area adjacent to the basins of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea was
at the center of global attention in terms of political, security, strategic,
and economic developments in the last three months.
fact can be easily explained by the growing pressure for regime change
in Iraq, coordinated by the US, which wants to end the danger that Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction may be used by terrorists or directly by
the authoritarian regime's armed forces. Preparations are underway to
show Saddam Hussein he cannot abuse the patience of the international
community. The broad strategic area between the Black Sea and the Caspian
Sea would be of key significance for an eventual strike against Saddam.
is less obvious about this huge area, but actually reflects a more complex
reality is the impact of a combination of global and regional geopolitical,
geoeconomic, and geostrategic tendencies and the global importance of
fighting terrorism. The latter trend serves as an umbrella to bring
together all the other influences in the area, but also as a "system
organizer and prioritizer" for these tendencies - not only in the
last three months, but also for the decades ahead. What does that mean?
the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region has a direct influence on the only
regional G8 member-state- Russia, which joined the exclusive economic
and diplomatic club at the end of June. Putin told his top diplomats
on 12 July in Moscow that Russia would remain a global power and that
since 11 September 2001, relations between his country and the US were
a source of international stability and not of rivalry. This new Russian
partnership, which some analysts predict will in time be transformed
into an alliance, has had a "positive influence on the entire system
of international relations and therefore remains unquestionably one
of our priorities", according to Putin. This new Russian self-confidence
was reflected in the conduct of a large-scale military exercise in the
Caspian Sea, led by Moscow from 8-15 August. The region has not changed
since this exercise, but Russia's display of power was a dominant assertion
of military presence in an important geostrategic region on its southern
borders. It sent a signal that Moscow insists on finding a solution
to the legal dispute of the Caspian Sea delimitation. If the objectives
of the exercise were not clear to all observers, in practice it may
suffice to focus on the fight against terrorism. This primary objective
of the exercise is a reminder of where Russia stands today on a variety
of issues affecting the broader region on its southern borders: the
standpoint of a most influential reader of the affairs of today's world
marred by the evil of terrorism. All the other topics of interaction
with the neighbors and partners are expected to be subordinated to the
dominant power's priorities. This dominant behavioral characteristic
could be observed in the non-confrontational attitude towards Iran -
a regional power that chose not to participate in the exercise, but
to have one of its own in 2003. Furthermore, Russia agreed to build
three new nuclear reactors for Iran in a clear demonstration of the
position that its regional differences do not affect Russia's dominant
position or its friendly attitude towards Iran. In the context of the
newly developing global friendship with the US, Russia has even indicated
that Washington's policy towards Teheran is not constructive. The broader
energy cooperation between Russia and Iran gives Moscow a long-term
perspective that is not necessarily restricted to the present regime
in Tehran and is being carefully developed under the umbrella of Russian-American
emerging relations between Russia and Iraq and between Russia and North
Korea can be viewed similarly: They are typical of relations between
a global actor that insists on being respected for its regional interests
that, however, would not harm the bigger engagement - namely, fighting
terrorism in accordance with the US.
despite Turkey's clear economic and strategic interest in developing
good relations with Iraq, this interest will be eclipsed by the new
stage in the strategic alliance between the US and Ankara: the stage
of jointly fighting terrorism, including states that provide safe haven
or may potentially provide extremists with weapons of mass destruction.
The new US defense doctrine of preventive strikes will inevitably affect
Turkey as a staunch US ally in this key region of the world.
China, which borders the broader strategic and geoeconomic region of
the Black Sea-Caspian Sea to the east, is also exerting a new influence
to this area. While Beijing confirmed its huge economic interest in
developing the bilateral relations with Russia during Russian Prime
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's three-day visit to China in August, it received
a long-expected incentive to change its position on US behavior in the
area. A Uighur group operating in Xinjiang province was listed by the
US as a terrorist group at the end of August. China had earlier claimed
that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has ties with al-Qaida
and has been linked to ethnic unrest in this northwestern Chinese province.
China issued new rules governing the transfer of missile technology
that were praised by Washington.
the role of the Black Sea-Caspian Sea area as a crossroads is increasing.
