Country Analysis Brief: Russia
Source: Energy Information Administration
Russia is the second-largest producer of dry natural gas and third-largest liquid fuels producer in the world. Despite its significant reserves of coal, it produces only modest amount of coal. Russia’s economy is highly dependent on its hydrocarbons, and oil and gas revenues account for more than 50% of the federal budget revenues.
Georgia’s October 2013 Presidential Election: Outcome and Implications (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
This report discusses Georgia’s October 27, 2013, presidential election and its implications for U.S. interests. The election took place one year after a legislative election that witnessed the mostly peaceful shift of legislative and ministerial power from the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), to the Georgia Dream (GD) coalition bloc. The newly elected president, Giorgi Margvelashvili of the GD, will have fewer powers under recently approved constitutional changes.
Most observers have viewed the 2013 presidential election as marking Georgia’s further progress in democratization, including a peaceful shift of presidential power from UNM head Mikheil Saakashvili to GD official Margvelashvili. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns over ongoing tensions between the UNM and GD, as well as Prime Minister and GD head Bidzini Ivanishvili’s announcement on November 2, 2013, that he will step down as the premier.
In his victory speech on October 28, Margvelashvili reaffirmed Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic foreign policy orientation, including the pursuit of Georgia’s future membership in NATO and the EU. At the same time, he reiterated that GD would continue to pursue the normalization of ties with Russia.
On October 28, 2013, the U.S. State Department praised the Georgian presidential election as generally democratic and expressing the will of the people, and as demonstrating Georgia’s continuing commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. The State Department called for all Georgian political forces to work together to ensure Georgia’s political stability and stated that the United States looked forward to building upon the strong bilateral strategic partnership and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Turkey and Syrian Refugees: The Limits of Hospitality
Source: Brookings Institution
There are five major challenges currently facing Turkey in responding to the Syrian crisis:
- Sustaining the Turkish response to an ever-growing number of refugees
- Mobilizing international solidarity to support the state’s efforts
- Effectively implementing Turkey’s innovative “zero point delivery policy”
- Addressing security issues resulting from both the violence in Syria and presence of an ever-increasing number of Syrian refugees in Turkey
- Recognizing that humanitarian action cannot take the place of political action to resolve the broader crisis
Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia
Source: International Monetary Fund
The near-term economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region has weakened. In the oil-importing countries, many of which are Arab countries in transition, regional conflict, heightened political tensions, and delays in reforms continue to weigh on growth. In this context, the immediate policy priorities are to restore confidence and create jobs, make inroads into fiscal consolidation to restore debt sustainability and rebuild buffers, and embark on structural reforms needed to support private sector-led, job-intensive growth. Most oil-exporting countries continue to enjoy steady growth in the non-oil sector, supported in part by high levels of public spending. Although headline growth has declined because of domestic oil supply disruptions and lower global demand, a recovery in oil production is expected to lift growth next year. Increased vulnerability to a sustained decline in oil prices and intergenerational equity considerations underscore the need for countries to strengthen their fiscal buffers. Key medium-term challenges remain economic diversification and faster private-sector job-creation for nationals.
Economic activity in the Caucasus and Central Asia is expected to continue to expand rapidly. Growth will be driven by a recovery in the hydrocarbon sector and firm growth in domestic demand, supported in part by robust remittance inflows. Considerable downside risks weigh on this outlook, however, stemming in particular from slower-than-expected growth in Russia, an important trading partner and source of remittance inflows. Countries should take advantage of the favorable near-term economic conditions to rebuild fiscal policy buffers that were eroded after the global crisis and set in motion a process of structural transformation into dynamic emerging economies.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
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 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 regional states also have granted transit privileges for U.S. military personnel and equipment bound to and from Afghanistan.
