Caspian Policy Center Hosts “30 Years of U.S.-Caspian Diplomatic Relations” Panel with High-level Officials from the United States and Caspian Region
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Feb 2, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. - TODAY, the Caspian Policy Center hosted a virtual panel discussing 30 Years of U.S.-Caspian Diplomatic Relations with high-level speakers from the U.S. Department of State and the governments of the Caspian countries. The distinguished panelists discussed the U.S. engagement in the region and avenues to deepen relations.
The U.S. and the Caspian region countries have enjoyed 30 years of positive diplomatic relations since gaining independence in the 1990s. The panel moderated by Ambassador (ret.) Richard E. Hoagland, senior fellow at the Caspian Policy Center, convened senior officials from the U.S., the South Caucasus, and Central Asia to discuss bilateral commitments between the U.S. and their countries as well as to devise innovative methods to retain fruitful engagements.
Efgan Nifti, CEO of the Caspian Policy Center, opened the event by highlighting the importance of the past 30 years in establishing multiple levels of engagement between the U.S. and Caspian region.
“In the past 30 years the U.S. has established multiple levels of engagement, including political dialogues, economic investment, education, professional exchanges, security assistance and much more,” said Mr. Nifti.
The two keynote speakers, Ambassador Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, and Dr. Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, emphasized the importance of the region for the U.S. and the ongoing positive developments.
“Today Central Asia is undisputedly linked to the world through the internet, through international education, and through our shared global culture,” said Ambassador Lu.
Dr. Donfried mentioned that the U.S. remains a committed partner dedicated to helping build a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future for the South Caucasus.
“The Turkish-Armenian Dialogue has the potential to increase regional stability, deter malign influence, and create a more prosperous future for citizens of the region,” she added.
Mr. Hikmet Hajiyev, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan, echoed the sentiment of the Assistant Secretary’s remarks. He stressed that Azerbaijan is willing to work in various regional formats including the U.S-Central Asia-Azerbaijan format and the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral format.
“Azerbaijan is in the process with our partners and neighboring countries to build the region of the South Caucasus free from conflict and wars,” said Mr. Hajiyev. He also noted that Azerbaijan-Armenia reconciliation should be based on the international law and norms, South Caucasus needs a new branding, and the U.S. has an important role to play in the region.
Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Special Representative of the President for International Cooperation, reflected on the recent challenges faced by Kazakhstan.
“Kazakhstan remains committed to its international obligations and universal principles of human rights and rule of law,” said Ambassador Kazykhan.
The panelists discussed the longstanding involvement of the U.S. in the region and the urgency to assure Washington’s commitment for territorial integrity and regional integration with the international community. Furthermore, the speakers highlighted creating a more comprehensive approach with the U.S. and other regional partners to facilitate dialogue on issues such as territorial integrity and security. Speakers also called for more robust and proactive U.S. policy in the region.
“The U.S. promoted economic growth, energy independence, infrastructure development, and education sectors. Over the years, this friendship has evolved into what today is a robust strategic partnership,” said Lasha Darsalia, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
The speakers also expressed their support for increasing multilateral discussions within the region to enhance sustainable development, green energy initiatives, transit cooperation, and public health programs.
“Uzbekistan has made regional connectivity the centerpiece of its regional policy. We pursued our main objective to promote greater connectivity to the regions via trade, transport, and energy links,” said Javlon Vakhabov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the U.S.
Baktybek Amanbaev, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S., highlighted that 2021 and 2022 have become significant years in the American-Caspian diplomatic relations. He commented on the progress made in the past 30 years and stressed that together, countries are more prepared to meet the issues of today.
Farrukh Hamralizoda, Ambassador of Tajikistan to the U.S., emphasized the value of cooperation during the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical circumstances.
“Today the world needs prompt joint action for safety, prosperity, health and justice,” said Ambassador Hamralizoda.
Looking towards the future of U.S.-Georgian relations, Khatuna Kveselava, Director of the Department of the Americas, underlined the need for more U.S. soft power engagement exercised through economic operations including more investment.
“We would like to see a more active U.S. and West engaged in Georgia, and I think the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Georgia is a good opportunity to move in that direction,” said Ms. Kveselava.
People-to-people exchanges form the backbone of international diplomacy. Therefore, educational projects, cross-cultural programs, and multilateral trainings could bolster the 30-year long relationship between the U.S. and its Caspian partners. All the participants outlined the successes of U.S.-Caspian diplomatic relations for the past 30 years and highly appreciated and commended CPC’s role as a convening platform for regional and bilateral discussions.
About Caspian Policy Center
The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.
With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights to the outstanding issues of the Caspian region.
Learn more at caspianpolicy.org
CPC thanks the U.S. Department of State and the embassies of the participating countries for cooperating on this event. CPC also thanks Chevron for sponsoring this event.