The construction of the waterway between the two seas, the building-up
of relationships between the Baltic states and Southern Caucasus states,
the geopolitical impact of the integration of Bulgaria and Romania into
NATO on the Eastern Black Sea states - all these emerging tendencies
must be included in a net assessment of the various geopolitical and
strategic pressures on the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region. All three developments
reflect the growing influence of current or prospective NATO member-countries.
The decisions by Ukraine and Georgia to apply for NATO membership add
to this influence. In the long run, this pressure will form a significant
barrier to terrorist infiltration of the volatile area. What remains
is to match these developments with a constructive Russian response
and a general agreement of all actors in the region of the basins of
the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea that the stability of the area is
indispensable to utilize the comparatively limited Caspian Sea resources
of oil and gas. However, additional cooperative efforts will be needed
to cope with the conflicts in Chechnya and Nagorno-Karabakh and to prevent
a deterioration of Russian-Georgian relations.
magnitude of the diverging, but not conflicting influences of Russia
and the pro-NATO states in the region will also be affected by the future
of the CIS and of GUUAM. Considering the continuing influence of the
EU in the broader area stretching from the Black Sea to Central Asia,
one may suggest that there are bright prospects for a win-win situation
involving many players. The cohesive effect of the counter-terrorism
fight may serve this goal.
PROFILE OF THE BLACK SEA-CASPIAN SEA AREA
Geopolitical, Geostrategic, and Geoeconomic Tendencies
the last days of June in Canada the group of the world's leading countries
included Russia as a full member, thus becoming the G-8. Russia will
host the 10th annual meeting in 2006. The integration of Russia into
this exclusive club reflected the economic and democratic transformation
there over the last years as well as Moscow's new potential for a full
and meaningful role in addressing the global problems. This was the
strongest demonstration of support so far for the reforms of Russian
President Vladimir Putin by the leading countries of the world. ISIS
concludes that Russia's adoption of its role as a global power of less
magnitude and significance than the US realistically suits the Russian
interests and guarantees a constructive attitude towards Moscow by Washington
and the rest of the G-8 powers. President Putin's outspoken support
for the fight against global terrorism is only the most significant
factor leading to this new and higher status of Russia in the world.
statement to top Russian diplomats on 12 July that Russia remained a
global power is correct and reflects Moscow's new global role, though
smaller in comparison to the single US superpower. This new role is
already being fully exploited diplomatically and militarily by Russia
in the broad stretch between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea: Russia
conducted a large-scale military exercise in the Caspian Sea from 8-15
August that involved all branches of the Russian military, including
more than 60 ships. This was the biggest military exercise in this area
since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also
joined with forces, while Iran and Turkmenistan were invited to join
the exercise with observers. Russia needed to hold this exercise after
the failure of the five littoral states in April this year to agree
on how to divide the Caspian Sea and intensify the extraction of its
oil reserves. The pressure on those who do not agree on the accepted
principles of division (Iran and Turkmenistan) is not applied in a hostile
manner, but the message is clear: that the many diverse problems in
the Caspian Sea area require a clear legal status and will permit no
delay in the resolution of this issue. The littoral states will address
the issue again next year. Since Iran is also preparing for a big military
exercise in the Caspian Sea to be held in 2003, it remains doubtful
that the demonstration of military power will in any way improve the
security situation, the chances for a diplomatic resolution of the legal
status of the Caspian Sea, or the atmosphere of cooperation in oil extraction
and transportation from the region to the world markets.
has undertaken additional steps in proving its case about the Caspian
to the Iranians: On 22 August, Moscow approved a plan for building three
additional nuclear reactors to the one already under construction in
Bushehr. Russia's energy cooperation with Tehran is not limited to these
reactors, but involves other similar projects. The Russian criticism
of the US' "non-constructive" policy towards Iran on 23 August
added to the Russian overtures towards Tehran that should lead to the
recognition of the important regional role that Iran plays, to the long-awaited
resolution of the legal status of the Caspian Sea, but also to Iran's
tacit acceptance of the clearly dominant Russian position in the area.
