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Armenia, Azerbajian, and Georgia: History and Policies

Historical Perspectives and Policy Recommendations

Executive Summary: Transcaucasian States

The Transcaucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are ancient nations that have historically struggled with domination by outside powers. Lying on a geopolitical fault line separating Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the region has quickly gained importance in recent years due to the presence of large oil reserves, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the global war on terrorism. Although these nations are now politically independent, they face pressure from foreign powers as they attempt to develop. Moreover, their particular histories may well lead them in separate directions despite the West's tendency to view them as a single unitary region.

In the post-September 11 era, a new set of policies should be developed in order to meet the objectives of the West. These objectives should include stabilizing the governments of the three states├╣enabling them to capitalize on their importance to the oil industry as either oil producers or managers of pipelines├╣and ensuring that regional powers such as Iran and Russia are not antagonized by either the American military presence in the region or the perception that the West wishes to exploit oil resources.

Prior to the 1990s, the West had little or no interest in the Transcaucasian region. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, which historically formed a mountainous borderland between the great Eurasian empires, were collectively a geopolitical backwater in the eyes of Western policymakers. For one thing, the area by the 1920s had been subsumed within the Soviet Empire (USSR) first as the TSFSR, and later as separate, nominally autonomous Soviet republics. Thus Western policymakers had no need, reason, or opportunity to craft a specific policy toward the region; the region was simply part of the USSR.

However, three developments in recent years have caused a revolution in Wes...

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