In the Southern Caucasus and the Black Sea Region
Regional Cooperation and National Preferences in the Black Sea Region: A Zero-Sum Game Perpetuated by Energy Insecurity?
ABSTRACT: This chapter takes a snapshot of the current geopolitical setting in the Black Sea region by observing the regional dynamics in recent years. It also aims to determine whether the Black Sea littoral states proceeded to an inward focus pursuing their national interests instead of actively participating in regional cooperation projects during this time frame and what the major reasons behind their actions are. It uses two dimensions of analysis: the general involvement of these states in regional cooperation schemes and their regional cooperation in the energy sector. Particular emphasis is placed on the energy sector due to its great capacity to influence overall cooperation in the region.
KEY WORDS: Black Sea region, European Union, regional cooperation, national interest, energy security
After decades of acknowledging, affirming and reaffirming the indisputable strategic significance of the Black Sea region and the importance of finding an inclusive policy that would serve not only the interests of the regional states but also the interests of the external actors involved in the region, no effective policy could be identified despite a series of achievements. Moreover, the region has been caught in a perpetual deadlock, fighting to balance between a deeply rooted Soviet legacy and the Western magnetism, each Black Sea state having a different position on the axis between these two major poles. Currently, the main regional representatives of the two poles in the region (the EU and Russia) are both undergoing profound systemic transformations meant to improve...
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