Wednesday 1 June 2005
May 31, 2005
Georgia/Russia: Base Deal Seen As Mutually Acceptable Compromise
Moscow and Tbilisi yesterday announced an agreement on the closure of Russia’s two remaining military bases in Georgia by the end of 2008. In theory at least, the deal puts an end to a dispute that started in December 1999, when the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe demanded that Moscow vacate all four former Soviet military bases it had been maintaining in that Southern Caucasus country. By 2001, Russia had vacated two bases. But the fate of the two remaining facilities -- in the Black Sea port of Batumi and the predominantly Armenian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti -- had remained in abeyance for nearly four years, triggering tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi.
May 31, 2005
Caucasus: Is The BTC Oil Pipeline Saving Europe From Russia Or From OPEC?
The BTC pipeline being constructed According to a 9 April 2002 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Caspian region holds oil reserves of 18-34 billion barrels, or roughly 1.8-3.3 percent of the world's proven reserves.
May 30, 2005
Russia Agrees To Pull Troops From Georgia By 2008
Georgian Foreign Minister Zourabichvili Prague, 30 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia and Georgia have signed an agreement on the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia by 2008. The presence of the troops has bedeviled Russian-Georgian relations for the most part of the last decade. The agreement was signed in Moscow by Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
May 27, 2005
Georgia: Family Challenges Official Stance On Prime Minister's Death
Zurab Zhvania On 3 February, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania was found dead in a Tbilisi apartment along with a friend, 25-year-old Raul Yusupov. Authorities have declared the deaths a case of poisoning caused by a faulty gas heater. U.S. investigators have -- at least publicly -- backed the accident theory, saying they see no reason to challenge the official account of events. But the late prime minister's widow has cast doubt over the government probe. Also, his brother tells RFE/RL that he suspects foul play and demands an independent investigation.
May 26, 2005
U.S.: Is Washington Able To Help Opposition In Uzbekistan And Azerbaijan?
U.S. President Bush (left) with his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili in Tbilisi in early June U.S. President George W. Bush says the focus of his second four-year term is the spread of democracy worldwide, and the United States has garnered some of the credit for facilitating the democratic movements in Georgia and Ukraine. But with respect to at least two countries, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, Washington must maintain a careful balance between its economic and strategic interests on the one hand, and their peoples' desire for democracy on the other. RFE/RL spoke with two observers of U.S. policy in Eurasia.
May 25, 2005
Caspian-Mediterranean Oil Pipeline Launched In Baku
Work on BTC pipeline near Baku two years ago Prague, 25 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The 1,760-kilometer Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to transport crude oil extracted from the Caspian Sea shelf to the Mediterranean Sea basin was inaugurated today near Azerbaijan's capital Baku.
May 25, 2005
Caucasus/Central Asia: Analysts Expect Security, Economic Gains From BTC Pipeline
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan gathered near Baku today to inaugurate the $4 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The project is generally viewed as the key element of an overall plan to turn the Caucasus region into a transport corridor connecting Central Asia to Western Europe. From the onset, BTC was designed by its American sponsors as a way to reduce Russia's energy grip on its former southern satellites. But regional experts say that by helping make the region safer, the project's expected economic benefits might eventually outweigh its geostrategic importance. [For coverage of the ceremony, see "Caspian-Mediterranean Oil Pipeline Launched In Baku" --> /featuresarticle/2005/05/18a9dc83-9f19-4830-aea2-93a850b985fa.html .]
May 18, 2005
Russia: Sole Surviving Beslan Militant Goes On Trial
More than 300 hostages were killed when Russian special forces attempted to end the Beslan school siege A court in southern Russia has opened the trial of the only known surviving militant of last year's Beslan school siege. Nurpachi Kuliev appeared before the chief justice of Russia's republic of North Ossetia yesterday in the city of Vladikavkaz, to face charges of terrorism, murder and hostage taking. Some of the relatives of those killed in the Beslan massacre attended the trial opening, which took place in an emotional atmosphere. The proceedings could take several months.
May 17, 2005
Georgia/Russia: Tbilisi, Moscow Continue To Negotiate On Bases
The foreign ministers of Georgia and Russia said in Warsaw today that talks on the withdrawal of Russia's military bases from Georgia would resume soon. The two ministers are in Warsaw for a summit of the Council of Europe. Georgia's parliament had given Russia until 15 May to announce a date for withdrawal or face sanctions. There are signs though that the two sides may be moving toward a compromise.
May 14, 2005
Georgia: Calm Returns To Pankisi Gorge
In the last years of Eduard Shevardnadze's presidency in Georgia, the country's Pankisi Gorge came to be regarded as a symbol of global terrorism, kidnapping, and crime. It was claimed that Al-Qaeda used it as a training center; that Chechen fighters used it as a base for launching operations against Russia; and that it was a favorite conduit for supplying heroin to Western Europe. Georgia's new leaders say those days are over and that they have driven out the fighters and restored the state's authority. Yet Russia continues to describe the gorge as a center for international terrorism.
May 12, 2005
Russia: Did Putin Come Out Shining, Or With Moscow's Prestige Weakened?
Vladimir Putin (file photo) This was Russian President Vladimir Putin's week to shine, as he hosted world leaders in Moscow, including U.S. President George W. Bush and EU heads, as well as members of the CIS and the Middle East "Quartet." So how did he perform? Does Russia emerge stronger, with an enhanced global image, after this whirlwind week of diplomacy, or has Moscow's prestige been weakened?