Eldar Ismailov, Director, Azerbaijan Institute for Strategic Research of Caucasian Development (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Zia Kengerli, M.A., Department of International Law and International Relations of Baku State University (Baku, Azerbaijan)

I. Globalization and Integration at the Turn of the 21st Century

Worldwide history is characterized by an ongoing trend toward integration of all the people living on the planet, which is manifested at different levels of social organization (local, regional, and global), as well as in public life (economic, political, cultural, etc.). In the final analysis, the striving for integration is the foundation on which all social and historical communities are formed: ethnic, religious, class, and others. In a certain sense, the history of mankind is the history of the appearance, development, and disappearance of various kinds of integration structures,1 including national, interethnic, and interstate. In this respect, global history is distinguished by the constant burgeoning of integration processes, that is, the formation of larger and larger territorial communities at the local, regional, and ultimately global (worldwide) level. In other words, a global society, which can rightly be considered the highest level of integration, is the terminal point and the logical conclusion of the planet’s historical integration progression.2

During the formation of integrated entities at all stages in history, several factors were activated at the same time. The main ones were ethnic, religious, political-ideological, and socioeconomic. Although their ratio to each other was different at each stage in history, eras can be singled out that are distinguished by the domination of one of these factors, which proved fundamental during the period in question.

For example, from ancient times until the mid-20th century, ethnic, religious, and political-ideological principles traditionally had a significant impact on integration processes. The latter among them is the most efficacious and flexible, since it does not depend in any strict way on historical and ingrained ethnic-religious differences, which hinder the formation of a global value system. But even so, the political-ideological principle is still not sufficient in itself to realize the idea of global integration. In this respect, for example, the attempt to unite mankind under the communist ideological banner is extremely interesting, which in reality split the world into two opposing camps: the capitalist and the socialist. In other words, the political-ideological principle on which integration policy was based at the beginning of the 20th century proved not only incapable of achieving the original goals, but for several decades was the main stumbling block on the path to global integration, leading in the end to the disintegration of the world socialist system.

In so doing, the experience accumulated in the world shows that the above-mentioned principles (ethnic, religious, and political-ideological), although they assisted gradual and natural integration from local to higher levels (regional and sub-global), could not raise mankind to the level of a global society due to the limited opportunities.

Since the mid-20th century, integration processes have been developing with increasing intensity throughout the world, whereby the socioeconomic principle is coming to the fore. Its main advantage is universality, which makes it possible to overcome religious, ethnic, cultural, political, ideological, and other barriers, and in this respect become a solid and reliable foundation for global integration.

It should be noted that throughout the whole of human history, individual countries enter the global community not so much directly, as indirectly, that is, by means of integration on the regional level, which is legitimately viewed as a form of manifestation, as well as a method of and a stage in worldwide integration.3 The current stage is characterized by the formation of regional integration structures primarily based on the socioeconomic principle. In so doing, at present, the trend toward expansion and enhancement of relations between already developed and nascent regional integration structures is particularly apparent.4 The most vivid example of these trends is the TRACECA project (the Europe—Caucasus—Asia transportation corridor), the implementation of which will make it possible to bridge two continents.

The new era of global integration began with the breakdown in the socialist integration system (CMEA—Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), primarily with the disintegration of its organizer and fulcrum, the U.S.S.R. The end of the confrontation between the two sub-global integration entities—capitalism and socialism—ultimately gave way to dramatically new laws for governing global integration. As a result of this, socioeconomic expediency was confirmed as the underlying principle of world integration processes. After the breakdown in the CMEA and the U.S.S.R., qualitatively new vectors of integration arose in the space they occupied. They can be grouped as follows: the formation of integration relations between the former CMEA countries and an already developed integration formation, the European Union; the formation of integration blocs, which brought together the former Union republics (EurAsEC, GUUAM); the entry of individual post-Soviet states into integration relations with countries bordering on the former U.S.S.R. (the ECO, BSEC, and SCO).