newly intensified links with North Korea and the preparations for an
economic agreement with Baghdad in the second half of August should
be read in a similar manner: Russia as a global power has an impact
on its direct neighborhood - no matter who is in charge of these countries
powerful tendency in the region is China's stance as a meaningful and
more respected world and regional center of power. Russian Prime Minister
Mikhail Kasyanov's three-day visit to Beijing in the second half of
August and the agreement on improving the bilateral economic ties, including
a boost to Chinese investments in the Russian economy; the improved
relationship between Washington and the Chinese government after the
latter's decision to create a licensing system for the export of missile
technology, a regulation that will require exporters to be registered
and transfers to be approved by the government - these recent developments
make the Chinese voice more influential in the issues affecting the
adjacent Caspian Sea-Black Sea area.
third trend in the last three months has been the growing role of the
region as a crossroads. High-ranking Turkish and Azeri officials agreed
in the last days of August that both the Black and the Caspian Seas
should be opened to international traffic. The Volga and Don rivers
could be used to intensify the trade traffic between the two seas. Armenian
Defense Minister Serge Sarkissyan on 22 August agreed with the Lithuanian
initiative for closer Baltic-South Caucasus cooperation, including in
the military area. The expected invitation to Romania and Bulgaria to
join NATO in the next two years will increase their strategic role relative
to the broader region stretching to the Caspian Sea. In these three
examples, NATO is definitely improving its position in geopolitical
and geostrategic terms in this still delicate (in terms of security)
region, hence chances for greater stability have increased.
various sources of conflict and threats to security in the period July-September
can be better understood against the background of these trends.
Sources of Conflict in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea Region
On 15 July Kiev passed a law allowing the air defense to shoot at
unidentified aircraft that fly across the former Soviet state and fail
to respond to warnings. This anti-terrorist measure allows the army
and the border guards to open fire at aircraft if they believed they
had been hijacked. The shooting-down would be the last measure after
the aircraft fails to respond to any other signs and messages of air-traffic
The US-Russia Working Group on Counterterrorism expressed its concern
on 27 July that remnants of Taliban militia and al-Qaida terrorist forces
regrouping in southern and southeastern border regions of Afghanistan
pose a serious threat to Afghan and regional stability. The Working
Group delegations also expressed concern over the recent assassination
of Afghan Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir. The Working Group was formerly
known as the US-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan. It held its eighth
session on 26 July in Annapolis, Maryland. The two delegations were
led by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Russian First
Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov. This was the first session
of the Working Group with a broadened mandate, endorsed by President
George Bush and President Vladimir Putin during their Moscow summit
in May earlier this year. The two delegations discussed recent developments
in Afghanistan, Central Asia, India-Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and Yemen.
The next meeting in December will be held in Moscow.
US special presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad accused
Iran on 5 August of harboring, hosting, or hiding members of the al-Qaida
terrorist network. Khalilzad said Tehran had to make a strategic decision
to turn over al-Qaida members that Washington believes are hiding in
Iran. The US special envoy blamed the presence of al-Qaida members in
Iran on hard-line, unaccountable Iranian elements that facilitated the
escape of al-Qaida terrorists from Afghanistan, perhaps without the
knowledge of elected members of the government. However, Khalilzad welcomed
Iran's recent reports that it had expelled 240 al-Qaida members in the
last few months.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
A session of the intergovernmental working group on preparations
for a Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO was announced
on 8 August in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The discussions of the group focused
on the implementation mechanisms of RATS. The participants in the meeting
agreed to hold the first meeting at state level in Kyrgyzstan. The headquarters
of RATS will be located in Bishkek.
In March this year, 200 US elite troops were dispatched to help
Georgia build up its internal security capabilities against terrorism.
They also had to coordinate measures to neutralize Afghan and Chechen
irregulars in the Pankisi Gorge region. The Pankisi Gorge is a 34-km
valley following the Alazni river some 150km northeast of Tbilisi and
for years has been a no-go area for Georgian security forces. Its indigenous
inhabitants are Kists, otherwise called Chechen Georgians. The Kists
have long enjoyed a traditional system of self-rule and shown no secessionist
ambitions. But the erosion of central power in Georgia, combined with
the proximity of the Chechen border, has turned the region into a hotbed
of drugs and arms trafficking and a training and supply base for Chechen
fighters operating into Russia (see in more detail: the on-line May
2002 intelligence bulletin of the European Press Agency at www.RussiaFSU.org).
