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State-Building in Transcaucasian Nations

The Caucasus is a region that has experienced seemingly endemic conflicts between various ethnic and national groups. According to Raffi Khatchadourian (2003), the lesson of the region is that ethnic warfare is as much a contest over history as it is a fight over the present, and as much a struggle for identity as a land grab. In nations such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia û only recently freed from Soviet domination and still struggling to articulate economic policies that will bring about sustainable growth and development û internal conflicts as well as external clashes have tended to shape the political agenda in recent years.

As Khatchadourian (2003) has suggested, corruption, despotism, and political power struggles are also making it difficult for any of these three countries to articulate a rational program or strategy for the future. This report will consider the main geostrategic, political, and economic challenges to state-building in these three Transcaucasian countries. It will also identify potential solutions to the problems and ways that outside actors can play a constructive role in achieving stability in the region.

Overview of the Problems

Khatchadourian (2003) provided a summary of the major problems confronting the target states discussed herein. First, in Azerbaijan, the ailing strongman running the country (Heidar Aliyev) has attempted to install his son as his replacement, leading to violence surrounding general elections. Second, during Armenia's elections in February 2003, the ruling party committed massive vote fraud to hold onto power while still struggling to resolve leadership and economic deficits created by the Armenian diaspora. Finally, in Georgia, reforms initiated under Eduard Shevardnadze have not been sufficient to resolve problems such as occupation, banditry, a faltering economy, terrorism, and a large refugee population.

In the case of Georgia, 20...

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