SUBJECT: Assessment of the Caucasus Region
1. ISSUE. Provide the USEUCOM Commander an overview of Azerbaijan’s approach to the situation in the Caucasus Region.
a. Primary National Interest: Republic of Azerbaijan works to ensure sustained economic growth by protecting and exploiting proven oil reserves from deepwater Caspian Basin oilfields and its transport to growing western markets via the Baku-Tblilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil and associated South Caucasus (SCP) gas pipeline. Azerbaijan leverages this energy development to build strategic partnerships & ensure international attention for its independence, and attempt to influence attitudes toward the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict.
b. Objective(s) in pursuit of the primary national interest: (1). Continue international negotiations to resolve the long-standing NK ethnic conflict with Armenia; talks are facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group since the 1994 cease-fire. This issue is a major domestic and international obstacle affecting regional stability with Azerbaijan. In November 2007, OSCE presented both sides with a proposal for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resulting in the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents meeting twice in 2008. The two presidents signed a declaration expressing their intent to seek a political settlement to the conflict & step up negotiations within the Minsk Group framework. In 2009 the two presidents met six more times; the Minsk Group issued a statement re-affirming their commitment. However, doubts now exist whether the leaders have the political will to make a decision for a settlement. Negotiations continue at an intensified pace, but are not past the tenuous phase of confidence building.
(2). Azerbaijan will work to substantially diminish their dependence on Russia for energy dependence. Full exploitation of the BTC & SCP pipelines will decrease Russian influence over energy development, transport and its...