After months of mounting tensions in the Russian-Georgian relations,
caused by the alleged presence of Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge,
Russian President Vladimir Putin in early September ordered the military
to draw up plans to attack Chechen terrorists in the gorge. The Russian
argument is based on UN Security Council resolution 1373, approved in
October 2001, in which states are required to help prevent cross-border
terrorist attacks and to deny terrorists or their sponsors any safe
haven. At the same time, the Russian president disclosed details of
Georgia's inaction. Soon after, the Russian press quoted the Chief of
the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, Anatoliy Kvashnin, as
saying he had a plan to invade Georgia. Satellite data and human intelligence
have played a crucial role in the preparation of the plan. This determination
was confirmed by Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Ivanov on 12 September.
The efforts of the Georgian armed forces to deal with the problem have
had only modest results, namely the detention of 13 alleged criminals
and one suspected Arab militant. The reaction of the Georgian leadership
was very strong: President Shevardnadze insisted on apologies from the
Russian president, while the Georgian parliament discussed the country's
withdrawal from the CIS. Many MPs even wanted to break off diplomatic
ties with Moscow. The parliament reiterated Georgia's expectation that
Russia withdraw from military bases on Georgian territory as well as
from Abkhazia. They also suggested an in crease in the national military
situation was handled wisely by the three participants - Georgia, Russia,
and the US - and led to a new situation in which the focus of all three
countries was the fight against terrorists. Georgian President Edward
Shevardnadze said on 18 September that the US and Russian troops were
aiding his forces in fighting Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge. On
19 September, however, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov warned
during a visit to Washington that Georgia continued to demonstrate ineffectiveness
in preventing Chechen rebels enter Russian territory. A security zone
of 20-40km along the border with Georgia was earlier claimed by Russian
military authorities . Ivanov warned that Russian air force would have
to execute surgical strikes to kill hundreds of Chechens still using
the Pankisi Gorge as a safe haven. In the meantime, US sources published
telephone conversations that were allegedly held between al-Qaida operatives
and correspondents in Georgia just minutes after the strike on the first
of the World Trade Center towers and that purport to establish a link
between Georgia and the 11 September hijackings. The FBI in the end
of September disclosed plans of Osama bin Laden to use Chechen terrorists
for hijacking airplanes. All these developments show that an imperfect
communication between the leaders in Tbilisi and Moscow may easily lead
to a limited use of Russian force on Georgian territory with all the
negative consequences for the broader stability of the region. The priority
given to the fight against terrorism, especially in tense regions, requires
a new and more dynamic political approach and cooperation. Tbilisi is
not doing its best in this field and Russia would not miss the moment
to score bigger geopolitical results than neutralizing Chechen terrorists.
At the request of the governments of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, China,
and the US, the UN in the beginning of September added the Eastern Turkestan
Islamic Movement (ETIM) to its list of terrorist organizations. This
Uighur group operates in the Xinjiang province of China, and under President
Bush's Executive Order 13224 it has been designated as one of 236 terrorist
groups and individuals. That led to a freeze on the assets and financial
transactions of ETIM. China claims that ETIM has ties to al-Qaida and
that its members trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan. US Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage said that after careful study, the
US had judged it was a terrorist group and that it had committed acts
of violence against unarmed civilians without any regard for who was
hurt. ETIM has, however, played only a small role in the ethnic unrest
in the restive Xinjiang province claiming independence from China.
The Delimitation of the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea: the Caspian Sea
The seventh meeting of the Caspian Special
Working Group was opened on 29 July in Tehran. The two-day meeting aimed
to continue consultations relating to the delimitation of the Caspian
Sea, the largest inland sea in the world. This group was composed of
the deputy foreign ministers of the littoral states, and they also discussed
other issues such as ecological issues, fishing, navigation, commerce,
and energy. Iran repeated its traditional position that the most important
factor to strengthen cooperation in the Caspian Sea is the preservation
of the 1921 and 1940 agreements between Iran and the former Soviet Union.
