Atlantic Voices Vol. 2, no. 8
Following the recent global headlines about new tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan and a continued lack of regional security cooperation in the South Caucasus region, the August issue of the Atlantic Voices is dedicated to views from the region on regional security in a transatlantic context.
ATLANTIC TREATY ASSOCIATION Volume 2 - Issue 8, August 2012 SOUTH CAUCASUS AND TRANSATLANTIC SECURITY: Views from the region In early June 2012, the long-standing `frozen' conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region flared up with clashes between the armed forces of the two countries that led to deaths on both sides. These incidents triggered new security concerns in a region that is looking back at a long history of conflicts. Although the region got worldwide attention during the August 2008 War between Georgia and its separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the potential for the outbreak of military conflicts is still underestimated in international politics. The major western institutions - above all NATO, EU and OSCE - hold the main responsibility when it comes to finding strategies for stabilizing the South Caucasus region. One important issue will be the democratization of security governance in all countries. Thereby, the situation needs to be analyzed individually for each country with their respective political systems. Yet what is even more important is changing people's mindsets. As long as age-old stereotypes and narrow-minded public opinion dominate in the region, no progress towards mutual trust and more transnational cooperation will be made. - Florian Bauernfeind Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 1 The Nagorno-Karbakh conflict is one of the major sources of tensions in South Caucasus Contents: Global Pulse: A way forward or glimpse back? Reflections on international cooperation in South Caucasus Tornike Metreveli looks at different concepts of 'nationalism' and examines the reasons for the difficulties with creating international cooperation in South Caucasus. He argues that youth cooperation could be the key for a better understanding of the Caucasian peoples. South Caucasus and transatlantic security cooperation: Views from Armenia and Azerbaijan Tevan Poghosyan and Rozy Kopyan as well as Orkhan Ali examine the status quo of their countries' integration into the transatlantic security framework and the prospects for NATO membership. They conclude that, given different national political circumstances, the relations of the Southern Caucasian countries to NATO differ significantly. ISSN 2294-1274 GLOBAL PULSE A way forward or glimpse back? Reflections on international cooperation in South Caucasus By Tornike Metreveli The starting point Those of us who at some point in their lives had certain connections with South Caucasus might outline general observations about the characteristics of the people of this region. A culture of hospitality, an emotional behaviour and a commitment to help each other are perhaps the qualities best describing Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Georgians. Forget these sweeping generalizations for a second, and bring in another side of the coin: Ethnocultural nationalism, secessionist and interstate wars, military coups, a lack of democratic institutions and a poor economic performance are the issues the aforementioned nations experienced and are still experiencing. Bearing this in mind, one might be surprised to find explanations for quite basic and simultaneously rather complex questions which may arise. Why, for example, can the peoples such as the Armenians and Azerbaijanis, or the Georgians and Abkhazians and Ossetians, while being quite peaceful to their guests, be so hostile and antagonistic towards each other? How can we explain a dialectical opposition to another's identity (the hostile "other") while defining its own (what Charles Taylor called dialogism when reflecting on the role of the other in selfimagination)? And, how can international actors such as NATO deal with cultures, legacies and institutions of these societies in order to prevent radical nationalism from evolving and strengthen regional cooperation but at the same time remain themselves distant from an involvement into domestic politics? Finding answers to these questions is indeed difficult, even for experts of the region. There may be some general reflections on nationalist tendencies in South Caucasus, raising the issues rather than addressing them comprehensively. I don't mean to qualitatively contextualize the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani nationalist discourses; I seek to reflect on similar trends in national narratives. After a critical reflection, the article will examine how to enAtlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 hance regional cooperation and stimulate a peaceful departure from ethno-nationalist thinking. `Old' versus `new' nations: A myth or a reality? The origins of nations and nationalism appear to be one of the central topics for discussion among scholars of nationalism studies. Opinions are divided about this topic and different camps have their own "objective" arguments at hand. Two sets of rival schools of thought within nationalism studies propose several conflicting visions on the subject. Modernists aka constructivists suggest to see `nation' as a modern phenomenon which emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thus, nationality or nation-ness is not something historically given or inherited or "natural" necessarily having connectivity with one's past, neither is it fully accidental in all cases. Constructivists consider a nation as a humanly constructed phenomenon which can also be invented ex nihilo by nationalist elites, even if cultural roots and links with the ancient past do not exist at all. The process of modernization can create those roots without any preconditions or connection to antiquity, suggested Ernest Gellner. While arguing about the origins of nations, Anthony Smith distinguishes between two relatively similar terms: nations and ethnies. Smith construes a nation as "a named human population sharing an historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members," whereas ethnie is defined as "a human population with shared myths of ancestry, common historical memories, one or more elements of culture, a link with a territory, and a measure of solidarity, at least among the elites." As we will find out further, it is Smith's and not necessarily Gellner's argument that gained broader popularity among the academic and political circles in South Caucasus during the early and mid-1990s, and it continues to be popular today. 