In “U.S. Policy Towards the South Caucasus: Take Three,” published on May 31 by scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) recommended that conflict resolution should be the number one priority for America’s regional engagement. CEIP’s Eugene Rumer, Richard Sokolsky and Paul Stronski, who co-authored the report, have all previously held U.S. government appointments dealing with foreign policy and national security issues in Russia and Eurasia.
The authors consider America’s regional interests to be “important, but not vital.” The paper makes the following key recommendations:
Prioritize conflict prevention. Keeping any one of the region’s frozen conflicts from escalating into hostilities should remain the top priority for U.S. policy toward the South Caucasus.
Keep expectations modest. The United States is at a serious geopolitical disadvantage in the region vis-à-vis Russia. Washington should not promise support to counterbalance Moscow that it cannot deliver. This is especially the case with Georgia and its aspirations for NATO membership.
Make room for the EU. Economic development, rule of law, and other domestic reforms should remain priorities for U.S. engagement, but Washington should coordinate its efforts with the EU.
Be realistic about energy potential. The significance of Caspian Sea energy resources for the region in the past has created unrealistic expectations, which are important to keep in check.”