The full potential of Caspian Basin energy resources remains untapped, as the five Caspian Basin states Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan continue to wrestle over key issues related to oil and gas exports. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archives].
Although Islamic militants endanger security in Central Asia, the threat is being exploited by regional governments, especially Uzbekistan, in order to tighten their control over their respective societies, according to a new report published by the International Crisis Group.
Eldar Zeynalov has been at the forefront of human rights advocacy in Azerbaijan since 1993, when he founded the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan. The Center has been monitoring a wide range of pressing issues in Azerbaijan: penal reform, political prisoners, freedom of speech and assembly, women's rights, elections, and refugees.
The collapse of the Soviet system is presenting new challenges to musicians in Central Asia. Under the Communist order, officials placed strict limits on the ability of musicians and composers to express themselves. These days, the main obstacle is connected with economics. Creativity is limited by the dire financial circumstances that most musicians face.
Some Soviet-era cultural institutions, such as Kazakhstan's Union of Artists, have survived the transition in Central Asia from Communism to a more market-oriented system. But as Yerkin Mergenov, the president of Kazakhstan's 500-member Union of Artists, told EurasiaNet in a recent interview, the artists' union has a very limited ability to promote the revival of the arts.
The collapse of the former Soviet Union had a devastating impact on arts and culture in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The creative processes of artists, writers and musicians have suffered as they have struggled to adjust to market realities. In addition, the popular market for arts and culture has contracted, as the general population now has fewer resources to devote to leisurly pursuits.
William Siemering was the first Director of Programming for National Public Radio, where he helped develop such features as "All Things Considered." He also worked at Minnesota Public Radio. Since 1997, Siemering has been involved in the Rural Radio Project, which is devoted to expanding and improving media coverage in sparsely populated areas of Mongolia.
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, ethnic and political conflict has stood in the way of reform in the Newly Independent States. The NGO Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution was formed in 1998 to help build constructive relationships and assist in peacekeeping efforts in the region.