Dr. Julie A. George, Queens College & CUNY
November 10, 2017

The Caucasus have long had a reputation of being rich in diversity, unique in culture and outspoken in politics. Along with the Baltics, the Caucasian Republics (namely Georgia and Azerbaijan) were among the most restive in pushing for secession from the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era. Yet the Caucasian countries have also seen the most destabilizing and intractable wars of the post-Soviet era, with unresolved and intermittently violent conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These conflicts, and the governments’ narratives surrounding them, have affected the countries’ political development, namely their progress (or lack of progress) toward democracy. While the Georgian government was able to make its political narrative about economic and political stability with the conflicts on the sidelines, the Armenian and Azerbaijanian regimes have placed their political futures in victory in Nagorno-Karabakh. The focus on that conflict leaves few incentives for finding peaceful solutions to the conflict and, perhaps even worse, provides few incentives for developing politics of accountability and transparency – crucial components of democratic governance.

Dr. Julie George is an associate professor of political science at Queens College and The Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY). Her work focuses on the post-communist region and examines ethnic politics, state-building, democratization, elections and governance. She is the author of The Politics of Separatism in Russia and Georgia (Palgrave, 2010). Her articles have appeared in Electoral Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, Current History among others.

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Supported by New Mexico Humanities Council, Sandia National Labs & Los Alamos National Bank