This is a guest post from Carol Weaver, author of The Politics of the Black Sea Region. This post originally appeared on Abkhaz World.
The Politics of the Black Sea Region: EU neighbourhood, conflict zone or future security community? is a new book in which I analyse the political systems and conflicts of the region’s nations and discuss their interactions and how the region could become a security community. A simple definition of a security community is that it is a community of sovereign entities, within a particular region, that do not expect war with each other. Deutsch and his co-authors, in 1957, described a security community as a group of people who believe that common social problems must and can be resolved by the process of peaceful change using appropriate institutions.The people within the security community develop a sense of trust and common interest. However, in order for such a community to arise, a bottom-up approach is required as well as top-down institutionalism (Buzan 1991). This bottom-up approach is attempted through people-to-people contacts such as trade, sport and civil society meetings. I have added that in order for a security community to arise and endure there must be regional ‘balanced multipolarity’ as there still is in the EU as a whole (following on from the work of Hyde-Price (2007).
As well as writing about the region as a possible future security community, I have recently been privileged to be part of the ‘bottom-up approach’ via the European Movement International’s Tbilisi Process which brings together the local South Caucasus European Movements to discuss peace building in the region. These European Movements are also creating a network of young people in the south of the Black Sea region, in particular those from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and Georgia to promote peace and people-to people contacts. They have shared goals for the region – mainly open borders, trade and freedom of movement.
As I recently wrote in Abkhaz World, very often the people in regions of conflict wait for politicians or international institutions ‘to do something’. And in many post-Soviet nations there is still an attitude that initiatives should be top-down rather than bottom-up. There are two main problems with this. Firstly if something is done then will the people be ready to live together again? (And the international community might be more willing to help if they could see that people on both sides of a border could co-exist.) Secondly if nothing is done then will the people feel powerless and condemned to wait?
People-to-people contacts can help with both of these problems, firstly by preparing the people to make friends as far as possible in advance of open borders, and secondly to help them realise that they are not powerless and can actually begin to work towards peace without waiting for the authorities to act.
Dr Carol Weaver is a part-time lecturer and tutor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester, UK. She is widely published on the European Union and the wider Black Sea region and is also a member of various political committees and think-tanks which advise the European Union and others on EU enlargement, the Eastern Partnership, the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, the South Caucasus and the Black Sea region.
Carol Weaver is the co-editor (with Karen Henderson) of The Black Sea Region and EU
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