It should be noted that regional integration structures based on socioeconomic principles created in the post-Soviet space, to which all the Caucasian states belong, can be considered prospective-strategic, supplementing and accelerating the development of their member states. However, integration of the Caucasian states is the most preferable, since it is conducive to the profoundest realization of their national interests. Its inevitability and naturalness are presupposed by the whole of previous historical evolution.5 Not only the Caucasian states, but also the entire world community, are interested in intensifying these processes. For only an integrated Caucasus, free from internal conflicts, is capable of efficiently fulfilling its planetary function as a bridge connecting West and East, North and South, and in so doing enhancing global integration.

II. Main Areas and Stages

The Caucasus, which until recently belonged to the integrated political space of the U.S.S.R., has now become an arena where various geopolitical and economic interests are interacting and clashing with each other.6 In contrast to other former regions of the Soviet Union—the Baltic, Central Asia, and its western Slavic part—the legal and political stance of the Caucasian countries with respect to the world community has proven heterogeneous. This region has lost its political-legal and socioeconomic integrity. The Northern Caucasus is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Of the three so-called South Caucasian republics, which have gained their political independence, two—Azerbaijan and Georgia—are oriented toward the West and are in the throes of internal ethnopolitical conflicts, in which the former metropolis protects the ethnic minorities. Armenia, on the other hand, which is essentially Russia’s satellite, continues to carry out Russia’s policy in the Caucasus.

The vast dimensions of the Caucasus’ political space, its involvement, partly in the form of direct participation, partly as an external factor, in Russia’s reform processes, which are occurring tempestuously and unpredictably, and the difficulties in the formation of the Caucasian states themselves are all drawing the attention of academics and politicians to the region. For it is difficult to overestimate its significance as a treasure-trove of hydrocarbon resources and a transportation corridor for shipping Central Asian oil and gas to the world markets. Every country that has interests in the Caucasus is developing its own system of views on this region and on the prospects for its development.

No matter how diverse the opinions or approaches to the situation and to the possible development of integration in the Caucasus, the key question here of whether the traditional (Russian) factors that define the region’s complicated future will remain in force, or whether the future lies in the new strategic priorities gaining momentum makes it possible to divide the viewpoints into two categories, those based on forming a single Caucasus within the framework of the new political system of relations, and those inclined toward modifying the old integration model.

The new strategic priorities frequently imply one traditionally dominating factor of influence (the Russian) being ousted by others (Western, Turkish, Islamic, and so on). This dichotomy is often called replacing one “big brother” with another.

It is obvious that this bipolar systematization of integration processes in the Caucasus looks overly simplified. In order to understand the current situation, as well as develop the principles and main areas for forming a regional integration community, it is important to comprehend and summarize all the integration experience accumulated in the Caucasus. A brief historical review shows that it is occurring cyclically and is directly related to the appearance of emergency situations in Russia. Under such conditions, the stepping up of integration processes has led to the formation of fragile communities that collapse as the situation in Russia stabilizes and it strengthens its control over the region.

In the emergency sociopolitical situation that developed at the end of the 20th century, the new Caucasian state formations have the opportunity for the first time to integrate into a single socioeconomic union that meet the interests of the region’s development as a whole and each of its entities individually. This task can be carried out only if an efficient model of Caucasian integration is created.

The Regional Integration Models

At present, there is no dearth of Caucasian integration models (the Caucasian Common Home, the Caucasian Common Market, the United States of the Transcaucasus, and so on). The number of countries participating in them varies from “two” (Azerbaijan and Georgia) to “eight:” Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Russia, Iran, the U.S., and the European Union. The combination and sequence of participation of individual states in these models also varies, and each of them is aimed at resolving specific tasks.

