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Caucasus as a battlefield2011-12-19 20:07
Being close to each other geographically, Caucasian republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan have got different approaches to the Caucasus' geopolitical role in the world. Tbilisi and Yerevan prefer looking to the major international players, while Baku with its abundance of hydrocarbons is holding to a more or less independent position in the global arena. GeorgiaTimes correspondent tried to make out what kind of geopolitical situation has developed in the South Caucasus on the eve of 2012.
As is known, the geopolitical environment in the Caucasus is defined by two smoldering conflicts: it is Armenia and Azerbaijan's confrontation in Nagorny Karabakh and the revanchist aspirations of Georgia still hoping to reclaim its former autonomies Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so the prospects of the regional situation should be considered starting with them.
The situation around these seats of tension is developing differently. The failure of the Kazan summit where presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan took part has unmasked the conflicting parties' unwillingness to change status quo in the nearest time. That is especially related to Baku, which is currently increasing its military power due to oil revenue, hoping to once achieve overwhelming superiority over Yerevan and settle the conflict on its own conditions. This plan is presently hampered only by the position of cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk group - Russia, the USA and France. These countries continue seeking peaceful ways out of the situation. That is why Azerbaijani representatives accused them of "unfair" attitude and incapability to "justify confidence" at the latest OSCE summit in Vilnius. Azerbaijani society went on further, having written an open letter to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accusing the "Armenian lobby" of the Minsk Group's fruitless work in the co-chairing countries. The desire to bring the main restricting mechanism beyond the conflict settlement is obvious, so French Co-chairman of the Minsk Group Bernard Facier has stated: "Our current task is to avoid the resumption of war". In fact, this is one of the reasons why Armenia, being surrounded by non-friendly regimes and actually blocked, has to seek Moscow's help.
Nevertheless, Baku's accusations can be justified. The great states being parties of the conflict are not interested in its soonest settlement. France has got its own problems: Paris is mainly concentrated on the domestic troubles and events in the Arabian East. As for the USA, they would rather take Baku's side being generally interested in securing the channels of the Caspian oil supply to world markets. However, here comes Iranian factor. One of the main reasons for the "reload" of relationship with Russia declared by Barack Obama is the desire to weaken Moscow's ties with Teheran. The U.S. has succeeded in a way. For instance, Russia gave up supplying ZRK C-300 to the Muslim republic and agreed to toughen up sanctions against it. That is why it would be inappropriate of Washington to vex Moscow by showing total support of Baku. By the way, the notorious "Armenian lobby" has got much influence in the United States.
For instance, it was revealed in difficulties the White House came across when appointing a new Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza who is widely suspected of Armyanophobia. The Congress refused to agree upon his candidature and Barack Obama had to appoint him on the quiet while the lawmakers were on vacation.