Russian Military Expenditure: Data, Analysis and Issues (PDF)
Source: FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency
Julian Cooper is a leading international independent expert on the Russian defence budget and military expenditure. Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Russia project at FOI, RUFS, has profited from his assistance with navigating through the deceptive waters of Russian military spending in our efforts of finding, assessing and interpreting Russian budget figures. The impor tance of the area is linked to that military expenditure is the most general si ngle indicator of the resources provided to the national military and it is an ind icator frequently used in international comparison. In 2012, Russia was the third count ry in the world in volume of military spending. Therefore it is of great concern that research in this area develops and that the methodology used enhances accuracy of figures despite the remaining problems of secrecy and lack of transparency in the Russian budgetary system.
In this report Julian Cooper presents a summary of principal findings and methodology behind his longstanding research on the Russian defence budget and total military expenditure based on the Russian federal budget. Julian Cooper’s work is an inspiration to all who research this area and over the years he has collected a rich knowledge and unique experience of how to produce results with reasonable accuracy. His results are used by individual researchers as well as by organizations. We asked Julian to write the report in order to make the methodology more accessible to us and to others. We find th at the report is a valuable contribution to the research of Russian military spending and we are most honoured that he kindly accepted our invitation to write and publish it with FOI.
Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by government- approved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics. Dmitriy Medvedev, Putin’s longtime protégé, was elected president in 2008; President Medvedev immediately designated Putin as prime minister and continued Putin’s policies. In August 2008, the Medvedev-Putin “tandem” directed military operations against Georgia and recognized the independence of Georgia’s separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia, actions condemned by most of the international community. In late 2011, Putin announced that he would return to the presidency and that Medvedev would become prime minister. This announcement, and flawed Duma elections at the end of the year, spurred popular protests, which the government addressed by launching a few reforms and holding pro-Putin rallies. In March 2012, Putin was (re)elected president by a wide margin. The day after Putin’s inauguration in May 2012, the legislature confirmed Medvedev as prime minister. Since then, Putin has tightened restrictions on freedom of assembly and other human rights.
Russia’s Economy Russia’s economy began to recover from the Soviet collapse in 1999, led mainly by oil and gas exports, but the decline in oil and gas prices and other aspects of the global economic downturn beginning in 2008 contributed to an 8% drop in gross domestic product in 2009. Since then, rising world oil prices have bolstered the economy. Russian economic growth continues to be dependent on oil and gas exports. The economy is also plagued by an unreformed healthcare system and unhealthy lifestyles; low domestic and foreign investment; and high rates of crime, corruption, capital flight, and unemployment.
Russia’s Armed Forces
Russia’s armed forces now number less than 1 million, down from 4.3 million Soviet troops in 1986. Troop readiness, training, morale, and discipline have suffered, and much of the arms industry has become antiquated. Russia’s economic growth during most of the 2000s allowed it to increase defense spending to begin addressing these problems. Stepped-up efforts have begun to restructure the armed forces and improve their quality. Opposition from some in the armed forces, mismanagement, changes in plans, corruption, manning issues, and economic constraints have complicated this restructuring.
U.S. – Russia Relations
After the Soviet Union’s collapse, the United States sought a cooperative relationship with Moscow and supplied almost $19 billion in aid for Russia from FY1992 through FY2010 to encourage democracy and market reforms and in particular to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In the past, U.S.-Russia tensions on issues such as NATO enlargement and proposed U.S. missile defenses in Eastern Europe were accompanied by some cooperation between the two countries on anti-terrorism and nonproliferation. Russia’s 2008 conflict with Georgia, however, threatened such cooperation. The Obama Administration worked to “re-set” relations with Russia and hailed such steps as the signing of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in April 2010; the approval of new sanctions against Iran by Russia and other members of the U.N. Security Council in June 2010; the accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization in August 2012; and the cooperation of Russia in Afghanistan as signifying the successful “re-set” of bilateral relations.