Iran regards the continuation of common sovereignty as the best alternative
to agreeing on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea.
Oil and Gas Issues
and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on 9 April on delimiting the Caspian
seabed and exploiting its resources. Iranian Foreign Minister Seyed
Kamal Kharrazi visited Azerbaijan on 11 April and discussed the legal
status of the Caspian Sea. The deputy foreign ministers of the Caspian
littoral states (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Russia)
met in Ashgabat on 22 April to draft a summit declaration. The presidents
of the five Caspian Sea states failed to reach an agreement on the legal
status of the sea and to sign a final joint declaration on 24 April.
Russia proposed holding the next Caspian summit in Tehran. Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami said on 23 April that common sovereignty
over the Caspian Sea was the best choice for the littoral states. Iran
expects that the other four Caspian states will not operate in the 20
per cent of the sea that Tehran regards as its minimum share of the
seabed and the surface in the case of a division. According to the Russian
president, the Caspian seabed should be shared and the water must remain
common. According to Putin, the legal status must be decided by consensus.
Splitting the Caspian Sea into five seas, Putin says, would be a great
mistake. In the aftermath of the summit, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan
decided to start discussing the controversies over the offshore oil
and gas deposits of the Caspian Sea. If the two countries should fail
to agree, they would turn to international organizations for mediation,
President Niyazov of Turkmenistan said on 26 April.
presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan signed a supplementary document
to a bilateral agreement on the division of the northern part of the
Caspian Sea in Moscow on 13 May. Its aim was to clearly define the scope
of sovereign mining rights. On 14 May, Baku ratified the agreement on
delimitation of the Caspian seabed between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan,
signed on 29 November 2001 in Moscow. Azeri President Heidar Aliev visited
Iran from 20-22 May for talks on the division of the Caspian Sea. Iran
has massive oil reserves elsewhere and opposes the pressure of Western
foreign energy companies in the area. Unlike Azerbaijan and other littoral
states, Iran is in no hurry to exploit the oil deposits. This is why
the Iranian position of accusing foreigners, while claiming the Caspian
Sea must be a sea of peace and cooperation, is widely perceived as hypocritical.
and Azerbaijan are close to agreeing on the defining principle of dividing
the seabed and on the co-ordinates of the median line. The co-ordinates
of the median line were already agreed earlier. The principles of division
are the same as those applied in the Russia-Kazakhstan agreement. The
Azeri authorities consider the agreement between Russia, Kazakhstan,
and Azerbaijan on the division of the Caspian Sea to be a good basis
for establishing the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan generally
agrees with the principle of the median line, though it still contests
the method of its establishment. A continuation of the Iran-Azerbaijan
dialogue on this issue is expected in July this year.
agreements reached between the three countries have given rise to hopes
that safe transportation of oil from the energy-rich region will start
soon. However, it is not yet clear what the cost of isolation in the
issue of Caspian Sea delimitation will be for Turkmenistan and Iran
. They may soften their position, but they may likewise delay the resolution
of the issue. During a visit to Iran on 21 June, the Russian special
envoy for Caspian Sea affairs, Viktor Kaluzny, having discussed legal
issues with his Iranian counterpart, Mahdi Safari, proposed that the
next summit of the Caspian working group (scheduled for July this year)
be held in Tehran. Iran continues to oppose bilateral agreements on
the sea as counterproductive to the establishment of a common legal
regime. Unlike the Iranian side, Kazakhstan has decided that in the
absence of legal clarity, differences should be settled on a bilateral
basis with the rest of the coastal states.
Oil and Gas Issues
Kashagan Oil Field
The Kazakh National Petroleum Company and consortium Agip KCO said
on 1 July that the Kazakhstan's Caspian Sea oilfield of Kashagan contains
recoverable resources of at least seven to nine billion barrels of oil.
The geological resources are estimated at 38 billion barrels. Kazakhstan
expects to become in the next years one of the world's top oil producers.
Kashagan adds to the Tengiz oil field, which is already being exploited.
