US President-elect Donald Trump has canceled his real estate projects in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The moves suggest that the US role in the South Caucasus may decline during Trump’s administration.
The Trump Organization, Trump’s real estate business, announced recently that it is backing out of licensing deals for buildings in Baku, Batumi, and possibly Tbilisi. Observers believe the decision is linked to attempts to deflect criticism of potential conflicts of interest once he becomes president.
The Trump-branded ventures represented economic prestige projects for the Azerbaijani state and the previous Georgian government led by Mikheil Saakashvili and his party, the United National Movement (UNM). But after Trump’s surprise win in November, what had looked like vanity developments took on increasing significance, particularly given Trump’s tendency to view the world through the lens of his sprawling business empire.
The cancellation of these projects, then, is sure to put a dent in the hopes and plans of local officials, in which a Trump development represented a means to secure access to the new administration in Washington.
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Michael Hikari Cecire is an international affairs specialist focusing on Eurasia and an International Security Fellow at New America.