The following policy recommendations were developed by the participants of NATO Summer School “Peace and Security” held in Georgia, Kvareli, from July 13 to July 16, 2015. Participants from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have worked together for 3 days and have agreed on the following:
Current threat of Terrorism and ISIS
Terrorist attacks bring many innocent victims. According to the statistics, 32727 people were killed by terrorists in 2014.
Arab spring, the peaceful wave of fighting for democratic value, started in Tunisia and reached Syria. The radical terrorist group IS took advantage of ongoing riots and established their own independent state on the territory of Syria and Iraq. Since then, they have been openly threatening to continue expansion. Their strong military force and economic resources make them a strong one to be wrecking with.
ISIS was established in 2006. The organization is well organized and structured. Their major income is illegal trade of “black gold” and taxation on the people occupied by the organization. The main tactic of ISIS to get more Muslims join them is terror. One of the components of smart power they use is Social Media, as well as having their representatives in different regions, who help those with the desire of joining ISIS army in crossing the borders.
Terrorism is a violent act by an organization created on political bases with the purpose of spreading fear to frustrate people, governments and countries. Thus terrorism is widely used by those opponents who avoid peaceful collaboration in a violent conflict. This usually occurs when parties seek to pursue their aggressive demands.
Large number of people living in South Caucasus countries has already joined ISIS. Moreover, all 3 countries from the region are included in “invasion plan” of ISIS leaders, which make these countries vulnerable.
- Border control should be strengthened in South Caucasus countries;
- Social programs should be realized in the areas that are poverty-stricken and sensitive to radical Islam;
- Unemployment issue should be addressed in those areas which have the highest rates of citizens leaving homes for ISIS;
- Legislative changes should be implemented to restrict the internet media content pertaining to radical Islam in South Caucasus countries. Access to this kind social media content and other potential security-threatening media content should be blocked by the government institutions. Although, those legislative changes should be assured not to encroach the freedom of access to information in other regards;
- There should be a better cooperation and an exchange of information on security issues in response to the threat of terrorisms, particularly ISIS.
The three South Caucasus countries are not homogenous in terms of supply security and resource capacity. Azerbaijan is more capable of having hydrocarbon resources (oil and gas) than the other two. However, Armenia meets its supply security through nuclear and hydropower-based energy, as well as natural gas coming from Russia and Iran. Apart from this, Armenia has been developing its renewable energy sector (wind and sun). Meanwhile, Georgia is providing its energy security through hydropower-based energy, including natural gas supply from Azerbaijan.
Energy Security is the provision of reliable and secure energy through secure routes at reasonable prices to those countries which themselves lack energy resources. Moreover, energy security also includes protection of critical energy infrastructure, such as electricity (hydropower) and nuclear electricity stations, and oil and gas pipelines.
On the one hand Armenia and Georgia are solely dependent on one gas market only, creating the monopoly of energy control within the region. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, lacks an alternative market force to provide gas and maximize its revenue. Due to the Russian aggression on Georgia, the pipelines that were created to export gas from Azerbaijan to the European market have failed, thus resulted in the failure of NABUKO project and financial constrains connected to Southern Gas Corridor (SGC).
- Diversification of energy supply;
- Improvement of renewable energy sector;
- Promotion of investments in renewable energy sectors;
- Consultations from NATO on protection of critical energy infrastructures;
- Risk assessment on critical energy infrastructure;
- Liberalization of domestic energy markets;
- Creation of competitive energy-supplying market;
- We suggest EU to convince Turkmenistan to join the SGC, in order to render the project financially;
- We suggest the Armenia-Iran pipeline to be upgraded in order for Armenia to become a transit country providing Iranian gas to the European market.
Along with the development of technologies, e-governance, social media, online banking and etc, cyber security has become one of the most urgent issues and unfortunately the governments are not ready technically to tackle cyber-attacks. South Caucasus countries with the support of NATO and OSCE have highlighted the importance of the problem and started making steps collaboratively to increase the level of cyber security in those countries. During the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, Georgian governmental servers were attacked and shut down for a defined period of time. Unfortunately, such kind of attacks regularly happens in other SCR countries as well.
Different institutions collect and store a big amount of confidential information on computers and exchange that data with others through networks. Besides, the usage of social networks for exchanging information is becoming more and more popular. As the number for cyber-attacks is gradually increasing, particular attention is required to prevent sensitive data and information from hacking. Despite some measures already undertaken in South Caucasus countries (for example Armenia’s Ministry of Defense has created a cyber-security center called HyeTek, Georgia annually organizes Cyber Security Summit, and as for Azerbaijan Cyber Security Center was established under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies). Although, there is still much to be done since there are many gaps in our cyber security system.
Cyber Security is the process of applying measures to ensure confidentiality on availability of data. Cyber Security attempts to assure that protection of assets, which includes: data, desktops, servers, buildings and most importantly humans. Thus, Cyber security is the protection of networks, computer programs and data from unauthorized access, change or destruction.