Agip KCO brings together Italian group Eni, UK-Dutch group Shell, US
ExxonMobil group, Phillips Petroleum of US, Japanese Inpex, and TotalFinaElf
On 29 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin called European demands
to raise the price of Russian gas as a condition of joining the WTO
unreasonable. Similar demands had not made on other countries applying
for WTO membership, Putin said, and it would be unfair to ask this from
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Co
Representatives of the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey
formed the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Company on 1 August in London. This was
a major step in the realization of the pipeline project that will carry
oil from the Caspian Sea region to the Mediterranean for export into
the world markets.
Iranian and Bulgarian government officials agreed in the end of
August on a project to transfer Iranian natural gas to Bulgaria with
a pipeline through Turkey. Other aspects of boosting bilateral trade
were also agreed.
CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLACK SEA AREA
The protracted peaceful regulation of the situation in Chechnya
may be partly nourished politically by the dispute between Russia and
Georgia, but would hardly bring about the objective desired by the Russians
- a stable Chechen republic as a member of the federation. The military
cannot pacify the Chechen population or bring life in the Northern Caucasus
back to normality. A fight and most probably a victory over terrorists
may be a better demonstration of Moscow's policy in the area, but the
necessity of resolving a domestic conflict remains as throughout the
last decade. What kind of compromise may crystallize is hard to predict,
but a more peaceful solution would be needed.
The presidential elections in the rebel Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR)
on 11 August were won by hard-line acting president Arkadiy Gukassyan.
NKR elections were not internationally recognized by any other state.
The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities signed an agreement on 6 August with
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) granting the latter
access to all places of detention and to all categories of detainees
being held in the NKR, whether convicted or not. ICRC representatives
would be able to hold private interviews and to repeat their visits,
if considered necessary. The ICRC has visited prisoners in the NKR since
1992. The presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia met on 14 August to discuss
bilateral issues, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As expected,
no breakthrough was made, but the very contact was a positive development
and a promise for a peaceful solution of the conflict. The last meeting
between President Heidar Aliev of Azerbaijan and President Robert Kocharian
was in the end of November 2001.
A meeting of the mediators in the Transdnistria conflict - Russia,
Ukraine, and OSCE - was convened in Moscow in the second half of August.
They confirmed their position asserting the preservation of Moldova's
territorial integrity as a prerequisite for any solution. Earlier, Transdnistria
authorities had rejected an invitation to participate in negotiations
in Chisinau with Moldavian government officials and OSCE mediators without
THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS
On 24 August, a poll that was highly disputed by the opposition led
to the introduction of constitutional changes in Azerbaijan. 97.5 per
cent of the eligible voters, however, supported the constitutional amendments
in the usual "Aliev style". One of them provides for the son
of the present president of the republic to succeed him. Azerbaijan
is still far from the democratic reforms it has claimed to introduce
to its society and state.
(1) In the beginning of July, the Ukrainian National Council on Radio
and Television decided to use the Ukrainian language exclusively for
broadcasting from 2003. This decision implements a decree by President
Kuchma of 15 March this year. (2) On 14 August, President Leonid Kuchma
appointed Colonel General Oleksandr Zatynaiko as chief of the Ukrainian
General Staff. General Zatynaiko replaced Colonel-General Petro Shulyak,
who was dismissed after the 28 July crash at the Lviv air show that
killed 76 spectators. Zatynaiko has been commander of the Ukrainian
land forces since December 2001. The Ukrainian armed forces' reputation
was spoiled by a record number of incidents during the last year.
(1) On 21 July, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov told a conference
in the Russian capital that his country was drifting towards national
socialism. He predicted that only a union of the right forces could
stop this process, because the forces of the left were linked to the
communist past and lack authority. The reasons he gave for the advance
of fascism in Russia were the appalling poverty and the drastic difference
in the standards of living in Moscow and in the countryside. (2) The
command of the Russian Black Sea navy cancelled a planned training cruise
to the Mediterranean Sea due to economic considerations, mainly the
need to conserve fuel. Three of the navy's top-of-the-line ships may,
however, pay visits to France and Italy later this autumn.
AND MULTILATERAL RELATIONS IN THE BLACK SEA REGION AND THE STATE OF
CIS AND GUUAM
In the beginning of July, Romanian President Ion Iliescu made an
official three-day visit to Georgia and met with President Eduard Shevardnadze.
