BLACK SEA BASIN REGIONAL PROFILE:

THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES

 

(A Background and January - March 2001 Issue in Brief)

© Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS), Sofia

Research Study 9

Hard Copy: ISSN 1311 – 3259

AN ISN SPONSORED QUARTERLY ELECTRONIC PERIODICAL


I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  PROFILE BACKGROUND OF THE BLACK SEA – CASPIAN SEA AREA

1. Geopolitical and Geoeconomic Tendencies
2. Sources of Conflict in the Black Sea-Caspian Region: the Delimitation of the Caspian Sea, Oil and Gas Issues

III.  CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA

1. Post-Conflict Issues in Chechnya
2. The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

3. The Abkhazian Conflict

IV.  THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS

1. Azerbaijan
2. Moldova

3. Russia

4. Ukraine

V.  THE BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA

1. Bilateral Relations
2. Multilateral Relations: the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

VI.  STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES: THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN THE INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN THE REGION

1. Russia-Turkey
2. Ukraine-Russia

3. Russia and the Paris Club of Creditors

4. Georgia and the Paris Club of Creditors

5. Ukraine-EU

VII.  EXTERNAL FACTORS (STATES AND INSTITUTIONS) INFLUENCING THE BLACK SEA REGION

1. US
2. NATO

3. EU

VIII.  THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES: CONCLUSIONS

 


I.  INTRODUCTION

The first three months of the new millennium in the region of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea basins were marked by two major political determinants: first, the increasingly active and sophisticated Russian policy towards its adjacent neighbors, mainly the CIS and GUUAM countries, and secondly, the change of administration in Washington, DC, and the expected shifts in US President George W. Bush's energy policy vis-à-vis the Black Sea and Caspian regions.

A demonstrated rise in the EU's interest and activity in this broader region is another significant development. By finalizing the procedure of including Bulgaria in the Schengen visa regime arrangements, the EU has emphasized that it is drawing closer to its neighboring territories not just by words, but also by deeds.

The political developments in Russia (a more assertive and active foreign and military policy), Ukraine (the plunging of the country into a political crisis), and Moldova (the return to power of the pro-CIS and pro-Russian Communist Party), as well as the new tendencies in the Russian-Azeri, Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Georgian relations bear a potential for dramatic change concerning both the prospects of the CIS and GUUAM and the multitude of conflicts in the Transcaucasian and Transdniester regions.

 

II.  PROFILE BACKGROUND OF THE BLACK SEA – CASPIAN SEA AREA

1. Geopolitical and Geoeconomic Tendencies

The visit to Iran in the last days of the year 2000 by Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev marked an intensification of the military-technical cooperation that will eventually reach US$7 billion – a significant increase over the previous US$2 billion. The close relations with a regional power such as Iran provide Russia with chances to assert its policy both in the “adjacent neighborhood” and globally. Though the GUUAM group of states (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) has tried to drift away from its previous CIS ties, Russia is finding ways of utilizing opportunities of diminishing their more independent policy options: relations with Georgia are getting tense, and pressure is exerted on the small state by Russia to remind Tbilisi how difficult life without Moscow is. Ukraine has been slipping into a political crisis over the past weeks, while a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the once Soviet stronghold of the military-industrial complex, Dniepropetrovsk, and pressure on Kiev over oil and gas deliveries both hint at potential trade opportunities for Ukraine, if the country develops closer ties to Russia than to any other power. Azerbaijan, after Putin’s visit to Baku in the beginning of January, is definitely a closer economic partner of Moscow and a promising dissident in the GUUAM configuration. The elections in Moldova that brought the Communist Party back to power will definitely lead to closer relations with Moscow and the CIS than with GUUAM.

The US administration’s voice about regional issues during the transition from the Clinton presidency is not clear and powerful enough to constitute an alternative support for those countries trying to embark upon an independent course from Moscow. However, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has defined the US assessment of the evolving situation during his Senate Confirmation Hearing on 17 January in a non-conciliatory way towards Russia: “We have to make it clear to the Russians, even though they may have concerns in the periphery of the old Soviet Union and now the periphery of Russia, they cannot act in a heavy-handed way, and they cannot intimidate these countries, and they cannot threaten these countries, and they should not think about trying to recreate the old Soviet Union in some smaller way. This will not further their interests in the West.… I think the Russians need to work with us in the West, and we have leverage in this regard.”

