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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Georgia [Republic]: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

The small Black Sea-bordering country of Georgia gained its independence at the end of 1991 with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The United States had an early interest in its fate, since the well-known former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, soon became its leader. Democratic and economic reforms faltered during his rule, however. New prospects for the country emerged after Shevardnadze was ousted in 2003 and the U.S.-educated Mikheil Saakashvili was elected president. Then-U.S. President George W. Bush visited Georgia in 2005, and praised the democratic and economic aims of the Saakashvili government while calling on it to deepen reforms.

The August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict caused much damage to Georgia’s economy and military, as well as contributing to hundreds of casualties and tens of thousands of displaced persons in Georgia. The United States quickly pledged $1 billion in humanitarian and recovery assistance for Georgia. In early 2009, the United States and Georgia signed a Strategic Partnership Charter, which pledged U.S. support for democratization, economic development, and security reforms in Georgia. The Obama Administration has provided ongoing support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The United States has been Georgia’s largest bilateral aid donor, budgeting cumulative aid of $3.37 billion in FY1992-FY2010 (all agencies and programs). Georgia has regularly ranked among the top world states in terms of per capita U.S. aid. U.S.-budgeted aid for Georgia in FY2011 was $87.1 million, and estimated aid in FY2012 is about $85.1 million. The Administration has requested $68.7 million for foreign assistance for Georgia for FY2013 (data for FY2011, FY2012, and FY2013 include “Function 150” programs and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds).


Date of Report: July 13, 2012
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: 97-727
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

The United States recognized the independence of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia when the former Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West in part to end their dependence on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States has pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian Americans and others over its fate. Close ties with Georgia have evolved from U.S. contacts with its pro-Western leadership. Successive Administrations have supported U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s energy sector as a means of increasing the diversity of world energy suppliers. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the region. As part of the U.S. global counter-terrorism efforts, the U.S. military in 2002 began providing equipment and training for Georgia’s military and security forces. Troops from all three regional states have participated in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The South Caucasian troops serving in Iraq departed in late 2008. The regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound for Afghanistan.

Beginning on August 7, 2008, Russia and Georgia warred over Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian troops quickly swept into Georgia, destroyed infrastructure, and tightened their de facto control over the breakaway regions before a ceasefire was concluded on August 15. The conflict has had long-term effects on security dynamics in the region and beyond. Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the United States and nearly all other nations have refused to follow suit. Russia established bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia—in violation of the ceasefire accords—that buttress its long-time military presence in Armenia. Although there were some concerns that the South Caucasus had become less stable as a source and transit area for oil and gas, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are barging oil across the Caspian Sea for transit westward, and the European Union still plans to build the so-called Nabucco pipeline to bring Azerbaijani and other gas to Austria.

Key issues in the 112th Congress regarding the South Caucasus may include Armenia’s independence and economic development; Azerbaijan’s energy development; and Georgia’s recovery from Russia’s August 2008 military incursion. At the same time, concerns may include the status of human rights and democratization in the countries; the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region; and ongoing threats posed to Georgia and the international order by Russia’s 2008 incursion and its diplomatic recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Congress may continue to oversee the region’s role as part of the Northern Distribution Network for the transit of military supplies to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Some Members of Congress and other policymakers believe that the United States should provide greater support for the region’s increasing role as an east-west trade and security corridor linking the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions, and for Armenia’s inclusion in such links. They urge greater U.S. aid and conflict resolution efforts to contain warfare, crime, smuggling, and terrorism, and to bolster the independence of the states. Others urge caution in adopting policies that will increase U.S. involvement in a region beset by ethnic and civil conflicts.


Date of Report: June 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 62
Order Number: RL33453
Price: $29.95

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Azerbaijan is an important power in the South Caucasus by reason of its geographic location and ample energy resources, but it faces challenges to its stability, including the unresolved separatist conflict involving Nagorno Karabakh (NK). Azerbaijan enjoyed a brief period of independence in 1918-1920, after the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Empire. However, it was re-conquered by Red Army forces and thereafter incorporated into the Soviet Union. It re-gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. Upon independence, Azerbaijan continued to be ruled for awhile by its Soviet-era leader, but in May 1992 he was overthrown and Popular Front head Abulfaz Elchibey was soon elected president. Military setbacks in suppressing separatism in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh (NK) region contributed to Elchibey’s rise to power, and in turn to his downfall. In June 1993, forces in Ganja challenged Elchibey’s power, spurring Elchibey to invite Heydar Aliyev—the leader of Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan region and a former communist party head of Azerbaijan—to Baku to mediate the crisis. The Ganja forces marched on Baku, causing Elchibey to flee the city. Heydar Aliyev was elected chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, and was granted temporary presidential powers. A national referendum held in August 1993 formally stripped Elchibey of the presidency and Heydar Aliyev was elected president of Azerbaijan in October 1993. In July 1994, a ceasefire agreement was signed in the NK conflict. Heydar Aliyev served until October 2003, when under worsening health he stepped down. His son Ilkham Aliyev was elected president a few days later.

According to the Obama Administration, U.S. assistance for Azerbaijan aims to develop democratic institutions and civil society, support the growth of the non-oil sectors of the economy, strengthen the interoperability of the armed forces with NATO, increase maritime border security, and bolster the country’s ability to combat terrorism, corruption, narcotics trafficking, and other transnational crime. Cumulative U.S. assistance budgeted for Azerbaijan from FY1992 through FY2010 was $976 million (all agencies and programs). Almost one-half of the aid was humanitarian, and another one-fifth supported democratic reforms. Budgeted aid to Azerbaijan was $26.4 million in FY2011 and an estimated $20.9 million in FY2012, and the Administration requested $16.3 million for FY2013 (the numbers for FY2011, FY2012, and FY2013 include “Function 150” foreign aid, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds).

After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan granted overflight rights and approved numerous landings and refueling operations at Baku’s civilian airport in support of U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan. More recently, the country is a major land, air, and sea conduit of the Northern Distribution Network for supplies in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan has contributed troops for the ISAF since 2003. The country increased its contingent from 45 to 90 personnel in 2009, including medical and civil affairs specialists. From 2003-2008, about 150 Azerbaijani troops participated in the coalition stabilization force for Iraq.


Date of Report: June 29, 2012
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: 97-522
Price: $29.95

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