Cristina ALEXANDRESCU, PhD
The Caucasus region, whose name comes from the mountain range of the same name (which arrives at 5,600 m altitude), is bounded on the East by the Caspian Sea, to the West by the Black Sea and Turkey, Russia to the North, and Iran is in the South. European geography traditionally considers that Europe and Asia are separated from the Caucasus.
According to the Universal Encyclopaedia in this area live about 30 million people, constituting an ethnic mosaic, here been spoken 70 languages and dialects, dozens of populations cohabit, some populations for thousand years, others for just a few hundred years, as is the case of the Russians.1 And in terms of religious diversity, as we meet Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians Monophysites. The area is divided in the South Caucasus, also named Transcaucasia, comprising of: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kars (Turkish province located in Eastern Anatolia, on the border with Armenia) and North Caucasus composed of: Krajnodar-Krai, Adigea, Karaşai-Serkesia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Stravropol-Krai, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan.
Currently the Caucasus area is characterized by uncertainty, complexity, instability, frozen conflicts, whose negative consequences appear in the process of reform and modernization of the states concerned. The contradiction between the principle of self-determination and that of territorial integrity participates to perpetuate conflicts, so it still sought a peaceful solution.
A solution to numerous existing conflicts in the Caucasian area to fade is cooperation in the field of energy. The geographical location of the Caucasus makes it ”the crossroads of Western Europe intended for energy”. The opening in 2005 of BTC pipeline (Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan) and BTE pipeline (Baku – Tbilisi – Erzerum) marks a diplomatic victory for the West and the European Union in particular, because they have weakened Russia’s position as exporter of energy. These routes were supplemented by BTK railway line (the Baku – Tbilisi – Kars (Turkey)).
The Caucasus is surrounded by oil-rich countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran. Between the Caucasian countries, Azerbaijan is the key actor in the area, even if its resources do not compare with those of its neighbors. However, in 1900, Azerbaijan was the main producer of oil.
Taking into account the complexity and sheer number of problems that characterize the area, my opinion is that the situation is far from being solved, the Caucasus still sitting on a powder keg.
expert Asia Centrala si Caucaz