University of Massachusetts Amherst

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At the Crossroads: the Caucasus between the East and the West.

This interdisciplinary course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the Caucasus - one of the most complex regions of the world. Being located at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, the Caucasus is a meeting point of different civilizations, Christian and Islamic religions, vibrant cultures, multiple identities, various political and security systems, and an area of ethnic and linguistic diversity. The course explores state-building processes subsequent to the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as the political cultures, institutions, and systems. It presents analysis of the foreign policy-making with specific reference to illustrative case studies. Interaction between domestic and external politics is highlighted. Foreign policy imperatives of the nations in a vulnerable geopolitical environment of the South Caucasus are explored, along with major security challenges, unresolved conflicts and the mainstream of peacemaking.

 

The Caucasian Knot: the US, the EU, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Regional Perspective.

This course examines regional power contest for the Caucasus in comparative perspective, depicting its potential for a global impact. In the aftermath of the Cold War’s end, the region of the Caucasus has obtained a new strategic significance. It gained prominence in the 21st century’s geostrategic environment due to several factors, including prevalence over communication and transportation lines stretching from the Atlantic to China, energy resources of the Caspian Sea basin and pipeline routes that reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia. The course explores opportunities that the development of the West-East Strategic Corridor linking the EU and NATO via the Southern Caucasus to Central Asia could generate. Prospects and dynamics of the EU Eastern Partnership for the region are analyzed. The overall emphasis is not just on rivalry for dominance in the region between global and regional powers but on projections for the region’s broader integration in the context of offered clashing concepts.