2 The pride of small nations Based on reflections on history textbooks, a media discourse analysis and academic literature about nationalism, one might assert that the concept of nationhood is understood in Smithian primordial terms rather than in the Gellnerian modernist vision. This does not necessarily suggest that South Caucasian states still suffer from ethno-cultural nationalisms, perhaps they do to a lesser extent than in the past, but this is not the point of concern. Noteworthy is a belief among the nationalist elites in accuracy of history and reference to "historical justice" while constructing their political agendas. For example, certain disputed territories are believed to be exclusively under the ownership of particular ethnies which historically inhabited these regions. The ironic thing is that the historical narratives about similar geographic areas considerably differ and mostly even contradict each other. A historical deadlock � a space for primordial thinking of triumph � emerges. It is worth reading a passage in Armenian and Azerbaijani textbooks about Nagorno-Karabakh, or Georgian versus Abkhazian history on the matter of `who owns what' in Abkhazia, in order to understand how conflicting the search for historical justice might be and to what extent it may be counterproductive for peace-building. The recent history illustrated that the war between historians and linguists sometimes, if not quite often, evolved into interstate conflicts between the nation-states (e.g. the AzerbaijaniArmenian conflict over Karabakh), or between central governments and leaders of autonomous republics (e.g. the Georgian war in Abkhazia and South Ossetia). We may argue that the ethnic perception of `nation' is mainly or partly a by-product of Soviet ethno-federalist and titularization policies. However, bearing in mind the deeply rooted beliefs in pre-modern and quite ethno-culturally exclusive concepts of nationhood among the nationalists in Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku in the early 1990s, one might suggest that the instrumentalization of history appeared easy for Russia in order to maintain "spheres of influence" in its formerly occupied states. Despite the fact that more than twenty years passed and ethno-nationalism already "thrived" to destroy states, divide societies and antagonize political actors, certain primordialism in imagining the self and a dialectical identification vis-�-vis the hostile "other" still persists. For Armenians, it is the Azerbaijanis who are the "hostile others" and vice versa; for the Abkhazians and Ossetians, targets of these "dialogical relationships with others" are the Georgians; for Georgians, it is the Russians, etc. Perhaps Charles Taylor is right suggesting that "indirect dialoAtlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 gism" entails a way of defining oneself by identifying what we are not (i.e. "hostile other"), and ethnicity still plays a substantial role in this process in South Caucasus. However, an essential question is how to deal with an ongoing clash of the modernist versus the primordialist way of thinking when the latter prevents regional cooperation. Ways forward: Looking to the past or the future? Having in mind a complex historical legacy, not to mention the historically shaped cultural and institutional set-up of this region, one might wonder how organizations like NATO may contribute to the development of regional cooperation if some nations still literally hate each other. I see one essential dimension that is working with younger generations. Comprehensive sociological empirical research suggests that the youth is less reluctant to regional cooperation than for example the generations that lived in the Soviet Union or fought wars against each other after its demise. An observation of the activities and work of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) of Georgia and Russia on the one hand, and Armenia and Azerbaijan on the other, shows that, despite tense political relations, younger generations still manage to cooperate in various formats within the framework of YATA activities and events. Thus, it is an enhancement of a bottom-up rather than a topdown cooperation what regional actors should aim at. YATA's Balkans experience tells us that despite bloody ethnic rivalries, historical memories of war and personal tragedies, younger generations from Croatia and Serbia successfully cooperated and continue to do so within the framework of YATA. Their joint activism within YATA only strengthens the argument that younger generations are more adaptable to work with the socalled "enemies" than their more aged compatriots. On a critical note, it will be reductive to suggest that aiming at youth cooperation will have a direct short-term positive impact on regional peace. Yet perhaps in the long run, a long-term engagement with younger generations within the young Atlantic community in South Caucasus may have a potential of becoming a driving engine for change and a tool for gradual departure from primordial thinking. Tornike Metreveli is a PhD Candidate at Ilia State University who specializes in Political Science. He is a Visiting Researcher at London School of Economics. He holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Edinburgh. 