The Southern Caucasus and Central Asia are priority areas for the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. Russia mainly sees its influence in both regions as an important factor determining its international stature, and as a precondition for reinforcing its position as a world power. The Caucasus and Central Asia are also important for Russia from the points of view of economy, especially because of those area's natural resource wealth, and security, as both regions generate serious potential threats to the Russian Federation, including Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, the drugs trade and illegal migration.
Contrary to both parties' declarations on the development of their "strategic partnership", relations between Russia and the European Union have over recent years been in a state which could be called one of crisis. However, this does not mean that there have been no achievements in EU-Russian relations.
After a dramatic economic decline after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the financial breakdown of 1998, the Russian economy has begun to emerge from its deep crisis. The years 1999-2004 were a period of dynamic development in all sectors of Russian economy, and saw a rapid growth in GDP of over 7 per cent per year
Foreword Ten years after the end of the armed conflict, the Western Balkans are still being considered as the "land of the unsuccessful policies". Enormous financial and technical assistance transferred by the International Community has not managed to meet the goals of integrating the region within itself as well as within the European markets. Explanation for this can be found in the consequences of the war and the remnants of the socialist state. The complexity of current institutional/ political arrangements combined with the limited willingness of the regional actors to introduce and implement much of the needed reforms have additionally contributed to the current state of affairs.
The Ukrainian society in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election was in a state which political science literature characterises as an almost "ideal" condition for an outbreak of social unrest. Growing expectations, both economic and political, seemed vain due to mounting impediments. The victory of Viktor Yanukovych was perceived by many opinion-makers as a nail in the coffin of such aspirations
One hundred days after the inauguration of the Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko and the appointment of the new government led by Yulia Tymoshenko it is traditionally the time for first reviews and assessments of the new authorities' policy. In the case of Ukraine, this is particularly interesting. The regime change occurred largely as a result of an anti-system public protest known as the orange revolution. However, Maydan did not principally formulate any positive programme.
Clear qualitative changes have taken place in relations between the European Union and its Eastern neighbours over the past year. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been playing a significant part in the context of these changes
The energy security of countries importing energy resources depends largely on the shape and quality of operational transport connections. This is particularly important in the case of natural gas supplies. Natural gas is transported mostly by gas pipelines which permanently connect gas producers and consumers. Thus Europe as a consumer is "tied" to certain gas suppliers for anywhere between a dozen and several tens of years. As their own resources are becoming depleted, the EU Member States get increasingly dependent on import of natural gas.
The priority of Ankara's energy policy is to make Turkey an important transit corridor for energy resources transported to the EU. Turkey wishes to play an active role in the distribution and sale of gas and oil flowing across its territory.
Vladimir Putin's first term as President was a period of submitting political, regional and economic lobbies to the Kremlin. The actions Putin has taken since being re-elected are aimed at consolidating the Kremlin's control over the political, economic and social spheres.