Eventful few months in the
Caucasus, Russia and wider Eurasia precede our Spring 2010
issue. Of course, the dramatic civic upheaval in Kyrgyzstan,
the suicide bomb attacks in the Moscow metro and the victory
of a more pro-Russian leader in Ukraine’s presidential
elections top the list.
In the meantime, the Turkish–Armenian thaw
appears to be at the deadlock. Armenia has suspended the
process following Ankara’s insistence that Yerevan works
first to find a sustainable solution to the Karabakh
problem, something for which Baku has been repeatedly
calling. For its part, Azerbaijan’s government has serious
concerns that by overemphasizing the protocols and not
considering Baku’s position, Armenia and the West are thus
ignoring the Karabakh issue. At a historic summit in Baku
attended by religious leaders from around the world,
including Catholicos Garegin II, head of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, calls for a peaceful solution have
emerged. The need for all nations concerned to heed these
calls is great.
Russia’s role, as usual, is of utmost
interest. Despite the domestic strife, Prime Minister Putin
has been busy of late, with trips to Austria and Italy to
ensure support for the South Stream gas pipeline project,
which could be at odds with the Nabucco one and further
increase Russia’s influence over supplying Europe with
energy. Russia on the rise in Europe perhaps signals greater
difficulty for Georgia, particularly in terms of resolving
the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Without
measures to fix the internal stalemates, Georgia’s westward
drive will forever hang in the balance. Perhaps the opening
of the Zemo/Verkhny
Lars border crossing between Russia
and Georgia is a move toward some sort of reconciliation, at
least with regard to rebuilding vital trade links if not on
initiating dialogue with its northern neighbor.
Our Spring issue includes
some topics that offer a slightly different perspective. We
look at some of the underlying causes of the significant
changes. We display work that keeps
the larger picture fully in mind while still offering deeper
analyses of political, economic and social issues, many of
which have the sort of bottom-up effect that drives
On Russia’s political
maneuvering, we have one paper that explores the effects of
authoritarian tendencies on foreign policy and sheds light
on the leadership’s calculated drive to remain a major
player on the world stage.
As such, Russia’s energy
politics are as important to counties in the former Soviet
space as to those in the EU, and a second paper analyses
this issue in view of alternatives to Russian energy
resources and warning against overdependence of EU on Russia
for energy needs.
Despite all the
diversification rhetoric, the EU is still struggling to
achieve a unity as far as its energy relations with Russia
are concerned. It is widely understood that without a
clear-cut strategy and the willingness to implement this
strategy, it will be impossible to reach any energy
diversification in the EU. We present in this regard a paper
that adroitly explains the current situation and assesses
the prospects of EU’s common energy security policy.
Another paper analyzes the implications of
the Georgia-Russia war of 2008 for the region and beyond,
and tries to rigorously assess whether it could lead to a
new cold war in the region.
New geopolitical realities of the South
Caucasus are illuminated by a commentary.
An interview with a recognized expert from
the City University of New York examines the pressing issues
of state-building in Georgia.
Kazakhstan is also in the
spotlight after assuming the OSCE chairmanship, and is now
in charge of dealing with the Kyrgyzstan’s turmoil. Thus
another paper looks at civic nation-building in the country,
which speaks to Kazakhstan’s drive to show a strong, unified
front to the international community.
We hope these contributions cast light on
affairs in a meaningful way. Moreover, we thank all of our
readers, authors, reviewers and staff once again. Enjoy the
Spring 2010 edition!