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Defining the Caspian Project

The “Defining the Caspian” was a joint EPC-Black Sea Caspian Sea International Fund (BSCSIF) project.  It aimed to analyse and discuss political, security, energy and trade issues in the Caspian region and its neighbourhood, as well as promote a trans-Caspian approach to engaging and managing Europe’s relations with the region.

The Caspian is the largest inland body of water in the world with a coastline shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. The region encompasses Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Romania, and further afield: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Stretching from the shores of the Black Sea to the heart of Central Asia, the Caspian is a corridor that connects Asia with Europe, a region rich in energy resources, with huge economic potential, and a meeting point between cultures and civilizations. Given its increasing importance as a geopolitical zone, it needs to be developed and integrated into the global economic and political sphere and included in international security paradigms.

Given the region’s geographic position between more powerful states, for much of its history it has been at the heart of global confrontations such as the “Great Game” of the nineteenth century and the Cold War of the twentieth. Today there is still an on-going struggle for influence between the West, Russia and an increasingly powerful China.  The region continues to face a number of significant challenges including economic under-development, security threats/frozen conflicts, corruption, inadequate governance and weak rule of law.

The region has the potential to become a hub reconnecting Europe with Asia. If managed correctly in the spirit of cooperation, it could yield impressive economic and strategic results. Much will depend on the ability of countries in the region to forge effective regional arrangements to address their security concerns and boost their economic potential, paving the way for greater economic prosperity.  The West also needs to engage the region on a whole range of issues beyond its traditional security and energy concerns. For example the West could help enhance economic prosperity by supporting, financing, and implementing additional infrastructure to support trade across the Caspian Sea.

This project was carried out over a 12-month and focussed on the following areas:

The Caspian Transit and Trade Corridor – Revival of the Silk Road

The Southern Corridor, EU energy security and Caspian energy

Security challenges and Geopolitics in the Caspian region

Governance and democratic development
Black Sea



Deputy Head of Europe in the World Programme and Senior Policy Analyst
Turkey, Ukraine, South Caucasus, security and conflict resolution in the Black Sea, EU foreign policy in its Eastern neighbourhood, Enlargement, counter-violent extremism

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