Risks and Prospects

Levan Girsiashvili, Political analyst Associaction of International relations in Tbilisi

Geopolitical Games in Southern Caucasus.

South Caucasus


Outsiders consider the situation in South Caucasus more often as a dead-end. And this is not a surprise, taking into account the problems of the region and geopolitical interests of some powerful states, the situation is really desperate. It’s hard to forecast what kind of political and economic reality will prevail in South Caucasus.

The interests of Russia, the USA, Turkey, the European Union and Iran are definitely marked in the region.

The countries of the region are also grouped by these interests, what sometimes serves as a ground for opposition between them.

> Caucasus Map

Reality has aggravated in the result of August aggression from the side of Russia against Georgia.

Moscow has established new reality not only within Caucasian region, but also within all international political system and confronted the world community with a very undesirable fact.

From the one side, aggressive rhetoric of Russia against ally of the USA, Georgia, and the desire of Georgia to reestablish territorial integrity from the other side, and the opposition of these interests greatly depicted the possibility of catastrophe, happened in last August in Georgia and set unstable environment in South Caucasus.

That is why current situation in the region should be analyzed after August war of 2008.

Georgia obtained disastrous results - so far new territories were occupied (Kodori Valley, Akhalgori region, Perevi village), are also in danger of Western energy projects prospect.

Before the war Georgia was more or less attractive for foreign investments and new projects due to the level of democracy in the country, but today this reason has changed.

A vivid example is an unclear prospect of “Nabucco” energy project. This is also accompanied by the reduction of foreign investments, which is mainly caused by August events rather than world financial crisis.


> Nabucco Map
In this background, as expected, agenda has included the issue on the promotion of the role of Armenia. Although it’s unreal without settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani and Turkish-Armenian relations.

It’s noteworthy that Russian-Georgian conflict has completely changed the views of the West on Russia and simultaneously revealed strategic significance of Turkey within Caucasian region for West.

Some analysts compare current situation with the reality of the second world war, when Stalin after reinforcement in Eastern Europe, wanted to control Bosphorus Strait in the result of which Turkey was included into NATO to reduce the danger from the Soviet Union.

The fact is that today Turkish factor can be also used to balance the influence of Russia in Caucasian region, and in its turn it will activate the role of Armenia.

For the West primarily for the USA it will be pretty acceptable.

Washington can try to reduce Russian influence within the region by improving Turkish-Armenian relations and by involving Armenia into Western projects. This strategy will be headed by the USA ally – Turkey.

This version is proved by an unexpected visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Yerevan to visit a football match in last September right after Russian occupation of Georgia.

As evident, “Football Policy” between Turkey and Armenia is not over and keeps on. As the result of this policy should be recognized the signing of “Road Map” between Turkey and Armenia in Switzerland this April, which determines the activation of negotiations between these states.

And this May the Prague talks between Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan had no results according to Mass Media and analysts.

Although this visit should be observed as a move forward and the result of “football policy”.

It’s noteworthy that Azerbaijan doesn’t do any sound statements and simply observes the events.

For Turkey, that is a powerful regional player, Azerbaijan is more significant than Armenia due to energy sources and economic potential of Azerbaijan. The reaction of Azerbaijan on potential improvement of the relations of Turkey and Armenia can become a vital factor. When Russia tries to defend its mighty power using all means to flood “Nabucco” project, West and Turkey emphasize greatly the importance to support Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The turn of Baku into “observer” mainly depends on the relations between Baku and Moscow.

Official Baku waits for the moves of Russia, as the keys to the settlement of Nagorny Karabakh conflict belong to Russia.

> Nagorno Karabakh Map

Except for that, the existence of Russian military bases in Armenia will impede the integration of Armenia to the West. We also should consider unstable situation in Georgia and a high probability of repeated aggression from Russia.

For Moscow that does everything to maintain its influence and strengthening, provocation and the start a full-scale occupation of Georgia is the only way to conquer South Caucasus.

In this case the attempts of West and Turkey to attract Armenia seem to be hopeless.

Correspondingly, the whole region will lose its significance for Western interests for a long period of time.