Authoritarian Integration or Democratic Co-operation? The Caucasus between Brussels and Moscow
The South Caucasus becomes more and more a hotbed of international politics, in which Russia, the USA, Iran, Turkey, and various international and European organizations are involved. The foreign relations of the three South Caucasian states changed since 1991 several times according to the changes of their political regimes. But there is no clear dependency of Russian or Western orientation on the type of political regime. The research project analyzes the process of combining domestic and foreign policies in the three South Caucasian states and of the policies of external actors in different patterns. Results of the project: The project suffered by the fact that three researchers, who worked for the project for some time during the last years left Mannheim, because they got more attractive positions at other institutions. Nevertheless several articles have been published on the linkage of international and domestic politics in the South Caucasian region, which concentrated on the political system of Azerbaijan and the “frozen” ethnonational conflicts in Azerbaijan/ Nagorno Karabakh, Georgia/ South Ossetia and Abkhazia. For this purpose political statements and actions of the main actors in the region have been analyzed. The main message of the project is: The democratization process is still hampered in all three South Caucasian states by domestic political traditions, selective conflict perceptions, socio-economic deficits, but also by vehemently disputed attempts to change or to restore the internationally recognized borders. Russia used the “frozen conflicts” to secure compliance for its own control of the region without a concept of conflict settlement, but lost considerably its influence in South Caucasia. But the West was so far also unable and unwilling to develop a concept for the solution of these conflicts and therefore for a sustainable regional peace order. The recent war in Georgia in August 2008 considerably changed the geopolitical situation and created a new front between Russia and the West. In the articles an outline for potential compromises on these issues has been elaborated.