The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program constitute a joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center. The Center is independent and privately funded, and has offices in Washington, D.C., and Stockholm, Sweden. The Center is affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, and with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy. It is the first Center of its kind in both Europe and North America, and is firmly established as a leading focus of research and policy worldwide, serving a large and diverse community of analysts, scholars, policy-watchers, business leaders, journalists, and students.


The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program were designed, in 1996 and 2002 respectively, to respond to the increasing need for information, research and analysis on these regions with the identical ambition: to help bring these regions out of the shadows of the American and European consciousness to which fate had consigned them. By encouraging Americans and Europeans to enter into an active and multi-faceted engagement with the region, and by promoting serious and well-informed policies towards it, the founders hoped the new institutes could help a neglected world area to reclaim its legitimate and appropriate place in the world order. Realizing the complementary and identical aims of providing rigorous, applied and policy-relevant research on this region, as well as the added value of further structured cooperation in research, teaching, and publications, CACI and SRSP resolved in 2005 to institutionalize their existing cooperation and to formally merge into a joint Research and Policy Center.


The joint Center strives to promote study and policy-related work on the region through five main channels: Impartial research; publications and dissemination; forums and conferences; teaching; and acting as a "switchboard" for knowledge and information.

Impartial Research

The joint Center fosters both fundamental and applied research in a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, ranging from short research projects involving a sole researcher to larger, multi-year endeavors involving numerous researchers. This research is undertaken mainly at the Center's two offices, but often involves sponsoring research in the field. The Center also often receives visiting scholars. In fields formerly dominated by males, women have been prominent among scholars at the Center. 

Publications and Dissemination

A main task of the joint Center is the publication and dissemination of its research to a large and varied audience consisting of both policymakers, academics, and the educated public. The Center aspires to fulfill this task through publishing research findings in a wide variety of outlets; through issuing a series of publications on the issues under its mandate; and through frequent interviews and lectures given by the Center's staff at to various media outlets and institutions around the world. The Center publishes the following publications:

    • A book series in cooperation with M.E. Sharpe Publishers.
    • The Silk Road Papers, the Center's Occasional Papers series ranging from 50 to 150 pages in length, are published electronically and in print, and are freely available online.
    • The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, a globally leading periodical for analysis and information on the region, freely accessible online. Established in 1999 and edited by Svante E. Cornell, the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst has established itself among the world's most authoritative sources of analysis and information on the region.
    • The Fact Sheets, Eurasian Narcotics, are based on an extensive database and provide insights on the drug problem in each regional country in an accessible manner.
    • News Digests. The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst includes a News Digest, while the Center also provides a weekly news digest on the narcotics and security situation in Eurasia.

Forums and Conferences

The Center organizes two periodic forums in their respective locations as well as occasional joint conferences. In Washington, the W.P. Carey Forum has developed into the country's premier locus for rigorous discussion of issues pertaining to Central Asia and the Caucasus. In Stockholm, the Silk Road Forum fosters discussions on the region in a similar manner. These forums have several aims:

    • To keep the region in the attention of the western foreign policy makers;
    • To make available the fruits of the most authoritative research on the region;
    • To bring attention to questions that are important but neglected in the public debate;
    • To give important officials in the region an opportunity to present their views to a wider audience than might otherwise be available to them.


While devoted mainly to research and policy issues, the joint Center regularly offers undergraduate and graduate courses on the region as well as supervision of master's and doctoral theses. 

A Switchboard of Knowledge and Information

The Center serves the most promising scholars and analysts working on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Such men and women are extremely decentralized. The best younger researchers in the U.S. and Europe frequently teach at universities and colleges that are distant from the traditional academic centers of international studies. Numerous centers for serious study exist throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus, among them being the Institutes of Strategic Studies that exist in every capital, and with which the Center maintains regular ties. The joint Center has become an unofficial embassy for Central Asia and Caucasus Studies in Washington and a kind of "intellectual switchboard" for such studies globally. The Washington office welcomes hundreds of visitors each year, including individuals, groups, and official delegations, while the Stockholm office, building on a long and leading tradition of studies of Central Eurasia in Europe, serves the same function.

The Center's Officers

The Joint Center's Chairman is Dr. S. Frederick Starr. A Distinguished Fellow at AFPC, Starr co-founded the Kennan Institute, served for 11 years as President of Oberlin College, and served in the early 2000s as pro-tem Rector of the University of Central Asia. He is a leading specialist on the society and politics of Central Asia including Afghanistan, as well as Russian politics and foreign policy, U.S. policy in Eurasia, and the regional politics of oil. The Center's Research Director is Dr. Svante E. Cornell. A Senior Fellow for Eurasia at AFPC, Cornell is a specialist on security issues, regional security and state-building in the Caucasus, Turkey, and Central Asia. The Center's Program Director is Dr. Niklas L.P. Swanström. Swanström is a specialist on conflict management, security, and negotiation in Northeast and Central Asia.





  • CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr comments on "Preparing Now for a Post-Putin Russia"
    Friday, 03 November 2023 18:30

    Whether Russian President Vladimir Putin dies in office, is ousted in a palace coup, or relinquishes power for some unforeseen reason, the United States and its allies would face a radically different Russia with the Kremlin under new management. The geopolitical stakes mean that policymakers would be negligent not to plan for the consequences of a post-Putin Russia. On November 2, 2023, CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr joined a panel organized by the Hudson Institute’s Center on Europe and Eurasia for a discussion on how US and allied policymakers can prepare for a Russia after Putin.

    Click here to watch on YouTube or scroll down to watch the full panel discussion.

