Bulletin: july 2011
Modern Georgia: issues of internal and foreign politics
The South Caucasus consists of the three countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia. I would not hesitate to call it a region full of challenges.
Four factors determine this line of thinking: first is that, S. Caucasus states seek alliances/partnerships in those capable of balancing threats posed by foreign actors; second, the countries of the region see their neighbors as a main source of threat; third, each of them sees powerful external actors as the main guarantors to their security and wants them as allies against neighbors; fourth factor is that the differences in threat perceptions is one of the main obstacles to forming the common regional identity by this turning prospects for cooperation and development dire1.
Georgia is naturally part of and is affected by the developments in the region.
It is reasonable to concentrate on the Georgia-Russia relations by having a close look at the latter by this stressing the importance of political developments that take place there for the former.
Bulletin: June 2011
Global Security Today
Since the second half of the 20th century the notion of security underwent changes. Gradually there are ‘fresh theories’ coming to the fore reflecting these changes. They cast doubt on traditional political "beliefs". The notion of sovereignty as established by Westphalian peace order is slowly loosing its leverage as the principle of non-intervention is invalid when certain country commits grave violation of the international law. Hence, such concepts emerge as Humanitarian Intervention, Responsibility to Protect –its developed version. These and alike concepts among others emphasize the legitimacy of cause and authority as well as right intention for the use of military force as a last resort for serving the just cause.
There is suggestion that threats to one particular state or security breaches there matter to others as long as these violations can somehow affect the latter. Examples are overarching, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Lebanon, Israeli-Palestinian issue and just recently Georgia. In the aftermath of the August Georgia-Russia military crisis over S. Ossetia Presidents of Ukraine, Poland and Latvia addressed the UN General Assembly, not to sit on its hands just because Russia is a permanent UN Security Council member and defend Georgia as well as ensure security provisions to them. At the same time they reminded the international community that return to power politics and the buffer zone policies will have devastating impact on peace and security overall.
Bulletin: May 2011
Restoring Georgia’ Territorial Integrity a subject to long term planning
As we all know very well, South Caucasus consists of the three countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.
I would not hesitate to call it a rather problematic region, full of challenges.
Four factors determine this line of thinking: first is that, S. Caucasus states seek alliances/partnerships in those capable of balancing threats posed by foreign actors; second, the countries of the region see their neighbors as a main source of threat; third, each of them sees powerful external actors as the main guarantors to their security and wants them as allies against neighbors; fourth factor is that the differences in threat perceptions is one of the main obstacles to forming the common regional identity by this turning prospects for cooperation and development dire.
Having a closer look on the recent developments in the region there is a food for thought to reflect upon.
Bulletin: April 2011
Georgia-Russian Relations and The Western Reactions (Part I)
Majority of the Russian political establishment was always famous through its aggressive attitudes towards its stubborn little neighbor Georgia. It is also true that the former most of the times preferred to exact pressure on the latter by activating its leverage in the breakaway regions by reminding the southern neighbor of its vulnerabilities.
Throughout the last 4-5months there have been important occurrence appearing to happen in the Georgian turbulent regions of Abkhazia and S. Osetia. These are indeed very important: the April16, 2008 Putin announcement on launching the process of opening the Russian official representations and among other functions developing economic relations with Abkhazia and S. Osetia.
What followed was the April 20, 2008 shooting of the Georgian drone over Abkhazia by Russian jet fighter (earlier on March 18, 2008 the Abkhaz authorities claimed they drowned Georgian spy plane however the Georgian authorities denied any involvement in the incident. Abkhazs continued to claim to have shot down Georgian drones on the 4, 8, 12 May. The Georgian side denied them all).
Bulletin: March 2011
Georgia-Russian Relations and the Western Reactions (Part II)
Things developed fast as it probably was expected. A special UN Security Council meeting was convened at Georgia’s request following Russia’s admission that its military aircraft had intruded into Georgian airspace over breakaway South Ossetia on July 8. Issues discussed at the meeting were of the following content: presence of the Russian airborne and railway units in Abkhazia; violation of the Georgian airspace by Russian military aircrafts; and the negotiating format in the S. Ossetian conflict zone.
At the special UN Security Council meeting there was "very strong support" for Georgia’s territorial integrity among UN Security Council members and "very strong condemnation" of acts of "military aggression" by Russia, Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s UN ambassador said (Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Jul.'08 / 12:22). The support was strong indeed however at certain points not so undivided. When in the first and second cases (railway troops deployment, Georgian airspace violation Russia found itself ‘offside’the rest of the SC body which supported the Georgian stance) the question of the negotiations format changeturned out to be much more complicated.
