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Security, Democracy and Development

In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region

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Edited By Ghia Nodia and Christoph H. Stefes

Since the early 1990s, the southern Caucasus and its larger neighbourhood, the Black Sea region, have experienced deep and sometimes painful transformations, including bloody conflicts. They have also become an arena of geopolitical and geoeconomic competition between great powers. This has attracted growing attention from social scientists. In this volume, authors from universities in Europe, the United States and the southern Caucasus focus on several of the most topical problems of the region, particularly how nascent states and societies grapple with the results of unresolved ethno-territorial conflicts and how they try to construct new civil societies from the cultural mosaic that they inherited from their Soviet past. How do elements of democracy and autocracy combine in the political regimes of the new states? Can the West have an effect on their internal development and, if so, how? How do the rich mineral resources of the Caspian region influence the development of the region’s economies and define the geopolitical standing of these countries?
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This is a book about a very difficult though diverse and fascinating region, the Southern Caucasus. This part of the world is also viewed as part of the larger Black Sea area. Why would we consider it a “difficult” region? Do not all countries or regions, including those that are usually considered relatively successful and orderly, face critical problems? For instance, do not the European Union’s multiple crises of recent years make Europe a “difficult region”?

Undoubtedly. Yet the Southern Caucasus, which emerged as a region in its own right in the early 1990’s from the debris of the Soviet Union, stands out for the variety and intensity of conflicts (including violent conflicts), instability, and economic hardship. The rest of the world therefore often sees the South Caucasus as a source of disorder and problems that sometimes require urgent intervention (as, for instance, in August 2008, when a war broke out between Georgia and Russia). It is a region that always needs attention, support and preventive action so that problems do not get out of hand and spill over into neighbouring countries and regions. There are, of course, other, more positive reasons to be interested in the South Caucasus. One can easily be attracted by its diverse cultures, ancient history, spectacular landscapes, rich cuisine, heart-warming hospitality, and even sometimes economic opportunity. Nevertheless, for people outside of and unfamiliar with the region, conflict and disorder are usually the first things that come to mind when they hear...

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