Global trends and threats and the South Caucasus

‘Global Trends and Threats and the South Caucasus’ was the topic of a regional roundtable that International Alert organised in Tbilisi, Georgia on 13th April 2010. Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian experts took part in this one-day event, together with representatives from the international community and international organisations based in Tbilisi, as well as diplomats from some of the embassies in Georgia.

International Alert’s Secretary General Dan Smith opened the discussions: ‘The issues in the conflicts in this region are now unfolding against a changing international context in which conflict risks are increasing. The trend towards peace since the early 1990s has turned slightly to the negative side and the number of conflicts in the world has increased in the last 3-4 years. The global recession’s impact is yet to be felt but it will be, and further down the road come the social and economic pressures that climate change will produce’. Dan Smith’s opening overview was followed by rich discussions and intense debates during the course of the day.

‘The reason why we initiated these regional debates is because many of today’s long-term global threats pose risks of impacts to which the South Caucasus is not immune’, affirms Alert’s Projects Director for the Eurasia Programme, Dessislava Roussanova. ‘As we know, many of these threats go beyond borders and require united responses. The South Caucasus today is a region divided physically and politically by conflict lines; this makes potentially needed cooperation difficult. This is a challenge that the communities in the region will need to face’.

During the roundtable, the 35 experts and Alert’s team discussed the overall landscape of regional risk. They addressed questions like which of the global trends and threats affect the region, their impact, areas where unified or cooperative responses may be vital, and what steps are feasible in today’s political environment.

The debate will continue with another roundtable event that will take place in a couple of months in Yerevan, Armenia, where also Abkhaz and South Ossetian colleagues and experts will have the chance to contribute to these ongoing discussions.