In late 2012, however, Russia ousted the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from the country and criticized the help that USAID had provided over the years as unnecessary and intrusive. Russia also declined to renew a long-time bilateral accord on non-proliferation assistance (although a new more limited agreement was concluded in June 2013). H.R. 6156 (Camp), authorizing permanent normal trade re lations for Russia, was signed into law on December 14, 2012 (P.L. 112-208). The bill includes provisions sanctioning those responsible for the detention and death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky and for other gross human rights abuses in Russia. Most recently, President Obama canceled a U.S.-Russia summit meeting planned for early September 2013 on the grounds of lack of progress by Russia on bilateral cooperation.
Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress
A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.
The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:
- the Russian Federation,
- South Korea,
- the United Arab Emirates, and
- the United Kingdom.
It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.
The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.
Turkish-Iranian Relations in a Changing Middle East
Source: RAND Corporation
Turkish-Iranian cooperation has visibly intensified in recent years, thanks in part to Turkish energy needs and Iran’s vast oil and natural gas resources. However, Turkey and Iran tend to be rivals rather than close partners. While they may share certain economic and security interests, especially regarding the Kurdish issue, their interests are at odds in many areas across the Middle East. Turkey’s support for the opposition in Syria, Iran’s only true state ally in the Middle East, is one example. Iraq has also become a field of growing competition between Turkey and Iran. Iran’s nuclear program has been a source of strain and divergence in U.S.-Turkish relations. However, the differences between the United States and Turkey regarding Iran’s nuclear program are largely over tactics, not strategic goals. Turkey’s main fear is that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This, in turn, could increase pressure on the Turkish government to consider developing its own nuclear weapon capability. U.S. and Turkish interests have become more convergent since the onset of the Syrian crisis. However, while U.S. and Turkish interests in the Middle East closely overlap, they are not identical. Thus, the United States should not expect Turkey to follow its policy toward Iran unconditionally. Turkey has enforced United Nations sanctions against Iran but, given Ankara’s close energy ties to Tehran, may be reluctant to undertake the harshest measures against Iran.
Global Opinion of Russia Mixed; Negative Views Widespread in Mideast and Europe
Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project
As the current chair of the G20 and host of the organization’s upcoming Leaders’ Summit, Russia has asserted itself on the world stage. Yet, in the court of public opinion, Russia gets a mixed verdict. In a global survey by the Pew Research Center, a median of just 36% among publics in 38 nations express a favorable view of Russia, compared with 39% who hold an unfavorable view, and 19% who do not offer an opinion. By contrast, the same survey found the international image of the U.S. to be much more positive, with a median of 63% expressing a favorable view of America.
In only two countries surveyed do more than half give Russia positive marks: Greece (63% favorable) and South Korea (53%). Elsewhere, opinion of the continent-spanning nation is less favorable, with negative views especially pronounced in the Middle East, Western Europe and Far East neighbor, Japan.
These are among the key findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center conducted from March 2 to May 1, 2013 among 37,653 respondents in 39 countries, including Russia. The survey also finds that favorable opinion of Russia has slipped since 2007 in a number of Western countries, including the U.S. and Britain. But the biggest dip in opinion of Russia has occurred in Egypt and Jordan – key countries in the Middle East, a region in which Moscow has played an increasingly prominent role.
Psychiatry as a Tool for Coercion in Post-Soviet Countries
Source: European Parliament
During the 1960-1980s in the USSR, psychiatry was turned into a tool of repression. Soviet psychiatry was cut off from world psychiatry and developed its own – highly institutional and biologically oriented – course, providing at the same time a “scientific justification” for declaring dissidents mentally ill. Since the collapse of the USSR there have been frequent reports of persons hospitalized for non-medical reasons, mostly in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The abuses are caused by an underdeveloped mental health profession with little knowledge of medical ethics and professional responsibilities of physicians; by a system that is highly abusive and not able to guarantee the rights of patients; because of corrupt societies where also psychiatric diagnoses are for sale; because of lack of financing and interest by the authorities and in some cases because of a deteriorating political climate in which local authorities feel safe to use psychiatry again as a tool of repression. Through targeted interventions from outside the situation could be considerably ameliorated and a clear break with the past could be made possible. In this respect the European Parliament can play a crucial role in empowering those who wish to make a clear break with the Soviet past.
