The joint seminar entitled ‘Regional Powers and their Policies in the South Caucasus in the aftermath of the 2nd Nagorno Karabakh War’ was organized in the framework of the cooperation between Geocase, Tbilisi based think tank, and Al Jazeera Center for Studies, an independent research institution.
The aim of the webinar was to discuss the specifics of the 2nd Nagorno Karabakh war and its impact on the South Caucasus countries as well as on the whole region in terms of economic, security, and geopolitical relations.
The discussions were moderated by Al Jazeera Center for Studies. Among the event participants were Victor Kipiani, Chairman of Geocase; Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies at Geocase; Haoues Taguia, Researcher at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies; Watheq Al-Sadoon, Researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM) in Ankara.
In his presentation, Victor Kipiani assessed the post-war reality and noted: “A new equilibrium of regional powers in the South Caucasus as it stands today is a direct result of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Such equilibrium although is quite murky and obscure enough. The key reason for that obscurity, if you ask me, is the agreement dated November 10th last year. It was drawn up in a bit hasty way and there are some still vague issues that appear in that agreement.
According to Kipiani, it's important to take into consideration that Moscow presumably has entrenched its political bonds with Azerbaijan, and also getting more leverage over the Armenian foreign policy than it had before. He assumes, there is a new type of geopolitical cohabitation of Russia and Turkey in the region, nevertheless, Russia got into a geopolitical quagmire and finds itself between a rock and a hard place.
In his speech he also underlined that the frozen conflicts in the south Caucasus, and particularly the frozen conflicts in Georgia, are essentially geopolitical conflicts and reflect competition of the powers for regional influence.
As for another major stakeholder – Turkey, the analyst believes that it got a little bit less leverage than it was expected as a result of ceasefire agreements. “Still, among the gains that Turkey has got are stronger security bonds with Azerbaijan, and today the fallout of the Nagorno Karabakh war gives us the basis to say that Azerbaijan and Turkey almost enjoy a strategic alliance in the region. This is a very important point for any further regional developments.”, - he noted.
On the moderator’s question regarding the current relations between Georgia and Russia, Victor Kipiani replied: “Western foreign policy trajectory is the mainstream. Integration with the Euro-Atlantic community is the constitutional provision, which set the force that Georgia will continue integrating with the Euro-Atlantic community. As we say in Georgia, this is not just the choice of the political process, it’s our civilizational choice. We, hopefully, are getting back to the community culturally, philosophically, and humanly. But it doesn’t mean that Georgia is not thriving and will not continue thriving to keep an open and good relationship with the adjacent countries, in the first place it’s Azerbaijan and Armenia. We did our best when the Nagorno Karabakh war rolled out to maintain neutrality and act as responsibly as we could as regional stakeholders. The key policy in the Georgian agenda is full political and military integration with NATO and the western political community.”
Commenting on the future developments and outlook of the South Caucasus, Victor Kipiani underlined several essential points: “A new shape of the global order would be determined by two main considerations: how the relationships between China and the United States will develop and, apparently, the developments shaping a new global order would have an impact on the emerging order of the South Caucasus as well. The second point which would have an impact on the South Caucasus regional order, are two trends: multilateralism and the increased importance of regionalism. The South Caucasus, with its close geopolitical links with the Middle East, simultaneously is an integral part of the broader Black Sea region. The Black Sea region will also continue its rise as the regional center and one of the pillars in the forthcoming multilateral global order.”
In his speech, Emil Avdaliani touched upon the current global geopolitical upheavals. “There are two major long-term developments impacting the South Caucasus and the Middle East: 1. Growing energy and security interconnection; 2. The shift in the US foreign policy away from West Asia, the Black Sea region, and the South Caucasus to the Indo-Pacific region. Overall, the South Caucasus and the Middle East are now adjusting to an emerging renegotiated world order,” - he remarked.
During his speech, Havaz Tagia talked about the relations between Georgia and the Gulf countries. While discussing various issues related to the regions, he emphasized Georgia's strategic geographical location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia as a favorable factor in terms of attracting investments. He also spoke about the growing trend of Turkish influence in the region, and stressed the importance of the Istanbul Channel for Georgia.
Watheq Al-Sadoon discussed the relations between the South Caucasus and the Middle East from the historical a well as social, cultural and economic perspective. He assessed Russian invasion of Georgian territories and the stance of the Arab countries to it. Al-Sadoon brought an example of the Georgian breakaway regions and remarked that all the separatist regimes should take into account that separating from the mother country and imprisoning themselves in one regional power in order to satisfy nationalistic ambitions is not wise and brings only the isolation from the rest of the world.
He, also, noted that increase in academic communication between the Arab region and the South Caucasus countries would only enhance their cooperation and boost bilateral ties.
Apart from being a very useful platform for the participating analyst to exchange and voice their insightful views on significant regional and geopolitical developments, the webinar also served the aim to expand cooperation between the analytical organizations in order to facilitate the process of further development of relations between the regions.
Watch the webinar here