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Europe to conquer Caucasus with soft power2011-04-01 14:32
The European Union has long been thinking over the situation in South Caucasus concluding logically that main peacekeeping efforts were focused on Georgia only. However, Geneva discussions invented by the UN, OSCE and EU for conflicting parties have arrived at a dead end. A new report on stabilization of the situation in the region highlights Nagorny Karabakh as a territory of special attention. Closed borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan clearly show that main problems have not been eliminated. The European Union must apply soft power to force the disputing parties to agree on a compromise.
Only Georgia and Azerbaijan still believe that the European Union has a serious influence in South Caucasus. They are completely mixed up in their goals and objectives hoping for support of international institutions. Who knows, maybe they will cut the Gordian knot of conflicts. As for Armenia, it realized long ago that friendship with Kremlin is better since Russia has enough trump cards to decide on the definite outcome of the developments in the region with Europe. That is why Yerevan persistently refuses to sign a border demarcation document with Baku.
The new report "Addressing the security challenges in the South Caucasus. The case for a comprehensive, multilateral and inclusive approach", published last Tuesday, is authored by Dennis Sammut, director of LINKS NGO (Britain) and Amanda Paul, an analyst with EPC. No wonder they advise that the European community refrain from resumption of armed clashes in Nagorny Karabakh. Azerbaijani leader Ilkham Aliev threatened once that he would unilaterally withdraw from talks and launch an intervention on Stepanakert.
It's experts' task to consider scenarios of a possible war, evaluate risks and find political reasons for conflict escalation. And Europe is attentive to alarming signals. And now that Sammut and Paul basically acknowledge that the danger is at the European door, it's time to mobilize all available reserves to have the Agreement on Security and Cooperation in South Caucasus adopted by 2014.
There is a special term for these reserves - soft power that according to Georgian and Azerbaijani governments can bring specific arrangements, not only a dialogue. Yet, this is an illusion: Europe has no force levers against a supposed aggressor. When Europe will be calling for peace in a weak voice, the real drama will unfold.
Yet, there were some reasonable theses the rapporteurs presented. They suggest that the European Union admit that the process of recognition of sovereignty of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh is irreversible. Thus, it is necessary to increase transparency of various spheres of life in the countries of the region in order to keep the peace process going.
"The EU must focus on return of hundreds of thousands refugees and people forcedly evicted from their homes as a result of conflicts as a top priority in the region", - Dennis Sammut said. However, all admonitions might turn into a waste of time. Actions of the European community that can solve crucial problems in South Caucasus must be set in the direction of the Russian Federation for establishment of partner relations with the latter.
Baku and Yerevan don't mind listening to opinions of official Moscow. But irrational behavior of Tbilisi throws sand in the wheels of the whole region. Frozen conflicts as well as complete economic blockade of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the part of Georgia suspend social development of the entire South Caucasus.