The European Union and future with the South Caucasus

The European Union (EU) has eyed the South Caucasus for the past two decades, and after the successful union expansion to parts of Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus could be next. The European Union’s relationship with the South Caucasus has been gaining traction ever since the initiation of the “Eastern Partnership” programme. Although the EU has no borders with the South Caucasus, the EU believes that it has a responsibility to play a role in the political and economic development of the region, ever since the region gained independence from the Soviets. The European Union’s expansion plan has been continuously legitimised with platitudes regarding “peace”, “security”, “democracy” and “human rights”. The South Caucasus states’ transitions to market economies naturally bring them closer to the European Union due to trade interests. Despite the platitudes, what is the reality behind the relationship between the EU and the South Caucasian states? It is essential to look at this relationship with the basis that the South Caucasian states have historically been unable to create their own alternatives and have felt obligated to choose between the great powers around them.

Georgia

Georgia is the closest to integration with the EU out of the 3 South Caucasian states. This is largely down to the tenuous relationship that Georgia has with Russia. Due to Russia’s involvement in the separatist-inclined states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, since the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. Georgia has been keen to express its “European” identity since the “Rose Revolution”. The pro-European direction set by former President Mikheil Saakashvili made future EU membership appear realistic. Recent developments show the EU implemented a visa-free travel regime for Georgia. Georgia is the closest, in the South Caucasus, to a “liberal democracy” exercising the “rule of law”. Georgian social values are closer to the “liberal”-leaning social values of Europe.

Armenia

Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union in 2014, hurling a blow, to its relationship with the EU, as the country pivoted to Russian political and economic influence. The EU continues to play a significant role in Armenia. An Association Agreement, a treaty between the EU and a non-member with the aim of improving cooperation, was in negotiations in 2013, but never implemented. A new plan for better cooperation is in negotiations and due to be implemented in 2017. The EU plans to provide 7 million euros worth of financial support of electoral reform. The EU expressed its desire for a peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, that has indirect geopolitical consequences, for the EU and expanding capabilities. Armenia’s reliance on Russia for security, its participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and lack of “liberal democratic” credentials makes the country a weak candidate when compared to the “values” of the EU. Significantly, Armenia’s geopolitical position as a “gateway” to the Middle East and Iran makes it a point of interest for the European Union.

Azerbaijan

Due to the huge revenues from oil reserves, Azerbaijan is the least-likely state to integrate with the EU. It is also the state with the least amount of “liberal democratic” values. However, Azerbaijan is an attractive ally for the EU because of its mineral riches. However, Azerbaijan is not as keen or politically inclined to join the EU. Azerbaijan is able to stand on its own two feet economically.

One of the main reasons for Brexit, is the issue of immigration and the influx of migrants from the eastern reaches of the EU, per the additions of Romania and Bulgaria. It is quite possible that further expansion eastwards could result in more unrest within the current borders of the EU. The institutional pressures that membership expansions puts on the EU and its members are well documented, however the EU continues to entrench its influence on neighbouring non-member states in terms of spreading liberal ideology and interest in economic growth. Further expansion will irritate Russia, as it has done with the teasing of Ukraine and Georgia memberships. Georgia is the most likely candidate from the South Caucasus to join the EU due to the domestic will, development of “liberal” values and fear of Russian political influence within the country. The European Union continues its activities within the South Caucasus, however, whether integration is possible in the future is dependent on the will of the EU to expand, taking into account its domestic problems, and the internal and geopolitical situations of the South Caucasian states.

1895 views


More Azerbaijan News

 Baku to strengthen its defense capabilities by latest Russian weapons

Baku to strengthen its defense capabilities by latest Russian weapons

Baku is interested in the latest defense systems and is holding negotiations with Russia on the supply of new weapons, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. …

25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey

25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey

Azerbaijani Ambassador to Ankara Faig Baghirov on 25 years of cooperation

Dmitry Savelyev offers condolences to Azerbaijan on #039Black January#039 anniversary

Dmitry Savelyev offers condolences to Azerbaijan on 'Black January' anniversary

The deputy of the State Duma, deputy head of the Russian-Azerbaijani parliamentary group, Dmitry Savelyev, expressed his condolences to the people of Azerbaijan in connection with the 27th anniversary of the bloody events in …

Ilham Aliyev meets with Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab

Ilham Aliyev meets with Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, in Davos yesterday. Ilham Aliyev thanked Klaus Schwab for inviting him to the World Economic …

 Academic rank ‘Professor of ANAS’ to be introduced

Academic rank ‘Professor of ANAS’ to be introduced

The Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan (ANAS) held a regular meeting, where the ANAS president Akif Alizadeh proposed to establish an academic title of 'Professor of the National Academy of …

 Ilham Aliyev and Poroshenko discuss investment in Ukraine

Ilham Aliyev and Poroshenko discuss investment in Ukraine

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed the projects to increase investment in the Ukrainian economy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Ukrainian …

Ilham Aliyev holds meetings in Davos

Ilham Aliyev holds meetings in Davos

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held a series of meetings at the World Economic Forum, which is taking place in Davos, Switzerland. Yesterday, the President met with President of the Swiss Confederation …

 Natalya Kuzmina: Development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan can serve as exle for other countries

Natalya Kuzmina: "Development of gymnastics in Azerbaijan can serve as example for other countries"

President of the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee on judging

Czech Republic ready to receive Azerbaijani gas through SGC

Czech Republic ready to receive Azerbaijani gas through SGC

Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic have established sustainable economic relations, the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Jan Mladek said at the Azerbaijani-Czech business forum in Baku. Mladek noted …

Lavrov: demands to liberate occupied Azerbaijani territories on negotiation table

Lavrov: demands to liberate occupied Azerbaijani territories on negotiation table

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement at the press conference. …

more Azerbaijan News