Samtskhe-Javakheti Region: A Neglected Keypoint for European Security of Energy Supply?

Utku Yapici
5.345 808


It is no doubt that the rise of new energy actors in post-Soviet geographic space such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan was welcomed by Western power centers. Those emerging actors were assessed as partners in diminishing Europe’s energy dependence to a single supplier; the Russian Federation. In this context, the main Western initiatives to challenge Russian energy dominance regarding the Caspian Basin were the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, and South Caucasus gas pipeline. These two strategic pipelines pass through the territories of Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia - a tiny administrative unit adjacent to the Turkish city of Ardahan and Armenian city of Gyumri. Because of that, any political turmoil in that strategic region should easily turn into a factor endangering both already unsatisfactory regional stability and European energy security.

In this article, Samtskhe-Javakheti region’s economic and demographic characteristics that make it unique and prone to instability are analyzed and European Union’s Samtskhe-Javakheti policy is evaluated through the lens of security of energy supply. The conclusion of the paper is that, the European Union failed to establish influential cooperation mechanisms to avoid political and economic instabilities in this transit region. The European Union simply lacks a comprehensive regional plan compatible with the sociological and economic realities of Samtskhe-Javakheti.


Samtskhe-Javakheti, Energy Security, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, South-Caucasus Pipeline, Armenians.

Full Text:




“European Energy Consumption Level Falls to 20-Year Low”, The Guardian, February 9, 2015, http://www., Accessed July 24, 2015. For the consumption statistics, see. “BP Statistical Review of World Energy- June 2015”, BP, http://www., Accessed July 24, 2015.

“Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – European Energy Security”, Official Website of the European Union, 2014, CELEX:52014DC0330&qid=1407855611566, Accessed September 18, 2015.

Daniel K. Jonsson, “Energy Security Matters in the EU Energy Roadmap” Energy Strategy Reviews, 6, (2015): 48.

“Energy”, Official Website of the European Union, /ener/index_ en.htm, Accessed July 24, 2015.

Dimitrios Mavrakis, Fotios Thomaidis, and Ioannis Ntroukas, “An Assessment of the Natural Gas Supply Potential of the South Energy Corridor from the Caspian Region to the EU”. Energy Policy, 34, 13 (2006): 1671.

“Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – European Energy Security”, Official Website of the European Union, 2014, CELEX:52014DC0330&qid=1407855611566, Accessed September 18, 2015.

Edward H. Christie, “Energy Vulnerability and EU-Russia Energy Relations” Journal of Contemporary European Research, 5, 2 (2009): 276.

Tracey C. German, “Corridor of Power: The Caucasus and Energy Security”, Caucasian Review of International Affairs, 2, 2 (2008): 65.

Philip D. Rabinowitz, (2004). “Geology, Oil and Gas Potential, Pipelines, and the Geopolitics of the Caspian Sea Region”, Ocean Development and International Law, 35, 1 (2004): 26.

Mark Tran, “Q&A: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline”, The Guardian, May 22, 2005, http://www.the, Accessed July 25, 2015.

“Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline”, BP Official Website, /pipelines/BTC.html, Accessed September 19, 2015.

“Caspian Pipeline is Declared Open”, BBC News, July 13, 2006, stm, Accessed July 25, 2015.

“Contract for South Caucasus Pipeline’s Expansion Signed in Azerbaijan”, Trend News Agency, May 26, 2014,, Accessed September 19, 2015.

“Turkey, Azerbaijan Break Ground for Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline”, Hürriyet Daily News, September 20, 2014, PageID=238&NID=71968&NewsCatID=348, Accessed September 19, 2015. “TAP Project Development Schedule” Trans-Adriatic Pipeline Official Website,, Accessed January

Accessed September 19, 2015.

Besim Özcan, “1828-1829 Osmanlı-Rus Harbi’nde Erzurum Eyaleti’nden Rusya’ya Göçürülen Ermenilerin Geri Dönüşlerini Sağlama Faaliyetleri” A.Ü. Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Dergisi, 46 (2011): 199.

Voitsekh Guretski, “The Question of Javakheti”, Caucasian Regional Studies, 3, 1 (1998): be/publi/crs/eng/0301-05.htm, Accessed September 23, 2015., Accessed September 23, 2015.

“Georgia: The Javakheti Region’s Integration Challenges”, International Crisis Group Policy Briefing, 63, (May 23, 2001): 2. European Yearbook of Minority Issues Volume 3, (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005), 391. Frederik Coene, The Caucasus – an Introduction, (Oxon: Routledge, 2010), 159.

Samtskhe-Javakheti Regional Development Strategy, (Tbilisi: Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, 2013), 7-9.

Revaz Tolordava, (2015). “Samtskhe-Javakheti Agriculture Sectors Development and Its Ecological Problems”, Earth Sciences, 4, 5-1 (2015): 42.

Igor Bondyrev, Zurab Davitashvili, and Vijay P. Singh, The Geography of Georgia – Problems and Perspectives, (New York: Springer, 2015), 173. Samtskhe-Javakheti Regional…, 7-9.

Jonathan Wheatley, The Integration of National Minorities in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo-Kartli Provinces of Georgia, (Flensburg: European Centre for Minority Issues, 2009), 10.