3 South Caucasus and transatlantic security: A view from Armenia by Tevan A. Poghosyan nership for Peace (PfP) and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). NATO inaugurated the IPAP instrument at the rmenia gained its independence in September 1991. Since then, the main objective of the country has been to ensure the security, stability 2002 Prague Summit as a mechanism to tailor relations with specific countries, which may include eventual membership. IPAPs are open to countries that demonstrate the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO. The program is also used for countries not desiring to join NATO. Though Armenia-NATO relations date back to 1992, when Armenia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council), the key document on which the relations are based is the IPAP. The main spheres of cooperation under the IPAP are security, defense and military issues, public information, science, environment, and democratic reforms. But while Armenia intends to intensify practical and political cooperation with NATO, it does not seek membership in it. Some say that NATO membership may worsen relations between Armenia and Russia, Armenia's main strategic partner. The point is that South Caucasus is an important geopolitical region and NATO's control over it may ensure Russia's isolation from both the Caucasus and the Middle East, which is against Russia's interests. Today, Russia has a military base in Armenia, which contributes to the protection of Armenian borders. Along with Russia, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is a major component of the country's security architecture. But unlike NATO, the CSTO doesn't pursue global goals. Russia is a dominant country among the CSTO members, and the security of member states usually does not depend on the organization as a whole but on the intentions of the Russian Federation. Thus, Armenia needs to maintain close relations with Russia, which, however, should not imply limitations on NATO-Armenia relations. However, at the same time, the Russian Federation doesn't launch any effective initiative to contribute to the solution of the regional issues, as the current status quo is beneficial for the country. This is why some experts think that Armenia's integration into NATO will provide the country with better opportunities for resolving its disputes with the neighbours and for maintaining regional security. Others, however, are worried about Visit of Armenian President Serz Sargsyan to NATO in March 2012 (Photo: NATO) and peace in the region, as its neighbour Azerbaijan imposed a war on the newly created republic. During the NagornoKarabakh war between the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) and Azerbaijan, Armenia found itself in an economic blockade, which was planned by Azerbaijan and Turkey. The aim of our neighbours' blockade has been to force the Republic of Armenia to make concessions in favour of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Though a ceasefire was signed between the Republic of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic in May 1994, bellicosity from Azerbaijan didn't stop. The ceasefire regime has repeatedly been violated by Azerbaijan. Since the dissolution of the USSR, NATO has also experienced a multitude of changes. The Cold War era with its bipolar system disappeared, and the unipolarity in international relations could have led to the collapse of the military Alliance as its main aim was to oppose the Soviet Union that no longer existed. Therefore, NATO decided to prevent its breakdown by enrolling more and more states in it in order to become a global Alliance. As a result, South Caucasus was also considered as a region of possible new members. Today, cooperation between NATO and South Caucasus is implemented through different NATO projects such as the Part- A close relations with NATO, as Turkey is a member of the Alliance. It is well known that Turkey, along with Azerbaijan, does 4 Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 not have diplomatic relations with Armenia and has blockaded the country. Therefore, the main objective of the Armenian security system is to eliminate the threats coming from neighbouring countries. So, according to Armenian politicians, NATO membership will only be on the agenda when the Alliance clarifies its position on the regional issues.1 Otherwise, Turkey might have an influence on NATO resolutions over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in favour of its partner Azerbaijan. Moreover, even if Armenia decides to join NATO, Turkey might veto its membership like any other pro-Armenian resolution. However, Armenia cooperates with NATO even without being a member of the Alliance. For instance, in the sphere of defense and military cooperation, the Armenian Armed Forces receive personnel training and support from NATO to increase border security. Cooperation with NATO is very important in this sphere because NATO can contribute to the technological progress of the Armenian Armed Forces, which the Russian Army cannot guarantee as it is the USSR's old-fashioned legacy. 2 Russia and Armenia signed an agreement on Russian military presence at the Gyumri base in 2010 (Photo: N. Armenakyan) aggressiveness by turning down all the confidence-building measures. One year later, Azerbaijan objected to the participation of Armenian officers in "The Cooperative Best Effort 2004", which had been planned to be held in Azerbaijan.4 As a result, NATO decided to cancel "The Cooperative Best Effort 2004" as all PfP exercises are agreed and conducted on the principle of inclusiveness for all Allies and partners wishing to participate. On September 13th, a NATO spokesman declared: "We regret that the principle of inclusiveness could not be upheld in this case, leading to the cancellation of the exercise."5 Four years later, Armenia hosted the PfP exercise "Cooperative Longbow/Lancer". It involved approximately 900 troops from NATO, PfP, and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) nations. Unfortunately, very few sources highlight the fact that while being the smallest country in South Caucasus, Armenia hosted the biggest NATO exercise of the region. The exercise served as an opportunity to learn how to work together in the framework of a NATO-led operation. In September 2010, Armenia hosted the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre's civil emergency exercise ("Armenia 2010") in the Kotayk region. Teams from 15 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) nations took part in the exercise, and 11 additional countries participated by sending staff officers. Altogether, more than 600 individuals belonging to civilian and military teams from NATO and partner countries with capabilities to deal with different aspects of emergencies took part in the event. Through this exercise, NATO and partner nations practiced the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) procedures and capabilities, in order to improve the nations' ability to respond to a disaster. Besides, Armenia participates in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, thanks to which it is able