The idea put forward right after the collapse in the Soviet Union of a Caucasian Common Home7 (CCH) is essentially the successor to the idea of a Free Caucasus and is its updated version for achieving peace, stability, and prosperity in the region adapted to the new geopolitical reality. The first step in this direction was the creation in 1989 of the Caucasian Assembly of Mountain People, which in 1991 was transformed into a Confederation uniting the Chechens, Kabardins, Adighes, Abazins, Abkhazians, and other local nationalities.8

At the initial stage, the idea of a Caucasian Common Home aroused a wide response among the North Caucasian people, who imagined regional integration as the unification of the Northern Caucasus alone. But the absence of several necessary prerequisites among the local autonomies (state sovereignty, resources, and so on) made it impossible to carry out the set task. As they understood the reality of the situation, the North Caucasian politicians began realizing that they must expand cooperation with their southern neighbors, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which had a direct interest in Caucasian integration.

Later, due to a strengthening in Moscow’s authority over the autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus, it became clear that their independent participation in Caucasian integration would have to be postponed until some time in the distant future. On the other hand, Armenia’s expansionist policy in the Transcaucasus made it essentially impossible for this country (at least in the short term) to participate in regional integration. So although the idea of a Caucasian Common Home acquired great significance, it proved unrealistic in practice.

Just as unrealistic under current conditions was the integration model in which Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia were to participate.9 It could not be put into practice due to Armenia’s occupation of part of Azerbaijan,10 as well as the Armenian separatist strivings in Samtskhe-Javakhetia (Georgia).11 It is obvious that Azerbaijan was not even objectively interested in establishing economic cooperation with Armenia, which was conducting a policy of expansion against it. And the danger of “a second Karabakh conflict” in Javakhetia forced Georgia to take a very cautious attitude toward developing its relations with Armenia, while actively drawing closer to Azerbaijan.

One of the versions of this model is the idea of creating the United States of the Transcaucasus (USS),12 which for starters proposes uniting Azerbaijan and Georgia with Armenia possibly joining it in the future. According to the author of this model, the problem of separatism, which is the main obstacle to Azerbaijan and Georgia’s development, could be resolved by Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorny Karabakh joining the USS “with the rights of federal territories, but without the right of secession.”

Another version is the “3+1” model proposed by Russia at the Kislovodsk summit in 1996, in which representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia and the heads of the autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus (apart from Chechnia) participated. During this meeting, Moscow talked repeatedly of “Russia’s interests in the Transcaucasus,” and of how the Caucasus “cannot be geopolitically separated from Russia.” The proposed conception, by largely expressing the interests of one side and not entirely meeting the goals of the independent Caucasian states, can naturally not progress further than the draft stage.

Along with this, sub-global integration models should also be singled out that are called upon to accelerate realization of the Caucasus’ planetary function as a center joining major regional systems (for example, the European Community and the Asia Pacific Region). One of these versions, the “3+3+2” project (Russia-Turkey-Iran + Azerbaijan-Georgia-Armenia + the U.S.-European Union), was discussed at the Istanbul OSCE summit in 1999.

In this way, the following main groups can be singled out in the proposed alternatives for Caucasian integration: the model of a Caucasian Common Home, to which the autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus13 and the new Caucasian states would belong; unification of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia; the “3+1” alternative, which includes the independent republics of the Caucasus and Russia; and sub-global models, which envisage integration of three independent Caucasian states, three neighboring states, the U.S. and the European Union (“3+3+2”).

All of these conceptions have interesting elements and the arguments put forward by their authors in favor of the viability of their conceptions are very convincing. But despite the fact that the idea of Caucasian integration is actively supported by the world community, all these conceptions remain merely abstract models that cannot be implemented for various objective and subjective reasons. They all appear to suffer from one common shortcoming, an inadequate vision of the entire problem of Caucasian integration, its structure, mechanisms, and initiating nucleus.

The importance of creating a realistic model of Caucasian integration dictates the need to define the place and role of the Caucasus in the world political space. In so doing, global and regional changes should be kept in mind, the stereotype of its political-geographic division eliminated, and so on.

