To Each their Own: The Southern Caucasus and Iranian Influence

05-03-2013

The Southern Caucasus region matters to the European Union for economic, energy and political reasons. Yet the states of the Southern Caucasus — Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — are also important to their southern neighbour, Iran. Realpolitik in the region dictates that the EU balance its relations with its local partners at the same time that Iran, sanctioned by the EU and others, makes various economic, cultural, and political inroads with its pliable neighbours. Each Southern Caucasus state has a distinct relation with the EU and with Iran. Each must set the realities of its current situation against its western aspirations. Since the adoption of sanctions against Iran in 2010 and their subsequent reinforcement, the EU has also been obliged to consider Iran's influence on regional politics. While the EU's interest in the region is based on more than its concerns about Iran, this facet of the Southern Caucasus's complicated balance of power cannot be ignored.

The Southern Caucasus region matters to the European Union for economic, energy and political reasons. Yet the states of the Southern Caucasus — Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — are also important to their southern neighbour, Iran. Realpolitik in the region dictates that the EU balance its relations with its local partners at the same time that Iran, sanctioned by the EU and others, makes various economic, cultural, and political inroads with its pliable neighbours. Each Southern Caucasus state has a distinct relation with the EU and with Iran. Each must set the realities of its current situation against its western aspirations. Since the adoption of sanctions against Iran in 2010 and their subsequent reinforcement, the EU has also been obliged to consider Iran's influence on regional politics. While the EU's interest in the region is based on more than its concerns about Iran, this facet of the Southern Caucasus's complicated balance of power cannot be ignored.