to prevent the adoption of 5 Armenia also participates in the Partnership for Peace (PfP). Since joining it in 1994, Armenian troops have cooperated with NATO countries in many peacekeeping operations. For example, Armenia contributed troops to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) as of 2004. But recently, Armenia has ended its participation in KFOR. The Armenian platoon of light infantry (35 personnel), which served within the Greek contingent had to return to Yerevan because of the pull-out of most of the Greek peacekeeping battalion. Today, Armenia is ready to send its troops back to Kosovo if another NATO member state agrees to cover their logistical expenses in the place of Greece. Besides, since 2009, Armenia has been contributing troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In June 2011, the number of Armenian troops serving in ISAF was almost tripled to about 130. In 2003, Armenia successfully hosted a NATO/PfP exercise for the first time. "The Cooperative Best Effort 2003" took place at the Vazgen Sargsian Military Institute in Armenia. The aim of the exercise was to improve land force effectiveness in the field by making NATO and partner contributors work together to develop better understanding and interoperability. Turkish troops also participated in that exercise on Armenian soil. But this does not apply to Azerbaijan. The country continued its Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 3 Since 2009, Armenia has been contributing troops to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. unfavourable resolutions for Armenia, especially concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia contributes to the fight against terrorism through its participation in the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism (PAPT). This includes sharing intelligence and analysis with NATO, enhancing national counter-terrorism training capabilities and improving border security. Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Armenia has received grant awards for about 38 projects. Projects undertaken include the prevention, detection and response to nuclear threats, risk assessment on natural disasters and water security. Armenia also participates in the Virtual Silk Highway project, the purpose of which is to improve internet access for research communities The AAA's main goal is to foster Armenia's links with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to promote a better understanding within Armenia of NATO's mission and activities. The Association strives to correct misperceptions about NATO and its policies that exist in the country. Another goal of the AAA is to inform the public in NATO member-countries about political, economic and social developments in Armenia and to promote solidarity amongst nations participating in the NATO PfP program. The AAA adheres to the principles of equality, selfgovernance and public service. It does not pursue political aims and is not affiliated with any political group. It is worth mentioning that all three states of the South Caucasus region conduct different policies Armenia has increased its troop contribution to ISAF up to 130 soldiers in 2011 (Photo: RFI/RFN) in South Caucasus and Central Asia. Under this project the academic and educational communities in the eight countries concerned will be connected to the Internet by way of a common satellite beam. One should keep in mind that, before 2000, relations between NATO and Armenia were not strong enough. Armenian politicians didn't trust NATO. They considered the Alliance as an enemy as Turkey, the historical foe of Armenia, has been its member since 1952. Armenians thought that NATO's policy is similar to the policy conducted by Turkey. Though public opinion has changed recently, this perception hasn't disappeared completely. That is why Armenia intends to raise public awareness of NATO by implementing information campaigns about the North Atlantic Alliance. An information centre about NATO was established in Yerevan in 2007 with the support of the Armenian government and NATO.6 Besides, Armenia organizes annual NATO weeks in order to deliver information on NATO activities in the world and in the region. In its turn, the Armenian Atlantic Association (AAA), which was established in 2001, also contributes to raising public awareness. Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 towards NATO. While Armenia is not interested in NATO membership, Georgia desires to join the Alliance as soon as possible. Georgia is very interested in NATO integration mainly because it has no alternative. The point is that in both the Georgian-Abkhazian and the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Russia supported the self-declared movements. As a result of these conflicts, Russian forces are present on Georgian territory. Thus, Georgia needs NATO as a means of protection from the threat coming from its powerful northern neighbour Russia. The areas of NATO-Georgia cooperation are the same as in the case of Armenia. The main difference is that NATOGeorgia relations are based on the Annual National Programme (ANP), which has replaced the IPAP. As for Azerbaijan, the country hasn't made any clear statements about its position on NATO membership. Though Azerbaijan tries to cooperate with the Alliance in implementing democratic reforms, in this sphere the country is far behind the other two states of the region. Azerbaijan's human rights abuses, the basic breaches and violations of the principles of democracy, freedom of speech, rule of law, etc. are strongly condemned by 6 Some say that NATO membership may worsen relations between Armenia and Russia, Armenia's main strategic partner. the European Union. In NATO-Azerbaijan relations the Turkish factor should also be taken into account because, while being a NATO member for decades, Turkey maintains close relations with Azerbaijan and may have an impact on its integration into the Alliance. But at the same time, Azerbaijan tries to maintain high-level relations with Russia, as the latter plays an important role in South Caucasus, and especially in the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijani politicians comprehend that the intensification of NATO-Azerbaijan relations will definitely contribute to the improvement of the already close Russian-Armenian ties, which may have a negative effect for Azerbaijan