Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Republic of Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Search Penny Hill Blogs

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on the Caucasus and Central Asia

Jim Nichol, Coordinator
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

During 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. Key objectives regarding the Caucasus are likely to include bolstering Georgia's democratization, security, and pro-Western stance; encouraging Azerbaijan's Western orientation and its energy development; supporting Armenia's independence and economic development; and enhancing 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 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 following Russia's August 2008 conflict with Georgia. 

For the remainder of the second session, the 111th Congress may 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. 

Congress has been at the forefront in advocating increased U.S. ties with the Central Asian states (including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) to bolster their sovereignty and independence, and in providing backing for use of the region as a staging area for supporting U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan. Congress may continue to consider issues related to the participation of several South Caucasian and Central Asian states in the Northern Distribution Route for transporting U.S. and NATO supplies to Afghanistan. The April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan and continued instability in that country---which hosts a major U.S. air "transit center" for troops entering and leaving Afghanistan---is likely to be of continued concern. Congress likely will deliberate over ongoing regional assistance for border and customs controls and other safeguards to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including aid for the elimination of Soviet-era WMD infrastructure. 

Congressional deliberations over FY2011 foreign aid appropriations may include scrutinizing the levels and types of humanitarian, economic, democratic, and security assistance funding requested for the Central Asian states. The role of Central Asia as a growing energy supplier to the European Union, Russia, China, and South Asia are likely to remain Congressional concerns. Congress will continue to contend with balancing U.S. interests in continued engagement with Central Asia to advance energy security and counter-terrorism against concerns about human rights abuses and lagging democratization, with the latter reflected in conditions Congress has placed yearly on foreign assistance to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Congress may continue to monitor Kazakhstan's stewardship of European security and human rights issues as the country carries out its duties for the remainder of 2010 as the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Date of Report: July 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 3
Order Number: IS40305
Price: $0.00 FREE go to

Follow us on TWITTER at or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.