عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: The South Caucasus refers to the region south of the Great Caucasus Mountains and includes the three countries of Georgia, Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The region is considered by foreign actors, including the European Union, as a single subgroup of regions. International interventions in the South Caucasus began after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union paid attention to the surviving countries of the Soviet Union in the Baltic region immediately after independence, but ignored Georgia, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan, which survived the collapse of the Soviet Union in the South Caucasus A few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union has gradually shifted its role from one observer to the South Caucasus to an actor with well-defined interests in the region. The reason for this change of approach was the increasing importance of the South Caucasus region for the European Union. The South Caucasus is important to the EU in several ways: the geopolitical position of the region, the existence of energy resources including oil and gas that the EU needs to diversify its energy sources, and the transit position of the region to connect north, south and east and the West that is important to the European Union. The Caucasus region is also important for the EU in terms of security. The European Union is particularly concerned about stability in the South Caucasus due to the geographical proximity of the Caucasus to its borders. With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, the EU is bordered by the North and South Caucasus by sea. Also, in case of Turkey's membership in the European Union, this union will be the immediate neighbor of the South Caucasus. Accordingly, security in the South Caucasus has become increasingly important in the overall security of the European Union. Stability in the South Caucasus region, which borders the European Union, also has positive benefits for the EU, as it provides access to the Caspian Sea and beyond, including its energy resources. The existence of unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus region is another factor in the region's importance to the EU. The EU is interested in managing and assisting in resolving security issues in the Caucasus, as crises in the region could have different consequences for Europe. For example, one of the immediate consequences of insecurity in the Caucasus will be the humanitarian crisis and the influx of refugees from the resurgence of conflict in the region towards Europe.
Research Question: This paper examines the question of what regulatory mechanisms the European Union has used in regulating its relations with the countries of the South Caucasus, and how these mechanisms have evolved.
Research Hypothesis: The hypothesis of this paper was that the European Union has regulated its relations with the countries of the Caucasus on the basis of the requirements of normative power and, in parallel, has designed and implemented regulatory mechanisms.
Methodology (and Theoretical Framework if there are): The theoretical framework of this paper is normative power theory. Europe has longer-term concerns about instability in the Caucasus, such as the rise of extremism and the spread of organized crime. In such a situation, the European Union has also adopted a normative approach in relations with the countries of the South Caucasus, given that it has established normative power as its international hallmark and based it on its foreign policy. The EU's reliance on normative power has set it apart from other actors in the South Caucasus. In fact, pursuing a normative approach to a kind of foreign Europeanization policy means extending the norms, standards and values of the European Union beyond its political borders. Through a normative approach, the European Union pursues goals such as strengthening human rights, democratization, the rule of law and strengthening good governance within the framework of its normative power in the target countries. The instruments of this policy are support for institutionalization, trade liberalization, economic reform, cohesion in legislation, and assistance in resolving disputes. The bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the European Neighborhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership, and other special cooperation and assistance programs have been concluded within this framework.
Results and Discussion: The findings show that the regulatory mechanisms of EU-South Caucasus relations are influenced by the complexities of regional relations and different strategic approaches of the countries of the region for relations with the EU, as well as the acceptance of the principle of differentiation and principled pragmatism in EU foreign policy and moved from holistic multilateralism based on the normative approach towards differentiated bilateralism based on realism. Within this framework, the mechanism includes concluding partnership and bilateral cooperation agreements, establishing a neighborhood policy, appointing an EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, the Black Sea Cooperation Initiative, the Eastern Partnership program and new bilateral agreements over a period of about 30 years.
Conclusion: The evolution of the EU's approach to the South Caucasus shows that Brussels is gradually has withdrawn form its normative ambitions in its relations with the countries of this region and with taking into account the objective facts, has taken a flexible approach to examining the various interests and aspirations of the South Caucasus countries. As a result, the process of regulating the mechanisms governing the EU's relations with the countries of the South Caucasus has shifted from pervasive multilateralism to differentiated bilateralism.