There is no doubt that the area of the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region is part of a broader US-Russian bargaining agenda, which includes the US cooperative position of the need of meeting the interests of all parties from the region, including Russia’s in the oil and gas energy sphere – production and  transportation to the world markets. How the working formula will be defined is hard to predict – the Clinton administration could not reach an agreement on this issue. What Bush will be able to achieve from his point of view that “Russia is a threat for us, but not an enemy” is also hard to predict. Russia and Putin are on the march now.

 

2. Sources of Conflict in the Black Sea-Caspian Region: the Delimitation of the Caspian Sea, Oil and Gas Issues

Putin met with Azeri President Heidar Aliev in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 9-10 January. They reached an agreement to de-limit the sea bed and preserve the freedom of shipping on the surface. The two presidents also agreed to convene a summit meeting of the littoral countries to deal with the Caspian Sea delimitation issue.

The changed position of Azerbaijan towards Moscow reflects the real state of the development of  the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project relative to the Baku-Novorossiysk and Tengiz (Kazakhstan)-Novorossiysk oil pipelines. The situation regarding these pipelines has developed  favorably for Russia, and this partly explains the assertive attitude of Russia in the region. However, the recent signing of a gas purchase agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan on 12 March indicates that the Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is also persisting. The new administration in Washington has already sent signals to the effect that it supports all commercially viable routes for Caspian basin hydrocarbons – the Baku-Ceyhan, the Baku-Supsa, the Baku-Novorossiysk and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium pipelines. It is a more conciliatory position that is probably aimed more at economic than at political effects.

During the visit in mid-March of the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to Moscow, Khatami and Putin signed a document stipulating that all decisions and agreements concerning the legal status of exploiting the Caspian Sea can enter into force only with the consent of all five riparian Caspian states. An agreement between Russia and Iran to protect the environment of the Caspian Sea, which rules out any project to construct pipelines on the bottom of the Caspian Sea, appears directed against Turkmenistan and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium. In any case, the largest potential source of discord in the area and the broader region – the oil and gas reserves – is, at the same time, the largest potential asset for cooperative and stable relations in this region.

 

III.  CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA

1. Post-Conflict Issues in Chechnya

(1) On 22 January Putin announced the end of the “army stage of the anti-terrorist operation” in Chechnya. The responsibility and command of the operation has been transferred from Defense Minister Igor Sergeev to the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolay Patrushev. The participation of federal armed forces continues through carrying out “surgical strikes” and special forces’ operations against the terrorists and their leaders. The number of the armed forces contingent is expected to reach about 15'000, while the number of interior forces personnel will likely be around 7'000. The police force will be increased by 5'000 Chechens. In the meantime, attacks on the federal forces continued, and on 30 January the head of the Chechen civil administration backed by Moscow, Akhmad Kadyrov, was slightly injured in an explosion, together with others. He is seen by the separatists as a traitor to the Chechen cause. Chechen terrorists hijacked a Russian plane with more than 120 hostages on board on 16 March. They demanded a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. The hijack ended with the release of the hostages in Medina, Saudi Arabia, and the death of three participants in the drama. (2) The Russian authorities are trying to restore normal life in the republic. At the beginning of January a coordinator was appointed to oversee reconstruction, and 22 judges were sent to administer justice in Chechnya. Inquiries have begun into the disappearance or misappropriation of large sums of money earmarked for rebuilding. Regular army conscription is expected to start in the first half of this year. According to South Russian federal district sources, young Chechen men will be assigned to engineering troops and based on Chechen territory only. According to the Russian information agency Novosti, the publication of 20'000 textbooks for pupils in Chechen language is in process in Nizhni Novgorod, in the Russian Federation.

2. The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

The process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered a new phase after the two parties to the conflict, Armenia and Azerbaijan, were admitted on 25 January as the 42nd and 43rd full members to the Council of Europe (CE). The difficulties ahead were implicit in the declaration of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CE, Lord Russell Johnston, that failure on behalf of the two new members to implement the commitments they have made would lead to sanctions against them. In turn, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said that acceptance of the two countries into the CE would not guarantee the non-use of force.

