Lawrence Sheets, South Caucasus Project Director, talks about International Crisis Group’s work in the South Caucasus, promoting communication across the lines of the region’s most intractable conflicts.
Showing posts tagged as "south caucasus"
Showing posts tagged south caucasus
A Leadership Opportunity | Huffington Post
By Nancy E. Soderberg
Recent unrest in the Middle East highlights the importance of our strategic relationships in the region. A steadfast ally of the United States is Azerbaijan, and the United States must redouble its efforts to promote peace in this critical but unstable South Caucasus region.
Bordered by both Iran and Russia, Azerbaijan has offered close logistical cooperation to our military commanders in Afghanistan. For instance, over-flight clearance from the Azerbaijan government alone reduces our Air Mobility Command medical evacuation flight times by nearly two hours, saving lives. Of course, this doesn’t endear Azerbaijan to its neighbor Iran, nor does its reliable support for Israel. Peace in this region is essential for regional energy security, especially for Europe. Azerbaijan itself provides about a million barrels of oil a day to the world market, including more than 40 percent of Israel’s oil.
But several factors threaten stability. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has been locked in a bitter dispute with neighboring Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. In the 1992-1994 conflict, ethnic Armenian forces took control of the area, along with considerable Azeri territory before a shaky peace took effect in 1994. Azerbaijan insists that the region is part of its territory, a position shared by the United Nations; Armenia argues that the Armenian majority living in Nagorno-Karabakh has the right to self-determination and independence.
Photo: Utah National Guard/Flickr
Drone violence along Armenian-Azerbaijani border could lead to war | Global Post
By Nicholas Clayton
YEREVAN, Armenia — In a region where a fragile peace holds over three frozen conflicts, the nations of the South Caucasus are buzzing with drones they use to probe one another’s defenses and spy on disputed territories.
The region is also host to strategic oil and gas pipelines and a tangled web of alliances and precious resources that observers say threaten to quickly escalate the border skirmishes and airspace violations to a wider regional conflict triggered by Armenia and Azerbaijan that could potentially pull in Israel, Russia and Iran.
Photo: Defense Images/Flickr
Brussels is focusing on Georgia’s internal politics | Democracy and Freedom Watch
Interview of Alain Deletroz by M. Gagua and L. Tughushi
“The only thing I can say is that whenever you have an electoral process it brings up the tension in the country. I think it is normal whenever you have presidential elections. The main political parties have to take positions on a variety of issues, and sometimes they take positions, which go over or a bit further than the position they will actually represent once they are in government. So I think in Georgia you are already feeling this pressure boiling.”
‘Azerbaijani-Armenian Border Clash Not To Plunge Karabakh Into War’ | Today’s Zaman
By Lamiya Adilgızı
The recent bloody border skirmish between Azerbaijan and Armenia that early this week left eight soldiers — five Azerbaijani and three Armenian — dead, will not take the already “frozen” Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to its stage of armed warfare dating back to the early ‘90s, says Thomas de Waal, a prominent expert on Caucasus security affairs.
“I don’t see this [recent border skirmish] as the start of a return to [the Nagorno-Karabakh] war,” said de Waal, author of “Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War,” one of the first English-language publications on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in an interview with Sunday’s Zaman. Tensions flared up along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border early this week.
Photo: Elegant’s/ Wikimedia Commons
It’s big, it’s rich and it’s near, so why isn’t it more here? No, not Russia, the leading lady of many a former South Caucasus drama, but what some describe as a promising actor waiting in the wings — Turkey.
At a March 2 conference in Tbilisi on “Turkey’s South Caucasus Agenda: Roles of State and Non-State Actors,” sponsored by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)*, academics, analysts, NGO-niks and retired diplomats debated the likelihood of Turkey acquiring a more active role in the region as a force for peace.
But don’t expect Ankara to rush at the opportunity. As one Georgian participant noted, there are more questions than answers about what Turkey’s role in the South Caucasus should be.
Right now, even while “looming large” over the region, “Turkey is indeed pushing below its weight … politically,” commented Peter Semneby, the European Union’s former special representative to the South Caucasus.
The reasons are many — the foreign-policy distractions of the Middle East and Iran, coupled with the rise of nationalist tendencies in Turkish domestic politics (and accompanying wariness about any further outreach to Armenia), plus Ankara’s desire not to irritate Russia, which still sees the South Caucasus as its own backyard.
More mundane explanations also play a role; more than 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, expertise in the South Caucasus still runs relatively thin among Turks, noted TESEV Assistant Foreign Policy Programme Officer Aybars Görgülü.
Overall, that means that though Ankara has given “hints” that it would like to be involved in mediating resolutions to the conflicts over the breakaway territories of Abkhazia, Nagorno Karabakh and South Ossetia, said Sabine Freizer, the Istanbul-based Europe program director for the International Crisis Group, it has not yet moved to take on that role.
Photo: Adam Reeder/Flickr
Communications & IT Officer Ben Dalton traveled to Crisis Group’s South Caucasus office in Tbilisi, Georgia—and here are some photos from the trip. Included are shots from Tserovani IDP settlement, one of the largest settlements for those displaced by the 2008 South Ossetia war, and residents of an all-but-abandoned border village just a stone’s throw from the closely guarded Administrative Boundary Line that now defines South Ossetia. To listen to a podcast from Ben’s trip, click here—and look for more material from the trip in the coming weeks!