Europe and South Caucasus
The perception of the EU in the South Caucasus has changed significantly since summer 2008 when then President of the Council of the EU, Nicolas Sarkozy, brokered the cease fire agreement between Russia and Georgia. The EU has appeared as a new actor in the region, an equal with Russia and the United States, and became physically visible in form of its Monitoring Mission (EUMM). Brussels’ enhanced engagement in the region is, overall, perceived positively not only in Georgia, but also in Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is, however, obvious that a common EU strategy towards the South Caucasus has yet to be developed.
Assisting the countries with developing stable democratic institutions will be the basis for cooperation on core fields of mutual interest, such as energy security and sustainable economic development, both within the region and between the region and the EU. In order to achieve that goal of truly democratic states cooperating as closely as possible amongst each other and with their European neighbours, experts and decision-makers on all sides need to step up their respective efforts to develop strategies and tangible political solutions for closer cooperation.
The upcoming years will be decisive as to whether every single country or the region as a whole will opt for further convergence with the EU as a foreign policy priority. The Heinrich Boell Foundation’s South Caucasus Regional Office is therefore thriving to inform and convene civil society actors in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to stir debates on European options in their respective country’s foreign policy and the values the European Union stands for.
At the same time, we are contributing to the discourse in the capitals of the European Union by convening international experts and policy-makers, delivering input from the region and generating ideas for a future European Policy towards the South Caucasus.