The following day, on 26 January, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliev, had a meeting in Paris that was mediated by French President Jacques Chirac. However, the second round of mediated talks between the two presidents, in their fifteenth summit in two years, ended on 5 March in Paris with no final result. The French side, which is part of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh, said there was a chance that the conflict could be settled  by the end of the year. The three-year war that lasted from 1991 to 1994 took the lives of 30'000 people and displaced more than a million. The parties have not yet agreed upon a final peace treaty.

The World Bank announced on March 7 that it would lead the international efforts to rebuild the Nagorno-Karabakh region once the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is resolved. US Secretary of State Colin Powell invited Aliev and Kocharian to the United States for peace talks towards a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The talks are sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and will begin on 3 April in Key West, Florida. The consultations will be mediated by negotiating teams from the US, Russia and France – members of the OSCE established Minsk Group.

3. The Abkhazian Conflict

The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a resolution on February 1 to the two sides of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict signaling that a seven-year stalemate has to be ended and that the two sides should commit to serious negotiations on the political status of Georgia's Abkhazia region. The UNSC resolution was adopted unanimously and urged both sides to crack down on armed gangs and rising crime.

Delegations from Georgia and Abkhazia, headed by Georgian State Minister Gia Arsenishvili and Abkhazian Prime Minister Vyacheslav Tsugba, met on 18 March for the third official session in the Crimean resort of Yalta. They discussed the draft documents that are expected to serve as a basis for the settlement of the conflict. Also participating in the negotiating session were representatives of Germany, France, Russia, the US, Ukraine and the OSCE. On 16 March the armed conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia was suspended, though not settled. Russian peacekeepers deployed on the confrontation line between the conflicting sides are ensuring that the armistice is respected.

IV.  THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS

1. Azerbaijan

 In an effort to improve the flawed 5 November 2000 ballot, the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were repeated in 11 constituencies on 7 January. OSCE observers said there was some improvement, but the elections still did not meet a number of international standards for democratic polls. Confidence in the election process after 5 November remained low, and that was reflected in the atmosphere of mistrust. Several opposition parties boycotted the elections.

2. Moldova

Parliamentary elections were held in Moldova on 25 February. The elections were called after the parliament reached a deadlock in December trying to elect a new president. Neither of the candidates (a communist and a centrist) could attract sufficient votes in a series of polls. The Moldavian Communist Party, after ten years in opposition, won a clear victory with more than 60 of the 101 seats in parliament. Living in one of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldavians have embraced the Communist Party's promises to revert to the stability of Soviet times in view of the lagging reform process. Vladimir Voronin, the Communist leader of Moldova, said soon after the election results were announced that his country was "doomed" to enter the Russian-Belarusian Union. This would mean a dramatic reversal of the country's hitherto moderate pro-Western policy and would lead to Moldova's withdrawal from the GUUAM federation, whose members currently enjoy good relations with the West. The geopolitical re-configuration is inevitable in the region. Voronin, who was nominated president by the collective leadership of his party, also stressed the need to maintain economic relations with the West but pointed out that gas and electricity are delivered to Moldova by Russia, and that 70 per cent of the Moldavian exports go to CIS countries. The problems ahead for the new ruling party (and most likely, the party of the future president of Moldova) are in the social-economic area, where high hopes are awaiting fulfillment in an environment of too scarce resources. The regulation of the Transdniester conflict may be a good occasion for the Communist Party to prove its mettle. The mostly Russian population has been promised equal status for the Russian language, and the prospect of joining the Russian-Belarusian Union will lead to convergence of the interests of both Chisinau and Tiraspol (the capital of the rebel republic of Transdniester).

