Regions / Russia & FSU

The Foreign Policy of Post-Soviet Georgia: Strategic Idealism and the Russian Challenge; Vasif Huseynov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 18, 2016 - 12:14 PM

This article discusses Georgia’s foreign policy in the aftermath of the disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s in regard to its relations with Russia. This perspective reveals the entrenched traditions of strategic idealism in the country’s political culture, and argues that this approach has shaped Georgia’s foreign policy strategies. On this basis, regardless of the geographic and geopolitical challenges, since the early years of independence, Georgia has remained committed to the pursuit of EU and NATO membership. This Western-oriented geopolitical predisposition caused the gradual deterioration of its ties with Russia, and eventually led to the current deadlock in bilateral relations. Through its analysis of the foreign policy of the Georgian Dream coalition, the article concludes that current relations between Russia and Georgia vacillate between rapprochement and confrontation, jeopardizing the security of the region as a whole. Read more...

Armenia, Transnational Terrorism and Global Interests: What Do CIA and DoS Documents Suggest? Oleg Kuznetsov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:42 PM

The 1980s witnessed intensive theoretical engagement with and reflection on the issue of state-sponsored transnational terrorism in and outside Armenia. During that decade, this terrorism existed on an unprecedented and as yet unrepeated scale, effectiveness and emotional intensity. Scholarly debate on the subject was taking place against the backdrop of continuing geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, forming the primary foundation of this socio-criminological phenomenon with its mainstream experiencing deep and structural modernization, consolidation and crystallization. An adequate understanding of the goals, objectives and practical orientation of the academic discussion on Armenian terrorism has only become possible in recent years, following the release of CIA documents on Armenian terrorist organizations (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, Justice Commandos against Armenian Genocide, and New Armenian Resistance) into the public domain. A comparison of the US intelligence documents and those of the United States Department of State (DoS) with academic research materials has demonstrated a high degree of correlation across their content, potentially indicating that the majority of the theoretical analyses of the time were carried out indirectly or directly in the service of US government interests. The main purpose of the contemporary academic discourse was to study different theoretical perspectives and different angles on the possibility of the use of resources and potential of Armenian state-sponsored terrorism against the Soviet Union as a “hot tool” in the Cold War. The affirmative answer to this question became the catalyst of aggression of originated in the Middle East Armenian terrorism against the Soviet Transcaucasia and marked the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh con-flict. Read more...

OSCE and Conflict Resolution in the Post-Soviet Area: The Case of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict; Azad Garibov

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:40 PM

The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the several conflicts in the post-Soviet space in which Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is involved in mediation of peace negotiations, but failed to facilitate any kind of sustainable resolution of the conflict. The OSCE continued peace-making efforts from 1992 to date; it has deployed several institutions that are tasked dealing with conflict, including the OSCE Minsk Group. In the environment of impunity coupled with the inefficacy of OSCE, Armenia refuses to compromise for the sake of peace and repeatedly sabotages the negotiations process, rendering resolution of the conflict virtually impossible. In such a complex situation, the OSCE needs to be very committed and to have a significantly more effective and coherent peace building strategy. However, OSCE’s peace efforts and mediation strategy suffers significant setbacks; the major purpose of the Minsk Group troika’s efforts seems to have become ‘conflict management’ rather than genuine conflict resolution. Read more...

Global Energy Governance Needs to be Multi-level and Regionalized; Robert M. Cutler

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 3:39 PM

The exclusive focus on universal-level global energy governance is problematic. Even in the European Union, emphasis is placed on multi-level governance in the energy policy issue-area. Yet although the EU has been near the forefront of advocacy for global energy governance, it has failed to consider systematically, or at all, the advantages of multi-level governance from the global through the regional to the national levels, as well as the cross-cutting transnational and transgovernmental levels. The contrast between the failure of regional European-Ukrainian-Russian energy cooperation on the one hand and, on the other, the success of regional Azerbaijani-Georgian-Turkish energy cooperation drives the point home. Incentive structures of practitioners and academics, conditioned by the sociology of knowledge, inhibit common dialogue over energy governance. Academic-policy boundary organizations represent only a special case of knowledge transfer processes. If overarching global policy goals are to be achieved, then idiosyncratic regional contexts cannot be ignored in global energy governance. They must be respected and allowed their relative autonomy. Read more...

Internal Displacement in Azerbaijan: Its Causes and Consequences. What the International Community Can and Must Do? Tofig Musayev

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:30 PM

At the end of 1987, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia (Armenian SSR) began to lay claim to the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous oblast (NKAO) of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan SSR). Nationalistic demands marked the beginning of the assaults on the Azerbaijanis in both the NKAO and Armenia itself, soon leading to their expulsion. Shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 and the international recognition of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, armed hostilities and Armenian attacks against areas within Azerbaijan intensified. As a result, a significant part of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts, were occupied by Armenia; thousands of people were killed or injured; hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani citizens were forced to leave their homes. The UN Security Council and other international organizations have addressed the problem on a number of occasions. Since 1992 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has engaged in efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement of the conflict under the aegis of its 11-country Minsk Group, currently under the co-chairmanship of France, the Russian Federation and the United States. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have proposed a set of core principles and elements, which, in their opinion, should form the basis for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The elements underlying the proposal of the mediators include, inter alia, the liberation of the occupied territories and the right of return for all internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. The article examines the international documents that refer to the problem of internal displacement in Azerbaijan, its causes and consequences, and the rights of the uprooted population. It also raises the question of whether the right to return is a human right or a privilege of belligerents. The article concludes that the lack of agreement on political issues cannot be used as a pretext to prevent the return of IDPs to their homes and properties and that the de-occupation of Azerbaijani territories can in no way be considered or introduced as a compromise, and used as a bargaining chip in the conflict settlement process. Read more...

