June 2009

Kazakhstan’s Strategic Significance

The decision by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to award Kazakhstan the chairmanship of the organization for 2010 underscores a growing recognition of the country’s regional and continental importance. Kazakhstan is a strategic linchpin in the vast Central Asian-Caspian Basin zone, a region rich in energy resources and a potential gateway for commerce and communications between Europe and Asia.

Paet Met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

During their bilateral meeting held within the framework of the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) foreign ministers in Elsinore, Denmark, the ministers discussed the state of Estonia-Russia relations and developments since their last meeting in December 2008. They also addressed bilateral economic relations, visa policy, and the status of many agreements that are currently being worked out.

Astana Drifts Away From EU-Favored Energy Projects, Nazarbayev

By Farkhad Sharip

Gas and oil supplies to energy-hungry Europe have always featured as the key topic in talks between Astana and EU officials, concerning Kazakhstan's OSCE chairmanship in 2010. Stifled by the precarious situation in the energy sector, the EU has often ignored the heavy-handedness of the Kazakh authorities in dealing with the opposition press, and has toned down its criticism on the non-compliance of Kazakhstan's laws with democratic standards. In appreciation of western backing for Kazakhstan's coveted chairmanship of the OSCE, Astana invariably showed interest in European energy projects.

U.N. Secretary-General Revises Report on Abkhazia under Russian Pressure

By Vladimir Socor

Russia no longer needs to veto the U.N. Security Council's (UNSC) resolution on the mandate of U.N. observers in Georgia, which expires on June 15. Intimidated by Moscow's veto threats, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and some key UNSC members have bowed to Russian demands and agreed to change key wording in the Secretary-General's report that recommends a new mandate for the observers.

Russian-Azerbaijani Approach: Strategic Impulse or an Immediate Game?

By Andrey Areshev

The end of the “five-days war” and Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence gave a new powerful impulse for the discussion of the Caucasian region future. International summits, conferences, official visits and informal consultations go on almost non-stop. And sometimes it is pretty difficult tell progress from “diplomatic tourism”.

Belarus leader says will not beg Russia for loans

Belarus`s president declared an end on May 29 to "begging" to Russia and told his government to ignore Moscow`s decision to shelve a $500 million loan and turn elsewhere to find credits. Alyaksandr Lukashenka made his comments a day after Russia`s finance minister said the funds were no longer on offer as its smaller Western neighbor -- linked by a "union treaty" since the 1990s -- could be insolvent by the end of the year.