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Thursday, January 28, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on the Caucasus and Central Asia

Jim Nichol, Coordinator
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

In the second session of the 111th Congress, legislative and oversight attention to the Caucasus and Central Asia likely will focus on humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratization, security support, energy security, and the protection of human rights.1 Key objectives regarding the Caucasus are likely to include bolstering Georgia's democratization, security, and pro-Western stance; Azerbaijan's relations with the West and energy development; Armenia's independence and economic development; and the region's potential as an east-west trade and security corridor linking Europe with Central Asia and China. The on-going Armenia- Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region threatens these objectives, as does Russia's August 2008 military invasion of Georgia, its recognition of the "independence" of Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia, its establishment of military bases in these regions, and its ongoing economic sanctions against Georgia.

The second session of the 111th Congress is likely to review plans for added foreign assistance for rebuilding war-torn Georgia. At the same time, Congress may scrutinize Armenia's and Georgia's reform pledges as recipients of Millennium Challenge Account grants. The Congress may conduct oversight hearings on the issue of European energy security and the role of the Caucasus and Central Asia as critical energy sources and transit areas. In addition, Congress likely will remain concerned about reports of Russia's ongoing human rights abuses against its North Caucasian citizenry, including those in the Chechnya region, and about the threats posed by terrorism and instability in the North Caucasus to the wider region and beyond.

Date of Report: January 14, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40305
Price: $7.95

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