3. Russia

(1) Russia launched a nation-wide week-long strategic military exercise on 12 February, covering the area from the Norwegian to the Japanese border. Conventional forces of the army, navy and air force were also included. This was considered to be the largest demonstration of strength by the Russian military since the end of the Cold War. Land-based, submarine-based and strategic aviation long-range nuclear forces were activated during the exercise. The missile launches were announced in advance to the US counterparts from the new joint US-Russian Early Warning Center for missile launches. During the Cold War, large-scale exercises of this kind were clearly directed against the US and NATO. (2) The Russian government discussed on February 15 the degrading demographic situation in Russia, which is considered a major threat to the country’s national security. The increasing average age of the population, the stable de-population and the low birth rate were mentioned as major concerns for the government. The present tendencies may cause negative effects on various segments of the economy and the society of the Russian Federation. The Chukotka region and the northern regions in general are among the most affected by the negative demographic trends. In 1999, the male life expectancy dropped to below 60 years. The negative effect of the Aids virus will be seen in the future, too. Putin has declared the fight against population decline one of his priority tasks. (3) Indian and Russian officials announced a US$700 million deal on 15 February on the sale of 310 Russian-made tanks to the armed forces of India. Russia will provide 124 fully assembled T-90 tanks, with a further 186 to be assembled in India’s facilities. India also plans to buy the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. (4) The Deputy Chairman of the Central Chinese Military Council, Zhang Wan-nian, began a four-day visit to Moscow on 21 February. He was received by Putin, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev. Military-technical cooperation, arms supplies for China and the US plans for a national missile defense (NMD) system were at the top of the agenda. Following the talks, both sides agreed that the strategic partnership is developing successfully. (5) During his visit to Russia in the middle of March, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami agreed to purchase from the Russian Federation weapons worth US$7 billion over the next few years and to complete Iran’s only nuclear reactor by 2003. The transaction includes personnel carriers, tanks, and anti-aircraft missiles. While small neighboring countries are concerned by this trade activity, Russia is satisfied at this fresh boost to its flagging defense industries.

4. Ukraine

Ukraine has entered a period of internal political tensions and scandals after the brutal killing of a respected Ukrainian journalist and the arrest of Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko, who was charged with fraud mid-January – a charge she denies. Specifically, Timoshenko is charged with forgery, smuggling and tax evasion. The death of journalist Georgy Gongadze is widely attributed to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. Calls for Kuchma's resignation led on 19 March to the dismissal of Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko. Many analysts believe Ukraine is plunging into a political crisis.

 

V.  THE BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA

1. Bilateral Relations

a) Georgia-Russia

(1) The Georgian government announced the cut-off of natural gas supplies by Russia to the Georgian Gardabani power plant on January 1. This resulted in a dramatic decline of electric power production during the peak of the winter heating season. This act of the Russian authorities violated a valid contract of a US company, AES, and the Russian firm Inneftegazstroy (INGS), thereby substantially interfering in an international commercial transaction. (2) At the close of the year 2000, Russia met the deadline agreed to in Istanbul for the elimination of equipment in excess of one basic temporary deployment under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty in Georgia. In all, Russia withdrew 35 tanks, 313 armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and 27 artillery pieces, and destroyed an additional 24 tanks, 90 ACVs and two artillery pieces in order to meet the deadline. Issues connected with the future use by Russia of the Vaziani and Gudauta military bases remain to be resolved, as do a range of issues pertaining to the longer-term presence of Russian forces in Batumi and Akhalkalaki. (3) In the middle of February, a Russian military delegation visited Tbilisi in an effort to ease the visa regime for Russian military and their families stationed on Georgian territory. The Georgian authorities had claimed a reciprocal measure starting 1 March in response to the earlier imposition by Moscow of a visa requirement for citizens of Georgia on 1 December 2000. Furthermore, the Georgian parliament decided to suggest the imposition of a US$300 million tax per year for the Russian military bases on the territory of the country. The Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze called the visa restrictions between the two countries “a historical anomaly” and urged the diplomats of the two countries to find a compromise to ease problems concerning the visa regime for certain categories of citizens.

b) Azerbaijan-Russia

(1) Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Baku on 9-10 January and met with Azeri President Heidar Aliev. After Russia removed its troops from bases in Georgia and Armenia – a rival of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute – Baku agreed to enter into a military cooperation with Moscow in the interests of the security of the two states. Russia appears to be trying to compensate for the increasing influence of the US in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and is ready to concede to certain claims by Azerbaijan to reach that goal. One of Aliev's intentions is to provide a smooth transition of his power to his son, and he sees Russia as being the right guarantor. (2) In the second week of March, Baku extradited two prominent Chechen separatists, Ruslan Akhmadov and Badrudin Murtazaev, to Russian authorities. Both are members of the formation of the Chechen leader Shamil Basaev. Last autumn Azerbaijan handed over five Chechen terrorists to Russia.

c) Russia-Armenia

Armenian Energy Minister Karen Galustian visited Moscow in the last days of January in an effort to restructure his country’s debt to Russia for energy deliveries worth US$25.2 million. Armenia’s total debt is US$118 million. 

