Tags: south caucasus | us | presence

South Caucasus: Stronger US Presence Needed, Says Panel

By    |   Thursday, 16 Jul 2015 09:26 AM

As Americans worry about the nation's receding presence around the world, there's one region where experts definitely think more U.S. engagement is needed — those nations located in the South Caucasus between Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

On Wednesday, scholars and foreign relations experts gathered at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussing world policy in the South Caucasus, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – a former Soviet Union state that was invaded briefly by Russia during the 2008 Olympics.

Primed by the report “Retracing the Caucasian Circle” and an agenda to discuss U.S., European Union, and Turkish relations with the South Caucasus, the panel included the report's author, Fiona Hill, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe.

“We have to recognize that the South Caucasus is an extremely complex region,” said Hill. “On a very superficial level Georgia describes itself as western oriented, [while] Azerbaijan talks about being unaligned with very strong economic ties to Europe under the European Union, [and] Armenia describing itself as closely tied to Russia.”

Besides Hill, comments were provided by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin, retired Turkish Ambassador and President of Ankara Policy Center Ünal Çeviköz, and Klaus Botzet of the EU Delegation to the U.S.

During the panel, speakers said people of the South Caucasus region have expressed the need for a long-term American presence if the U.S. wants to establish closer bonds with countries like Georgia.

“For the United States, in particular, the South Caucasus has been a priority since the 1990s,” said Hill.

All of the speakers were concerned about Russia, pointing to its invasion of Georgia in 2008 as a foreshadowing the eventual annexation of Crimea last year.

Though Russia’s dominance in the region was a focus – with all of the panel members seeming to agree that a lack of American presence would open the door to heavier Russian influence – the discussion also turned to fallout from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Hill said she thought Iran might one day reopen ties with the South Caucasus region and begin exporting goods and energy to the three countries.


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TheWire
As Americans worry about the nation's receding presence around the world, there's one region where experts definitely think more U.S. engagement is needed — those nations located in the South Caucasus between Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
south caucasus, us, presence
361
2015-26-16
Thursday, 16 Jul 2015 09:26 AM
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