Representative Michael Burgess led this briefing on the conflictual history in the Caucasus. Twenty years after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the unresolved conflicts in the Caucasus remain one of its most problematic legacies. Despite the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) long mediation in the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, the results have been disappointing. After the 2008 Russia-Georgia war and Moscow’s subsequent recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the prospects for settling those conflicts seem more remote than ever.
The witnesses examined where these conflicts stood at the end of 2011, what factors impeded a settlement, whether the resumption of armed hostilities was a serious threat, whether changes in the negotiating format could yield a better outcome, and what, if anything, could the United States do to facilitate a resolution.