Russia and Eurasia

Regional Cooperation of South Caucasus States: Illusions, Reality, Perspectives

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By Zaur Shiriyev | 01 June 2010

The South Caucasus is a region where a number of unresolved conflicts still exist in the absence of regional security arrangements. Indeed, three unresolved (Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia) conflicts of the South Caucasus can be considered as one of the most serious obstacles for establishing a regional security system. The article gives brief information about security problems of the region and analyzes the perspectives of the realization of regional co-operation.






The South Caucasus region represents the most problematic region within the post-Soviet area in terms of regional security concerns. The regional security situation in the South Caucasus is best described as “security deficit,” a term used by authors of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The security deficit stemming from the interrelated and unregulated security threats described above have plagued the region for a considerable time. The increasing importance of the South Caucasus in the aftermath of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have now made the security deficit a threat not only to regional security but to that of Euro-Atlantic interests as well. The need for institutionalized security arrangements to manage, reduce and if possible resolve the security threats in the region has become palpable. In fact, it is increasingly apparent that failure to provide security is impeding the building of viable sovereignty in the region.


One may agree or disagree with these assumptions. However, it is hard to deny that the political situation in the Caucasus is unique, unstable and even hazardous in terms of the perspectives of the regional security. This fact has been highlighted in August 2008 during Russia-Georgia war which resulted Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. Today, security threats in the South Caucasus will remain serious, complex and urgent.  At the center of these concerns are three protracted unresolved conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  These conflicts pose major risk to regional states, population and regional security as a whole.


Clearly, conflicts fuel those new dangers that threaten the nations in the entire Euro-Atlantic space. Namely these are ethnic and religious extremism, international organized crime, human trafficking, illegal trade in drugs, and what is particularly perilous, the existence of uncontrolled territories, or the so-called “white spots”, which provide shelter to international terrorists and allow them to develop relevant infrastructure.

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