The Limits of EU Conflict Management

This paper, presented at The European Union in International Affairs III conference in Brussels on 3 May 2012, explores EU conflict management in the case of the two separatist conflicts that have plagued Georgia and Georgian-Russian relations for most of the post-Soviet period. It offers a case study on the dangers associated with unrecognised statehood left poorly managed in a region of significant geostrategic importance and illustrates vividly that in order to explain the effectiveness of EU conflict management, we need to look to EU capabilities and the specific conflict context to which they are applied. The paper proceeds in three steps. It begins with a brief background on the two conflicts and then provides an overview of EU-Georgia relations from the early 1990s to the aftermath of the Georgia-Russia war of August 2008. It then examines the EU’s capabilities and how they were brought to bear in relation to Georgia’s two separatist conflicts, and the multi-layered context of the two separatist conflicts that forms the background against which the EU sought to play a role in managing them. In conclusion, the paper offers some brief thoughts about the balance of factors that account for the ultimate failure of conflict management efforts in this case.

Date

3 May 2012

Event

International Conference

Location

Brussels