February 2011

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.