This is his ultimate power projection challenge


There was a lot of bad news for the European Union during the five-week Nagorno-Karabakh war in autumn 2020 between Azerbaijan and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh backed by Armenia.

There was even more bad news for the EU in the aftermath of this unfrozen “frozen” post-Soviet space conflict.

There is, however, a silver lining for the EU on the resumption of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. At present, this is largely fictional fiction and is set at some point in the future.

And it is that the South Caucasus is the ultimate test of the geopolitical power of the Union (probably more than the Western Balkans, Syria, Libya or the Russia-Ukraine conflict).

Specifically, if there is ever another similar outbreak of war in the South Caucasus (and there will likely be one in the medium to long term), and the European Union has been successful in preventing, mitigating or ending to that, then the whole world would know that the EU would have become a world-class geopolitical superpower.

Indeed, the South Caucasus with its long frozen conflict in the post-Soviet space fertilized by tons of old-fashioned ethnic hatred between Azerbaijanis and Armenians is the ultimate challenge of the power projection of the European Union.

If the European Union were ever able to stop an Azerbaijan-Armenia war, then the right people in the EU would know that their Union would probably have consolidated to tackle external forces, would have a real foreign, security commune. and defense. political, and probably a capable European army that it can use effectively to defend its borders, its integrity, its citizens and its member states as well as to guarantee peace in its “near abroad”, to borrow a term that sounds good to traditional Russian geopolitical school.

All manner of critics, both EU nationals and foreigners (many of the latter cheering for) have lambasted the Union for its inability to do anything remarkable and meaningful during the High War. -Karabakh of 2020.

Besides the banal diplomatic calls for a ceasefire and peace, the EU has had no impact – either in favor of peace or in defending its supposed interests in the South Caucasus region, says the EU. global choir of foreign policy experts. and international security analysts sang.

Obviously, they weren’t wrong.

They are also absolutely right about the fact that Russia and Turkey (sort of) became the big geopolitical winners in the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020.

(Although a situation in which Russia and Turkey win must be taken with a great deal of salt, and can hardly be considered sustainable. Particularly considering a pattern of rivalry embodied by a total of 14 bilateral interstate wars over a period of period of 423 years, between 1568 and 1991, WWI and Cold War included.)

It is also true that an Armenia which embarked on a course towards European integration, timid but still, was now obliged to immediately go to Russia to save itself from a greater defeat. Certainly, because the hard power of the EU which is practically non-existent cannot be compared to that of Russia.

Yet the European Union must absolutely not take revenge for its inability to influence the course and outcome of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.

Because the obvious fact of the matter is that the EU was not built for these kinds of goals, for this alleged scale of projection of power and geopolitical weight.

He simply does not have the tools at his disposal to do more than the little he has actually done with regard to a complex and stubborn ethnic and interstate conflict so generously bequeathed to the world by subsequent rulers of the world. former Soviet Union.

Particularly in a relatively small region, relatively isolated and difficult to access, sandwiched between Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Would it have been great if the European Union had indeed had the tools, capacity, status and power projection capabilities, including military power projection capabilities, to intervene and prevent or stop the fighting between Azerbaijanis? and the Armenians? Yes it would have been.

And many people, myself included, have pleaded relentlessly for a European Union that could have done it – to defend itself – and to do good in many martyred neighboring regions. around the world, or further afield. (Because if someone ever imagined the EU as an evil and ‘expansionist’ power if it had a full-fledged diplomatic unit and military projection capabilities, that person would probably be very ill-minded towards Europe. .)

Many of us have pleaded for a European Union capable of defending itself and serving as an extremely positive stabilizing force at regional and global levels. And a European Union capable of responding to any assault to come. Without such capabilities, the EU is a ‘sitting duck’ which only pushes its geopolitical luck.

Yet at the moment the EU has virtually none of this, none of the necessary powers. Of course, it is relatively good for a wide range of “soft measures”. But soft measures would only get you so far. Maybe only at a few “weak points”.

Regardless of the current wishful thinking of public opinion in the western part of the Union and the public weakness of its eastern part, Europe itself has seen far too much evidence that things do eventually come to hard power. The Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020 is just another case in hand.

Is it really necessary to remind Europeans that “war is like love – it always finds a way,” quote from Brecht’s “Mother Courage”?

Again, at present, the European Union has virtually no hard power, and expect it to have intervened successfully in the South Caucasus, in the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020 between Azerbaijanis and Armenians is either illusory or foolish or bad. intentioned. Or all of the above. There is and will be a lot of EU haters out there.

And since the frozen (and now unfrozen) conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the case at hand, this line of criticism from the EU on the South Caucasus War in 2020 is reminiscent of the 2015 book by American geopolitical thinker George Friedman “Flashpoints “.

This book contains a chapter curiously entitled “The wars of Maastricht”. In it, the author esteemed, in a way, by a bit of geopolitical imagination, connects the 1992 EU Treaty of Maastricht (which in fact gave the European Union its current name) with the wars in the European periphery at the time, in the early 1990s – the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Of course, the wars in question took place because of the collapse of what were highly man-made and often evil constructions, namely, respectively, the former Communist Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, the author links them to the (re) formation of the European Union at the time, almost as if to blame it, simply because these developments occurred in roughly the same space-time continuum.

It is never easy to understand unfounded expectations and / or a desire to accumulate the guilt of the EU, perhaps out of aversion to it, as was often the case in the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh war from 2020.

The EU must play an important role in the South Caucasus to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity there, and to defend its own interests.

For more than a decade now, I have been writing in support of the EU securing its own corridor to the Caspian Sea and the energy-rich countries on its shores – including both Azerbaijan and the D republics. ‘Central Asia. Georgia and Armenia, and potentially Azerbaijan, deserve the potential to become full members of the EU.

Of a Union which has hard power and which is not afraid to use it for the greater common good.

At this point, however, there is obviously no time for the European Union to fight for its inability to do more during the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020. At the moment, it just isn’t ” wired ‘this way.

What the EU needs to do is draw the right lessons for the development of hard power and power projection capabilities (and from an innovative warfare that has very forcefully demonstrated the power of swarms of drones), and in favor of the integration of Georgia and Armenia, and potentially Azerbaijan – all ancient peoples with a great history behind them rather linked to European civilization.

The public opinion of Western Europe in particular has behaved in a regrettable way towards European integration of “the East”, certainly wrongly. They continue to behave as if it is all about materialism and consumption, and there is nothing beyond that, no common values, no sense of belonging. This can hardly be the recipe for success. Just remember how Dutch voters rejected the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in a referendum, the one Ukrainians grappled with to Moscow’s wrath, and which marked the first time Europeans were dead with the EU flag in hand.

So there is absolutely no need for the EU to fight the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. It just needs to learn the right lessons from them fast enough for it to be able to project peace and stability. before the next Nagorno-Karabakh war (God forbid!) kicks in.

Ivan Dikov

(Card of IEP-Berlin, EUCASE)

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