On the Concept of “the Caucasus”

The contemporary contents of the geopolitical concept of “the Caucasus” date back to the 18th-19th centuries—to the time the region was conquered by Russia. It was precisely at the time Russia appeared in this region that it was divided into the Caucasus and the Transcaucasus (beyond the Caucasus). And later in order to designate the territory to the north of the conquered Transcaucasus, the concept “Northern Caucasus” appeared.

It goes without saying that the concept “Transcaucasus” is a product of Russian foreign policy, which reflected the metropolis’ approach to the political-administrative division of the conquered territory. Of course, in so doing, the interests of the people residing in it, as well as the economic, cultural, and other relations that developed historically in the region, were frequently sacrificed in favor of the empire’s interests. Moreover, the concept of the “Transcaucasus” tacitly implied that the territory to the south of the Great Caucasian Mountain Range did not belong to the Caucasus as such, was located beyond it, that is, outside it. In this way, this concept to some extent was a means for achieving the political goal of czarist Russia: dividing the nationalities living in the northern and southern parts of the conquered region.

There can be no doubt that the concept “Transcaucasus” not only had a geographic, but also a geopolitical meaning. This is obvious if only from the fact that the “Transcaucasus” stretched only as far as the local state borders of the empire, but its dimensions changed along with the changes in these boundaries. For example, at the end of the 19th century, after Russia conquered the Kars Region of the Ottoman Empire, it was considered a constituent part of the Caucasus. But when Russia lost Kars, Ardakhan and Baiazet, they were no longer mentioned as Caucasian in its political and historical documents. After declaring their independence, in November 1918, these regions created their own state, the Southwest Caucasian (Karsian) Democratic Republic.14

By reflecting geopolitical reality—Russia’s absolute dominion in the region—the concept “Transcaucasus” was used right up until the beginning of the 1990s. The first attempt to repudiate the “Russian” model of its geopolitical division can be considered the replacement of the concept “Transcaucasus” for the more accurate “Southern Caucasus,” which comprises the same republics: Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.

It should be emphasized that the concept “Southern Caucasus,” just as the previous concept “Transcaucasus,” has a “Russian” geopolitical meaning, since it designates the part of the region that has achieved independence from the Center (the U.S.S.R.), in contrast to the Northern Caucasus, which remains part of the Russian Federation. The division into these two parts is again being carried out in accordance with the borders between Russia and the independent Caucasian states. It is no accident that the term “Southern Caucasus” came into use and was established when the U.S.S.R. disintegrated, thus reflecting an important aspect of the new geopolitical situation in the region—the emergence of three independent states there.

The historical significance of this event for the future of the entire Caucasus cannot be overestimated, since it laid the foundation for forming a single Caucasus in the future, by giving statehood to its largest nationalities and opening the way to their consolidation. In this respect, the meaning of the concept of a “Caucasian state” must be clarified. Primarily, like any other state, it should have the necessary attributes of statehood. Second, it should be territorially located in the Caucasus. At present, only Azerbaijan and Georgia fully meet these prerequisites, whereas Armenia, although it is a state, is located territorially beyond the Greater Caucasus, for which reason it cannot be unequivocally considered a Caucasian state. As for Russia, it is a country contiguous to the Caucasian region, since only a small part of its territory belongs to the Caucasus.

In light of this, yet another semantic meaning of the concept “Southern Caucasus” can be singled out. This is the not fully realized desire to emphasize the Caucasian nature of the three “South Caucasian” states in contrast to Russia, which with a certain geopolitical implication is constantly claiming its status as a “Caucasian state.”

Nevertheless, the current meaning of the term “Southern Caucasus” does not very adequately reflect the changes in the essence and contents of the geopolitical processes occurring in the region. Here one concept is mechanically replaced by another within the “Russian” structural model of the Caucasus, which (like before) divides it into Northern and Southern (Transcaucasus) within the post-Soviet space. But the authors of this article believe that this model has two basic flaws. First, it has outlived itself, since its foundation has disappeared—the geopolitical reality of the period of Russia’s monopolistic domination in the region. Second, this model is based on an incorrect expression of the socioeconomic, sociocultural and ethnic parameters that have historically developed here. The matter concerns the illegitimate narrowing of these parameters due to the fact that the northeastern regions of Turkey (Kars, Ardakhan, Artvin, Ygdyr, and so on) and the northwestern regions of Iran (Eastern Azerbaijan and Western Azerbaijan) are not included in the region. Until Russia conquered the Caucasus, these regions existed for many centuries in the same socioeconomic and ethnocultural area, where even today mainly Caucasian nationalities live, which allows us to consider these areas the “Caucasian” regions of these countries, just like the Caucasian region of Russia (the Northern Caucasus).

