The Caucasus Dialogue – 2019. Day 1. About interests of Russia and external players

23 September 2019

The Caucasus Dialogue – 2019 has opened in Nalchik. Today attention of participants from the countries of the Caucasus region has been focused on the interests of regional and external players.

Political scientists, journalists, scholars, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students as well as representatives of the government and public figures from Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Turkey, Iran, United States and EU countries participated in the discussion.

The participants of the Caucasus Dialogue were welcomed by Minister of Education, Science and Youth Affairs of the Kabardino-Balkaria Auyes Kumykov, Minister for Relations with Civil Society Institutions and Nationalities Affairs Anzor Kurashinov, and Vice Rector of Kabardino-Balkarian State University Khuseyn Kushkhov.

“The Caucasus Dialogue is the oldest and, perhaps, most sought-after program of the Gorchakov Fund – mentioned Advisor to the Executive Director of the Fund Valery Kantorov in his welcome speech. – An event in the form of a dialogue provides opportunities to speak freely, exchange opinions about important issues and try to understand each other – and then build relations”.

Dr. Sergey Markedonov, an academic advisor of the Caucasus Dialogue – 2019, senior researcher at the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO under MFA of Russia, opened the program with an introductory session about common trends of development of the Caucasus region: “Russian North Caucasus by the size of its territory and population is larger than three independent states of the South Caucasus. This speaks about importance of the Caucasus for Russia from the perspective of national and foreign policies. The country needs predictable and stable neighborhood”. The expert mentioned that at present world media was talking about the Caucasus much less than before; however, the region remained to be turbulent and conflicts could be called neither resolved nor frozen.”

Senior researcher of the Center for Caucasus and Regional Security of MGIMO under MFA of Russia Nikolay Silayev: “When speaking about the Caucasus, we cannot help noticing that discussion topics have not changed already for ten years. Year after year we have been talking about the unaccomplished NATO’s expansion, the accomplished European integration, prospects of recognition of partially recognized states. The region has immersed into routine because in the active fight between Russia and the West of the mid-2000s for the influence over the post-Soviet space nobody had won. As a result of that both active confrontation and a broad agreement about the new order are absent in the region.” Nikolay Silayev emphasized that influence of Russia in the South Caucasus, despite complications, is strengthening, at least, in the area of security.

According to Andrey Korobkov, Professor of Political Science at Middle Tennessee State University, the US foreign policy towards the Caucasus region has been present since 1995, but it is hard to call it effective. The US of Donald Trump’s era has an individual opinion about Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The expert stressed that as long as Trump was the president, Georgia would not become a member of NATO as the US leader was against expansions of the Alliance.

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