regarding the future settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It can be concluded that all three states of the South Caucasus region are trying to implement major reforms in the area of security, economy and defense in order to be integrated into the EU and other European institutions. But as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia conduct different policies towards NATO, the integration process of each will differ from the others'. Russia's role should also be taken into account, as it has a huge influence in the region and can therefore have an impact on NATO-South Caucasus relations. For example, while Georgia is trying to become a NATO member as soon as possible, in order to feel safe from the Russian threat, Armenia does not need this. On the contrary, a NATO member state (Turkey) is a source of danger to Armenia. In its turn, Azerbaijan does not want to deepen relations with NATO either as it may harm the country's ties with Russia. Though the three South Caucasus states have different positions on NATO, they have one thing in common � the European integration, which is an important factor that contributes to NATO-South Caucasus cooperation. The European integration is one of the main goals of the foreign policies of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. As NATO is an important organization in the European system, close relations and the integration into the Alliance can represent a huge step towards the EU. As for Armenia, NATO membership is not on the agenda today as the Alliance's role is not efficient enough to solve regional conflicts and to maintain peace and stability in South Caucasus. In this context, the former Foreign Minister of Armenia Vartan Oskanyan once stated: "Neither Armenia is ready to join Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 NATO, nor NATO is ready to accept Armenia."7 The point is that NATO membership implies responsibilities not only from the Armenian side but also from NATO. First of all, the Alliance should be responsible for the security of the region, which is quite complicated because of the ongoing regional conflicts. Armenia doesn't seek NATO membership because Armenian politicians comprehend that it is unrealistic in the current situation. But Armenia's integration into NATO should not be ruled out. Maybe the situation in South Caucasus will change, and Armenia would come up with an intention to join NATO in the nearest future. 1 http://www.lragir.am/engsrc/politics25227.html http://www.lragir.am/armsrc/natohb64929.html North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2003/06-june/ 2 3 e0616a.htm 4 Human Rights in Armenia, Civil Society Institute, http://www.hra.am/hy/ events/2004/09/12/13942 5 North Atlantic Treaty Organization, http:// As Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia conduct different policies towards NATO, their integration processes will differ from each other. www.nato.int/docu/pr/2004/p04-121e.htm 6 Information Centre on NATO in Armenia, http:// www.natoinfo.am/eng/index.php?sub=centre_about 7 Diplomatic Observer, http:// www.diplomaticobserver.com/EN/belge/2-1153/ kocaryan-armenia-is-not-going-to-join-nato.html The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association, its members, affiliates or staff. About the authors Tevan A. Poghosyan Tevan A. Poghosyan is Executive Director of the International Center for Human Development in Armenia as well as Executive Director of the Armenian Atlantic Association (AAA) and lecturer at the Armenian Russian States (Slavonic) University. Prior to this, he has also worked for the Central Bank of Armenia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the NagornoKarabakh Republic. Rozy Kopyan Rozy Kopyan is an MA candidate in International Relations at Yerevan State University. She is also member of the Young Armenian Atlantic Association. 7 South Caucasus and transatlantic security: A view from Azerbaijan by Orkhan Ali comprising 93%, Georgia's and Armenia's economic growth are mainly based on the construction, services, transit routes and he 21 century brought many changes to the South Caucasus region, but it had limited impact on any peace process in the region. Due to the st conflicts, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have narrowed down tripartite integration and demonstrate a lack of willingness to cooperate. Each of them has different aspirations vis-�-vis security guarantees because of their diverse political, economic, social and diplomatic developments. The continuation of Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the August War in 2008 have prevented the region from joining the NATO security platform or at least seeking for a regional security guarantee under a single defense structure. T agriculture sectors. For Armenia, remittances from Armenians living and working abroad play an important role. For Georgia, the transit of resources from the Caspian Sea to Turkey matters greatly, while for Azerbaijan, Georgia is the most important transit country for its resources to Europe. Georgia is also a crucial partner for Armenia to access regional and international markets, and approximately 70% of Armenian trade is linked to transits via Georgia. This illustrates how prosperous the region could be if cross-border cooperation were in motion. In this conflict-driven region in which security is being questioned, a regional security framework still remains unmatched. Conflicts and the search for `new security': To rush or not to rush? Russia has always regarded South Caucasus as its traditional backyard of influence and resisted western involvement in this region. The geostrategic importance of the region for Russia is based on three factors: rich hydro-carbon resources of the Caspian Basin (Azerbaijan), and its role as an energytransporting corridor (currently Azerbaijan and Georgia) and security insurance (military presence in Armenia, gateway to the Middle East, Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan). Although the South Caucasus countries tried to diversify their foreign poliAzerbaijani and US soldiers participating in a NATO military exercise outside Baku (Photo: NSI News Source Info) The Caucasian security context As far as regional security is concerned, all three states are grouped under one regional security complex regarding many common issues such as occupation of territories, unresolved