Regional Analysis Brief: Caspian Sea Region
Source: Energy Information Administration
The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. The area has significant oil and natural gas reserves from both offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea itself and onshore fields in the Caspian basin. Traditionally an oil-producing area, the Caspian area’s importance as a natural gas producer is growing quickly.
This report analyzes oil and natural gas in the Caspian region, focusing primarily on the littoral (coastal) countries of the Caspian Sea (Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran). A discussion of Uzbekistan is also included. While not a Caspian coastal state, a considerable amount of Uzbekistan’s territory, along with its energy resources, lies in the geological Caspian basins.
Aside from Azerbaijan’s oil production, the Caspian Sea largely was untapped until the collapse of the Soviet Union. With several newly independent countries gaining access to valuable hydrocarbon deposits, the different countries have taken diverging approaches to developing the energy resources of the area. At the same time, the lack of regional cooperation between the countries’ governments and few export options for Caspian hydrocarbon resources have slowed the development of Caspian oil and natural gas resources.
The combination of foreign investment and rising energy prices allowed the coastal countries to shift from diverting oil extraction for local use to supplying both regional and world oil markets. The ability of countries to export greater volumes of Caspian crude oil and natural gas will depend on how quickly domestic energy demand rises in those countries, how quickly they can build additional export infrastructure to global markets, and whether expensive projects to develop Caspian resources can attract sufficient investment.
Approaching the 2014 Sochi Olympics: Human Rights in Russia
Source: Amnesty International
In July 2012 President Putin signed a new law obligating NGOs receiving overseas funding and involved in undefined “political activities” to register as “foreign agents”. As a result of this legislation, leading human rights NGOs, including Memorial, For Human Rights and Amnesty International itself have been subjected to unplanned inspections resulting in prosecutorial “warnings” and court cases. This particular brand of harassment can result in self-censorship, restriction of activities, or even flight. The conflation of NGOs with “foreign agents” or spies has also resulted in stigmatization and, in some cases, offices being vandalized.
More than 200 Russian non-governmental organizations in 50 regions have already undergone inspections, often with devastating effects. The Association in Defense of Voters’ Rights Golos (Voice) was first NGO to face charges under the foreign agents law. Both the organization and its director now face exorbitant fines and Golos has been forced to close.
A law passed in late 2012 also provides for sentences of up to 20 years for individuals who “provide consultative assistance to a “foreign organization” if that group was involved in “activities aimed against Russia’s security.” This catch-all phrase can be used to criminalize almost any activity the government deems hostile.
The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. After more than 20 hearings, the U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council— approved the treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011, after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification. New START provides the parties with 7 years to reduce their forces, and will remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments.
Within that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.
New START contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits. Moreover, the delivery vehicles and their warheads will count under the treaty limits until they are converted or eliminated according to the provisions described in the treaty’s Protocol. These provisions are far less demanding than those in the original START Treaty and will provide the United States and Russia with far more flexibility in determining how to reduce their forces to meet the treaty limits.
The monitoring and verification regime in the New START Treaty is less costly and complex than the regime in START. Like START, though, it contains detailed definitions of items limited by the treaty; provisions governing the use of national technical means (NTM) to gather data on each side’s forces and activities; an extensive database that identifies the numbers, types, and locations of items limited by the treaty; provisions requiring notifications about items limited by the treaty; and inspections allowing the parties to confirm information shared during data exchanges.
New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. It does ban the conversion of ICBM and SLBM launchers to launchers for missile defense interceptors, but the United States never intended to pursue such conversions when deploying missile defense interceptors. Under New START, the United States can deploy conventional warheads on its ballistic missiles, but these will count under the treaty limit on nuclear warheads. The United States may deploy a small number of these systems during the time that New START is in force.
