"The EU's Role in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in the Unrecognised States of the South Caucasus"

Roxana Andrei

Critics have argued that the international response to the conflicts in the South Caucasus has been limited in terms of understanding the complex dynamics of the region. Much of the literature has focused on the limitations of Europeanisation as an instrument of conflict resolution, with democratisation seen as a key ingredient of peacebuilding aimed at overcoming the status quo in the unrecognised states. The democratic external actors, such as the EU, have played a rather peripheral role vis-à-vis the unrecognised states of the South Caucasus, although they have favoured a peaceful settlement of the conflicts. They have often been considered to have contributed to the prolongation of the conflicts instead of resolving them, perpetuating the status quo. In return, this has facilitated the emergence of more assertive regional actors, namely Russia, which has taken the lead in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. The presentation will explore the EU's role and limitations in relation with the processes of peacebuilding and democratisation, and with the maintenance of the status quo in the unrecognised states of the South Caucasus (Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh), while highlighting the interplay with the other external actors and the local elites. Both external and internal forces are important in understanding the dynamics in the secessionist regions of the South Caucasus. While not dismissing the importance of the external dimension and the role of the EU, the presentation will also explore the internal factors contributing to maintaining the status quo in the region. I shall explore the link between external and internal influences, the limitations to the EU's actions and argue that the entities are not mere puppets dependent on their external patrons but are actors exercising their own agency, adjusting strategically to the fluid interplay between democracy and dependency in seeking recognition.

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