conflicts, refugee problems, ethnic tensions, economic dependence and safe energy transportation. This security framework is obviously defined by the security concerns that are interlinked, and this leads to the perception that national problems cannot be reasonably solved independently from each other. Security developments in all three countries undersive security framework. Even from an economic point of view, the states of the region differ but nonetheless depend on each other. While the share of oil in Azerbaijan generates more than 70% of budget revenues, with the export of oil and petroleum products alone Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 cies away from Russia, they could not simply ig- went serious drawbacks, and the region is seeking a comprehen- nore the country they had lived with for 200 years. In this context, the perception of Russia has been decisive for the development of a security framework for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Moreover, all three states were left with very limited leverages to pursue independent foreign policies after the Soviet break-up, and they were in political disarray to systematically 8 resist Russian pressure. The occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan by Armenian military forces at the beginning of the 1990s is the most significant impediment for regional integration. The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan reached the point of a mutual stalemate, and the ceasefire was officially inked on 27 July 1994, paving the way for the OSCE to technically start the mediation mission. However, a preservation of the status quo of the conflict is mostly sustained due to the Russian control of Caucasus politics. Armenia is the only country in the region with a pro-Russian posture and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), where Moscow remains a security -guarantor. Furthermore, a recent security agreement signed between Armenia and Russia in 2010 has extended the Russian troop deployment to Gyumri until up to 2044. Beside that deployment, Russian border guards continue to monitor Armenia's borders with Iran and Turkey. The purpose of siding with Russia militarily is to get Russia's military and tacit political support for Armenian occupation until the legalization of military gains and to restrain Azerbaijan from starting any military operation. Therefore, Armenia is more confident in Russia than NATO, an organization in which Turkey is deeply involved, while Azerbaijan relies on Turkey as a "brother country" and NATO member with the same Turkic root. Taking this into account, Yerevan gave preference to being the Kremlin's only strong foothold in the region. Conversely, the energy potential has made it possible for Azerbaijan to diversify its political and economic contacts and has enabled Baku to deal with Russia as a partner, albeit in limited terms. However, the status-quo in Karabakh is the most powerful tool of Moscow to control Azerbaijan. This policy could seriously challenge Russia in the case of military escalation between the parties, where abstention would potentially engage other actors, above all Turkey. Turkey could hardly remain a mere observer of a war, and Ankara would most likely be forced to take part in the conflict on the side of Azerbaijan, which might trigger NATO's intervention if Turkey's security is at stake. This scenario might also trap Russia and Turkey into a proxy war, if not into direct confrontation. Recently, the breach of the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact and the death of soldiers on both sides created concern over the `frozen' status of the conflict and demonstrated the Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 tense muscles of both countries, which coincided with the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region from 4 to 6 June 2012. The likelihood of a military confrontation is like a time-bomb in the region. Azerbaijan's defense budget has grown from $1.59 bn in 2010 to $1.76 bn in 2012 while Armenia's military stands at a budget of about $400 million in 2012, which is about 4.5 times less than Azerbaijan's military budget. The oil boom in Azerbaijan, however, could reverse the status quo and may convince Armenia not to trust its opponent at the negotiation table. Most dangerously, Yerevan could act pre-emptively to forestall the risk of being attacked by Azerbaijan. And obviously, as long as the conflict remains in a `no war, no peace' conundrum, the possibility of a future military scenario cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, Armenia is the dominating party in the negotiations for now, as it invaded and took control not only of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also of the seven adjacent regions to Nagorno-Karabakh for convenient defense posture and legalization of more occupied areas. Georgia is a different case. Mikheil Saakashvili's triumph in the 2004 Rose Revolution was a turning point in Georgia's search for a security framework. The solidification of the pro-Western president in power significantly increased the course towards European integration. Tbilisi declared a membership interest to NATO, and since then, Saakashvili's administration perceived Russia as the only threat towards its breakaway regions and tried to deter it through an alignment with NATO and the US. During NATO's Riga Summit in 2006, NATO parties even encouraged Tbilisi in its effort to join the NATO family. This tendency improved even further in the 2008 Bucharest Summit. Then US President Bush lobbied strongly for Georgia's case. Bush's support for Georgia, however, contradicted the German, French and Italian governments' interests within NATO. As a result, under the consistent pressure of France and Germany, NATO denied granting a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia. But all these pre-assessments of Georgia's readiness to join NATO and overly sensitive advocacy policy failed in mid-2008. The new leadership in Tbilisi began to falter in managing overly ambitious expectations. Hasty and imprudent decisions employed in solving the conflicts in the two breakaway regions by the use of force in August 2008 ended up in a fiasco for Georgia. The relations with the Kremlin plummeted, resulting in the controversial recognition of de-facto independence of Abkhazia 9 The likelihood of a military confrontation is like a time-bomb in the region. and South Ossetia by Russia, thereby disrupting the territorial integrity of Georgia. Russia proved to be the defining country for whether Georgia could go any further or not. As a result, the MAP has been put on hold for Georgia. Besides, NATO member countries came to the conclusion that extending the organization's membership to the area where Russian troops are heavily deployed and numerously present could possibly initiate a confrontation of bigger scale. all projects of the PfP to demonstrate its vivid interest in NATO membership. Armenia doesn't seek NATO membership to deter its enemies, in particular Turkey and Azerbaijan, as this task is reserved to Russia. Yerevan just tries to diversify its relations and pursues a multi-vectoral foreign policy. Azerbaijan is also actively cooperating with NATO under the PfP, but its relationship with NATO is more balanced than Georgia's and Armenia's. