20 Years of Leading Analysis
  • A Warning for Moscow: The Armenian-Turkish Protocols

    Posted by: Maxim Suchkov March 05, 2015

    On February 16, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan appealed to Galust Saakyan, the Chair of the National Assembly, to cancel the bilateral Armenian-Turkish protocols signed in Zurich on October 10, 2009. A product of the so-called “soccer diplomacy,” the protocols were agreed upon in the context shifting geopolitical realities in the Caucasus in the wake of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

    Though some considered it to be a critical milestone in relations between Ankara and Yerevan, few believed it would entail a substantial breakthrough at the ground level. If fully implemented, the protocols could have opened up promising economic opportunities for Armenia. For Turkey, it could have increased opportunities for regional engagement. Further, it could have helped to ease the historical tension over the 1915 Armenian Genocide that still strains the Armenian-Turkish relationship.

    However the document was dead on arrival for two of the agreement’s principal stakeholders: the Armenian diaspora and the Azeri constituency in Turkey. Ultimately, these actors played a significant role in blocking the protocols’ ratification.

    As a result, Sargsyan’s decision came as little surprise to many observers of the region. It would be hard to claim the move derailed the “normalization process” because there was little of substance to derail. In essence, the decision had a three-fold domestic rationale.

    First, President Sargsyan needed to mark the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, to be commemorated on April 24th, with a decisive political gesture. The move was supposed to advance two goals: to emphasize the tragedy for Armenians, thereby gaining domestic support, and to create a new context for bilateral relations, politicized or not. This argument has been put forth—under different premises—by a majority of experts in Armenia as well as in Turkey where pundits too anticipated “a spoiler from Armenia on the eve of the date.”

    Second, Sargsyan is facing domestic opposition from a variety of political actors, including his former allies. Therefore, bringing up the most important part of Armenia’s historical memory was an easy way to score points with all domestic constituencies.

    Finally, the president’s move helped placate a serious player in Armenian politics: the diaspora. He gained support by presenting himself not as the president of the country but rather as the leader of all Armenians.

    One country that should be watchful of future Armenian-Turkish relations is Russia. Recently, Moscow has been warming up to Ankara, seeing the world’s eighteenth largest economy as an important partner in the “new political reality” with the West. At the same time, the Kremlin deems Armenia a critical—and, at this point, singular—ally in the South Caucasus. It took a great deal of diplomatic maneuvering, and a number of security guarantees and economic carrots to lure Yerevan into the Eurasian Economic Union. The recent tragedy in Gyumri has made portions of Armenian society question the importance of Russia as an ally for Armenia, which has made the Russian public uneasy about Yerevan’s loyalty.

    Several analysts hoped there would be some kind of agreement worked out to foster the Armenian-Turkish relationship. However, should the relationship descend into a greater hostility, it may send greater shockwaves across the region and require tough choices of neighboring capitals. In this respect, the exacerbation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could fuel greater animosity. In such a fragile context, any move Russia makes will be under increased scrutiny. Not only should Russia be cautious with its public rhetoric which frequently damages the Kremlin’s image, it should also begin to formulate a long-term strategy that could marry its own interests toward the two important states of Turkey and Armenia.

    Maxim A. Suchkov, a former Fulbright visiting fellow at Georgetown University (2010–11), is currently a contributor to Al Monitor (Russia Pulse) and fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies (Pyatigorsk).

  • Sanctions Vortex or Global Thinking?

    Posted by: Sergej Sumlenny Wednesday, March 04, 2015

    The European and U.S. sanctions seem to be the most challenging factor for western companies doing business in Russia. As sanctions lists and types of sanctions have got more and more complicated during the last year, clarity has decreased and risks have increased dramatically.

  • How Will Nemtsov’s Murder Change Political Life in Russia?

    Posted by: Alexey Malashenko, Ulrich Speck Tuesday, March 03, 2015

    In the wake of the murder of one of Russia’s most fervent opposition leaders, Boris Nemtsov, Russia remains less in a state of shock than in a state of confusion about what this means for the country’s future. Eurasia Outlook asked Carnegie’s experts to share their thoughts on how the event will change political life in Russia.

  • The Killing of Boris Nemtsov and the Degradation of Russian Authoritarianism

    Posted by: Alexander Baunov Sunday, March 01, 2015 6

    Regardless of who the shooter was and whose orders he was carrying out, a country where a critic of the regime is forced to fear being killed on the street rather than being arrested at a political rally is an entirely different country altogether.

  • Economic Turmoil in the Caucasus

    Posted by: Thomas de Waal Friday, February 27, 2015

    Devaluing its currency, Azerbaijan follows its neighbors into a time of economic struggle.

  • Why Did Nazarbayev Suddenly Call for Early Elections?

    Posted by: Alexey Vasilivetsky Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Nazarbayev’s reelection is unlikely to lead to serious changes in the country’s economic or foreign policy. Rather, he simply wants to conserve his position to avoid excessive concerns in the future.

  • A Year After Maidan: Why Did Viktor Yanukovych Flee After Signing the Agreement With the Opposition?

    Posted by: Alexander Baunov, Balázs Jarábik, Alexander Golubov Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    February 22, 2014, Ukraine’s then president Viktor Yanukovych surprised the world by fleeing Kyiv, just after an agreement had been reached with the country's opposition. One eventful year later, Eurasia Outlook asked several experts why they think Yanukovych fled when he did.

  • Kim Jong Deng: Why North Korea Is Choosing Market Reforms

    Posted by: Andrei Lankov Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Due to his age, young Kim Jong-un cannot afford to rule the way his aged father did. The old system will not guarantee him another 40—50 years in power. Therefore, he is forced to change it, however risky these changes might be.

  • What Is Behind the Sirte Tragedy?

    Posted by: Alexey Malashenko Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    The ISIS cannot be defeated through military strikes only. The Islamic State is just a tip of the radical Islamist iceberg, which is firmly entrenched in the Muslim world.

  • Russo-Turkish and Russo-Indian Nuclear Cooperation: A Template for the Future?

    Posted by: Petr Topychkanov Friday, February 20, 2015

    Though largely overlooked by international media, Russia has signed several significant nuclear energy agreements over the last several months. These agreements give Russia an opportunity to develop nuclear cooperation with India, Turkey, and Iran, as well as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Egypt, where Russia plans to build nuclear plants too.



Eurasia Outlook provides insight into this critical but difficult-to-understand region with analysis from Carnegie’s experts in Moscow, Washington, and other leading voices.

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