The book examines the record of the three South Caucasian states—Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan since they gained independence twenty-five years ago. It assesses their progress in terms of developing modern economies and political institutions, forging their post-Soviet national identities and charting their course in international affairs.
The book examines the causes of why these countries progress so far has been limited. The persistence of regional conflicts, international rivalries, especially between Russia and the West, overdetermining these states’ external relations and their domestic politics, as well as regional rivalries, have played significant roles in limiting their success.
The growing linkage between this region and the Middle East has also played a negative role in their evolution. Middle East rivalries, notably those between Iran and Israel and Iran and Saudi Arabia have tended to distort the evolution of these countries. Rising sectarian tensions in the Middle East have also adversely affected domestic politics of some of these states, especially majority Shia Azerbaijan, and have complicated relations between Sunnis and the Shias, thus undermining national unity.
US-Iran hostility has kept the risk of a potential conflict with Iran affecting the region alive. It has also limited prospects for regional cooperation and conflict resolution.
The various chapters of the book are written by experts from the region, Russia, Europe, and the United States.