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan doesn't need to fully integrate into NATO, but its relation with NATO is much stronger than Armenia's. However, Baku has never materialized its commitment to NATO, due to the preservation of a balanced foreign policy with particular consideration of Russia, and does not consider NATO membership as a priority. In support of this sign, Azerbaijan also joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 2011 with full membership status, which clearly marks Baku's reluctance to be part of either NATO or any other defense organization.2 One can say that the PfP puts forward a very flexible cooperation framework in line with the Caucasian countries' preferences. NATO's moves are determined by the interest in balance, and if vital interests are at stake, member states come to terms on action with regard to collective defense. Bearing this in mind, it was witnessed that NATO gave preference to common interests it shares with Russia, such as counter-terrorism activities, arms control and disarmament, nonproliferation of WMD, rather than NATO and confrontational partnership in South Caucasus As the conflicts in the region, labeled `frozen' in many western media, have begun to thaw, basically no progress was made around the table between the parties. There is a reason to believe that NATO is interested in pipeline security in South Caucasus for clear geostrategic reasons. But energy is not the only reason to keep an eye on the region. NATO member states are now deeply committed militarily in both Afghanistan and Iraq, generating a much greater interest in the wider Middle East. The South Caucasus region is a logistical corridor crucial for the access of coalition aircraft to operational theatres further east in Afghanistan. On a strategic level, the increasing NATO focus on the Caucasus stems from the fact that security interests of NATO in South Caucasus have grown to an extent that they would significantly be affected by more instability in the region. The collective interests of NATO members therefore suggest that a larger role of the Alliance in strengthening the security in South Caucasus is warranted. NATO unveiled the Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 1994, and it was hailed as the cornerstone of a new security relationship between NATO and the newly democratic states in the East. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia joined this programme on 5 October, 4 May and 23 March 1994 respectively. But the PfP falls considerably short of a security guarantee; it only assures the Eastern European states of consultation if their security is threatened. The PfP is an individual program that offers the military diversification of member states, but doesn't promise a NATO security guarantee. Despite the fact that all three countries show a deep interest in a partnership framework with NATO, the level of engagement differs from country to country. Georgia is more active in Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 1 Baku does not consider NATO membership as a priority. straining its relations with the Kremlin. NATO's influence in the region has declined after the August War. The August 2008 events reinforced the reservations of many NATO members concerning the granting of membership to a state with unresolved territorial disputes. The lesson was that false security hopes granted to Georgia could entail a risk of drawing NATO into conflicts which could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia. Not surprisingly, Russia legally institutionalized the results of its intervention by officially recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as new independent states on 23 August 2008. NATO simply confined itself to condemning Russia's military move as being in breach of UN Security Council Resolutions and infringing on Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Indeed, at the 2009 Strasbourg/Kehl NATO 60th Anniversary Summit, member states did not demonstrate an over-excessive support for upgrading Georgia to the status of 10 MAP country. However, this event unpacked many controversial issues. Since then, Georgia has become more realistic in drawing up the prospects of an aligned European or Transatlantic security framework, and new realities cemented a sober judgment of the likelihood of Georgia's success in the aspiration for NATO membership. Russia has used this experience for putting pressure on other post-soviet nations' NATO aspirations and displayed its immediate alertness regarding such moves. Armenia and Azerbaijan took the lesson that an excessive NATO aspiration could end up with the cost of unprecedented territorial outcomes. Hence, at NATO's recent Chicago Summit, member countries came up with a cautious agenda based on the lessonslearned. For Georgia, the Summit was of particular significance in order to demonstrate Tbilisi's firmness concerning EuroAtlantic integration. The Summit Declaration reiterated NATO's support of the territorial integrity of Georgia and reaffirmed its aspiration for NATO membership. Nevertheless, Brussels was very careful in the wording and put an accent on the implementation of necessary reforms to complement NATO standards. For Armenia, the Summit Declaration sparked dissatisfaction, stating its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in resolution of the ongoing confrontation. In this context, Azerbaijan seems to be happy with