d) Georgia-Turkey

A former Soviet military airbase east of Tbilisi reopened at the end of January after Turkey granted US$1.27 million for reconstruction and modernization. Georgian officials attribute special significance to the bilateral relationship with Turkey and consider this avenue to be the main path towards approaching NATO military standards, a priority for Tbilisi.

e) Ukraine-Russia

The presidents of the two countries, Kuchma and Putin, met in Dniepropetrovsk at the Yuzhmash rocket factory on 12 February. They agreed to stimulate bilateral cooperation in the space industry. Putin showed moral support for his Ukrainian counterpart during the period of political and social pressure which the latter is currently experiencing in Kiev. Thirteen bilateral documents for cooperation were signed during the visit. One of them provides for conducting electric power through Ukraine to Western Europe.

f) Turkey-Azerbaijan

The Azeri President Heidar Aliev visited Turkey on 15-17 March and supported the Turkish proposal of building Turkish military bases on Azeri territory. Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiev was among the delegates. Oil and gas supplies from Azerbaijan to Turkey were also discussed during the visit.

2. Multilateral Relations: the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

(1) The CIS military coordination staff announced plans on 22 January to invest US$1.65 million in an integrated air defense system during 2001. The system is considered to be a priority project of multilateral military cooperation. In 2000, the CIS coordination provided the improvement of the air defense systems of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. (2) Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking to the leading diplomatic staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia at the end of January, said that the CIS is the major priority of the country’s foreign policy. He also said Moscow would remain the “natural integration nucleus of the commonwealth”.

 

VI.  STATE OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVES: THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN THE INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN THE REGION

1. Russia-Turkey

The Russian company Kamov won the contract for the delivery of five Ka-62 medical helicopters to Turkey. Kamov acquired the US$31.5 million deal in competition with Italian manufacturer Augusta and the French-German Eurocopter consortium. 

2. Ukraine-Russia

During Putin’s visit to Ukraine on 12 February, he agreed with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to launch an old construction project which was first proposed at the end of the 1940s: to build a bridge connecting the Kuban wheat producing region with Crimea. The construction is expected to start in May this year and to be finished in 2005. A Russian construction company is expected to implement the project.

3. Russia and the Paris Club of Creditors

The Russian government took the difficult political decision in mid-February to pay back fully its debt to the Paris Club after a few months of unsuccessful negotiations in which Russia tried to re-schedule its obligations. This decision will lead either to a new economic and political crisis or to an acceleration of the reform process, de-monopolization and privatization. In March, the Russian government survived a no-confidence vote in the Russian Duma initiated by the Communist Party.

4. Georgia and the Paris Club of Creditors

The Paris Club decided In early March to postpone payment of the larger part of the Georgian debt by 20 years.

5. Ukraine-EU

On 26 March, the EU lifted all quotas on imports of textile and clothing products from Ukraine. This followed confirmation that Ukraine had brought down its tariffs for EU textile exports to the maximum rate agreed by the EU in the World Trade Organization, implementing the textiles agreement signed on 19 December 2000.

 

VII.  EXTERNAL FACTORS (STATES AND INSTITUTIONS) INFLUENCING THE BLACK SEA REGION

1. US

US-Georgia. (1) The US has extended non-discriminatory treatment, which amounts to normal trade relations, to products of the Republic of Georgia since the last days of 2000. A major reason for this step is Georgia’s economic progress. (2) A delegation of the US Defense Department visited Tbilisi on 13 February. Two days later, Jeffrey Star, assistant to the US secretary of defense, arrived in Tbilisi to discuss concrete cooperative projects. (3) Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili visited US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon on 20 March. They discussed the Russian troop withdrawal from Georgia, regional security issues and security relations between the US and Georgia.

US-Russia. (1) The Export-Import Bank of the US announced on 8 January it will provide a US$91.5 million comprehensive loan guarantee to support US mine processing equipment and services to the Russian mining company Alrosa Company Ltd. The loan guarantee is for a Siberian diamond mine project. (2) US Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty began preparations in early February for broadcasting in three North Caucasian languages: Avar, Chechen and Circassian. Access to objective and balanced news and information is the foundation for building a free and democratic society, according to the Radio Free Europe's director Thomas Dine. (3) On the occasion of the arrest of a FBI agent charged with espionage to Russia, FBI Director Louis Freeh said on 20 February he believes this will not affect the cooperation between the FBI and the CIS. The FBI works very closely with the Russian Ministry of the Interior in criminal matters, as well as with the security agency, and with the internal security agency in matters related to counter-terrorism. This cooperation is extremely important to both countries.

