Kennedy School Launches New Caspian Studies Program

Contact: Adrianne Kaufmann
Phone: 617-495-8290
Date: September 24, 1999

CAMBRIDGE — The recent discovery of huge oil reserves in countries around the Caspian Sea introduces new players to the global energy game. International oil companies, the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Europe, Iran, China, and several former Soviet Republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia are all vying for footholds in this historically complex region. As the players compete over control of oil fields and oil transport routes, the region has rapidly gained strategic importance.
Recognizing the need for initiative on the region, the Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project (SDI) of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) has launched a major Caspian Studies Program and Azerbaijan Initiative based at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government with a $1 million grant from the United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and a consortium of companies led by Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Aker-Maritime, CCC, and ETPM.
The Program and the Initiative will promote teaching and outreach about this important region and analyze the geopolitics of the Caspian Basin border states as well as their strategic importance to the U.S. and the West.
The Program will be launched with a panel presentation and discussion chaired by Graham T. Allison and featuring Ilham Aliyev, First Vice President of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) at the ARCO Forum of Public Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government on Tuesday, October 26, 1999 at 6:30 PM. Invitations will be mailed as the date approaches.
"You can’t ignore an area that has Russia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iran––all priority states for U.S. security––as neighbors," says Graham T. Allison, Director of the Belfer Center. "Geopolitical competition between the U.S. and Russia––as well as the U.S. and Iran––is being played out in a brand new arena: the Caspian Basin. We will seek to offer prescriptions for a more effective U.S. policy to avoid confrontation and advance U.S. interests, by examining the political and economic realities in the Caspian States."
Plans are underway to host a day-and-a-half session for leading members of the U.S. Congress; a conference with international experts on the region; an ongoing seminar series; and a fellowship programs for students from Azerbaijan. The Caspian Studies Program will also present its findings to officials of other governments and foster dialogue among policymakers, scholars, and practitioners.
For more information about the new Program please contact Melissa Carr, tel: (617) 495-1356, email:


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