NATO's reference to the territorial integrity, which, to a certain extent, enhances Azerbaijan's diplomatic standing against Armenia, regarding the withdrawal of military forces from the occupied territory. security alternatives with NATO; however, any upgrade in its MAP efforts will be constrained by Russian counter-moves. Unfortunately, the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by Russia, the US and France, is limited to initiating a peace deal between the warring countries, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a low priority on the international level because of the consensus that there is no immediate danger of escalation. The Geneva talks, established with the aim of arriving at a conflict resolution in Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the August War in 2008 and co-chaired by the EU, the OSCE and the UN, have not produced any tangible results over the last four years. Both the OSCE Minsk Group and the Geneva talks have had the role of monitoring the cease-fire agreements rather than promoting peace-frameworks that could potentially lead to meaningful rapprochement. Out of the three, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict stands as the only hindrance over-shadowing the entire Caucasus region, and it creates great uncertainty with respect to future cooperation between the three nations. However, an uncontrolled tension in the region cannot be ruled out and this would not only mean serious political changes in the entire South Caucasus region but it would also force Russia, Turkey, Iran, and possibly NATO member states, to seriously revise their respective policies. Given the example of the August 2008 War, those assumptions supporting the war scenarios could be revisited. 1 Hugh de Santis, "Romancing NATO: Partnership for Peace and East European stability", Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 17, no. 4, 2004, p. 65. Conclusion For twenty years, South Caucasus has been plagued by conflicts and fails to benefit from progress, due to closed borders and limited economic developments on a war footing. Efforts to change this situation have yielded few results, let alone a peace agreement. NATO is interested in the peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the region in order to avoid any unexpected escalation. The more stable and independent the South Caucasus countries are the easier it will be for NATO to secure the diversification of the energy flow from the Caspian Sea and to establish a reliable cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for its operations. Russia is committed to blocking any further NATO involvement in the region, which means that any future talk of possible deployment of NATO peacekeeping forces in the Caucasus is far from happening. Georgia will most likely look for Atlantic Voices, Volume 2, Issue 8 2 http://www.rferl.org/content/azerbaijan_join_nonaligned_move-ment/24200776.html The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association, its members, affiliates or staff. About the author Orkhan Ali Orkhan Ali works as a Governance Programme Coordinator at Oxfam Great Britain in Azerbaijan. He holds an MA degree in Non-Proliferation and International Security from King's College London and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Universit� Libre de Bruxelles. He was Director of the NATO International School of Azerbaijan in 2008. 11 ATA Programs In July 2012, two traditional seminars for young Atlanticists took place. From 2 to 8 July, the Danish ATA hosted the Danish Atlantic Youth Seminar (DAYS) at Aalborg Airbase. The 27th DAYS was held under the headline "Tomorrow's Challenges Today" and involved 22 participants from 15 different countries. From 21 to 28 July, the Portuguese Atlantic Youth Seminar (PAYS) took place at Lisbon Airbase looking at "NATO Transformation and the New Transnational Threat Paradigm". YATA President Kristin Durant participated in both events and exchanged her views with representatives of many national chapters. Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers. The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an international nongovernmental organization based in Brussels working to facilitate global networks and the sharing of knowledge on transatlantic cooperation and security. By convening political, diplomatic and military leaders with academics, media representatives and young professionals, the ATA promotes the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty: Democracy, Freedom, Liberty, Peace, Security and Rule of Law. The ATA membership extends to 37 countries from North America to the Caucasus throughout Europe. In 1996, the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) was created to specifially include to the successor generation in our work. Since 1954, the ATA has advanced the public's knowledge and understanding of the importance of joint efforts to transatlantic security through its international programs, such as the Central and South Eastern European Security Forum, the Ukraine Dialogue and its Educational Platform. In 2011, the ATA adopted a new set of strategic goals that reflects the Atlantic Voices is always seeking new material. If you are a young researcher, subject expert or professional and feel you have a valuable contribution to make to the debate, then please get in touch. We are looking for papers, essays, and book reviews on issues of importance to the NATO Alliance. For details of how to submit your work please see our website. Further enquiries can also be directed to the ATA Secretariat at the address listed below. constantly evolving dynamics of international cooperation. These goals include: the establishment of new and competitive programs on international security issues. the development of research initiatives and security-related events for its members. the expansion of ATA's international network of experts to countries in Northern Africa and Asia. The ATA is realizing these goals through new programs, more policy activism and greater emphasis on joint research initiatives. Editor: Florian Bauernfeind Images should not be reproduced without permission from sources listed, and remain the sole property of those sources. Cover Photo: ArmenianPages.com These programs will also aid in the establishment of a network of international policy experts and professionals engaged in a dialogue with NATO.