Kazakhstan’s relations with the South Caucasian states

Dr. Shirin Akiner, Research Associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, discusses Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan relations. She argues that while Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, maritime neighbors across the Caspian, are inextricably bound together by a web of common interests and concerns, they have pursued their own export strategies. Together, they offer access eastwards to the expanding markets of Asia, westwards to Europe and southwards to the Middle East. Taken together, these different elements form a multi-dimensional bond that has the potential to become a strong and vibrant partnership. Since independence, Kazakhstan’s relations with the states of the South Caucasus have been primarily determined by pragmatic considerations. Azerbaijan, and to a lesser extent Georgia, became attractive partners when Kazakhstan required additional export facilities for its commodities. There are, however, other important ties between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, stemming from their location on the Caspian Sea, in addition to historical and cultural affinities. The differences between the two countries – in physical and human geography, as well as in terms of their political alignments – far from creating barriers, have produced mutually beneficial prospects. The emerging Kazakhstani-Azerbaijani partnership is a step towards the development of what could become a strategic east-west network.

Authors: Shirin Akiner