Democracy or Stability? EU and US Engagement in the Southern Caucasus
Tanja A. Börzel, Yasemin Pamuk, Andreas Stahn – 2009
With the recent war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Southern Caucasus has yet again become a focal point for international crisis mediating efforts. The 2008 flare-up of the Russian-Georgian conflict redirected international attention to a small, but strategically important region that forms part of the European Union’s (EU) and Russia’s near abroad, and, in which the United States (US) has important security and economic interests. The three states in the Southern Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, gained independence in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse in 1991. Since then, both the EU and the US have sought to intensify their relations with these countries in order to support their post-communist transitions in democracy, market-based economy and stateness. Yet compared to other post-Communist regions, such as the Central Eastern European countries (CEEC), the Southern Caucasus seriously suffers from bad governance. As arbitrary rule and pervasive corruption are common in all three countries, they have been subject to external actors’ comprehensive attempts in promoting substantial reforms.