The Obama Administration and outside analysts argue that New START will strengthen strategic stability and enhance U.S. national security. They contend that New START will contribute to U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals by convincing other nations that the United States is serious about its obligations under the NPT. This might convince more nations to cooperate with the United States in pressuring nations who are seeking their own nuclear weapons.
Critics, however, question whether the treaty serves U.S. national security interests, as Russia was likely to reduce its forces with or without an arms control agreement and because the United States and Russia no longer need arms control treaties to manage their relationship. Some also consider the U.S.-Russian arms control process to be a distraction from the more important issues on the nonproliferation agenda.
Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not reached consensus that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, and there is debate among experts on this question.
Congress has maintained a strong interest in the ballistic missile threat from both North Korea and Iran and in BMD systems to counter those threats. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2013 (P.L. 112-239) notes that East Asian allies have contributed to BMD in various ways, and it calls on the Department of Defense to continue efforts to develop and formalize regional BMD arrangements.
The United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region have responded to the North Korean missile threat by deploying BMD assets and increasing international BMD cooperation. The United States and Japan have deployed Aegis-e quipped destroyers with Standard Missile 3 (SM- 3) interceptors, Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) batteries, early warning sensors, and advanced radars to meet the threat. South Korea and Australia have relatively basic BMD capabilities with plans to improve those in th e near future. Cooperation on BMD follows the hub- and-spokes model of U.S. bilateral alliance relationships in the region; the multilateralism that underpins the European BMD arrangement is largely absent. Working-level coordination is especially close among the United States, Japan, and Australia, but senior U.S. defense officials have called for greater integration of U.S. and allied BMD efforts in East Asia to improve effectiveness.
The stated focus of U.S. BMD policy is to defend against limited missile strikes from rogue states, not to alter the balance of strategic nuclear deterrence with the major nuclear-armed states. Nonetheless, Russia and China have strongly cr iticized U.S. BMD deployments as a threat to their nuclear deterrents, and thus a danger to strategic stability. Chinese officials and scholars make several other criticisms: that BMD is antagonizing North Korea and thus undermining regional stability; that the United States is using BMD to strengthen its alliance relationships, which could be turned against China; and that BMD is undermining China’s conventional missile deterrent against Taiwan, and thus emboldening those on Taiwan who want to formalize the island’s separation from China.
Europe’s Energy Security: Options and Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Europe as a major energy consumer faces a number of challenges when addressing future energy needs. Among these challenges are rapidly rising global demand and competition for energy resources from emerging economies such as China and India, persistent instability in energy producing regions such as the Middle East, a fragmented internal European energy market, and a growing need to shift fuels in order to address climate change policy. As a result, energy supply security has become a key concern for European nations and the European Union (EU).
A key element of the EU’s energy supply strategy has been to shift to a greater use of natural gas. Europe as a whole is a major importer of natural gas. Although second to Norway as a supplier to Europe, Russia remains one of Europe’s most important natural gas suppliers. Europe’s natural gas consumption is projected to grow while its own domestic natural gas production continues to decline. If trends continue as projected, Europe’s dependence on Russia as a supplier is likely to grow. And, while it could be in Europe’s interest to explore alternative sources for its natural gas needs, it is uncertain whether Europe as a whole can, or is willing to, replace a significant level of imports from Russia. Some European countries that feel vulnerable to potential Russian energy supply manipulation may work harder to achieve diversification than others.
Russia has not been idle when it comes to protecting its share of the European natural gas market. Moscow, including the state-controlled company Gazprom, has attempted to stymie European- backed alternatives to pipelines it controls by proposing competing pipeline projects and attempting to co-opt European companies by offering them stakes in those and other projects. It has attempted to dissuade potential suppliers (especially those in Central Asia) from participating in European-supported plans. Moscow has also raised environmental concerns in an apparent effort to hinder other alternatives to its supplies, such as unconventional natural gas.
