Davit Berdzenishvili's vision of the formation of a unified Caucasian region

Sunday, 09 December 2007

Image The South Caucasus is just a geographic region. It does not have a common geopolitical component so far. From many viewpoints, South Caucasus countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia - differ in orientation. Although it is obvious that Georgia and Azerbaijan on the one hand, and Armenia and Georgia on the other are cooperating on specific issues, common South Caucasian geopolitical interests have not become clear-cut yet.  

In addition, the South Caucasus is not a unified geoeconomic region. Georgia's and Azerbaijan's economic interests coincide, which makes it possible to implement joint economic projects. For example, the Georgia-Azerbaijan bridge is gaining significance both for the Euro-Atlantic area and from the viewpoint of the Europe-Asia corridor. Oil and gas pipelines that have been, are being, or will be built will further deepen Georgian-Azerbaijani cooperation. 

Geoeconomic security is also an important aspect. In this area, it is necessary to settle economic relations both between the South Caucasus countries and their relations with neighbouring countries. Georgia and Azerbaijan seem to be closer joint economic projects and similar political orientation, but it would be incorrect to regard Georgian-Azerbaijani relations as firmer compared with Georgian-Armenian relations. Georgia has an experience of centuries-long historic relations with Armenia. The two are Christian countries, and, given mentality aspects, good-neighbourly relations between Georgia and Armenia are essential. 

Georgia is a multiethnic and multicultural country. This is our historic tradition. These aspects strengthen relations with neighbouring countries and diminish risks. Correspondingly, there are more positive aspects. The only thing that is needed here is a good personnel policy. Such a Georgia is significant and interesting for the Western world. 

There is one more aspect: Georgia has proclaimed its aspiration to follow the peaceful path of conflict settlement. Correspondingly, success on this path will have a certain impact on the Karabakh conflict and will increase chances of peaceful coexistence. 

Georgia's foreign policy course is pro-Western. It is necessary to implement this policy at a high qualitative level to achieve success in this direction. South Caucasus countries' foreign policy should be oriented toward market economy, liberal values, and high standards of democracy, as this is the path leading to Europe. 

Those who have a look at a map or a globe see three small countries beyond a five-kilometre wide mountain ridge and regard them as one region. It is indeed not ruled out that the South Caucasus will take a shape as a united cultural, economic, and political region. What provides an opportunity for events to unfold in this manner is the formation of the Black Sea region. The fact that Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area have become closer to Georgia will further deepen this trend.  

Georgia must meet minimum standards that have been achieved by Romania and Bulgaria. Georgia's aspiration toward the Euro-Atlantic area provides the opportunity for Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, and Georgia to become countries that will shape the Black Sea region. In this case, the geographic location of the South Caucasus will acquire different overtones. It will become a more significant region that should be taken into account, in which Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria will be NATO members, Turkey will be striving toward the European Union with its integration into the EU becoming increasingly popular, and Ukraine as an East European country will inevitably move toward Europe. 

Ukrainian mentality and the country's neighbours - Poland and other European countries - will largely facilitate Ukraine's becoming a normal European country in the near future. 

The same is true of Georgian mentality. Our history and culture enables us to state boldly that we should return to where we belong historically - to Europe. 

This entire South Caucasus geographic region differs from other similar countries in Africa and Latin America. If a united Caucasus region is formed as an autonomous unit, it will become a powerful player in the Euro-Atlantic area. 

The formation of the South Caucasus region will make European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations more intensive both in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The settlement of relations between Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan will play a significant role in drawing these countries closer to the European family. For Armenia and Azerbaijan, the neighbourhood policy is a reality that can shape them as true neighbours. At the same time, it is important for Europe to have relations with stable neighbours. 

Democratic standards are an important requirement for European integration. We should be able to meet the requirements. Appropriate conditions are indeed being created against the background of the general success in Europe. 

Our ancestors proclaimed their Western choice on a lot of occasions in the past. In the Caucasus area that is distinguished for its cultural diversity, we can show Europe an excellent example of peaceful coexistence.