Based on the aforesaid, it seems possible to propose the following structural model for the Caucasian region: the Central Caucasus, which comprises three independent states: Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia; the Northern Caucasus consisting of the autonomous state entities bordering on the Russian Federation; and the Southern Caucasus, which includes the regions of Turkey (the Southwest Caucasus) and the northwestern regions of Iran (the Southeast Caucasus) bordering on Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia.

We think that this way of defining the parameters of the Caucasus and dividing its socioeconomic space most completely and precisely reproduces the current geopolitical reality in the region, encompasses all of its constituent parts (countries, regions, autonomous entities) and takes into account the historical specifics of the Caucasus as a sociocultural formation. In this way, division of the region into its central, northern, and southern parts makes it possible to designate essentially new ways for developing the integration processes in the Caucasus.

Regional Integration

In contrast to the traditional approaches, which encompass only the post-Soviet space (the Northern Caucasus and the Transcaucasus), the proposed model for defining the parameters and the structure of the Caucasus’ socioeconomic space also presumes including the northwestern regions of Iran and the eastern regions of Turkey. At first glance, this will complicate the already extremely intricate geopolitical picture of the region. But it is precisely this raising of the question that makes it possible to fill in “the missing pieces” from the whole Caucasian jigsaw and, in so doing, help it to reach a level of dynamic and systemic integration. In other words, we are proposing the “3+3” model, which envisages unification of the independent states of the Central Caucasus (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Armenia) and the regional nations (Russia-Turkey-Iran).

Sociopolitical Prerequisites

The proposed model makes it possible to define more precisely the sociopolitical prerequisites for integrating the entire region and single out the important socioeconomic relations among its constituent parts.

As an integral socioeconomic entity, the Caucasus has always been and continues to be in the sphere of special interests of the regional nations, Iran, Turkey, and Russia.15 Each of them, with their own interests in this region and their own idea of its integrity, has influenced and continues to influence the process and rate of integration of the Caucasian state formations using their own political-legal and economic levers. Moreover, the ratio of power among the regional nations periodically changed, and at a particular stage in history, only one of them dominated. The last such “monopolist” in the region was Russia.

Bearing in mind the current geopolitical trends and that the three former U.S.S.R. Transcaucasian republics have gained their independence, a situation is developing for the first time whereby all the regional nations (due to the participation of the border regions) have equal opportunities to simultaneously join the Caucasian integration process. This will ultimately help to turn the Caucasus from a “bone of contention” into a region where the interests of all the regional nations could be coordinated. In this way, a real opportunity is appearing for resolving the conflicts and other problems in the Caucasus. This is significantly increasing the likelihood of realizing the interests of the region as a whole and each of its parts individually.

During the last decade, the most important changes have occurred in the Central Caucasian zone. Only here have Caucasian states, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, emerged and reinforced their independence. Sovereignty is allowing them to independently define their geostrategic reference points. A priority area in the foreign policy of Azerbaijan and Georgia is rapprochement with the West and Turkey, and they are propitiously moving along the designated path. Armenia (as mentioned above) is still a Russian satellite and is also trying to move closer to Iran. In this way, the geostrategic diversity of the Central Caucasian states can be confirmed, which explains the formation of various political alliances here (Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia, Russia-Iran-Armenia). This is precisely the reason for the high level of ethnopolitical confrontation in the Central Caucasus, where Azerbaijan and Armenia are in a state of war, and Georgia is in the throes of internal separatist movements (Abkhazian, South Ossetian, and Armenian).16

