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The South Caucasus – Importance for the OSCE and the EU?

  • Günther Bächler
  • Bob Deen
  • Antoaneta Dimitrova
  • Benedikt Harzl
  • Peter Havlik
  • Natalia Mirimanova
  • Siegfried Wöber
Thursday 12 October 2017
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague


The OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, is the world’s largest regional security organization comprising 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia with more than one billion people. It is a forum for political dialogue and a platform for joint action covering a wide range of security issues (from politico-military, economic and environmental to human security). Through its consensual approach, the OSCE – with its institutions (such as the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) in The Hague), expert units and network of field operations - bridges differences and builds trust. The OSCE Chairmanship is held this year by Austria; current Chairperson-in-Office (CiO) is the Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

European security

The South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), defined by its geographic position as a bridge between Europe and Central Asia and bordering Iran, Russia and Turkey, including the Caspian Sea, plays a vital role also for European security. The region is rich in hydrocarbons or is seen as a future hydrocarbon link with Central Asia; this makes the South Caucasus to an important geopolitical player. The region has also been confronted with the highest number of territorial conflicts after the demise of the Soviet Union – Abkhazia, Nagornyi Karabakh, South Ossetia – implying different solution models and involvement of international organizations as e.g. the OSCE. At the same time relationships of the three countries with the European Union on the one side and Russia on the other differ largely. The panel discussion tries to explore the role of the South Caucasus in global developments and how solutions can be found to existing problems seen mainly also from the OSCE perspective.


The Austrian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Heidemaria Gürer, will give opening remarks. As former Director for Eastern Europe & Central Asia in the Austrian MFA and Roving Ambassador (1997-2006) for the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), she has huge expertise on this region.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Siegfried Wöber (Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)..

Dr. Benedikt Harzl will also present his latest book, “Der georgisch-abchasische Konflikt”.

The panel

The panelists and discussants are renowned experts on the region:

  • Ambassador Günther Bächler (Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus),
  • Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova (Associate Professor, University Leiden),
  • Natalia Mirimanova (Senior Adviser to International Alert),
  • Dr. Benedikt Harzl (University of Graz),
  • Peter Havlik (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)), and
  • Bob Deen (Head of section for Eastern Europe & Central Asia at the High Commission on National Minorities).


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