NATO’s Energy Security Agenda and its Possible Applications in the South Caucasus; Péter Stepper & Kinga Szálkai

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 19, 2015 - 12:09 PM

Over the past decades and in the course of a complex discourse, NATO has decided to undertake a role in energy security. From one perspective, the Alliance has already reached a kind of ‘acquis’ related to energy security, based on three strategic priorities: political consultation and intelligence sharing; projecting stability; and protection of nuclear and non-nuclear critical energy infrastructure. On the other hand, NATO’s current activities suggest that it will not take on a leading role, but rather a limited and complementary one. After analyzing the theoretical discourse around the emerging NATO agenda on energy security, the article addresses its practical implications for the South Caucasus. The article explores NATO’s possible contributions to the regional energy security. First, it examines the potential of a traditional deterrencebased approach, before assessing the forms of preventive approaches developed by NATO. The article concludes that cooperation in the framework of partnership programs has been developing in line with the functional security concept, increasing the partner states’ capability to respond to emerging energy security challenges, while also contributing to the security of NATO member states. Read more...

NATO-Russia Cooperation and its Soft Security Limits

By ilgar Gurbanov

Jan 14, 2015 - 3:24 PM

Since the early years of the post-Cold War era until the recent Ukrainian crisis, NATO has sought to build cooperation with Russia on a wide range of security issues, including soft security threats. Under the NATO – Russia Council framework, numerous initiatives have been successfully implemented to the benefit of both parties. However, based on an examination of NATO-Russia collaboration on soft security, this article argues that this cooperation has been conducted on a fairly limited and temporary basis. According to the author, one reason for this is the divergent perceptions on soft security and its relationship to political and economic systems. Another reason is Russia’s weakness and vulnerability in the soft security domain, which it does not want to expose. Furthermore, cooperation on soft security has been largely contingent on relations between the parties - though to a lesser extent than hard security issues have been. The Ukrainian crisis underlined the primacy of hard security issues and indicates that cooperation on soft security issues will remain a variable of global political developments. Read more...

NATO - Russia Cooperation and its Soft Security Limits; Gergely Varga

By ilgar Gurbanov

Dec 23, 2014 - 11:51 AM

Since the early years of the post-Cold War era until the recent Ukrainian crisis, NATO has sought to build cooperation with Russia on a wide range of security issues, including soft security threats. Under the NATO – Russia Council framework, numerous initiatives have been successfully implemented to the benefit of both parties. However, based on an examination of NATO-Russia collaboration on soft security, this article argues that this cooperation has been conducted on a fairly limited and temporary basis. According to the author, one reason for this is the divergent perceptions on soft security and its relationship to political and economic systems. Another reason is Russia’s weakness and vulnerability in the soft security domain, which it does not want to expose. Furthermore, cooperation on soft security has been largely contingent on relations between the parties - though to a lesser extent than hard security issues have been. The Ukrainian crisis underlined the primacy of hard security issues and indicates that cooperation on soft security issues will remain a variable of global political developments. Read more...

NATO-Georgia Cooperation: A Rhetorical Engagement? Nona Mikhelidze

By ilgar Gurbanov

Dec 23, 2014 - 11:45 AM

In 2008, NATO officially embraced Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, declaring that one day the country would become a member of the alliance. Almost six years on, most policymakers - on both sides - agree that membership depends not on Georgia’s political domain or security options, but rather on the geopolitical struggle between the major powers in the post-Soviet space, and most of all on the challenging NATO-Russia relationship. Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the Bucharest Summit in 2008, at which Georgia was promised that it would one day gain membership, exacerbated the already complicated relations between Russia and the West. Both events were perceived by the Kremlin as a threat to Russia’s strategic interests. Moreover, from Russia’s perspective, both required a response. Russia’s security dilemma culminated in August 2008 with the invasion of Georgia. This war led to the suspension of talks on Georgia’s eventual NATO membership. Furthermore, the events in Ukraine, the financial crisis in Europe and U.S. policy in the Middle East and towards Iran have made it necessary to decelerate the Georgian NATO membership process. For now, NATO cannot compete with the Russian influence in the region. Consequently, it will pursue only a limited role in Georgia and in the South Caucasus more generally, keeping activities within the framework of the Individual Partnership Action Plans and engagement limited to the promotion of democracy, economic development, and military reform. Read more...

A China to Europe Corridor: A New Imperative for the Kazakhstan-NATO Partnership; Micha’el M. Tanchum

By ilgar Gurbanov

Dec 23, 2014 - 11:37 AM

The article examines the decade-long process through which Kazakhstan has deepened its partnership with NATO in the context of Kazakhstan’s concomitant economic rise and emergence as an important railway corridor for China-Europe trade. The article suggests that the Kazakhstan-NATO partnership has evolved to a level of strategic cooperation and interoperability whereby it meets the Eurasian strategic imperative of ensuring a functional non-Russian, China-to-Europe transportation corridor alongside the already existing Russian routes. In this light, Kazakhstan’s cooperation with NATO may be moving beyond the immediate concern of protecting Central Asia from the destabilizing effect of Islamic militancy. The article concludes by positing that NATO’s most critical role in the future may be in facilitating stronger security cooperation between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea. Read more...
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