Turkey and the Evolving Black Sea-Caspian Region; Potential for a New Positive Agenda

UIK Panorama

April 24, 2020
Mamuka Tsereteli

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Unites States, together with Turkey and other Western allies, led the process of strengthening the political and economic sovereignty of the newly independent countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Turkey was a major anchor and channel of Western political, strategic, and economic interests in the Black Sea-Caspian region.

This collaborative effort brought about the development of the vibrant energy, trade, and transit connections between the Black Sea-Caspian region and the Mediterranean, delivering huge economic and political benefits to all the producing and transit countries of the region: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. But Turkey was, and continues to be, the major beneficiary of the economic, political, and security benefits of the East-West energy and transportation corridor, of the expanding pipeline, railway, highway, and port infrastructure, linking the country to Caspian resources and markets. Further, the enlargement of NATO and the EU also brought more security and economic development to the western shores of the Black Sea – to Bulgaria and Romania.

But developments of the last decade drastically changed the strategic environment in the Black Sea-Caspian region. Due to much weaker US-Turkish alliance since the war in Iraq, and the overall decline of the US presence and leadership in the region, the Russian Federation has regained significant power and influence in the former Soviet space. 

By controlling Crimea, Russia has now almost complete strategic dominance over the Black Sea, supported by a significant military presence in the breakaway regions of Georgia -Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region- as well as in Armenia, allowing it to establish control over the major elements of East-West transit infrastructure and communication lines on relatively short notice. Russia also made significant progress in expanding the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which in addition to original members -the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakhstan- now also includes Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. By displaying its willingness to use military force in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, Russia has sent a warning to other neighbors as well, which has been received loud and clear. Military success in Georgia and Ukraine also emboldened Russia to move more aggressively in the Middle East, especially with its presence in Syria. The strategic significance of the weak Western response to Russian aggression in the Black Sea region has become more evident as time passed.

Mamuka Tsereteli is a Senior Fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at American Foreign Policy Council, based in Washington, DC. He has more than thirty years of experience in academia, diplomacy and business development. His expertise includes economic and energy security in Europe and Eurasia, political and economic risk analysis and mitigation strategies, and business development in the Black Sea-Caspian region. 

Thursday, 05 December 2019 16:54

America and the Kurds

Real Clear Defense
December 3, 2019

John Bednarek and Svante E. Cornell 


Much of the outrage and frustration for the U.S. withdrawal from Syria focused on America’s long-standing relationship with the Kurds, without differentiating between Kurdish groups. While America’s relations with Syria’s Kurds are in flux, as a matter of foreign policy, America should increase its support for the Kurds of Iraq, a clear and reliable long-term partner in this historically contested region.

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 10.42.14 AM

A police vehicle patrols in Kashgar, China, June 25, 2017. PHOTO: JOHANNES EISELE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES via Wall Street Journal

The Turkic people has an ancient language and traditions. Even Mao didn't expect to erase it.

By S. Frederick Starr

July 26, 2019


Behind the Khashoggi Affair


The conflict between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is about more than just geopolitics. It’s about ideology—and survival.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 00:00

The Myth of Erdogan's Power

By Halil Karaveli

The Myth of Erdogan's Power

August 2018

Click for full article

Published on: August 29, 2018 
Halil Karaveli is a Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center and Editor of the Turkey Analyst. His book, Why Turkey is Authoritarian: From Atatürk to Erdogan (Pluto Press) is published in June 2018.





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