Bringing Peace to the South Caucasus: Is There a Role for the UK?

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Bringing Peace to the South Caucasus: Is There a Role for the UK?

24th March 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The UK and its Western allies have long been absent from the strategically important South Caucasus leaving only NATO member Turkey on the ground. Following Azerbaijan’s defeat of Armenia in the 2020 Second Karabakh War, the South Caucasus two geopolitical coalitions have emerged represented by Turkey-Azerbaijan (and to a lesser extent Pakistan) in competition with Russia-Armenia-Iran. Azerbaijan, in turn, has a long-standing security relationship with Israel. In addition to promoting reconciliation between Armenia and its Turkish and Azerbaijani neighbours, the national interests of the UK and its allies are four-fold in the South Caucasus. The first is to deny Russia, which has long-term military bases in Armenia and temporary peacekeeping forces in Azerbaijan, a security monopoly over the region. The second is Azerbaijan as a major energy producer which has geopolitical importance in reducing Russia’s monopoly of energy supplies to Europe. The third is the need for the EU to build a security dimension to its Eastern Partnership that could be applied to the South Caucasus thereby denying Russia a monopoly on peacekeeping in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The last is the UK, its Western allies and Israel hold an interest in deterring the expansion of Iranian influence, its promotion of instability and spread of its proxy forces.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to the timely discussion on South Caucasus to explore the interests of the UK in the region and how these could be achieved.



Ambassador (ret.) Matthew Bryza completed a 23-year career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in 2012, culminating as Ambassador to Azerbaijan.

Earlier, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (2005-2009) and Director on the National Security Council Staff at the White House (2001-2005) for U.S. relations with Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus, as well as Eurasian energy security.

During 1998 to 2001, Ambassador Bryza was the Deputy Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Security.

He also served in the U.S. Missions to Russia (1995-1997) and Poland (1989-1991).

Bryza is a frequent commentator on media outlets that include CNN International, Al Jazeera, BBC, Fox News, Financial Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg, as well as numerous outlets in Turkey, Poland, and the South Caucasus.

He is the recipient of Estonia’s Cross of Terra Mariana and Georgia’s Order of St. George.

Bryza currently resides in Istanbul, Turkey, where he serves on the Board of Turcas, a publicly traded company in fuel distribution and power generation. Concurrently, he is CEO of Lamor Turkey, a Turkish-Finnish joint venture in environmental solutions. He also serves on the Board of Nobel Upstream, an oil exploration and production company based in London and is the founder and CEO of Eurasian Business Diplomacy, a strategic consultancy.

Additionally, Bryza is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Eurasia Center, and Atlantic Council in Turkey program.  He is also a Board Member of the Jamestown Foundation. Bryza was Director of the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn, Estonia, during 2012-2015, where he founded the Center’s energy and cyber security programs.

Ambassador Bryza received his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University (with honors) and his master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.



Yusuf Erim is TRT World’s Editor at Large. He is the former assistant director of public relations at the Federation of Turkish American Associations. Yusuf also spent 8 years as the head of the English news desk at Turkey’s leading financial data provider Foreks News agency. He has lectured on Turkish foreign policy at many universities and think tanks, written several articles published in Jerusalem Post, The National Interest, Middle East Eye and Daily Sabah and has given comments and interviews to CNN, Al Jazzera, BBC, France24, Russia Today, CGTN, Press TV i24, The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Independent on Turkish foreign policy and developments in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.



Shota Kakabadze is a Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics. He is a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Tartu (Estonia). Shota has obtained his Masters degree in the European Union – Russia Studies from the same university. During his doctoral studies he has been a Swedish Institute Research Fellow at Uppsala University Institute of Russia and Eurasian Studies, as well as a Junior Researcher of International Relations at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu. His main research interest includes discourses on national identity, foreign policy, Eastern Partnership. He has published several academic articles and a book chapter on Georgian national identity/foreign policy relationship.



Nona Shahnazarian is a social anthropologist who is a Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia. She is also affiliated with the Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2017, she was a Visiting Carnegie Fellow at the University of Stanford. She has published extensively on the issues of gender, war, migration, memory and Diaspora in the Caucasus, including a book chapter National Ideologies, Survival Strategies and Gender Identity in the Political and Symbolic Contexts of Karabakh War (2010), as well as a monograph in Russian In the Tight Embrace of Tradition: War and Patriarchy (2011). Her most recent contribution After Genocide: Gendered Trauma, Transmission, and Reinvention (ed.). The book volume is forthcoming in 2021. She runs the regional office of the Women in War Think Tank in Yerevan since 2015. Being a member of The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, she is active in the regional peace-making initiatives.



Taras Kuzio is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and Professor in the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. His previous positions were at the University of Alberta, George Washington University, and University of Toronto, International Institute of Strategic Studies, and School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. Taras Kuzio holds a PhD in political science from the University of Birmingham, England, an MA in Area Studies (USSR, Eastern Europe) from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, and a BA in Economics from the School of European Studies, University of Sussex. He held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Yale University. Taras Kuzio is the author and editor of 22 books, 38 book chapters and over 130 scholarly articles on Soviet, Eurasian, Russian, and Ukrainian politics, colour revolutions, nationalism, geopolitics, and international relations.




On the 24th March, Dr Taras Kuzio, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Shota Kakabadze, Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics, Nona Shahnazarian, Associate Researcher at The National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan, Amb (ret.) Matthew Bryza, former Ambassador to Azerbaijan, and Yusuf Erim, TRT World’s Editor at Large, discuss the need to break the Russian security monopoly on the region and what the UK can do to assist this.

Dr Kuzio began the event by introducing the speakers and the topic of discussion. Amb (ret.) Bryza then discussed the US role in the South Caucasus during the Bush administration and the contrasting approach of the Obama administration. He explained how US-Turkish relations soured after the attempted 2016 coup and how this has weakened Americas position in the Caucasus. Nona Shahnazarian spoke about the Azeri involvement in the failed normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey in 2009. She also described the deep mistrust between the Armenian and Azerbaijani publics and Russia’s role in obstructing successful peace negotiations. Yusuf Erim discussed the Turkish attempts to provide an alternative to Russian influence in the region and Azerbaijani policies to divest itself from Russia. He also argued that as a result of the 2020 war the situation is ripe for successful normalisation of relations in the region as well as how the UK and US expertise can rebuild Karabakh. Shota Kakabadze spoke about the ongoing political crisis in Georgia and how it has impacted their support for Ukraine, but he argued Georgia was still looking for greater integration with Europe.

The talk then closed with a series of questions asking, whether the EU will have to consider the security dimension of its eastern border, whether there will be greater sanctions against Russian oil and gas and what China’s policies will be for the region.




24th March 2022
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Ambassador (ret.) Matthew Bryza, Yusuf Erim, Dr Shota Kakabadze, Nona Shahnazarian


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