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Juggling Security, Democracy and Development in the Caucasus: What Role for the EU?


Since the 1990s Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in a turbulent state-building process, attaching prime importance to military build-up, while casting this in a broader peace-building rhetoric. In order to meet their security needs, all of them have opted for a model of a strong state characterized by top-down governance and centralized power. The challenges of democracy, good governance and the rule of law have been neglected. Stabilizing the failing states has become a security need for the European Union as well. The EU's premise in its engagement with the territorial conflicts in the region has been its endorsement of the metropolitan state's territorial integrity and thus its non-recognition of the de facto independence of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Within this framework, the EU's governance initiatives in the South Caucasus have focused on the promotion of democracy. In the EU's view, conflict resolution will come about in the long-run if Georgia and Azerbaijan become more attractive for the separatist entities. However, instead of real democracy promotion, what we have observed from the EU's side has been the accommodation of local forms of governance.

Paper presented at the VI annual Conference of the Italian Standing Group on International Relations on "Regional Orders in the XXI Century", Trento, 20-22 June 2013.