On 19 January, Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
In studies of Chinese expansion in the near seas of East Asia, one topic that has been almost entirely ignored is the concept of jinglue haiyang, recently endorsed by the Party-state as a facet of China’s maritime power strategy. The word jinglue is not in common usage; indeed, most dictionaries do not define it. It is a verb combining jing, the character for manage or administer, with lue, the character for strategy or stratagem. According to the 1979 edition of the Cihai Dictionary, it means “handling an issue on the basis of prior planning.” A useable translation might be “strategically manage,” with the full phrase rendered as “strategic management of the sea.”
On January 14, in Riga, the ministers responsible for energy policy in the three Baltic states signed the Declaration on Energy Security of Supply of the Baltic States, the Ministry of Energy reports.
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia, Vygaudas Ušackas, has met with Lithuanian businesspeople and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be expected to leave leadership any time soon. Ušackas said 2015 will be an uncertain year in relations with Russia and anything can happen.
By freezing the Russia-favoured South Stream gas pipeline project, Sofia had no ability to refuse the Brussels-imposed sanctions on one of its largest trade partners.
As the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine continues into 2015, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will come to play an increasingly important role. Even before the crisis, the three Baltic states — as well as neighboring Poland — were among the most active EU member states attempting to bring Ukraine closer to the West and to challenge Russia's role in the former Soviet periphery. Their efforts along these lines will intensify this year. Ultimately, however, more powerful players in the standoff will limit the impacts of their efforts, particularly Germany and the United States.
Throughout the oil and gas rich nations, which border the Caspian, there is only one subject on everyone's minds: the collapse of the oil price, and its effects.
The summit in Astana of the leaders of the four powers – Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – scheduled for January 15, has been postponed till some later date. So far, the preliminary talks of the heads of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) of these countries, have failed to reach the consensus that could make the above summit productive.
Although the closed Turkish-Armenian border is just one of the issues in Turkish-Armenian relations, it has time and time again made its appearance on the agenda. Despite Turkey’s recognition of the independence of Armenia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, normal diplomatic relations could not be established. Armenia’s state policy regarding genocide allegations and its tentativeness with respect to the Kars Treaty, which draws the Turkish-Armenian border, have created a rift in the two countries’ relations. The Armenian Declaration of Independence states that “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.” Here, the term “Western Armenia” refers to territories within modern Turkey. Despite this, the Turkish-Armenian border remained open until the Armenian forces’ occupation of Kelbecer, which clearly indicated that Armenia had no intention of withdrawing from Azerbaijani territories. On the contrary, the Armenian forces continued to occupy more ground during the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. As a result, Turkey closed its border with Armenia in order to demonstrate its support for Azerbaijan. After a ceasefire to the conflict was arranged, Turkey has used diplomatic channels to pursue a permanent solution. However, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not been resolved and violations to the ceasefire have increased the risk of war.
The crisis in Ukraine, and in particular Russia's recent cancellation of the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, has had substantial ripple effects on the energy dynamics on the European continent. The Russians and Europeans both have put forth several potential replacements for the now scrapped pipeline, with Turkey likely to play a pivotal role either way.