A BALANCE, NOT A PACT, IS IMPORTANT FOR CAUCASIAN STABILITY
Inspired by the mass-participation conference for the Caucasus proposed by Turkey, the EU has developed a “Caucasus Security Concept”. The architect is the German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier. Mr Steinmeier said he supported Turkey’s offer for a mass-participation conference, attended by all regional countries, for the stability of the Caucasus. But it is not right to expect the chronic issues in the Caucasus to be lightened with one conference. The “Caucasus Security Concept” upon which Mr Steinmeier is working could certainly be beneficial in the administration of existing problems and the lightening of the crisis to some extent. But one should not hope for more than this. Mr Steinmeier’s thought is the encouragement of cooperation on an international level to attain peace, stability and change in the Caucasian and Black Sea regions. There is definitely a benefit in this, and all international organisations have been working in this direction. For a long time now, this method has been tried to resolve or administer regional disagreements. But it has not worked in the Caucasus thus far. This example does not make it easier to be optimistic about Mr Steinmeier’s well-intentioned efforts. Because this example shows that it would be unsuccessful if there is no structure crafted especially to the conditions of the Caucasus to bring about stability in the region. The example Mr Steinmeier gives is that of President Abdullah Gül’s visit to Armenia to watch a match between the national teams of both countries. This gesture from Turkey – just like those before it – has yet to receive a sufficient response. It is likely – but by no means certain – that Armenia will “respond to this” by making a visit during the return match. And yet such a gesture in a different geography could have been a determining factor for subsequent developments. Mr Steinmeier has given some hints about the security concept he is developing for stability in the Caucasus. He believes that, just like in the Balkans, the aim in the Caucasus should be to arrange long-term conferences that include all countries in the region and, through discussion, attain the stability of the southern Caucasus. Indeed Russia should be included in this. Russia should make “productive contributions” to the region’s security and development. This approach from Mr Steinmeier is probably based on the reality that both the Balkans and the Caucasus have in common a population based on many different ethnicities. But, based on the hints he has given, it is possible to say that this concept and process will benefit only Armenia and Russia. How, in these conferences to discuss a comprehensive concept of security in the Caucasus, would the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia be negotiated? What would Armenia say regarding its territorial demands of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and of the borders it does not recognise? How would the Armenian delegation define the genocide at Hocalı or the occupation in Karabakh? Would the status of the Caspian Sea or human rights in the North Caucasus be up for discussion? About what and how would the delegations of Russia and Georgia, and Azerbaijan and Armenia, speak to each other? If we are to build upon the Steinmeier example, perhaps a Caucasus Football Championship should be organised, and all the Caucasus heads of state invited to it. It is important to remain loyal to one truth. Attackers and victims should not be considered equal. To encourage the attacker and victim to agreement might not suffice to solve the problem, or be beneficial for it. The Caucasus region remains very sensitive. Such a process could be the start of a greater, unresolved crisis for the Caucasus, starting from meeting one. No-one will say anything new at these meetings thought of by Mr Steinmeier. No-one will table an offer that the others will be able to accept. There is only one path that can be followed in the Caucasus: a common ground found between the victims who chose the modern and free world and the attackers who molested them, and to support that common ground. This common ground has to become on the basic values of the free world. The collapse of the Berlin wall at the start of the 1990s was very important, but today the world, at least until it gathers itself, must withdraw behind new walls. These walls need to be built with values. The wall in Berlin brought a long period of balance and stability in Europe and, when its lifetime was complete, it was demolished. A new consensus found in the Caucasus might change in the future, but looks set to stay for a long while first.