Bulletin: February 2011
EU Energy Security and the Russian Factor (Part III)
The third factor that is worth mentioning in this discussion is following: Russia under Putin has become more concentrated, ambitious and successful at the same time. Trough its power position on international energy market Russia is advancing its interest through Europe with a pace not seen since the Soviet Union epoch. Besides the successful attempts of acquiring the European based energy companies and infrastructure, it also reaches out to the territories outside Europe – Algeria, Nigeria, Libya, for example. Thus Russia ventures to control those pipelines that run far outside its territory this way increasing its energy leverage. Russian efforts became especially active in 2008. Russia signed a major gas deal with Bulgaria on January 18 committing the later to the South Stream project. To this Russia added 51 per cent of the Serbia’s NIS oil and natural gas company, which it purchased shortly after the deal with Bulgaria. Finally, on January 25, it was announced that Gazprom had acquired 50 per cent stake in Austria’s OMV natural gas company, the planned distribution center for Nabbuco (this does not mean that Nabbuco is dead. There could be demand for both).
Bulletin: January 2011
EU Energy Security and the Russian Factor (Part II)
Under current political developments it is highly unlikely to assume the leaders of Central Asian countries would simply refuse the Russian monopolistic projects. As is known, Putin himself went on the meeting with C. Asian presidents in May, 2007 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Aware of Russia’s ability to create range of problems C. Asian leaders gave in. This in particular is true of Turkmen president - Gurbanguly Berdimikhamedov. Who at the time of the meeting of the three presidents had just recently acquired power and was still not fully confident in own authority to rule. Berdimukhamedov jailed his major political rival (former ally, Akmurat Rejepov) only days after the deal with Russia was signed. He must have waited for the Russian assurances of security in this resolve. To this extent do the Russian foreign politics influence security issues in Central Asia. Additionally, a decision was made during the meeting between the Heads of States of the Caspian countries on the October 16, 2007 in Tehran. Here conclusion was made to reject the "Intervention of third parties in the Caspian" and have one intermediary meeting in summer of 2008 under the aegis of the Russian president before another Summit comes up in October, 2008. This is another evidence of how powerful Russian authority is in the Caspian region.
Bulletin: December 2010
EU Energy Security and the Russian Factor (Part I)
European access to the Caspian energy resources is of vital importance not only for Europe but for transit and supplier countries as well. In this regard a variety of actors play their role. The issue has many important parts to discuss and analyze. The Russian factor is the distinctive one of them.
It is well known that with the gradual decline of the North Sea resources, Russia now more than ever before becomes one of the key suppliers to Western Europe while several Eastern European countries are totally dependent on Russia for their gas supply.
Bulletin: November 2010
Prospects of the European Energy Security
The year 2009 along with other periods jointly making the prehistory did not go smooth for the US-EU backed (and supported at least on the paper/verbally by some of the EU member states) Nabucco (initially projected in 2002) which envisages the European energy diversification along with reducing reliance on Russia as its final goal. There are several factors that hinder Nabuccos development into a full fledged viable energy route.
To begin with, it is necessary to mention how hesitant are some of the major EU member states that is reflected in low/slow enthusiasm towards diversifying the energy routes/suppliers. very often cooperation with Russia on unequal terms is preferred…
The close look at how relations develop between Russia and C. Asian states as well as at the gas crises of 2006, 2009 provides grounds for putting additional question marks on how reliable partner Russia is. Further, Russia puts forward it own energy projects as direct/indirect rivals to the planned Nabucco gas pipeline. There is however difference of opinions towards the latter within the Russian expert community that will be reflected upon further in this paper.
Bulletin: October 2010
Ossetia Crisis – the "pipeline war"?
After the Extraordinary European Council meeting in Brussels on September 1 was over the TV stations worldwide gave appearance to the Russian envoy to the EU Mr. Chizhov, who with a smile on his face promised all the Europe that the gas and oil would not of course cease to be supplied to them and there was no reason to feel frustrated regarding the Russian reliability over this matter. Mr. Chizhov practically repeated what Mr. Putin, the Russian prime minister said just a day before.
Europe however still does not seem to be fully relaxed about this issue.
After the Georgia-Russian conflict over S. Ossetia many in the EU are alarmed by the problem of energy dependency on Russia. Moreover the EU is concerned because of the events that took place in Georgia. It has a good reason for this – it is worth remembering that Russia provides 40% of the vital gas supply to Europe. Further it is interesting to examine what grounds does the EU and the West have to be concerned.
"How does Russia want to become a safe supplier to West if it bombs SCP and BTC. What do the two have to do with the conflict zone, why do they get attacked?", asked M. Bryza on 11.08.08 right in the middle of the bombings in Georgia when the latter had already announced its cease fire status; on the same day when president Sarkozy paid a visit to Moscow.
Bulletin: September 2010
Supporting Georgian Civil Society in Peace-Building – Recommendations Document
Beyond the ‘New Horizon’
Bulletin: August 2010
The Euro-Atlantic Region: Equal Security for All
Analytical Report by the Russian Group of the Valdai International Discussion Club
Brifing of Civilian Advisers to NATO GoE to Members of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA)