As in January of 2012 the “blue fuel” price has chances to grow up to $400 or even $500 per thousand cubic meters. READ MORE

Turkey's Elections and Strained U.S. Relations

By George Friedman

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won Parliamentary elections June 12, which means it will remain in power for a third term. The popular vote, divided among a number of parties, made the AKP the most popular party by far, although nearly half of the electorate voted for other parties, mainly the opposition and largely secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP). More important, the AKP failed to win a super-majority, which would have given it the power to unilaterally alter Turkey’s constitution. This was one of the major issues in the election, with the AKP hoping for the super-majority and others trying to block it. The failure of the AKP to achieve the super-majority leaves the status quo largely intact. While the AKP remains the most powerful party in Turkey, able to form governments without coalition partners, it cannot rewrite the constitution without accommodating its rivals. READ MORE

Russia, Qatar Face Pressure to Scrap Gas Link to Oil Prices as Crude Jumps

By Ben Farey

Russia and Qatar are under growing pressure from Europe’s biggest utilities to scrap a 40-year-old system that links natural-gas prices to oil after Brent crude’s 23 percent surge this year. READ MORE

Putin to give up South Stream ...Not!

By Kostis Geropoulos

As Russian and EU leaders met on 9-10 June in Nizhny Novgorod for the twice-yearly summit, avoiding the risk for another winter gas dispute with Ukraine was likely to be discussed between Brussels and Moscow. It’s no secret that Kiev wants to re-negotiate the terms of the gas formula agreed by Ukraine’s previous administration. However, earlier last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will not change the gas agreement it has with Kiev. The problem for Ukraine is that the deal linked the gas price to the oil market and, based on the current oil price trend, it’s facing a possible price of $500 per 1,000 cubic meters in the fourth quarter, said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Moscow’s Uralsib bank. The first quarter average price was $264.30. READ MORE

Ilves, Grybauskaite talk security

The presidents of Estonia and Lithuania met this weekend to discuss cyber and energy security. READ MORE

Uncertain World: SCO’s 10 year search for balance

By Fyodor Lukyanov

Created for the purely practical purpose of settling border disputes between China and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has evolved into a major regional and global political player since its founding 10 years ago. READ MORE

Hawks and Allies

By Daniel Larison

“It is certain that Poland is one of the most pro-American countries in Europe, only that the temperature of that pro-Americanism has fallen,” said Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s foreign minister, in an interview with the Rzeczpospolita newspaper this week. READ MORE

New era for Sino-Russian ties

By Wu Jiao & Qin Jize

China and Russia deepened their strategic relationship on Thursday by vowing to support each other on core security issues. READ MORE

SCO Fails to Turn Into an “Eastern NATO”

By Pavel Felgenhauer

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan was officially created on June 15, 2001. At the time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, while the secular dictators of the impoverished, weak and corrupt former Soviet Central Asian “Stan” states were panicking. A radical Islamist insurgency, supported by the Talibs and (or) Osama bin Laden then resident in Kabul, could engulf one or several “Stan” states, eventually destabilizing the entire region. The SCO was formed to promote security and economic cooperation to fight the terrorist threat and poverty in the “Stan” states and make them less susceptible to Islamist Salafi agitation. READ MORE


The German government announced it will shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022, calling the move "definite". READ MORE

The Dubious Agenda of the SCO

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s recent “Jubilee” summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, the leaders of its six member states pledged to expand cooperation in politics, security, economy and cultural exchanges. What does this mean for American interests? READ MORE

Kazakhstan Pushes For Integration With the Global Economy

By Roman Muzalevsky

For Kazakhstan May was full of economically and geopolitically significant developments worth exploring in the national, regional, and global contexts. The country hosted the 4th Economic Forum in Astana on May 3 – 4, designed to assess economic challenges facing the world economy and explore ways of shaping global economic development. It also held the forum of the Council of Foreign Investors, chaired by the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the annual conference of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) during May 18 – 21. It further launched an investment forum in Astana. READ MORE

South Stream’s Credibility Problems Deepen After Brussels Promotional Event

By Vladimir Socor

Russian Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko, and Gazprom’s top hierarchy, along with their West-European business allies, advertised the South Stream project at a promotional event on May 25 in Brussels (Interfax, Euractiv, May 25, 26). The European Commission had agreed to be represented at this event, at Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s insistence, during the EU-Russia energy summit in February. The Russian side used the intervening months to prepare elaborate presentations of the project and deploy an unprecedented mass of lobbying power. It hoped through this all-out effort to demonstrate South Stream’s viability, neutralize legal objections to it within the European Union, and obtain EU financial backing for the South Stream project. Meanwhile, Putin and Shmatko had cast fresh doubts on this project by proposing a switch in the transportation mode, from pipeline to LNG, across the Black Sea. READ MORE

"Snub" just a snag in Russia-India ties

By Sudha Ramachandran

India's defense relations with Russia have hit a bit of rough weather with Moscow canceling two important bilateral military exercises in recent months. READ MORE

