Why the European Union`s Model of Integration is Not a Perfect

Regionalism Beyond Love Thy Neighbour:
Why the European Union’s Model of
Integration is Not a Perfect Fit in the Caucasus
Undergraduate Research Colloquium
By: Delila Bikic
POL359Y1 – Enlarging Europe and International Course Module in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
Introduction: Why this project?
Learning Beyond the Classroom
 Pre-Departure: POL359Y – Enlarging Europe Class, taught by
Professor Robert Austin
 Research Trip to Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia (International
Course Module Program 2014)
 Final Paper combined academic sources and field research
Source: BBC News
Introduction: Why this project?
Research Interests, Motives, and Objectives
Academic Focus
 Interest in European Enlargement
and European Union (EU) Politics
 Interest in the Caucasus region
 Lead to the study of the European
Union’s involvement in the postSoviet space vis-à-vis Republic of
Research and Travel Experience
 Beyond the textbook: application and
implication of theoretical policy
 Field research as a unique
undergraduate experience
 Holistic approach to education:
discovering Georgian culture and
 Research questions and initial expectations
 Discussing Methodology
 Background of study
 Consulting secondary works and theoretical foundations
 Field research (interviews with key stakeholders in Tbilisi)
 Findings
a need for reflection and revision of predictions
 Final conclusions and lessons learned
Framing the Research Questions
 What is telling of the current EU-Georgia relations?
 What is the EU approach in Georgia? In the wider Caucasus region?
 Are there efforts to increase Georgia’s prospects of joining the European
integration project or is the EU focus on facilitating domestic reform in the
 If the focus is more internal, in what ways is the EU oriented towards building
stronger neighbour cooperation among the Caucasus countries?
 Is it possible for the EU to export and replicate its model of regionalism in the
Caucasus? Can it achieve the same level of political cooperation?
Republic of Georgia
Source: New York Times
Defining Region and Regionalism
Know the characteristics
 “Geographical contiguity and
proximity” (German, 11)
Sub-regionalism Model (Manoli)
 (South) Caucasus within the Black Sea
 Shared economic and political factors
 A shared identity: awareness and
‘Regionalist Waves’ Theory (Hurrel)
 EU as a product of the ‘new
regionalism’ wave
 Identity and value driven
Record of Regionalism in the Caucasus?
 Early attempts: post-Soviet states viewed regional based initiatives as viable
for national and economic security (i.e. Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), GUAM Organization, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Project (BSEC))
 Diverging outlooks in 2000s: Georgia looks to Europe, Armenia and
Azerbaijan towards Russia
 Factoring in the EU involvement: regionalized foreign policy for its “eastern
neighbourhood” (i.e. European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Action Plans,
Eastern Partnership initiative)
Source: BSEC Web
Value of Field Research
Diversity of Stakeholders
 Katevan Vashakidze, President, Eurasia Partnership Foundation
 Giorgi Vardishvili, National Expert – Political and Media Analyst,
Office of the European Union Special Representative
 Andro Baranovi, Former Head of Georgian Presidential
 Renata Worbel, Second Secretary, Deputy Head of the Political,
Economic, and Press Section, Office of the European Union
Delegation to Georgia
 Tornike Nozadze, Deputy Head of the European Integration
Coordination Department, Office of the State Minister of Georgia
on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
 Tamar Beruchashvili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Georgia
 Roman Kakulia, Head of the European Union Assistance
Coordination Department, Office of the State Minister of Georgia
on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
Unpacking Regionalism as a Geographical Construct
 EU approach Part I: geography as a determinant of likelihood
and strength of a state’s external relations (Caucasus as a
distinct regional unit)
 However… far from a “united Caucasus”
 Some bilateral cooperation at civil society level, “unity hard to
achieve” at state level
 States lack self-identification with a “common Caucasian
regional identity” (Eurasia Partnership Foundation Survey
Report 2009-2013)
Map of the South Caucasus states
Source: The International Ecotourism Society
 The Caucasus Way: replace the regional partner (i.e. Georgian
relations with the United States)
Findings continued…
Geography Revisited: Domestic Roots of International Relations
 EU approach Part II: Georgia to lead by example in the region
 Domestic reform for the purpose of Georgia’s role in advancing relations of
Caucasus states as “European neighbours”; Georgia as a “beacon of European
integration” (Beruchashvili, Deputy Foreign Minister)
 Thinking about linkage vs. leverage (Way and Levitsky) in the post-Soviet space…
 EU’s linkage and leverage in Georgia, deeper ties through democratization
and reform
 No EU linkage or leverage in Armenia and Azerbaijan, divide proliferated by
Findings continued…
Struggles over Territories are Struggles over
 Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
territories: regional as much as internal conflicts
 Unresolved territorial conflicts are obstacles to
normalizing relations and trilateral cooperation
(strained Armenia-Azerbaijan relations over NagornoKarabakh)
 Russia as an important player in the region has
strained relations
 Georgia’s “European Way”: a Reality?
 Dependent on the future of Russia’s leverage
 Interest-oriented politics as a barrier to Europeanoriented Tbilisi
Map showing regions of South
Ossetia and Abkhazia
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Findings continued…
Caucasian Oil is not European Coal and Steel
 Expectation that energy and oil are catalysts for cooperation has not been realized
 Shortcomings of EU efforts to bind the Caucasus in collective interests
 Oil pipelines (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) have increased potential for cooperation, especially
due to reliance of transit countries for transport (i.e. Azerbaijan oil vis-à-vis Georgia)
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in the Caucasus?
Roman Kakulia, Office of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration: “The ECSC worked
because there was political will to cooperate with other players for unification.”
Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned
 Obstacles to replicating EU’s model of regionalism in the Caucasus
 Regionalism goes beyond geography, identity and a sense of belonging triumph
 Unresolved territorial conflicts and role of third actors
 Oil and gas: not a foundation for political integration
 Need for a change in the EU approach?
 Develop individual identification with the region first, external ties second
 Recognize Russia as an important player and engage in dialogue

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