These policy recommendations propose leveraging the South Caucasus media to reshape public opinion and to prepare for constructive change in relations among groups locked in frozen conflict in the South Caucasus.

Published in Policy Papers
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Russia and the Caucasus

Russian influence in the South Caucasus region has a long history. Czar Ivan IV initiated construction of the Tarki fortress on the Caspian Sea as early as 1559. In the subsequent centuries Russia gradually extended control over the surrounding area, culminating with the 1829 Treaty of Turkmenchay that established the Aras River as the expanding empire’s boundary with Persia. Russian policy toward the region has been dominated by the goal of maintaining a position of influence ever since.
This article represents a part of a larger study that examines the relevance of the Western (NATO) standards to the process of Armenian defense transformation. In particular, it pays close attention to the democratic values of the Alliance and the degree of their practical application by the partner country within the respective cooperation agenda. The interplay of strategic mutual interests as the motivating force for NATO’s conditionality and Armenia’s compliance is reviewed closely, as are the relevance of the
language of communication and the varying interpretations of cooperation mechanisms. The article is an attempt to evaluate the status of democratic progress and, in particular, to assess the degree of democratic control over the armed forces in Armenia. The search for motives and reasons for democratic deficit or failure remains outside of the scope of this analysis.
The period from September 2013 until October 2014 is distinguished by a series of events that drastically changed the trajectory of developments in the post-Soviet area, including those in the South Caucasus.
In this case, a crucial role is played by Russia’s relationship to the West, which is shaping the security environment in Europe and Eurasia. On the one hand, both sides blame each other for violating core principles of international law, including those related to the sovereignty of states and, on the other hand, each side introduces its own decisions and approaches as “pragmatic.”
 
This article addresses the following question: “How pragmatic are these approaches?” It focuses on developments in the South Caucasus, viewed through the prism of decision making by the main regional and non-regional actors. Mainly owing to the allegedly pragmatic decisions of the stakeholders involved in processes in this region, the South Caucasus states have become even more divided and insecure. Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia have found themselves facing more difficulties both in dealing with each other and with all the external actors concerned.
Oddly enough, much of what is happening in the South Caucasus today resembles the turmoil of the pre-Soviet era and the inter-war period of the early twentieth century. As was the case then, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are again facing the daunting task of safeguarding their state sovereignty and protecting national security. The region’s unique geostrategic position is now of crucial significance for the evolution of the twenty-first century world order. While competition for energy resources is a highly
geopolitical issue, the rivalry over control and influence in the South Caucasus has become an ideological factor and acquired greater strategic importance for Russia and the EU.
 
The South Caucasus nations face the momentous choice between repeating the events of the early 1920s, when the Soviet Union was created, or those of the late 1940s, when the Marshall Plan was proposed. The return to past geopolitical models has raised interesting, yet sensitive questions. Will the current and future circumstances of competition be like those of 1917–1920 or 1947–1949, merely with new content? Are
Russia, the EU and the South Caucasus going to cooperate internationally in ventures that unite them in the reconstruction of a larger Europe, or will they fail that test?
Just like other parts of Eurasia, the South Caucasus is facing a new breed of East-West geopolitical competition interwoven with three evolving challenges:
1) a growing ideological gap between Russia and the West;
2) the chronic persistence of protracted conflicts;
3) the dilemma of the post-Soviet states: European vs. Eurasian integration.
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 00:00

Russia vs. EU/US through Georgia and Ukraine

This paper aims to analyze the construction and transformation of the post-Soviet security perspectives of Georgia and Ukraine in the context of the post-Soviet Russian foreign policy in the “near abroad,” quite often termed the “legitimate sphere” of Russian influence by high-ranking Russian officials. This inquiry covers the panorama of the foreign policy in post-Soviet Russia across the FSU, from the early 1990s through to the present, where Georgia and Ukraine’s independent and pro-Western orientation are the
main issues securitized for the Russian Federation. Accordingly, the maintenance of territorial integrity has become a security priority for Georgia since the early 1990s and will most likely be Ukraine’s top concern after the Crimean occupation by the Russian Federation in March 2014 and the subsequent developments in Eastern Ukraine. Therefore, it could be claimed that post-Soviet Russian and Georgian/Ukrainian security strategy (following peaceful revolutions) represent a zero-sum game.
The Ukrainian crisis of 2013, followed by the annexation of Crimea, has redistributed the balance of power among the political players of the world arena. Moreover, since Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012, the concept of a shared neighborhood between the Russian Federation and the European Union (EU) becomes a strategic challenge not only for both but foremost for those post-Soviet republics struggling between two strategic decisions: to accept Russian protection or to choose Western development.
 
The aim of this paper is to shed light on the forthcoming 2015 Eurasian Economic Union’s (EEU) economic and political perspectives, on South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s economic attractiveness, the sentiment inside those breakaway regions of Georgia and the Russian Federation standpoint in resolving or maintaining the situation in the disputed territories.
When talking or writing about the (Southern) Caucasus, I usually like to start by illustrating the diversity of its three countries when it comes to their cultural, linguistic, historical, economic and religious composition. This is due to the heavy migration in the region and the century-long influence of surrounding regional powers and to the fact that it is located in a strategic triangle between Iran, Russia and Turkey, with additional geopolitical interest coming from the European Union and the United States. There is a
significant background of existing conflicts to take into account. For those who know the region this may seem redundant; however, for “newcomers” it is a good start in describing the (Southern) Caucasian Babel.

Kiev, Ukraine (Mar 30, 2015) – The Regional Stability in the South Caucasus (RSSC) Working Group convened an international panel of experts from 26-28 March in Kiev. The meeting was organized under the framework of the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC) in collaboration with the Austrian Defense Academy and was the 11th in a series of workshops aimed at promoting regional stability in the South Caucasus.

Published in News
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