Публікації експертів ЦДАКР – Південний Кавказ


Geographically, the South Caucasus is undoubtedly a region with well-defined natural borders, its space being covered by three independent states – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

It should be emphasized that these three countries have different religions, an alphabet and a currency. These countries also chose different paths of political development and the priorities of their countries’ foreign policy.

In the course of more than 30 years of independence, the South Caucasus lost the chance, unlike the Baltic states, to establish a stable and secure space with broad prospects for economic cooperation. Just the opposite happened, with the emergence of divisive lines, separating nations and diminishing prospects of shared prosperity.

It seems that now is the moment when some pre-emptive move, an impulse or a kind of escape forward is needed. The only thing that unites the interests of the South Caucasus countries are issues related to access to the economies and resources of richer partners (EU, Turkey, Russia, USA, China, etc.). And the only, most important element binding the interests of these countries is the issue of infrastructure – roads, communications, railways, transmission system of energy raw materials and fuels, etc. What has already been achieved in this matter, even to a modest extent, shows that it triggers both positive dynamics competition, but also creates an opportunity to create plans in which all parties can find something beneficial for themselves (win-win situation).

If one does not take the conflicts into account, a simple glance at the map and assessment of the of the South Caucasus’ potential is enough to make it clear that there are very few regions globally that possess such immense geopolitical and geo-economic opportunities. In addition, the region has ample transit and tourist potential, important natural resources of international significance, and an educated, almost 100% literate, relatively cheap labour force. In other words, all the necessary factors are in place for the South Caucasus to succeed and to occupy, as a region, a worthy place in international relations networks and to respectively ensure average European living standards for a population with sustainable prospects of further improvement.

Three countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – could have created unique conditions for common development, allowing them to capitalise on their:

  1. lucrative geopolitical and geostrategic location,
  2. rich natural resources,
  3. well educated and comparatively cheap labour force,
  4. good understanding of mutual problems and existing personal channels of communication across all groups of society, 
  5. foreign investor interest.

The creation of the Euroregion “South Caucasus” will not only bring Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia closer to the European Union, but will also bring benefits such as:

  • Stability and security in the region would contribute to the success of the three individual countries;
  • Integration and trust would trigger a cumulative effect;
  • The South Caucasus region could follow good examples of regional cooperation like the Benelux and Visegrad groups;
  • Eventually building up a European model of cooperation: a common space, the four freedoms, and symbolic borders;
  • Billions of dollars could be saved, military expenditure substantially downgraded, and living standards upgraded;
  • Geopolitical potential is unexploited and the region’s common economic and transit potential is not fully developed;
  • Improving confidence in the future.

The benefit for the South Caucasus countries, resulting from the creation of the Euroregion “South Caucasus”, would be obvious – starting the process of uniting geopolitical potential and economic interests. A more distant perspective could be the abolition of trade barriers, customs and borders, and the construction of a system of free movement of people, goods and business. Without creating artificial and bureaucratic concepts of a political or ideological nature, it is possible to escape in this way by showing the societies of the three countries of the Caucasus the obvious benefits that affect their everyday life (sustainable security, increasing mobility, greater openness to tourism, reducing poverty in regional provinces far from the national centres, eliminating differences and underdevelopment, etc.). What used to be a barrier (borders, poor roads and lack of communication) may become a binder, showing that common interest can prevail over particularism and political or ethnic divisions. European Union should take under consideration to set up a new format of cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Idea of a building a South Caucasian version of Benelux could be called: Euroregion “South Caucasus”.

Euroregion “South Caucasus” would mean:

  • A common market;
  • A shared external security system;
  • Strong stability and higher security guarantees;
  • Much more resources with a multiplication effect;
  • Shared infrastructure projects;
  • Increased attractiveness of the region;
  • Dozens of billions in additional FDI;
  • Better living standards;
  • Better prospects for future generations.

European Union has a lot to offer extrapolating to the South Caucasus European spirit, principles and standards of cooperation, eventually contributing to trust and peace building, reconciliation, opening new transport communications. EU has to be more active engaging trilateral format in such areas as democratization, good governance and rule of law. An integral part of this process is strengthening the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, pursuing public administration reform, establishing a compact, well-structured, concise and professional civil service, and the effective functioning of institutions in the areas of law enforcement and market economy.


  1. During the thirty years that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union and achieving independence, the states of the South Caucasus have not taken advantage of the impressive potential entailed in regional cooperation, their attractive collective geopolitical and geo-economic position, and transit capacity.
  2. The South Caucasus has gone through different periods of history, but this stage of development is particularly important, as its ability to build a strong, developing and successful region is decreasing. In theory, it is possible to build a successful national state individually, outside the regional context, although the EU accession process demonstrates that a regional collective effort proves to be much more effective.
  3. The establishment of a community of states in the South Caucasus like the Baltics, the Visegrad 4, or moreover, Benelux, is still a hard-to-imagine dream. The proposal is to establish Euro region “South Caucasus”.
  4. The future of the South Caucasus primarily depends on the three states themselves, their ability and vision, the capacity to observe the overall picture of regional developments and assist each other, and shared activity in order to help the population of the states perceive a new reality.
  5. There is still an opportunity to give the South Caucasus a new lease of life and a second wind, which can take it through the problems lying ahead. This would be possible, provided that it is accompanied by patience and tolerance. A restructured political will and efforts to understand the opponent’s view could become the heart of change.
  6. The security and stability, economic development and integration of the South Caucasus largely depends, hopefully, on the degree of democratization of Russia as the most powerful regional player; At present the Russia is only external force, which links its own interests and influence strengthening capacity in the South Caucasus with destructive actions, including using brutal military force and arms trade.
  7. The European Union should play a stronger and more active role in all formats of the negotiation process in order to achieve the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the South Caucasus, as well as in the process of building a stimulating environment for the region’s political stability and economic prosperity.
  8. Time is running to show radical improvements in the culture of cooperation and the quality of targets, ultimately building up a common vision to treat the region as a shared space for three nations and a means of embodying common interests. Otherwise, the South Caucasus will lose the chance to modernise the region and further integrate it into the wider dynamic tendencies entailed in trans-European cooperation processes.
  9. The recent developments in Karabakh makes the perspective of Armenia – Azerbaijan Treaty closer. Accordingly, the prospect of trilateral cooperation in the South Caucasus gains momentum.
  10. The stable and integrated South Caucasus will make a serious contribution to the security system in a broader regional context and will bring greater stability in adjacent areas.

Andrzej Klimczyk, MPIC, Expert