A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus

Silk Road Paper February, 2015, pp. 62

The Caucasus is key to any Western efforts to shape future interactions between Europe and the Middle East, and to Western commercial and strategic interests in Eurasia. At a time when the two most salient challenges to the transatlantic alliance are Russia’s aggressive expansionism and the Islamic radicalism in the Middle East, the Caucasus is a strategically important pressure point in both directions. This alone should dictate a growing American and European engagement with the states of the Caucasus, but instead Western influence in the region is at an all-time low. As Western influence has declined, the region’s development has stagnated, threatening its long-term viability and eroding Western interests. This situation is the result of a lack of strategic vision in the West and a series of tactical errors. To remedy this situation, this paper calls for a new strategy toward the Caucasus. At its heart lies treating the Caucasus as a region, instead of bilaterally, and increasing cooperation in defense and security, while also supporting the territorial integrity of Caucasus states and anchoring them more firmly in Western partnerships and initiatives.