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Security deficit and possibilities to overcoming contemporary situation In the Southern Caucasus Region
December 9, 2011 05:13AM
Prof. Alla A.Yazkova,
Over the two decades that passed after the USSR disintegration the previously rather calm and in a way peripheral South Caucasus region has become a crossroad of internal contradictions and geopolitical competition. In the subsequent years this relatively small area was gradually turned into a hotbed of numerous conflicts involving not only Southern Caucasus countries but also European and global actors. Interference from the late 1990-s of world powers, first of all the United States and European Union, substantially aggravated situation. The US interest not only in creation of an energy transportation route, but also in barring Russian monopoly domination entailed growth of contradictions that in one or another way involved regional powers – Turkey and in the recent times Iran.
In the created situation previously receded territorial and ethnic disputes began to recur involving outsider actors interested (as Russia and USA) in the maintenance of tensions. The Russian-Georgian conflict (August 2008) intensified the tension between the USA and Russia whose military flotillas appeared dangerously close in the conflict days. Russia’s recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence not only froze Russian-Georgian contacts but also complicated Russia’s relations with a number of states. In such a conditions more opportunities arose for the US and European Union subsequent advance to the Wider Caucasus region.
The strategic trend of the United States after the Russian-Georgian conflict was intended to contain Russia and thus retained Cold War rudiments, but it is necessary to mention that Barack Obama administration treats the regional problems from the viewpoint of a wider perceptions of the US policy in the Middle East. As for the European Union, it has long overlooked the South Caucasus Region. Only in the early 2000s Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were involved in the European Neighborhood Policy and after 2008 has been put forward a special European project – the Eastern Partnership, which included six Eastern European countries, but didn’t presume any forms of cooperation with Russia.
The biggest concern for stability in Southern Caucasus region in a five to ten years perspective could become the Russian-Western confrontation in the following fields: the military forces disparity, the Caspian energy resources transportation projects, the different ways of territorial and ethnical conflicts resolution. Some Western analysts usually assess Russian ambitions to restore influence in the post-soviet area as a “neo-imperial policy”, but it is only partly true. n fact Southern Caucasus region also became in the last two decades an important geopolitical area used by external actors (first of all USA, EU and NATO) for either expending their influence or containing local actors. Thus it is necessary to find compromise solutions taking also into consideration the divergence of geopolitical vectors of the regional countries, their different positions in respect of ethno-political conflicts resolution or energy resources transportation.
The very important issue is to find ways to resolve interstate conflicts, as it is evident by the most complicated of them - the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. The existing negotiation process exhausted itself in a great measure, so it seems necessary along with continuation of official talks to work towards creating the social level of understanding for to discharge a wider field for conflict resolution. It should also create the fields of mutual understanding on compromise ground and avoid unacceptable to the opposite side claims, because an alternative to mutual understanding could be finally a military solution. But as it is known the use of force in Russo-Georgian military conflict in 2008 has destabilized all the situation in Caucasus region and was disapproved not only by international and European organizations, but also by the CIS structures.
Another serious aspect which could create a risk of tensions right up to armed conflict is the Caspian hydrocarbon resources production and transportation operation. The inherited from the past and subsequently reconstructed infrastructure allow Russia to keep its positions as a head supplier of oil and gas resources. But after the USSR disintegration Russia has lost former possibilities, especially after emergence of USA and EU in the Southern Caucasus region as a major actors in the sphere of oil and gas extraction and transportation. The Russian and Western oil and gas Companies having special interests in the region may both promote cooperation jointly with the regional actors (Azerbaijan, Georgia) and seek to satisfy its interests at the expense of their concurrents and even partners.
The basic Western project of the Southern gas corridor is Nabucco (“Southern corridor”), which damages Russian oil and gas Caucasus strategy. Even an attempt to construct Transcaspian pipeline for to unite possibilities of Azeri and Turkmen gas sources in favor of Nabucco provoked Russian declaration on the subject of “Caspian regime violation”. It is now clear, that the Russian Federation strong opposition poses threat not only for the “Southern corridor” but for stability in the Caucasus Region as a whole. Thereby the search of mutual understanding is necessary in the sphere of business as well.