S. Neil MacFarlane
Georgia will easily overcome the economic problems stemming from its withdrawal from the USSR. We will join the EEC. 1
This chapter has five components. The first addresses the regional context(s) of the Caucasus and Central Asia. What challenges do these areas pose for the European Union (EU) in its approach towards the ‘wider Europe’? The second discusses EU interests in the region. The third examines how these interests are translated into policy and Commission activities and programmes. The fourth section looks at how effective EU activities have been. The final section looks at the implications of the analysis for future development of the EU’s role in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
I take Central Asia to include the five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. I take the Caucasus to mean the southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia). I realize that the EU has attempted to weigh in on northern Caucasian issues (notably the conflict in Chechnya), and that developments in the northern Caucasus do have significant effects for Russia’s southern neighbours. However, it is impossible to separate out EU perspectives on the northern Caucasus from their broader approach to Russia.
In examining EU perspectives and approaches to these two regions, it is important to recognize that - unlike in the case of many of the other regions considered here - there is no real history of interaction between the Union and its member states on the one hand and the states of the southern Caucasus and Central Asia on the other. There were moments when these regions were important to West European Great Powers. Central Asia played a key role in the ‘Great Game’ between Russia and Britain in the last half of the nineteenth century. Azerbaijan’s oil resources were a major focus of the emergent petroleum industry in Europe and the United States. During the period immediately after the Bolshevik revolu-