US-Moldova. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty announced on February 19 that it would increase Romanian language broadcasts to Moldova through its Romania-Moldova Service.

2. NATO

NATO-Armenia/Azerbaijan. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson began his visit to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on 15 January in an effort to stimulate confidence and security in the relations between regional players. During a two-day visit to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, the Chairman of the Military Committee of NATO, Guido Venturoni, met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Andranik Margarian, Defense Minister Serge Sargisian and Chief of General Staff of the armed forces Lieutenant-General Mikael Harutiunian. Armenia declared its willingness to develop its relations within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) context and to improve cooperation with NATO. Venturoni declared the readiness of NATO to develop its relations with Armenia, despite the Russian troops stationed on its territory. Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiev called on NATO on 26 March to set up bases in the Caucasus to help bring peace and stability and to curb the influence of its rival Armenia in the volatile region.

NATO-Georgia. An announcement was made on 23 January that military maneuvers involving navy, land and air forces from 10 NATO countries and six partner states will be held in Georgia in June this year. The maneuvers will take place near the town of Poti in Western Georgia. The name of the exercise is Cooperative Partner 2001 and it will involve 2'000 troops, 40 ships and 15 airplanes and helicopters. The aim of the exercise is to improve the coordination of forces within the PfP context in humanitarian operations. Participants from the NATO countries will be the US, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Greece and Turkey. The PfP participants will be Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

NATO-Russia. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson began his visit to Moscow on 19 February. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed with him issues of strategic stability, the US plans for NMD, and the enlargement of NATO to the East. Lord Robertson met also with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev. Lord Robertson said the perception of the enlargement of NATO as an encirclement of Russia was completely wrong. The purpose of the enlargement was rather to strengthen security. Lord Robertson was presented with the Russian theatre defense plan for Europe – a counter-project to the US NMD.

3. EU

EU-Russia. (1) The European Parliament voted unanimously on 18 January to appeal to Russia to lift its visa requirements to Georgian citizens. The Russian decision to free the citizens of Abkhazia and of Southern Ossetia from the obligation to acquire visas to enter the territory of the Russian Federation was considered by the EU members of parliament to be a de facto annexation of Georgian territory. The same day, EC Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said this move of Moscow might shed doubts on Russia’s role in the region as an unbiased broker. He underlined the negative assessment of potential investors in Russia of such a policy. (2) EU presidency representative Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind, EC External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia on 20-21 February. Lind said on the eve of the visit that the EU had substantial interests in the Southern Caucasus. The geopolitical meaning of this visit is obvious: the progress of the three countries and of the region in general are of interest to the EU.

 

VIII.  THE SECURITY SITUATION AND THE REGION-BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES: CONCLUSIONS

1. The post-conflict security situation in Chechnya is still tense. Efforts to shift the stalemate of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were given active support by France and the US. The key to the escalation of the Abkhazian conflict was demonstrated to be in Moscow.

2. The prospects for the military stabilization of the CIS and the falling apart of GUUAM are the main tendencies of the regional developments and a major result of a more assertive Russian policy in the area. The Black Sea cooperation has been substantially reduced, though a more visible presence of NATO and the EU can significantly catalyze the processes of the extension of the Euro-Atlantic security and civic zone to the Transcaucasian-Caspian Sea area. A clearer line of differentiation has been drawn between the Western and the Eastern coastal states of the Black Sea.


EDITORIAL STAFF:

CONTACT AND REFERENCE

Dr. Plamen Pantev, Editor–in–Chief

ISSN 1311 – 3240

Dr. Tatiana Houbenova-Delissivkova

Address: ISIS, 1618 Sofia,

Mr. Valeri Rachev, M. A.

P. O. Box 231, Bulgaria

Mr. Ivan Tsvetkov, M. A.

E-Mail Address: isis@cserv.mgu.bg

Dr. Todor Tagarev

 

 


Index.htm 25-Aug-2003   / Webmaster / © 1999 ISIS /
Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich / www.isn.ethz.ch/isis/alle/coopy.htm