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The Caucasus a threat to the EU

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, February 9
A storm has followed the statement made on February 3 by US National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair that Bosnia and the South Caucasus pose a potential threat to the stability of the EU. Blair suggested that there could be bloodshed in the South Caucasus due to the frozen conflicts between Georgia and Russia and Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This statement was probably meant as a serious warning to Europe, which is trying its best to turn a blind eye on Russia’s neo-imperialistic actions and ambitions. However the USA is doing the same thing, being so fixated by its ‘reset policy’ with Russia that it does not notice Russia’s arrogant attempts to build its military capacity by adopting an aggressive military doctrine which ‘legalises’ Moscow’s attempts to use military force outside its territory and other efforts to regain superpower status. It is therefore significant that the Head of US Intelligence is openly stating the threats coming from Russia which undermine global security and Europe's in particular.

Georgian analysts suggest that the explosive situation in the South Caucasus is mainly the result of Russia's aggression and political trickery. Moscow does not want any conflict in the South Caucasus to be resolved peacefully, and wants conflicts to exist there to deprive the area of any economic attractiveness and undermine its capacity to act as an East-West transport corridor. Conflicts are also obstacles to NATO expanding. As analyst Irakli Sesiashvili says, under the current circumstances the Caucasus is lost for Europe.

The threat that at any moment Russia can unfreeze its aggression against Georgia is a real one. Any provocation could lead to such developments. There are plenty of weapons on the ground and there is little control over what is going on around the occupied territories. It only needs a small spark to create a big explosion. The separatist South Ossetian leaders, encouraged by Russia, continually advance new and absolutely unfounded territorial claims, so anything could happen.

The same instability can be observed in the frozen Armenia and Azerbaijan conflict over Karabakh. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this situation has been aggravated since the Armenian-Turkish negotiations on opening the borders between the two countries began. Armenia thought that the borders could be opened without reference to the Karabakh conflict, although Turkey's support for Azerbaijan in this is the reason it was closed in the first place. Turkey also seems to have rather surprisingly believed that it could establish good neighbourly relations with Armenia while ignoring the interests of its brotherly nation Azerbaijan. In reality however the Azeris are furious that Ankara intends to establish friendship with Yerevan without addressing the Karabakh issue.

Recently relations between Ankara and Baku have become almost strained. Azeri political analyst Mubariz Ahmadoglu thinks that the Karabakh conflict could become a military confrontation once again if the forthcoming February-March round of negotiations on Karabakh brings no results. Armenian journalist Murat Petrosian suggests that Moscow is not interested in resolving the conflict and wants to maintain the present tension so that everyone starts to think that resolution of the conflict depends on Moscow. Russia is using this tactic not only in Karabakh but also Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, thinks Petrosian.

The situation in the South Caucasus can change very quickly but is on a knife edge. There is always the threat of things getting beyond anyone's control. It is impossible to guarantee stability while Russia dominates the area. The only solution is for the West to adopt and implement a much wiser, balanced but straightforward policy towards the region.