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most significant security challenges and opportunities for the caspian region: georgian perspective

Most Significant Security Challenges and Opportunities for the Caspian Region: Georgian Perspective

Author: Victor Kipiani

Jan 8, 2024

Image source: State Security Service of Georgia

This article is a guest contribution from a conference in July 2023, that the CPC hosted together with the Near East South Asia Center of the National Defense University (NDU), “Connecting Central Asia, the South Caucasus and Beyond”.

These currents of polycrisis – the war in Ukraine, post-pandemic aftershocks, and the first global economic warfare – expose countries of the region, including Georgia, to a number of qualitatively new challenges and “known unknowns.” For Georgia itself, there are a number of risks specific to its geography, foreign policy objectives, and internal politics. Regardless of an ample variety of those, we would rather group them along with related opportunities in the following way:

1.  Security Challenge: The hot-phase conflict in Ukraine further underlines the vulnerability of Georgia and the extent of the country’s exposure to regional disorder and instability. The quest for a solid “security umbrella” becomes more existential than ever before. In the absence of formidable security guarantees extended by international partners, Georgia’s pursuit of its foreign agenda could be bumpy enough while also contributing to considerable fissures in the domestic political process.

The very same risks, however, allow both Georgia and its partners unique and timely opportunities for identifying and implementing ways and solutions nearly unthinkable prior to the war in Ukraine. It is indeed a good momentum for innovative and bold decisions in regard to a meaningful integration of Georgia into the West-led security system and addressing a nearly 30-year-long conundrum of the country’s “geopolitical flux.”

2.  Hybrid Warfare: The incessant and tangible encroachment on Georgia’s security and national interests that started from the very early days of the Soviet Union’s collapse continued until the present day through various means of disinformation war and other forms of exerting malign influence. In real terms, hybrid warfare bears threats to further undermining state institutions in the country, sowing and deepening public disorder, and diluting premises for national sustainability and development.

These challenges present Georgia, its partner nations, and international institutions with further opportunities for mutual cooperation as well as offer the West communities a handy momentum to acquire better geopolitical traction in the wider region.

3.  Economic Sustainability: Volatility in uninterrupted food and energy supplies relates to the country’s economic resistance and viability. In addition, an increased dependence on Russian supplies, as well as reliance on Russia as the significant export market, is of direct relevance to Georgia’s national security concerns. Next in the row of challenges is redesigning the global supply chains in a way that does not disrupt existing and potential transport routes and logistic lines running through the country.

Prospects of redesigning global supply chains could potentially lead to acknowledging an increased role and status for the Black Sea and Caspian Sea region, facilitating the creation of a modern regional business ecosystem along with contributing to the resistance and competitiveness of respective national economies.

4.  Function and Purpose: When talking about the Georgian dilemma in the context of regional security, one must necessarily emphasize constant concern about the functional need and “usefulness” of our country. This may happen only through the implementation of large-scale projects that are based on strategic vision. Georgia already obtained a relevant historic memory and experience at the turn of the previous and current centuries (e.g., Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum). Now, this historic memory needs to be refreshed by implementing new transborder and regional projects. It is unarguable that a meaningful integration of Georgia into the interconnectedness and interdependency cross-system would serve to entrench Georgia in the broader security system. An attempt to make someone “like” or “befriend” you in the modern world might be generous and exciting, but it’s an insufficient and illusory endeavor. In regard to a country, it is necessary to make others need you and, in light of that need, to act pragmatically for better management of your own national security in this stripped-of-romanticism modern world.

That said, the Middle Corridor and the Black Sea Electricity Cable mega projects present Georgia with the right opportunity to bring new vigor into the country’s regional profile, renewing and re-identifying its role as a contributor to the regional security and economic new order.

This article is a guest contribution from a conference in July 2023, that the CPC hosted together with the Near East South Asia Center of the National Defense University (NDU), “Connecting Central Asia, the South Caucasus and Beyond”. 

Victor Kipiani is the Chair of a Georgian think tank organization Geocase. 

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