Europe's new neighborhood on the verge of war : what role for the EU in Georgia?

Jawad, Pamela


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 074
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2006
Publikationsdatum: 23.01.2008
SWD-Schlagwörter: Georgien , Politischer Konflikt , Europäisches Interesse , Politisches Interesse
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.90 (Außenpolitik, Internationale Politik), 89.73 (Europapolitik, Europäische Union)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

The crisis of September and October 2006 between Georgia and Russia has made evident two things for Europe: Firstly, the EU may find itself confronted with war in its new neighborhood sooner than it imagines. Secondly, there is now a ‘window of opportunity’ for Brussels to enhance and reposition itself in the region in order to attend to its inter-ests. The ‘window of opportunity’ has opened up for the EU because Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has given the impression that Europe is not as important to his country as his big protection power of the USA, now turns to Europe. In order to gain ‘Western’ solidarity, he has applied a strategy of fueling the conflict with Moscow in order to incite excessive reactions, as displayed in the publicly played-out arrest of four Russian military officers for charges of espionage. Russia’s subsequent response was harsh, impos-ing the most severe boycott measures since the 1948 Berlin Blockade against Tbilisi. How-ever, even though the international community has been astonished by Moscow’s meas-ures, Saakashvili has miscalculated. In fact, Saakashvili’s administration has had to learn the lesson that there are indeed more important issues for Washington. On October 13, the USA made a deal with Russia, passing a Moscow-sponsored resolution ‘against’ Tbilisi in exchange for a Washington-sponsored North Korea resolution. Furthermore, NATO has as yet failed to offer Tbilisi an action plan for membership – an offer that Georgia had hoped to receive with US-support at the NATO summit in Riga (Latvia) in November 2006. As the recent crisis between Georgia and Russia is closely connected to Georgia’s ‘fro-zen’ secession conflicts with Moscow-supported South Ossetia and Abkhazia – one of which is striving for an integration with Russia, the other for associated relations – Brus-sels now finds itself at a point where it has to decide what role it should play in Georgia in order to attend to its interests, especially with regard to conflict resolution. Despite the fact that the UN- and OSCE-led negotiation mechanisms have so far failed to produce final settlements and their engagements could not avert increased tensions with the break-away regions, this report does not argue in favor of a stronger conflict resolution role for the EU with its image as an ‘honest broker’. It rather makes the point that it is not in Brussels’ interest to get directly involved in the negotiation processes due to the ‘frozen’ nature of the secession conflicts. There is no chance for constructively ‘unfreezing’ the conflicts in the short-term and, therefore, there is also no specific added value of a direct EU involvement. But in the long-term, confidence-building is the most reasonable direct strategy with regard to conflict resolution and represents a task that both the UN and the OSCE are already committed to. The EU has the financial means to support these efforts – something Brussels has increasingly been doing of late. The paper proposes the EU sticks to the instruments already at its disposal and applies them more coherently instead of creating new ones. In 2003, the EU appointed a Special Representative (EUSR) for the South Caucasus and strengthened his mandate in 2006 after the first office holder used his position to take a relatively active role in the conflicts. Notwithstanding the fact that it would be desirable to further increase the EUSR’s visibility and presence in Georgia with regard to the breakaway regions, due to their ‘frozen’ nature, the conflicts do not represent reasonable starting points in order to break Geor-gia’s ‘vicious circle’ of state fragility. This state fragility not only refers to the secession conflicts, but also to weak and inefficient institutions, a lack of the rule of law as well as to corruption. In fact, it would make more sense for the EU to strengthen the Georgian state by assisting in institution- and capacity-building and by promoting good governance and the rule of law. This would help Georgia to become more attractive to South Ossetia and Abkhazia than integration with the Russian Federation. The promotion of good govern-ance not only is something that the EU, in reference to its experiences with enlargement, has a good record in, it is also an aspect that the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) has put a lot of emphasis on. Georgia’s individual ENP Action Plan has just recently been formally approved at the EU-Georgia Cooperation Council session on November 14. Since governance will also be a focus of the upcoming German Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, Berlin could add momentum to this approach.

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