Welcome to the first issue of Caspian Affairs!
We at the Caspian Policy Center hope that this bimonthly publication will help acquaint you with the political, security, infrastructure, economic, and trade and commerce issues and opportunities of the countries of the Caspian Sea region –Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These eight independent countries, once the center of the Silk Road immortalized by Marco Polo and others, are the land bridge between China and Europe and today are prime real estate for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, Russia considers them as part of its “privileged sphere of influence,” and Iran hovers directly to the south. Despite the major international competition in the region, each of these former Soviet republics, independent now for only 27 years, seeks to balance its relations with Moscow, Beijing, Washington, and Brussels.
This is a region on the move and poised for greater success, in large part because of the world-class oil and natural gas deposits in a number of the countries and, especially, in the Caspian Sea itself. It has the potential to supply significant amounts of hydrocarbons directly to Europe, as has already been proven by the successful Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan natural-gas pipeline.But the Caspian Sea region is not just about natural resources; even more, it’s about human resources, boasting a highly-educated population and skilled workforce. The Muslim countries in the region are moderate, secular, and forward looking. Especially promising is that these countries are beginning to explore forming their own regional organization to gain greater prominence on the world stage.
In this first issue of Caspian Affairs, you’ll find discussions of U.S. interests and policy in the region, the roles of other key players, including Iran; a view of the recently signed Caspian Sea Convention that defines the rights and responsibilities of the five littoral states; and one view of the prospects for the long-awaited Trans-Caspian Pipeline that could deliver Central Asian natural gas directly to Europe.
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Ambassador (ret.) Richard E. Hoagland
Caspian Affairs Magazine