It should be noted that the common geostrategic reference points of Azerbaijan and Georgia are enhancing the economic and political relations between them.17 On the other hand, Armenia’s expansionist-terrorist policy toward Azerbaijan, as well as Erevan’s organization and support of Armenian separatist movements in the Javakheti Region of Georgia, are causing many of the current breakdowns in socioeconomic ties and transportation communication in the Central Caucasus. By acting in this way, Armenia is excluding itself from the integration processes in the region, since at present the transportation routes through the Caucasus are bypassing it. What is more, Armenia’s geographic location makes it possible for economic relations among the Central, Northern, and Southern Caucasus to develop without it. Common borders (between Azerbaijan and Turkey, Russia, and Iran with access to the Caspian, and between Georgia and Russia and Turkey with access to the Black Sea) are encouraging economic relations among these countries with each other and between the Caucasus as a whole and other economic regions. In other words, implementation of the Caucasus’ planetary function (from the transportation and geographic viewpoint) essentially does not depend on Armenia’s participation in regional integration, which is the reason for its insignificant role in the region’s socioeconomic development. Nevertheless, it should be admitted that this state’s policy is leading to an increase in tension and instability in the region.

Different (compared with the Central Caucasus) sociopolitical conditions have developed in the Northern and Southern Caucasus. The nationalities populating these territories, which are part of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, do not have the opportunity to independently participate in the Caucasian integration process. So when establishing ties with the states of the Central Caucasus they are acting within the framework defined by the politics and legislation of their states: the Northern Caucasus is represented by the autonomous republics of the Russian Federation, while the Southern consists of the unitary regions of Iran and Turkey, which do not have political autonomy. In other words, the Northern Caucasus has comparatively broader political-legal opportunities for establishing economic, political and cultural contacts with the Central Caucasian countries. With respect to the prospects for integration in the region, the Northern Caucasus has another advantage over the Southern: in the recent past it (like the Central Caucasus) was part of the single national economic complex of the U.S.S.R., and now is part of a state that along with the countries of the Central Caucasus forms one integrated group, the CIS. What is more, the Southern Caucasus is divided by the state border between traditional rivals, Turkey and Iran, which creates certain obstacles to the integration of its eastern and western parts.

On the other hand, the Northern Caucasus (in contrast to the Southern) is a zone of confrontation and instability. When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, the local nationalities began to fight for their independence, which in several cases escalated into ethnopolitical conflicts. The acutest of them, the Russian-Chechen conflict, is destabilizing the entire Northern and part of the Central Caucasus, and is having a negative impact on economic relations and transportation communication among the regions of the Northern Caucasus, as well as between it and the Central Caucasus.

So an analysis of the sociopolitical processes occurring in the Caucasus shows that this region is a heterogeneous geopolitical and socioeconomic space. It is characterized, first, by unequal political-legal opportunities to participate in regional integration (the independent states in the Central Caucasus, the autonomous state formations in the Northern, and the administrative regions in the Southern Caucasus); and second, by geostrategic diversity, which has raised the level of ethnopolitical confrontation, caused a breakdown in interregional economic ties, ruptures in the information and communication space, and so on.

As we see, the current situation is not conducive to integration of the Caucasus. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that this process is essentially possible and inevitable, since historical socioeconomic relations among the nationalities of the region have promoted the formation of its interrelated economy, as well as general Caucasian values and mentality. In so doing, it should be kept in mind that this process, which is distinguished by extreme contradictoriness, intricacy, and duration, presumes integration of the independent countries of the Central Caucasus and the integration of this region with the Northern and Southern Caucasus (thus preserving the existing borders and the unshakeable sovereignty of all the states in the region).

