Developments in the Southern Caucasus and Future Eurasian Policy

Developments in the Southern Caucasus and Future Eurasian Policy

07 Apr 21

On April 7th, Deputy Assistant Secretary George P. Kent, Ambassador Robert Cekuta, Dr. Robert Kangas, Ambassador Richard Hoagland, and Ambassador Mithat Rende engaged in a rotating panel discussion on prospective developments in the Southern Caucasus. 

As moderator Jeanene Mitchell set the stage for the discussion, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent opened by describing the framework of the Southern Caucasus region which lays out the essence of this dialogue. In doing so, he expands on the historical perspectives of the countries in the region and indicates the spheres of influence that shape the current struggle for a search for identity. Touching on key aspects of cooperation and infrastructure developments in both domestic and regional policy, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent highlights the goals of the United States in the region and its commitment to ensuring a final status on peaceful agreements in the region.

Next, Ambassador Robert Cekuta unfolds the gravity of the broader implications on the Armenian-Azerbajaini conflict and how it contributes to a major geostrategic shift and military activity. He addresses Turkey as a key player in this situation and stresses that increased economic cooperation, high-level diplomatic negotiations, and confidence-building can help to restore peace to the region and end the ceasefire. 

Dr. Robert Kangas’ personal remarks were set on evaluating the power dynamics in the region and on the involvement of Russia and Turkey. In disputing the increasing active roles of players outside of the region, he examines states’ interests and perspectives of one another and how connectivity could transpire. In an optimistic stance, he urges actors to rethink their roles in the peace process and reiterated the need for broader interpretations of events taking shape. 

Next on the panel was Ambassador Richard Hoagland who analyzes the Southern Caucasus region from the origin of their independence to the prolonged modern conflict in a post-Soviet world. Specifying their unique historical roles and spheres of influence, he expounded the pattern of ceasefire and the useful role in maintaining a certain level of dialogue among the countries in the region and other key actors. In calling for the redefining of roles and increased cooperation, he reiterates previous speaker points of confidence-building and the opportunities for the role of the U.S. to emerge.

Moreover, Ambassador Mithat Rende begins by clarifying the difference between joint keeping and joint monitoring operations and elucidates the role of Turkey in the Southern Caucasus region. He points out the seriousness of adjourning military and occupation tactics as a means of peace and proposes that a conducive, peaceful environment can stem from other opportunities for cooperation. 

In the speed round of final questions, the constructive role of NATO, the Three by Three strategy, economic integration, and avenues for improved relations was proactively debated in the future of Eurasian policy and the Southern Caucasus region.