Russian Counter Attack to European Integration in the Near Abroad: Frozen Conflict Strategy

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
In the mid-2000s, the European Union (EU) enlargement strategy has become the key element in the EU foreign policy. The EU reached out to post-Soviet states to promote democracy and provide integration and security. In this respect, the EU has both supported the democratic and economic development of these states and also tried to ensure to construct an area where the stability and regional security had been provided. Within this scope, in 2004, EU Commission launched the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), toward 16 partner states, and, in 2009, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and, Georgia became the members of the Eastern Partnership. In post-Soviet space, the most prominent obstacle to EU’s integration policies is the Russian security policy toward it’s ‘near abroad’. Moscow, which defines the post-Soviet space as the ‘sphere of influence’ by declaring the Near Abroad Doctrine in 1993, is pursuing a foreign policy to prevent the western effects on the region. The most effective tool of Russian Federation to prevent the EU integration of these states, which are on an important route for energy transfer from Central Asia and Caspian Basin to Europe, is to exacerbate the ethnic-based conflicts within these states. These conflicts, defined as Frozen, pose an important obstacle to EU integration, in terms of security, while undermining the economic and democratic development of the region states. Georgia's relations with the EU began officially in 1992 but reached its highest level with the participation in the Eastern Partnership Program established in 2009, as mentioned earlier. The unilateral independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, defined as separatist zones since independence, is seen as an important problem for Georgia's EU integration. In this framework, first of all, the concept of frozen conflicts as an obstacle to European integration will be analysed and tried to specify the determinants of this concept, and subsequently it will be evaluated how the frozen conflicts were instrumentalized by the Russian Federation as a counter-move against European integration over the South Ossetia and Abkhazia cases.
Frozen Conflict, European Integration, Russian Federation, Near Abroad, Security, გაყინული კონფლიქტი, ევროინტეგრაცია, რუსეთის ფედერაცია, ახლო სამეზობლო, უსაფრთხოება