Can Georgia mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan?
By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 15There are speculations on the possibility of Georgia becoming the mediator for settling conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A symbolic court hearing organised by the Caucasus centre for Peaceful Initiatives was held a few days ago in the village or Tekali in Kvemo Kartli region near the location where the Georgian, Azeri and Armenian borders cross. Chaired by Giorgi Vanian, the model hearing debated the possibility of Georgia acting as mediator in regulating the Azeri- Armenian conflict. Two experts confronted each other, defending the different positions. Mamuka Areshidze claimed it is impossible for Georgia to perform this role, whereas Gogi Khutsishvili soliciting Georgia’s ability to do so. Areshidze pointed out that only with certain preconditions could Georgia play the mediator’s role – that is only with large scale international support, in particular from Russia, which he considers impossible. According to the expert, Tbilisi does not have enough political resources and support from the big players involved in regulating the conflict and these players only try to resolve the conflict in ways which promote their own interests. The analysts also suggested that Russia would not agree to an increase in Georgia’s role in the conflict resolution but on the contrary it will try to put Georgia in a position which would involve Tbilisi not only in Karabakh but in bigger conflict and confrontation.
In addition, Georgia as a mediator should suggest serious incentives to Armenia and Azerbaijan for resolving their conflict. As an example Areshidze suggested that an attractive proposal to Yerevan would be for Armenia to be part of the NABUCCO project instead of Georgia – an incentive that could yield positive results yet is extremely unlikely. In reality however such global issues remain beyond Georgia’s willingness or unwillingness; they are decided at different levels in by the governments and in strategic corridors of the various key player countries.
Political analyst Gogi Khutsishvili was more optimistic. He suggested that the main problem is selecting the right people because Georgia as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan represent the moods and experience of Caucasus people. However he agreed that Russia prefers the Caucasus to be divided into small parts and is against Caucasian integration. Khutsishvili explained that the people of the Caucasus should realise the danger that confrontation and war will bring to region and should therefore resist Russia’s subversive action and participate in resolving the conflict.
In summary though there are more arguments that Georgia is unable to play a significant role in mediating the Karabakh conflict. It should be mentioned that the idea of the Georgia’s participation in mediating the Karabakh conflict is not new. Georgia’s first president Zviad Gamsakhurdia initiated this move but pretty soon his country itself got involved in conflicts in its own territory.
President Shevardnadze was not in favour of a mediator position for the country, but together with the Azeri President, Heydar Aliev he did propose the idea of a peaceful Caucasus based on the integrity of the existing borders, which was therefore unacceptable for Armenia. And while President Saakashvili does not attempt to promote Georgia as a mediator, he does promote the idea of a united Caucasus. Neither of these suggestions has advanced beyond the idea stage, nor has either of them been followed up by practical steps. Meanwhile the situation in the Karabakh region remains tense and explosive.