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Since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, one of the problematic issues in the inter-state relations of the ex-Soviet republics has been the issue of cooperation in economic, political and many other fields. Cooperation would increase the effectiveness of their transformation process and would consolidate newly obtained independence of these countries. As they had common needs and problems in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR, initially one would expect them to come together and cooperate for overcoming those problems. However, soon it was realized that the expected level of cooperation was difficult to achieve. This was due to two basic reasons: First, as a legacy of the Soviet period there were many ongoing conflicts and grounds for major confrontations among many of these newly-independent states (NIS). This made it difficult for them to find a common denominator, which is a prerequisite for cooperation. Second, immediately after the dissolution of the USSR, different NIS took different economic and political orientations. For example, in 1992-93 Azerbaijan and Georgia, experiencing the peak of their nationalist movements, tilted towards the West and pursued anti-Russian policies, whereas, Armenia, Belarus and the Central Asian countries remained in „good‟ relations with Russia. Mark Webber pointed out that because of this kind of differences in their economic-political orientations, NIS were divided among themselves, which made the cooperation among them even more difficult to achieve.1 Within this general context, cooperation among the NIS of the Caspian region was crucial for their transformation, development and prosperity. Since 1991 there have been taken many initiatives and put forward many strategies, by different states or groups of states, to achieve cooperation in the region. But today, it is still hard to talk about a genuine and mutual cooperation in the Caspian. Even those cooperation schemes that have been successful to some extent, do not include all states of the region and do not cover all important issue-areas, such as trade, finance, security, environment and so on. In this article I will examine the developments regarding cooperation in the Caspian region that have taken place since 1991, point out failures and successes of the cooperation schemes put forward in so far and discuss implications of all this for the future cooperation in the region.



1. Webber, Mark. CIS Integration Trends. Russia and the Former Soviet South
(London: RIIA, 1997), pp.65-66.
2. Aves, Jonathan. Short Report on Wilton Park Conference 595: “Political and
Economic Prospects in the Caspian Sea Region”, FCO, 6-10 March 2000, p.1.
3. Kubicek, Paul. “End of Line for the Commonwealth of Independent States” in
Problems of Post Communism, Vol.46, No.2, March/April 1999, p.15.
4. Webber, op. cit, p.22.
5. Ibid., p.24.
6. Ibid., p.20-21.
7. Mozaffari, Mehdi. “CIS‟ Southern Belt: Regional Co-operation and Integration” in Mehdi Mozaffari (ed.) Security Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (London: Macmillan, 1997), p. 176.
8. Kubicek, op. cit, p. 18.
9. Webber, op. cit, p.60.
10. Mozaffari, op. cit, p.183.
11. Hiro, Dilip. Between Marx and Muhammad. The Changing Face of Central Asia. (London: 1994), p. 70.
12. Mozaffari, op. cit, p. 184.
13. The organisation was originally founded in 1964, as a branch of CENTO for regional cultural and economic co-operation, by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. After the dissolution of the USSR, it enlarged towards the ex-Soviet Muslim republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia, when Azerbaijan and the five Central Asian NIS became its member in November 1992.
14. Pomfret, Richard. “The Economic Co-operation Organisation: Regional Forum or Irrelevant Talking Shop?” in Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Vol.2, No.4, Spring 1997.
15. Ibid.
16. At the moment, co-operation is taking place among Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine to a considerable extent. The other two members‟ attitude toward co-operation within GUUAM framework is still ambiguous.
17. Kubicek, op.cit, p. 21.
18. Turan News Agency, Politics bulletin, Baku 22/11/1999.
19. The Fortnight in Review, the Jamestown Foundation, 14 April 2000.
20. Monitor, the Jamestown Foundation, 01 May 2000.

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