A Marshall Plan for the Arab World

By Franco Frattini

US President Barack Obama’s major speech on the consequences of the Arab Spring is also a challenge for Europe. Only if the trans-Atlantic partnership proves effective, as it did to meet the demands of the Cold War and the end of Europe’s division, can the West contribute to realizing the hopes engendered by the Arab uprisings. READ MORE

The Missile Defense Hyperbole Game

By Greg Thielmann

In principle, both Russia and the United States have endorsed cooperation on missile defense. Absent cooperation, the two countries are unlikely to make further progress on reducing their still bloated nuclear arsenals. READ MORE

Auditor: Turkmen gas field is world's 2nd largest

By Peter Leonard

The isolated former Soviet nation of Turkmenistan is likely sitting on top of the world's second-largest gas field, British energy auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates said Wednesday. READ MORE

Europe Is Warning Us

By Victor Davis Hanson

Socialist promises of an equality of result are imploding before Europeans’ eyes. READ MORE

Erdogan wins parliamentary elections, falls short of two-thirds majority

By Gabriel Borrud, Spencer Kimball

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's party has won parliamentary elections. But results show that his AKP will fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to rewrite the constitution without other parties' cooperation. READ MORE

Ariel Cohen: Moscow is willing to use energy as foreign policy tool

Despite its vast resource base and its formal assurances of its reliability as a partner, Moscow has already proved that it is willing to hike up oil and gas prices to match the general trend of higher energy prices, engage in anti-free market practices, especially at home and in Europe, and use energy as a foreign policy tool, Ariel Cohen , a leading expert of the Heritage Foundation for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy, said in his speech at U.S. Congress on June 2. READ MORE

As China Invests, Many Kazakhs Say: Not Too Fast

By David Greene

As China grows in power and influence, few countries are feeling the effects more than neighboring Kazakhstan. READ MORE

Nabucco Signs Pipeline Accords

By Marc Champion

The Nabucco consortium signed agreements Wednesday with transit countries for a pipeline it is building to bring natural gas to Europe via Turkey, in what it called a breakthrough for the troubled project. The group predicted that the first supply contracts would be sealed by the end of the year. READ MORE

Poland, U.S. Strike Deal on Air Force Deployment

Poland has signed a deal with the United States on the deployment from 2013 of aircraft and training staff to help bolster the EU nation's military capacity, Poland's defense minister said June 13. READ MORE

Russia frets over Eurasian domino theory

By Yong Kwon

Post-Soviet Russia has been consistently perceived as anti-American. Despite several shifts in Moscow's foreign policy during the past two decades, the Kremlin's opposition to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operations in former Yugoslav republics, its war with Georgia and the recent protest against military action in Libya have all been attributed to Russia's designs to leverage its influence against the West. READ MORE

Poland seeks independence from Russian imports through shale gas despite pollution concerns

Poland is planning a major investment in shale gas, a potentially huge source of energy — and environmentally dangerous chemicals — to break free of dependence on Russian imports and boost its economy. READ MORE

What Russia Fears in Asia

Despite its growing military and economic power, Russia doesn't see China as a threat. The potential chaos in Central Asia is another matter. READ MORE

NATO Promotes Dialogue and Cooperation in Central Asia

By Arthur Dunn

On June 10th the Kyrgyz Parliament ratified a Treaty in accordance with which the NATO Central Asia Office shall move to Kyrgyzstan. READ MORE

A widely anticipated high-level journey by Chinese president

Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine from June 12 to 20 and attend the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the Kazakh capital of Astana and the 15th International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg in Russia. READ MORE

Political analyst: Deauville statement more clearly reflects Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution plan

Deauville statement by the OSCE Minsk Group member countries’ presidents more clearly reflects plan of resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the director of the Center for Political Innovation and Technology, a political analyst Mubariz Ahmedoglu said at a news conference in Trend News Agency. READ MORE

A Chinese Game

By Tai Adelaja

Russia and China Set Aside Their Differences in Pursuit of Greater Economic Goals. READ MORE

Visegrad: A New European Military Force

By George Friedman

With the Palestinians demonstrating and the International Monetary Fund in turmoil, it would seem odd to focus this week on something called the Visegrad Group. But this is not a frivolous choice. What the Visegrad Group decided to do last week will, I think, resonate for years, long after the alleged attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn is forgotten and long before the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The obscurity of the decision to most people outside the region should not be allowed to obscure its importance. READ MORE

Azerbaijan and Armenia Meet to End Land Dispute

By Ellen Barry

The foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia met behind closed doors here on Saturday, as international mediators ratcheted up the pressure for a breakthrough in the long conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. READ MORE

NATO rejects Russian missile-defense proposal

By Stephen Levy

NATO’s senior leader on Tuesday rejected a Russian government proposal that would have required the European alliance to share details on a continentwide missile-defense system. READ MORE

Russia Pressures Kazakhstan’s Ties With Georgia

By Farkhad Sharip

Kazakhstan is increasingly uncomfortable within the Customs Union with Belarus and Russia due to the constant attempts by the Kremlin to politicize the structure originally intended to boost trade relations and ensure free movement of citizens, goods and capital within the union. Recently, Grigoriy Onishenko the head of the Russian sanitary and epidemiology service, urged Kazakhstan to ban the imports of wine and non-alcoholic drinks from Georgia. Clumsily trying to substantiate his statement Onishenko said Georgian wines did not conform to quality standards and the ban was necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the Customs Union. READ MORE

