Some tendencies of the Euro-Atlantic Integration of the States in the Southern Caucasus
By Ms. Sossi Tatikian, Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government of the Harvard University, specialized in International Affairs and Conflict Resolution.
Integration into EU and NATO has been a dual-track policy in most of the cases. In the region of the Southern Caucasus, Georgia has officially declared its aspiration to become a member of the Alliance, Azerbaijan has stated its intention of Euro-Atlantic integration. Although NATO membership is not on the foreign policy agenda of Armenia at present, however, for the last few years Armenia has aimed at qualitatively enhancing and deepening its cooperation with NATO. If we look at the level of cooperation of the three states with NATO in practical terms, we will not see considerable gaps anymore - all three are in the Planning and Review Process of PfP, all of them contribute to peace support operations led by NATO and all of them are engaged in IPAP.

It seems that the Alliance on its turn aspires to develop relations with all three South Caucasian countries at common pace, thus making the process more effective. Still in 2002, NATO offered to the Partners an opportunity to engage in Individual Partnership Action Plans to develop more individualized relations with the Alliance. At the Istanbul Summit the Alliance came up with PAP-DIB, putting the main emphasis on defense reform, where it has special expertise to propose. If IPAP is formally offered to all Partners, although it is obviously intended for the Caucasus and Central Asia, PAP-DIB is specifically targeted to the Partners in those two regions. At the Istanbul Summit the two regions were declared the new geographical focus for the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. As a follow-up to the decisions of the Istanbul Summit, NATO Secretary General appointed a Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, and one liaison officer for each of those regions in order to facilitate respectively the political dialogue and defense cooperation and reforms.

At the same time, all three states have officially declared their intention to become a member of the European family. Last year they became part of the European Neighborhood Policy of the European Union. The European Commission recommended to the Council of the European Union an intensification of relations with the three states in the Caucasus through the development of the Individual Action Plans.

The purpose of these Action Plans will be to define an agenda for relations with the European Union for the following three to five years, with the objective of deepening political cooperation and economic integration. The development of those Action Plans is underway. If a progress is reached in the process of the conflict settlement, it will introduce serious amendments in the documents. This is explained by the fact that special attention will be paid to regional cooperation in the Individual Action Plans of all three countries of the South Caucasus.

European Union and NATO share such values as the commitment to democratic and economic reforms, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Even in this early stage, commonalities and even some overlapping between Individual Action Plans with NATO and Action Plans with EU are noticeable. Obviously, there has been a labor division between the two Euro-Atlantic institutions to promote reforms and integration in the Caucasus.

As it is stated in the "US-EU cooperation on reform in Eurasia" fact sheet, issued by the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in connection with President Bush's trip to Europe, "the EU's European Neighborhood Policy and NATO's Partnership for Peace help to build deeper connections between the nations of the South Caucasus and the more established democracies of the West. We continue to work together to support the aspirations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia to further integrate into the Euro-Atlantic family".

Still in November 2004 the Armenian President and the NATO Secretary General discussed possible contact points between PfP and European Neighborhood Policy programs. "Taking into account NATO's and EU's growing interest towards this region, we must cooperate more in the South Caucasus," NATO Secretary General said.

The question here is how European Union and NATO do and will complement each other? Should their cooperation in the Caucasus be formalized and if yes, how? How can those parallel processes contribute to each other?

Shouldn't the first step of this formalization be the differentiation between Central Asia and the Caucasus? Even if they share some common characteristics and legacies, it is obvious that they greatly differ from each other. However, so far NATO has been putting those two regions in one basket. Taking into account serious differences between these regions, especially different aspirations and different security problems, won't the individualized approach to each of these regions be more effective?

Reference to the Black Sea region can be helpful in this context. Bringing the states of the wider Black sea region, including the three Caucasus states together with states, which have either completed or will shortly complete their way to Euro-Atlantic structures, has a potential to create favorable environment for the relaxation of security concerns, thus extending the zone of peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic community to the wider Black Sea region.

However, this format has some constraints for playing an enhanced role in hard security dimension. Black Sea is a common security space but it is not a space for cooperative or collective security. The format can contribute to the creation of common security culture through the promotion of the regional security rather than trying to be an alternative to any organization involved in Euro-Atlantic security architecture. Moreover, it should not create dividing lines between littoral and non-littoral states, focusing on such hard security tasks as protection of ports and harbors. The goal here should be to produce more regional security, not create new dividing lines.

The idea of "Security through Cooperation" has proved to be vital. One challenge before it is the lack of the culture of cooperation. The future of cooperation often becomes hostage to the unsettled conflicts. However, there is no needfulness for waiting for the settlement of conflicts in order to launch cooperation. Cooperation should be outlined not after the conflicts are resolved but simultaneously with political resolution process, thus synchronizing political, security and economic dialogues. And the Euro-Atlantic community should not give up with this objective.

© Armenian Atlantic Association