On June 17, 2014, the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies organized a round-table discussion with the featured lecturer Dr. Gerard Libaridian, the professor of history and the former adviser to the first Armenian President, Levon Ter-Petrossian. The theme of the discussion was the geopolitical dynamics of the South Caucasus with their neighbors –Turkey and Iran – and their unrelenting imperial influences. During the meeting, Dr. Libaridian addressed the questions from the audience with in-depth, but sharp commentary based on contemporary observations and invaluable insight stemming from his experience as the Armenian presidential adviser.
The discussion opened with a layout of Dr. Libardian’s key theoretical framework, the definition of a modern empire: a state founded by conquest, whose boundaries are indefinite and who engages in a ‘civilizing mission’ in order to export its core values. In this theoretical context – as the definition historically applies to Russia, the US, Europe and Turkey – Dr. Libaridian’s discussion aimed to explain the current geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus region, to assess potential outcomes and determine which future actions would be in each country’s national interest. As Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan consider where and how Russia will act next, the events of the last two decades, which some consider as the continuation of the Cold War and not just as its aftermath era, must be taken into consideration at any points of negotiation. Dr. Libaridian juxtaposed reactions to Russian interventions with those to NATO interventions and portrayed these developments as indicative of an empire’s national interest as opposed to ideological stance. Each of these dynamics must be considered in order to predict what and where will be Russia’s next actions; how the United States will respond and how the South Caucasus should proceed to act in their national interests on a regional and national basis.
At the core of this discussion was the perpetuating, or ‘frozen,’ conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. As presidential adviser, Dr. Libaridian had participated in the negotiations. Dr. Libaridian stated that his final suggestion would be to have direct negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia regarding Karabakh without third-party intervention.