Abstract: After the collapse of the USSR and the outbreak of armed conflicts in the Caucasus, international relations scholars and practitioners have sought explanations about causes of conflicts and ways to their resolution. This article poses why conflicts have erupted in the countries of the former USSR and what are the methods of their resolution. With an effort to establish causality of conflicts, this article compares common causes of conflicts in the former Soviet Union with those in the Balkans. This study takes a closer look into illustrative case of two conflicts in the Caucasus region of the post-Soviet Union, notably in Georgia’s break-away entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The article argues that a nexus of ethnicity and nationalism created by ruling elites motivated with state-seeking and encouraged by external actors compounded to causes of conflicts in the former Soviet Union. The article then examines the case of third-party assistance of the European Union (EU) to Northern Ireland.

Using concrete empirical examples, the third section identifies that international engagement in the form of third-party assistance by the EU is the most feasible method to conflict resolution that can be applied to the Caucasus country of Georgia. The article combines social science methods of literature review, document analysis and expert interviews from the field research in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belfast and Derry conducted between 2009-2014.

Keywords: the Caucasus, the Balkans, Northern Ireland, EU, peace and conflicts, third-party assistance

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