visibly invisible: eu engagement in conflict resolution in the south caucasus

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  • This article was downloaded by: [American Public University System]On: 30 December 2013, At: 07:00Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    European SecurityPublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/feus20

    Visibly Invisible: EU Engagementin Conflict Resolution in theSouth CaucasusTracey C. German aa King's College London at the Joint Services Commandand Staff College , Swindon, UKPublished online: 03 Dec 2007.

    To cite this article: Tracey C. German (2007) Visibly Invisible: EU Engagement inConflict Resolution in the South Caucasus, European Security, 16:3-4, 357-374, DOI:10.1080/09662830701751141

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09662830701751141

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  • Visibly Invisible: EU Engagement inConflict Resolution in the SouthCaucasus

    TRACEY C. GERMANKings College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Swindon, UK

    ABSTRACT This essay examines growing European Union (EU) involvement in theSouth Caucasus, focusing on efforts to resolve the protracted conflicts in the regions ofAbkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. To date, the EU has occupied a backseat in conflict resolution efforts, supporting organisations such as the UN and OSCE,which have taken the lead role. However, over a decade of negotiations has produced fewtangible results and the EU now has the opportunity to play a much greater role. This essayargues that the EU needs to become more involved: it has a much wider range of tools at itsdisposal with which to influence the various situations and it is in its own interest to ensurethe stability of its neighbours.

    Introduction

    The accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union (EU) in

    January 2007 has pushed the borders of the organisation eastwards to the Black

    Sea and ever closer to the volatile South Caucasus, which is divided by a series

    of unresolved conflicts. There has been growing unrest in the region in recent

    months: two sets of presidential elections and referenda on independence in

    Georgias secessionist region of South Ossetia held in November 2006 were

    followed by a rally calling for independence in Abkhazia, as well as a similar

    referendum in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. These events have

    brought renewed international attention to an oft-overlooked, but increasingly

    tense, region, where the threat of violent conflict is high, as the aforementioned

    territories seek to sever ties with the central authorities and achieve de jure

    independence.

    Problems within the Caucasus can no longer be regarded as extraneous to the

    security of European states. Separatist disputes in Nagorno-Karabakh,

    Correspondence Address: Tracey C. German, Lecturer, Defence Studies Department, Kings College

    London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Watchfield, Swindon SN6 8TS. Email:

    tgerman.jscsc@defenceacademy.mod.uk

    ISSN 0966-2839 Print/1746-1545 Online/07/03-435718 # 2007 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/09662830701751141

    European Security

    Vol. 16, Nos. 34, 357374, SeptemberDecember 2007

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  • Abkhazia and South Ossetia have implications not only for stability in the

    Caucasus region, but also for Europe and the wider international community.1

    These conflicts undermine regional stability, not just because of the threat of a

    renewal of fighting, but because they have created security vacuums that are

    outside of government control, providing ideal conditions for transnational

    security challenges such as terrorism, organised crime and illegal trafficking to

    flourish. They also undermine efforts to boost regional cooperation, hampering

    economic development and further destabilising the area.

    One of the principal aims of the EU in the wake of the 2004 enlargement

    process has been to expand the zone of prosperity, stability and security that

    its citizens enjoy out to its neighbours. This approach has developed from an

    understanding that the organisation cannot keep enlarging ad infinitum, that

    there is a need to find new ways of spreading security beyond its borders to

    ensure the long-term stability of the EU, together with the security of its

    citizens. Unstable peripheries, such as the South Caucasus, pose a threat

    because their instability could spill over into the security core and thus threaten

    the gains already accomplished there in terms of stable security. The EUs

    failure in the Balkans during the 1990s was its largest and most public failure as

    an international actor and prompted the realisation that peace and stability on

    the periphery are crucial to the security of the Union. Consequently, the EU

    has taken steps towards boosting its involvement in conflict resolution efforts in

    the South Caucasus.

    Recognition of the growing significance of the South Caucasus for European

    security is reflected in the EUs gradual engagement with the region,

    particularly with regard to conflict resolution. In February 2001 the General

    Affairs and External Relations Council declared that the EU was willing to play

    a more active political role in the South Caucasus, stating that it would seek

    ways of lending its support to prevent and resolve conflicts and assist in post-

    conflict rehabilitation.2 In addition to boosting its cooperation with the OSCE

    (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), UN (United Nations)

    and Council of Europe, the Council conclusions affirmed the organisations

    intention of reinforcing bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the South

    Caucasus states, a position affirmed in the organisations 2003 European

    Security Strategy (ESS), which identified the region as an area in which it

    would be taking a stronger and more active interest.3 Deepening EU

    engagement with the three countries of the South Caucasus was demonstrated

    by the appointment of the Unions Special Representative (EUSR) for the

    region in 2003 and the inclusion of the three states in the European

    Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), and in December 2005 Javier Solana, the

    EUs High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, affirmed

    that the organisation was ready to play a greater role in efforts to resolve the

    long-running conflicts of the South Caucasus.4 Nevertheless, in spite of the

    numerous, well-intentioned declarations of interest, little of any substance with

    regards to conflict resolution has actually been achieved.

    358 T. C. German

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  • This essay examines growing EU involvement in the South Caucasus,

    focusing on efforts to resolve the protracted conflicts in the regions of

    Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. To date, the EU has

    occupied a back seat in conflict resolution efforts, supporting organisations

    such as the UN and OSCE, which have taken the lead role. However, over a

    decade of negotiations has produced few tangible results and the EU now has

    the opportunity to play a much greater role. This essay argues that the EU

    needs to become more involved. It has a much wider range of tools at its

    disposal with which to influence the various situations and it is greatly in its

    own interest to ensure the stability of its neighbours.

    Mechanisms for Deepening Engagement

    The key strategic location of the South Caucasus, squeezed between the Black

    and Caspian Seas, Iran, Russia and Turkey, make it an area of increasing

    significance in the contemporary security environment, particularly given

    regional instability and the potential threat to western economic interests

    assoc

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