Integration relations among the states of the Central Caucasus are proposed as a logical and historically defined first step.18 This is primarily because independent countries capable of developing and implementing their development strategy themselves are located in this region. What is more, the world community is interested in the peaceful coexistence of the countries of the Central Caucasus. This region is the terminal point in the system of transportation routes connecting the West with the East and the North with the South. As for overall Caucasian integration (that is, integration of the Central Caucasus with the Northern and Southern Caucasus), it is possible only in the long term, and exclusively with simultaneous involvement of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in these processes.

As already mentioned, the Central Caucasus is the initiating nucleus in regional integration. This primarily applies to Azerbaijan and Georgia, since only they have all the necessary prerequisites for laying a reliable foundation for a single Caucasus. Let us point out the main ones: the Azeri and Georgian people have always coexisted peacefully, without ethnic conflicts and significant confrontations, Azeris have lived peacefully in Georgia for many centuries (and continue to do so today) and Georgians in Azerbaijan; Armenia is conducting an expansionist policy with respect to Azerbaijan, supports Armenian separatism in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and constantly makes territorial claims against its neighbors, which at the current state excludes its participation in the integration of the Central Caucasus. What is more, Azerbaijan and Georgia have approximately the same basic natural-geographic and sociodemographic parameters (territory, population, and so on), as well as the same geopolitical orientation in their development strategies. Along with this, they are jointly forming a transportation corridor between the Caspian and Black seas, the significance of which is dramatically growing with respect to implementation of the TRACECA project; and the transportation routes of these countries make it entirely possible to ship goods in any direction (West-East and North-South). We should also mention their joint participation in regional political and economic unions, and in the construction and operation of important projects: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline. And the joint declaration On Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Caucasian Region, adopted by Azerbaijan and Georgia in 1996, creates the foundation for developing economic relations between these two countries.

Strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Georgia is being cultivated on this fertile ground, while Armenia in their eyes remains a thorn in the side. If Erevan changes it attitude toward its neighbors, it will be able to join the integration process in the Central Caucasus and eliminate its unstable position, which is hindering the development of socioeconomic relations in the region.

At each level of integration, two aspects can be singled out: economic and political. It must be stressed that at present only economic integration is possible here.

In this way, the legitimate and natural incorporation of the Caucasus as a sociocultural and geographic whole into global society should pass through several stages. Each successive stage should be a logical continuation of the previous. In so doing, it is very likely that during the actual process, certain deviations from the envisioned sequence are possible, that is, certain goals of the previous stages may be realized at the subsequent levels, and vice versa. But such deviations do not override the logically succession of Caucasian integration, which proposes (as we have already mentioned) economic integration of the Central Caucasus, primarily Azerbaijan and Georgia, as a first step with the subsequent incorporation of the Northern and Southern Caucasus into this process. To this end, regional economic-legal mechanisms must be created,19 which are called upon to assist socioeconomic integration of all the parts of the region into a single whole. This in turn will allow the Caucasus to become fundamentally integrated into the global community.

