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About the United States of the Caucasus

By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 18
Two months ago President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili raised the idea of a United Caucasus, in particular he addressed this idea to the neighbor state of Azerbaijan. However there was not much enthusiasm from the Azeri president Ilham Aliev.

A few days ago the idea was mentioned in Armenia. On April 13 the leader of Armenia’s New Times party Aram Karapetian discussed the idea in Yerevan at a meeting with journalists. In particular, he discussed the possibility of creating a new entity, a type of the United States of the Caucasus. Of course, this is only an idea at the moment and it could be ignored by the other states, but it is interesting that it came from the Armenian side. Aram Karapetian stated that under the circumstances the conflicts in the south Caucasus cannot remain in the form they are now and that negotiations over those conflict do not yield results. For this reason, Karapetian informed the journalists that certain international political circles think that integration of the South Caucasus countries Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as disputed territories of Abkhazia, mountainous Karabakh and South Ossetia might be an interesting idea. The idea is to create some type of a amalgamation which could possibly be called the United States of the Caucasus with the capital in Tbilisi. Karapetian noted that on April 1-3 a British organisation International Alert initiated in Karabakh a meeting attended by Turkish and Greek sides from Cyprus, where there was discussed the possibility of using the Cyprus experience in resolving the conflict in Karabakh. During this meeting Turkish and Greek sides were discussing the impossibility of continuing to maintain the status quo and supported the idea of unification of the island.

According to Karapetian this idea complies with the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on April 7 which outlines the idea of establishing unofficial contacts with the people living in the disputed territories with a goal of supporting civil society, culture and promoting dialogue, while politically these entities would not be recognized by the EU. So according to Karapetian the logic of such possible contacts and integration is: no borders no problems, as it applies to territorial integrity or self determination of the nations.

Karapetian, assessing this possibility said that this would cause a serious threat to Armenia. According to him such a decision could be followed by opening of the Turkish – Armenian border, If this happens. Armenia would be caught between the reality from one side of 18 million Kurds and from the other side Azerbaijan. So the politicians suggested that this topic should become an issue for discussion for all Armenian political forces instead of senseless confrontation and disputes between the ruling power and opposition.

Despite the fact that Georgia’s president was one of the initiators of this idea, the analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze thinks that one should look upon such a possibility very attentively and cautiously, taking into account a world as well as regional experience. The idea of unification of Caucasus is not new and the problem of resolving conflicts is a very complicated matter. The solution of conflicts through unification of the countries looks very simple at first glance; however it can create a source of more acute problems. A confederation of south Caucasus countries existed in the beginning of the 20th century, but it was not successful. The idea was revived again after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90’s of 20th century by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first president and later by Eduard Shevardnadze second president of Georgia. But it never went further than just an idea.

Currently President Saakashvili has mentioned the importance of open borders between the south Caucasus countries. However, so far neither of the leaders of the neighbouring countries has expressed an opinion on this idea.