The CSTO Seeks Stronger Security Arrangements

By Sergei Blagov

The Russian-led security alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, has pledged to face security challenges in Central Asia by boosting military cooperation. READ MORE

Pakistan and China very close after 60 years

By Sarah Berning

Pakistan and China are celebrating 60 years of close diplomatic relations. While economic ties are growing, experts agree the Pak-China is a friendship based more on strategic purposes than on business. READ MORE

“Astana Heritage” Shall not Be Forgotten

Initiatives of Kazakhstani Chairmanship shall Gain Development within Further Work of the OSCE and Other International Organizations. READ MORE

Russians gone with IMF cash

State considers EUR 1.88 bn purchase of MOL shares a strategic investment READ MORE

US flexes muscle in the Black Sea

By M K Bhadrakumar

The Black Sea is about to lose its historical exclusivity as a Russian-Turkish preserve. A visit by the USA-TRANSCOM commander General Duncan McNabb to Bucharest has sealed the fate of the Black Sea as the latest entry into the chronicles of the "new great game". READ MORE

Serbian president calls for pragmatic, flexible resolution of Kosovo dispute

Serbian President Boris Tadic said that a pragmatic and flexible approach is required to resolve the deadlock pertaining to the future status of Kosovo, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug on Thursday. READ MORE

A Russian charm offensive in the pipeline wars

By Joshua Chaffin

In the corridors of Brussels’ elegant Stanhope Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, the well-turned-out movers-and-shakers of the European energy world were marvelling at the sizeable budget and high-profile guest list for the event they were attending. READ MORE

The Realist Prism: Bin Laden's Death Leaves Russia With Strategic Void

By Nikolas Gvosdev

Much has been written about the potential impact that the demise of Osama bin Laden and the possible disintegration of al-Qaida will have on U.S. foreign policy, beginning with the question of whether this will trigger a more rapid disengagement from Afghanistan. But bin Laden's death could also change the foreign policy calculus of other states, notably Russia, which for the past 10 years has promulgated its own version of the global war on terror as a central organizing principle for international affairs. READ MORE

Shanghai Cooperation Organization Prospects

By Arthur Dunn

This year the Shanghai Cooperation Organization celebrates the 10th anniversary from the date of its establishment.  The oncoming anniversary is a good reason to assess the solvency of this regional project and alleged scenarios of its development. READ MORE

Standards of Bagapsh

By Sergey Markedonov

The second President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapsh died on Tuesday, May 29th, 2011 in Moscow. This politician was not simply the second Head of the Republic. No matter how people in and out of Abkhazia treat him, the name of Sergei Bagapsh will be connected by historians with the recognition of state independence of the entity, which survived 14-month armed conflict, long-standing regime of sanctions and existence with “hung up” status. READ MORE

Pakistani president to attend SCO summit

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held at Astana in Kazakhstan on June 15, according to an official announced Thursday. READ MORE

OSCE ready to further co-operation with Turkmenistan

The OSCE is ready to expand the scope of its co-operation with Turkmenistan in all security dimensions and support the country in implementing its OSCE commitments, said the OSCE
Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, today during his official visit to Turkmenistan, the organization said in a press release. READ MORE

Russia redrawing Europe energy map

By M K Bhadrakumar

Things couldn't have been better for Russia's energy giant Gazprom even before news came in over the weekend that curtains could be coming down on one of the keenest battles of the Caspian great game, and Moscow is on a winning streak. READ MORE

Germany's denuclearization shot in Russia's arm

By Steve LeVine

Russian influence is the big gainer from Germany’s decision to stop producing nuclear power. The losers are eastern and central European states including Lithuania, Poland and Hungary, and American influence. READ MORE

Surprise Turn Against Qaddafi is Russia's Latest Westward Step

Russia, a quasi-democracy and an imperial power that never quite gave up all of its colonial holdings, has dedicated much of its post-Soviet foreign policy to resisting everything that the NATO intervention in Libya stands for. It shrugs at human rights violators, abhors military intervention, enshrines the sovereign right of states to do whatever they want internally without fear of outside meddling, and above all objects to the West imposing its ideology on others. NATO itself, after all, is a military alliance constructed in opposition to the Soviet Union. But Russian President Dmitri Medvedev took a surprising break from Russian foreign policy precedent on Friday when, in the middle of a G8 summit in France, he declared that Libyan leader Muammar "Qaddafi has forfeited legitimacy" and that Russia plans "to help him go." READ MORE

Hungary’s face of the EU presidency

By Jan Mainka

Interview with Piroska Bakos, spokeswoman, hostess of the EU presidency in Hungary. READ MORE

Russia Flirted as China Flexed, Documents Show

By Yoree Koh

China’s growing military might compelled Japan and Russia, long at odds over a territorial feud, to take a brief time out from their longstanding tiff in 2007 and take on a more cooperative view towards one another, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released on Tuesday on the WikiLeaks website. READ MORE