1 See: A. J. Toynbee, Postizhenie istorii (Understanding History), Rolf Publishers, Moscow, 2001, p. 640.
2 See: Global’noe soobshchestvo: novaia sistema koordinat (podkhody k probleme), St. Petersburg, 2000; H.J. MacKinder, “Geograficheskaia os’ istorii (The Geographical Axis of History),” Elementy, No. 8, 1999; A.I. Utkin, Globalizatsia: protsess i osmyslenie, Logos Publishers, Moscow, 2002.
3 See: I.M. Busygina, “Problemy sovremennogo regionalizma. Iuzhnoe napravlenie,” in: Evropa i Rossia: problemy iuzhnogo napravlenia. Sredizemnomorie-Chernomorie-Kaspii, Moscow, 1999, p. 455; Vostok/Zapad: Regional’nye podsistemy i regional’nye problemy mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii, Moscow, 2002, p. 528.
4 See: G.K. Shirokov, “Mirovye tsentry i periferii: puti sotsial’no-ekonomicheskogo razvitia,” Vostok, No. 3, 1998.
5 See: E. Ismailov, “Finansovo-kreditniy mekhanizm sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoi integratsii Kavkaza,” in: Mezhdunarodnaia nauchnaia konferentsiia “Kavkaz: istoriia, sovremennost’ i geopoliticheskie perspektivy,” Baku, 1998, pp. 51-54.
6 See: K.S. Gadzhiev, Geopolitika Kavkaza, Moscow, 2001, p. 432; A.G. Dugin, “Kavkazskiy vyzov,” in: Osnovy geopolitiki. Geopoliticheskoe budushchee Rossii. Myslit prostranstvom, Moscow, 2000, pp. 803-814; V.V. Degoev, Bol’shaia igra na Kavkaze: istoria i sovremennost, Moscow, 2001, p. 448; G. Kuliev, “Geopoliticheskie kollizii Kavkaza,” Tsentral’naia Azia i Kavkaz, No. (3) 4, 1999, pp. 23-29.
7 See: R. Mamedov, “Kavkazskiy obshchiy dom,” Kavkaz, No. 2, 1997, pp. 6-7; R. Aliev, “Kavkazskiy dom,” Kavkaz, No. 1, 1997, pp. 16-21; Kh. Ibragimli, “Kavkazskiy dom: mif i real’nost,” Kavkaz, No. 1, 1997, pp. 12-14.
8 See: “Novaia, ‘Kavkazskaia konfederatsia,’” Kavkaz, No. 2, 1997, pp. 16-17.
9 See: A. Goble, “Geopolititka postsovestskogo iuga Kavkaza,” Kavkaz, No. 2, 1997, pp. 14-16.
10 See: M.A. Ismailov, Pravda ob armianskoi agressii, Baku, 1996; S. Asadov, Terrorism: prichina i sledstvie, Baku, 2001; O genotside azerbaidzhantsev, Baku, 1998.
11 See: D. Darchiashvili, “Ethnic Relations as Security Factor in Southern Georgia,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 1, 2000, pp. 43-53.
12 See: “Soedinennye Shtaty Zakavkazia,” Zerkalo, 15 April, 2000.
13 Some authors of CCH presuppose that the autonomous republics of the Northern Caucasus should participate in this model as independent states.
14 See: A. Gadzhiev, Iz istorii obrazovaniia i padeniia Iugo-Zapadnoi Kavkazskoi (Karskoi) demokraticheskoi respubliki, Baku, 1992.
15 See: Rossiia i Zakavkazie: realii nezavisimosti i novoe partnerstvo, Moscow, 2000, p. 224; Rossiia i Zakavkazie v sovremennom mire, Moscow, 2002; Spornye granitsy na Kavkaze, Moscow, 1996; Rossiia i Zakavkazie: poiski novoi modeli obshcheniia i razvitiia v izmenivshemsia mire, Moscow, 1999.
16 See: G. Tsiklauri and T. Giorgobiani, “Autonomies in Georgia: International and Domestic Experience, and Their Future,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 4 (10), 2001, pp. 160-164.
17 See: S.I. Cherniavskiy, Noviy put’ Azerbaidzhana, Azer-Media, Moscow, 2002; V. Papava, V. Chocheli, “The Possibility of Global Economic Crises and Georgia’s Strategy,” Georgian Economic Trends, No. 1, 2002.
18 See: V. Papava, “O kharaktere i perspektivakh razvitiia strategicheskogo ekonomicheskogo partnerstva na Iuzhnom Kavkaze,” in: Tsentral’naia Azia i Iuzhniy Kavkaz. Nasushchnye problemy, TOO “East Point,” Almaty, 2002, pp. 352-361; A. Mollazade, “Bezopasnost’ Iuzhnogo Kavkaza i regional’noe sotrudnichestvo,” Tsentral’naia Azia i Kavkaz, No. 3 (4), 1999, pp. 54-59.
19 See: E. Ismailov, “Finansovo-kreditniy mekhanizm ekonomicheskoi integratsii Kavkaza,” in: VI World Congress for Central and East European Studies: Abstracts, Tampere, Finland, 2000, p. 173.

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