Transportation of oil from Azerbaijan via Supsa (Georgia) to Romania
was one of the discussed topics. A high-level Georgian Defense Ministry
delegation visited Romania from 3-7 September and discussed ways of
Romanian participation in the US-funded "Georgia Train-and-Equip
In the first days of July, a high-level Turkish Interior Ministry
delegation visited Tehran. It was a regular meeting in the context of
the bilateral High Security Commission, supporting cooperation by guaranteeing
national, regional, and international security.
(1) In the beginning of August, Kiev renewed its claims to part
of the property of the former USSR abroad or the equivalent- 42.1 tons
of gold and US$20.5 billion. These figures became public on 12 August
when bilateral talks on the division of the former Soviet Union's foreign
assets continued. Ukraine has worked out both its part of Soviet assets
- 16.73 per cent - as well as its portion of the Soviet debt - US$16.5
billion. (2) In mid-September, Ukrainian Interior Minister Anatoly Zlenko
declared his country's will to set down its maritime boundaries with
Russia. The Ukrainian position would secure substantial additional fishing
rights from Russian companies working in the Azov Sea.
Sub-divisions of the Armenian-Russian joint military group demonstrated
interaction at an exercise that took place from 6-10 August at the Marshal
Baghramian firing range near Yerevan. Parallel to the tactical shooting
and aviation exercise, a joint command-staff exercise for fighting terrorism
was also held by the Russian 102nd military base in Armenia and the
5th corps of the Armenian armed forces.
In the second half of September, Romanian President Ion Iliescu
paid an official three-day visit to Kiev and met with his counterpart
Leonid Kuchma. The two leaders agreed to conclude a bilateral agreement
on the common border by June 2003. This document will formally renounce
any mutual territorial claims.
The Bulgarian government on 19 September announced an agreement
reached in spring of this year to provide arms and ammunition to Georgia.
Tbilisi will receive 1.2 million cartridges, 650 missiles for missile
launchers, 1'100 hand grenades and 58 Makarov pistols at a total
value of US$90 million. The donated ammunition falls within the framework
of a program initiated by the US armed forces command that aims at reaching
internal stability in Georgia and the Caucasus. Bulgaria, a NATO candidate,
sympathizes with Georgia's membership application to the Alliance.
Multilateral Relations: Russia-Georgia-Azerbaijan-Armenia
On 3 September,
representatives of the so-called Caucasus Four group announced their
parliamentary meeting would be held in Tbilisi in October. The speakers
of the four parliaments are expected to participate in the meeting.
In May this year, the parliamentary leaders agreed to hold such meetings
every three months.
A meeting of the Council of CIS Ministers of the Interior was convened
in Baku from 6-7 September. The Council discussed the implementation
of the joint program for fighting crime in the period 2000-2003 as well
as the program for fighting terrorism in the period till 2003. Cooperation
in the fight against illegal drugs trafficking was also on the agenda
of the meeting.
A meeting of the GUUAM Foreign Ministers was convened on 2 July
in Baku in preparation of the summit meeting to be held at the end of
the month in Yalta, Ukraine. While the presidents of all the GUUAM states
were present, the only Uzbek participant was Tashkent's ambassador to
Kiev. Uzbekistan continues to be a member of GUUAM, but has suspended
its work. After this summit, a number of events were planned and carried
out within GUUAM. Kiev hosted a meeting of the inter-agency group on
departmental cooperation on 9 September. A meeting of the group's section
on project development was held in the Ukrainian capital on 6 September.
During the 57th session of the UN General Assembly in New York from
18-19 September, the GUUAM Council of Ministers met and discussed the
prospects of the association. GUUAM border guard chiefs met for a regular
session in Tbilisi at the end of September. Other meetings with participation
of other international organizations are planned for October.
THE STATE OF REGIONAL COOPERATION IN THE BLACK SEA AND THE ROLE OF THE
EU AND NATO
Economic Aspects of Regional Cooperation in the Black Sea: National
and Regional Perspectives
In an open letter to President Shevardnadze dated 7 August, the
US Chamber of Commerce in Georgia expressed its concern at the lack
of law and order and the security situation in the country. Crime has
a disastrous effect on the Georgian economy, the letter said.