Successive U.S. administrations and Congresses have viewed European energy security as a U.S. national interest. Promoting diversification of Europe’s natural gas supplies, especially in recent years through the development of a southern corridor of gas from the Caspian region as an alternative to Russian natural gas, has been a focal point of U.S. energy policy in Europe and Eurasia. The George W. Bush Administration viewed the issue in geopolitical terms and sharply criticized Russia for using energy supplies as a political tool to influence other countries. The Obama Administration has also called for diversification, but has refrained from openly expressing concerns about Russia’s regional energy policy, perhaps in order to avoid jeopardizing the “reset” of ties with Moscow. Nevertheless, although supplying natural gas to Europe from the Caspian Region and Central Asia has been a goal of multiple U.S. administrations and the EU, it is far from being achieved in volumes significant to counter Russian exports.
This report focuses on potential approaches that Europe might employ to diversify its sources of natural gas supply, Russia’s role in Europe’s natural gas policies, and key factors that could hinder efforts to develop alternative suppliers of natural gas. The report assesses the potential suppliers of natural gas to Europe and the short- to medium-term hurdles needed to be overcome for those suppliers to be credible, long-term providers of natural gas to Europe. The report looks at North Africa, potentially the most realistic supply alternative in the near-term, but notes that the region will have to resolve its current political, economic, and security instability as well as the internal structural changes to the natural gas industry. Central Asia, which may have the greatest amounts of natural gas, would need to construct lengthy pipelines through multiple countries to move its natural gas to Europe.
Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)
Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance—it straddles Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia and now has the world’s 17 th -largest economy—have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, its growing economic diversification and military self-reliance allows Turkey to exercise greater leverage with the West. These trends have helped fuel continuing Turkish political transformation led in the past decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist roots.
Tens of thousands of mostly middle-class Turks join ed protests in June 2013 to express dismay at what they assert to be an increasingly authoritarian leadership style from Erdogan. The protests and the government’s response have raised questions for U.S. policymakers about Turkey’s domestic political trajectory and economic stability. It has also raised questions about the extent and nature of Turkey’s regional influence. Future domestic political developments may determine the extent to which Turkey reconciles majoritarian views favoring Turkish nationalism and Sunni Muslim values with protection of individual fr eedoms, minority rights (including those of Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish population), rule of law, and the principle of secular governance.
In addition to the attention it is paying to domestic discontent in Turkey, Congress has shown considerable interest in the following issues:
- Working with Turkey in the Middle East to influence political outcomes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; counter Iranian influence; and preserve stability;
- Past deterioration and possible improvem ent in Turkey-Israel relations and how that might affect U.S.-Turkey relations; and
- A potential congressional resolution or presidential statement on the possible genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey’s predecessor state) during World War I.
Many U.S. policymakers also are interested in the rights of minority Christian communities within Turkey; the currently stalemated prospects of Turkish accession to the European Union (EU); promoting increased trade with Turkey; and Turkey’s role in the Cyprus dispute. Congress appropriates approximately $5 million annually in military and security assistance for Turkey. The EU currently provides over $1 billion to Turkey annually in pre-accession financial and technical assistance.
Since 2011, U.S.-Turkey cooperation on issues affecting the Middle East has become closer, as Turkey agreed to host a U.S. radar as part of a NATO missile defense system and the two countries have coordinated efforts in responding to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Nevertheless, developments during the Obama Administration on Syria, Israel, and other issues—including domestic concerns highlighted in June 2013—have led to questions about the extent to which U.S. and Turkish strategic priorities and values converge on both a short- and long-term basis.
Source: PriceWaterhouse Coopers
The 2012 global multichannel retail consumer survey was completed by more than 11,000 respondents from 11 different countries. For PwC, this is our most comprehensive research to date on multichannel retailing. In order to truly understand the trends and spot the patterns in multichannel shopping, we surveyed only those consumers who self-identified as online shoppers.
The 11 countries covered in the survey were:
- United Kingdom
- United States