In our Caspian Podcast, veteran travel-writer Mark Elliott chats to fascinating folk whose lives intersect with or revolve around the Caspian Region. Expect a wide variety of insights: guests range from ambassadors to activists, ministers to tour guides, writers to business leaders.


Available on Youtube and with audio only on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and wherever you listen to podcasts.



Episode 10 | Alex Vatanka, fellow and Iran analyst at the Middle Eastern Institute, Washington DC

Tehran-born, DC based analyst Alex Vatanka sketches several historic landmarks in Iran’s 20th century geo-political history while giving nuanced background to popular conspiracy theories. He puts into context many personal recollections of Iran as remembered by interviewer Mark Elliott from his years of backpacking in the region, and concludes by assessing the likelihood of Iran and the US reaching an agreement on nuclear and sanctions issues at the on-going Vienna talks that aim to revive the 2015 JCPOA.

Episode 9 | Shahida Tulaganova UK-based Uzbek journalist, producer and director

UK-based Uzbek journalist, producer and director Shahida Tulaganova sends the world a powerful wake-up call about a potential ‘water war’ brewing in Central Asia. She reflects on other political developments in the region and looks back over some of the reasons why she herself has considered it unwise to return to her native Uzbekistan – mainly due to her daring reporting in the aftermath of the 2005 Andijan Massacre, fascinating footage from which can be seen on YouTube

Episode 8 | Tom Marsden - Baku-based British photo-journalist and editor

Founding-editor of Experience Azerbaijan and former editor of Visions of Azerbaijan, British-born Tom Marsden has lived in Baku for seven years during which time he’s travelled to every corner of Azerbaijan in search of interesting cultural tales to tell. His photographic work has been exhibited in international exhibitions and he is the presenter of a new podcast series on behalf of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board.

Episode 7 | Zumrud Jalilova on ways to better balance gender equality in the Caucasus and beyond

Mark apologises about the podcast's previous male dominance to Zumrud (Zuma) Jalilova, an eloquent UK based Azerbaijani scholar of both international relations and gender studies. Zuma clarifies some of the myths about feminism in a Caspian context, and gives a clear, up-beat vision of some positive steps that can help society strive for greater equality. Note that the excellent short film discussed in the conversation is İkinci Güllə (The Second Bullet), viewable on Youtube. Zuma's wide-ranging article about the portrayal of gender roles in Azerbaijani cinema can be found here.

Episode 6 | Matthew Bryza - Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan

This week Mark Elliott is joined by Matthew Bryza, former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan. Matthew reveals that, despite all the responsibilities, being ambassador was the 'most fun' job he ever had. He gives fascinating insights into his work with the (OSCE) Minsk group, and hints at how much behind-the-scenes work had gone into solving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue before the 'Madrid Principles' were rejected by Armenia. Regarding the post-war situation, he remains upbeat about possibilities of maintaining peace and for working towards greater Caucasian harmony in the future.