The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has committed almost
US$1 million to assist Georgia in planning and implementing oil and
gas projects designed to enhance energy security. The projects are the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline and South Caucasus Gas Pipeline Project.
On 18 August, the Iran-Armenia Chamber of Commerce announced that
trade between the two countries had reached a total volume of US$120
million. This placed Iran third among Armenia's trading partners, after
Russia and Belgium.
Political and Security Aspects of the Black Sea Regional Cooperation
and EU and NATO/PfP Activities
Black Sea Regional Cooperation
Vessels of the BLACKSEAFOR naval group reached the Romanian port
of Constantia on 21 August. The group, which comprises vessels from
Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, left the Turkish
port of Eregil on 19 August and practiced tactical maneuvering, communications
establishment, and cargo relocation from a Bulgarian minesweeper to
a Russian one. Late on 19 August, the vessels anchored in the Bulgarian
port of Burgas, and on 20 August left for Constanta.
A summit meeting of EU and Ukraine officials was held in the beginning
of July. The state of relations, the management of crisis situations,
and economic and legal cooperation were addressed during the meeting.
International donors agreed on a 1.8 billion program to clean
up areas in northern Russia, which faces a big threat from nuclear waste.
On that day a conference chaired by EU and Russia decided to grant at
least 100 million in initial funds for the most urgent projects
needed to reduce water and air pollution in the Baltic and Barents Sea
regions. Less than one-third of the funds for the program will be spent
on tackling dangerous nuclear waste in northwestern Russia, mainly from
the hundreds of decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines from the Cold
War era. Preventing future disasters is the main objective of the program.
The EU Presidency
issued a statement on 12 August concerning violations of the Georgian
airspace at the Russian-Georgian border. Territorial integrity, reducing
bilateral tensions, and taking control over extremists in the Pankisi
Gorge were mentioned as priority issues for the EU in the present situation.
(1) A joint NATO-Russia center for helping discharged Russian military
personnel return to civilian life was officially opened in Moscow on
2 July. The NATO-funded center will provide personnel leaving the military
with information on training and employment opportunities and their
rights and privileges. (2) On 16 September, a senior Russian officer
told the press in Moscow that Russia and NATO would cooperate on future
submarine rescue operations to prevent another Kursk-style disaster.
A cooperation agreement to this end would be signed in the near future,
said Russian General Yuri Baluyevski, Deputy Chief of Staff of the armed
forces. (3) NATO and Russia conducted the joint military exercise "Bogorodsk
2002" at the Russian Emergency Ministry training base in the town
of Noginsk from 24-27 September. A special emphasis was placed on anti-terrorism
operations under conditions large-scale chemical warfare.
PfP Black Sea Navy Exercise
Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine held a one-week
joint exercise from 9-15 September off the Turkish western Black Sea
coast. The codename of the exercise was "Black Sea Partnership
2002". Search, rescue, and firing drills were included in the exercise.
Azeri and Russian observers also participated in the exercise.
After Ukraine, Georgia has also declared its formal intention to
apply for membership in NATO. The Georgian parliament unanimously voted
to launch the accession process to NATO on 13 September. Though integration
in NATO has become a priority for Georgia, NATO will hardly let this
membership application affect its relations with Moscow.
OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS – STATES AND INSTITUTIONS INFLUENCING THE BLACK
SEA REGION: US
In the beginning of August, the US Senate approved a program for
military cooperation with Armenia in 2003. It very much resembles the
fight against terrorism serves as a factor catalyzing the integration
of all security and geopolitical factors in the broader Black Sea-Caspian
Sea region. The potential of the Caspian Sea energy resources to diversify
the supply to the world energy markets can neither be over-stated, nor
ignored. However, the common denominator in approaching this issue from
the point of view of most global and regional actors remains the determination
to fight terrorism and an appreciation of the danger of proliferation
of mass casualty weapons. The growing role of Russia in the area is
developing in parallel with Moscow's cooperation in the fight against
terrorism and the continuing rise of US's and NATO's influence in the
Black Sea-Caspian Sea region.