  • Central Asia Diplomats Call for Closer Ties With US
    Monday, 26 June 2023 00:00

    REPRINTED with permission from Voice of America News
    By Navbahor Imamova

    WASHINGTON -- U.S.-based diplomats from Central Asia, a region long dominated by Russia and more recently China, say they are eager for more engagement with the United States.

    Many American foreign policy experts agree that a more robust relationship would be mutually beneficial, though U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations express deep concerns about human rights and authoritarian rule in the five countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

    Michael Delaney, a former U.S. trade official, argued in favor of greater engagement this week at a webinar organized by the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce.

    He noted that three of the five republics are World Trade Organization members and the other two are in the accession process — a goal actively encouraged by the U.S. government.

    "I've always believed that this is a geographically disadvantaged area. There are relatively small national economies," he said. But, he said, collectively the region represents a potentially more connected market, about 80 million people.

    Key issues

    In this virtual gathering, all five Central Asian ambassadors to Washington expressed eagerness to work on issues the U.S. has long pushed for, such as water and energy sustainability, security cooperation, environmental protection and climate, and connectivity.

    Kazakhstan's Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev said that despite all factors, the United States does not want to leave the field to China, its global competitor, which actively invests in the region.

    "Recent visit by 20 companies to Kazakhstan as a part of certified U.S. trade mission, including technology giants like Apple, Microsoft, Google, but also other partners like Boeing, have shown a growing interest," Ashikbayev said.

    The Kazakh diplomat described a "synergy" of economies and diplomatic efforts. All Central Asian states are committed to dialogue, trade and multilateralism, he said. "As we are witnessing the return of the divisive bloc mentalities almost unseen for 30 years, it's in our best interest to prevent Central Asia from turning into another battleground of global powers."

    During his first tour of Central Asia earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, meeting separately with the foreign ministers of all five countries.

    That was deeply appreciated, said Meret Orazov, Turkmenistan's longtime ambassador, who also praised the regular bilateral consultations the U.S. holds with these countries.

    Uzbek Ambassador Furqat Sidiqov sees the U.S. as an important partner, with "long-standing friendship and cooperation which have only grown stronger over the years."

    "The U.S. has played a significant role in promoting dialogue and cooperation among the Central Asian nations through initiatives such as the C5+1," he said, referring to a diplomatic platform comprising Washington and the region's five governments.

    "This is where we address common concerns and enhance integration," said Sidiqov. "We encourage the U.S. to bolster this mechanism."

    Tashkent regards Afghanistan as key to Central Asia's development, potentially linking the landlocked region to the markets and seaports of South Asia. Sidiqov said his country counts on American assistance.

    'Possibility of positive change'

    Fred Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, ardently advocates for the U.S. to adopt closer political, economic and people-to-people ties with the region.

    In a recent paper, he wrote that among dozens of officials, diplomats, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists and civil society leaders interviewed in Central Asia, "even those most critical of American positions saw the possibility of positive change and … all acknowledged that the need for change is on both sides, theirs as well as ours."

    This is the only region that doesn't have its own organization, said Starr, arguing that the U.S. could support this effort. "We have not done so, probably because we think that this is somehow going to interfere with their relations with their other big neighbors, the north and east, but it's not going to. It's not against anyone."

    "Easy to do, low cost, very big outcome," he added, also underscoring that "there is a feeling the U.S. should be much more attentive to security."

    "Japan, the European Union, Russia, China, their top leaders have visited. … No U.S. president has ever set foot in Central Asia," he said. He added that regional officials are left to wonder, "Are we so insignificant that they can't take the time to visit?"

    Starr urges U.S. President Joe Biden to convene the C5+1 in New York during the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly in September. "This would not be a big drain on the president's time, but it would be symbolically extremely important," he said. "All of them want this to happen."

    Read at VOA News

  • Read CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr's recent interview on the resurgence of Imperial Russia with The American Purpose
    Tuesday, 23 May 2023 00:00

    Why Russians Support the War: Jeffrey Gedmin interviews S. Frederick Starr on the resurgence of Imperial Russia.

    The American Purpose, May 23, 2023

    Jeffrey Gedmin: Do we have a Putin problem or a Russia problem today?

    S. Frederick Starr: We have a Putin problem because we have a Russia problem. Bluntly, the mass of Russians are passive and easily manipulated—down to the moment they aren’t. Two decades ago they made a deal with Vladimir Putin, as they have done with many of his predecessors: You give us a basic income, prospects for a better future, and a country we can take pride in, and we will give you a free hand. This is the same formula for autocracy that prevailed in Soviet times, and, before that, under the czars. The difference is that this time Russia’s leader—Putin—and his entourage have adopted a bizarre and dangerous ideology, “Eurasianism,” that empowers them to expand Russian power at will over the entire former territory of the USSR and even beyond. It is a grand and awful vision that puffs up ruler and ruled alike.

    What do most Russians think of this deal? It leaves them bereft of the normal rights of citizenship but free from its day-to-day responsibilities. So instead of debating, voting, and demonstrating, Russians store up their frustrations and then release them in elemental, often destructive, and usually futile acts of rebellion. This “Russia problem” leaves the prospect of change in Russia today in the hands of alienated members of Putin’s immediate entourage, many of whom share his vision of Russia’s destiny and are anyway subject to Putin’s ample levers for control. Thus, our “Putin problem” arises from our “Russia problem.”

    Click to continue reading...

  • CACI director Svante Cornell's interviewed on the 'John Batchelor Show' podcast regarding Turkey's 2023 presidential election
    Friday, 19 May 2023 00:00

    Listen to CACI director Svante Cornell's recent interview on the 'John Batchelor Show' podcast regarding Turkey's 2023 presidential election. Click here!

  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53