Today, Cyber Security is not a priority for the South Caucasus region. The countries in the South Caucasus do not invest enough in the area and their servers and intranets are not defended well. The public/government servers are highly vulnerable towards cyber attacks.
- The countries should invest more in Cyber Security. They should cooperate with NATO Cyber Security forces to get the information/software/experience to improve their existing Cyber Security systems;
- Increase data protection measures by sharing practices from experienced countries (for ex. Estonia) and international organizations (NATO, OSCE, UN, EU);
- Intensify the importance of cyber security by adding it to the curriculum in educational institutions. Moreover, we encourage companies and organizations to train their employees individually before and after recruitment process;
- Governments of South Caucasus Region should improve the monitoring and control on websites which are suspicious or represent potential threats.
When we talk about environmental problems we consider two main issues: 1) Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and so on and 2) anthropological destructions. Industrial civilization somehow leads us to the environmental problems. Population growth, increased consumption of fossil fuels, new manufacturing factories are parts of globalization, but at the same time are challenges with regard of environment. Water pollution, inefficient consumption of energy and lack of natural resources are typical problems for South Caucasus region
Environmental problems including natural disasters and pollution have negative influence on security in SCR.
All human beings can conceptualize environmental problems in different ways, but we should all agree that it is related to human interference or natural disasters.
Lack of competences in SCR to deal with environmental problems such as natural disasters, as well as, pollution. Civil readiness and education on catastrophic events/natural disasters is limited.
- Arrange educational programs in order to increase awareness of civil society;
- Special standards/guidelines should be carried out to provide appropriate level of security;
- Create regular platform for SCR countries in order to exchange information and expertise about border-crossing pollutions and follow Kyoto protocol standards;
- Solve environmental problems by cooperation on a regional level (NGO, Government, media and etc);
- Focus on creating clean energy and invest more in renewable energy;
- Co-operate on the problem of energy inefficiency;
- Create more organizations such as REC Caucasus (Regional Environmental Center for Caucasus) which tries to solve environmental problems in South Caucasus and co-operate with private companies;
- Use innovative and nature-friendly energy systems such as Solar Energy which will reduce pollution.
After collapse of the Soviet Union, the borders between South Caucasus Region countries have not been clarified. Border problems include illegal activities in both sides of the borders.
Border Issues are connected to the illegal activities such as human and drug trafficking and other related illegal actions.
There is a lack of political will and cooperation in case of demarcation in respective countries. Reasonable steps must be taken in order to improve border management in South Caucasus Countries.
- Demarcate clear border lines (e.g. GPS coordinates);
- Strengthen the control on the borders in order to reduce drug smuggling;
- Increase cooperation among the neighboring countries on border surveillance;
- Sharing experience from NATO and EU Member States on border control and security;
- Provide training and awareness-raising programs for border security personnel;
- Educate people on sharing personal data/documents.
Rule of Law and Democracy
After the collapse of the Soviet Union newly established republics of South Caucasus inherited poor democratic institutions and values. Furthermore, all three countries got engaged in military conflicts which led to deterioration of social and economic conditions of the region. Influence of the past is still felt at certain levels in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. However, it is worth mentioning that since the Rose Revolution in Georgia, there have been lots of positive changes in democratic transition of the country.
Rule of law and principles of democracy cover fight against corruption, good governance and transparency, cooperation between government and civil society, development of social programs and protection of human rights, including minority rights and freedom of speech.
All three countries lack democratic values in different dimensions, such as weak civil society, pressure of government over legislative and judiciary system, weak opposition parties and etc.
- Establish a network of the three countries where the main challenges to democracy and possible solutions will be discussed;
- Implement different kinds of projects such as non-formal education, research, forums, etc. in order to promote democracy and human rights, increase the awareness on democratic values, and encourage youth to be actively involved in political and social lives;
- Initiate democratic reforms on the governmental level in order to have strong democratic institutions, good governance, transparency and accountability;
- Since the Rose Revolution in 2003 Georgia has made a significant progress in reformation of its judicial system. Therefore, the country may share experience with Armenia and Azerbaijan and assist its neighbors in their efforts to enhance the rule of law and fight against corruption;
- The countries should continue to cooperate with European institutions (such as EU, NATO) to improve the level of democracy. Meanwhile European institutions are welcome to undertake initiatives in support of democratic reforms in the region;
- All the three countries will benefit from increased cooperation between the government and Non-governmental Organizations. Prominent NGOs that are concerned with good governance and transparency could become watchdog organizations and regularly monitor the activities of the governments to make sure that those actions do not go against public interest;
- Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia still face challenges in protecting human rights. All the three countries should provide the Ombudsman’s office with stronger authority. The office also needs to expand its cooperation with local and foreign NGOs that are interested in human rights issues.
Territorial conflicts of the South Caucasus countries are emanating from the violation of the internationally recognized borders and territories of the respective State through the invasion or gaining effective control over those territories by the State, which is responsible for relevant international unlawful act. The consequences are devastating, such as human losses, damaged infrastructures, cessation of diplomatic and de-facto relations. Those types of conflict currently exist between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and between Georgia and Russia. The conflicts in the region makes countries fragile.