The region’s economic problems may deteriorate as money is withdrawn by Greek banks who play a major role in the financial sector of some Balkan countries. The problem with Athens’ vast debt and the expected long-term stagnation in Greece will slow down the economic development of the entire region.
Russia is modifying its historical policy; it is giving up its vindications of Stalin, while at the same time defending the concept of the USSR’s role as liberator during the Second World War.
Militant Islam is the greatest threat to stability in the North Caucasus. However, it is merely a symptom of a much wider process, namely the widening civilisational gap between Russia and the North Caucasus. As a result, the North Caucasus is turning into an enclave separated from the rest of the Russian Federation by a growing civilisational gap.
The financial reserves accumulated in times of prosperity (more than US$162 billion in the stabilisation funds and nearly US$598 billion in the currency and gold reserve) alleviated the negative impact of the crisis, although this failed to prevent the deep declines in macroeconomic indicators.
The real threat posed by militant Islam seems to be rather limited, and its roots lie outside Central Asia. This region is unlikely to become a key front of global jihad. Nevertheless, this does not guarantee peace and safety in Central Asia, as the Islamic threat remains an element of the geopolitical rivalry in the region – the ‘New Great Game’.
Russia’s actions so far have led to a kind of deadlock. Moscow has managed to stop NATO enlargement into the CIS area, persuade the USA not to deploy the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and avoid major consequences after the war with Georgia; nevertheless, the full implementation of its objectives remains unlikely.