Gevorg Melikyan, “The Dynamics of Military Basing in the South Caucasus”, in Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges, ed. Luis Rodrigues and Sergiy Glebov, (Lisbon: IOS Press, 2009), 189.

Indra Overland, “The Integration of Non-Russian Servicemen in the Imperial, Soviet and Russian Army”, The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies, 10 (2009): 3.

Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers – a Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), 169.

Jonathan Wheatley, J. “Managing Ethnic Diversity in Georgia: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” in War and Revolution in the Caucasus: Georgia Ablaze, ed. Stephen F. Jones, (London: Routledge, 2010), 34.

Kornely Kakachia, “The End of Russian Military Bases in Georgia: Social, Political and Security Implications of Withdrawal”, in Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges, ed. Luis Rodrigues and Sergiy Glebov, (Lisbon: IOS Press, 2009), 199-200.

Charlotte Hille, State Building and Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus. (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010), 241.

Archil Abashidze, “Javakheti: One Year After the August War”, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development Policy Review, (October 2009): 6.

“Georgia: The Javakheti Region’s Integration Challenges”, International Crisis Group Policy Briefing, 63, (May 23, 2011): 2.

Luke Coffey, “Russia’s Next Acquisition”, Al Jazeera, January 17, 2015, opinion/2015/01/russia-caucasus-georgia-armeni-2015114111654383153.html, Accessed January 9, 2016.

“EU Relations with Georgia” European Union External Action,, Accessed October 8, 2015.

Paruyr Hovhannisyan, “Evolution of the EU Position vis-à-vis the Nagorno-Karabagh Conflict” in Europe’s Next Avoidable War: Nagorno-Karabagh, ed. Michael Kambeck and Sargis Ghazaryan, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 170. Rikard Bengtsson, The EU and the European Security Order: Interfacing Security Actors, (New York: Routledge, 2009), 75. “EU Fully Supports the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Georgia” Newsday Georgia, September 23, 2015, 7205-eu-fully-supports-the-sovereignty-and-territorial-integrity-of-georgia, Accessed October 18, 2015.

Zviad Gamsakhurdia was a romantic nationalist dissident in Soviet-era and the first elected president of the independent Georgian state.

Artyom Tonoyan, “Rising Armenian-Georgian Tensions and the Possibility of a New Ethnic Conflict in the South Caucasus”, Demokratizatsiya, 18, 4 (2010): 297.

“Georgia: The Javakheti Region’s…, 2.

Theresa Freese, “Story: Friends at Dinner, Foes at Politics?”,, georgia/samtskhe/story.html, Accessed October 14, 2015.

Overland, “The Integration of…”, 46.

“The Ethnic Armenian Minority of Georgia – Report by the Yerkir Union of Non-Governmental Organizations for Repatriation and Settlement”, Yerkir, September 17, 2007, CCPR/Shared%20Documents/GEO/INT_ CCPR_NGO_GEO_91_8921_E.pdf, Accessed October 14, 2015.

Alexander Sosnowski, The Georgia Syndrome Non-Fiction, (Rottenburg: Mauer Verlag, 2012), 87.

“Armenians Seek Language Right in Georgia”, CRS, 680, (March 22, 2013), 5154150e2.html, Accessed January 10, 2016.

Christopher P.M. Waters, Counsel in the Caucasus – Professionalization and Law in Georgia, (Leiden: Springer, 2004), 56.

Study of Religious Discrimination and Constitutional Secularism in Georgia, (Tbilisi: Tolerance and Diversity Institute, 2014), 16-31.

“Armenians Protest Georgian Neglect of Historic Churches”, Armenian Online, November 30, 2009,, Accessed October 14, 2015).

Esra Hatipoğlu, “Yorgun AB’nin Komşularla İmtihanı: Karadeniz Bölgesi ve Avrupa Birliği”, Orta Asya ve Kafkasya Araştırmaları, 8, 16 (2013): 2-3. “EU Relations with Eastern Partnership”, European Union External Action,, Accessed October 16, 2015.

“Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and Their Member States, of the One Part, and Georgia, of the Other Part”, Official Journal of the European Union, (August 30, 2014): 14.

“Russia Hits Back at Georgia over Trade Agreement with European Union”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, August 2, 2014,, Accessed October 17, 2015.

“EU Relations with Georgia”, European Union External Action,, Accessed October 8, 2015.

Giorgi Menabde, “Is Russia Resuming a Trade War Against Georgia?”, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 11, 4 (August 6, 2014), U, Accessed October 16, 2015.

Niklas Nilsson, “Georgia’s Rose Revolution: The Break with the Past”, in The Guns of August 2008 – Russia’s War in Georgia, ed. Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr, (New York: Routledge, 2015), 101.

Giorgi Menabde, “Is Russia Resuming…”, 42719&no_cache=1#.ViFfQLVUBgU.

“Russia Hits Back at…”,

The situation was the same in South Ossetia. Before 2004, 70-80 % of South Ossetia’s fiscal income had come from illegal trade. For details see. Niklas Nillson, “Georgia’s Conflicts: Abkhazia and South Ossetia”, in Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia, ed. Svante Cornell and Michael Jonsson, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 117-119. Merve İrem Yapıcı, “Kafkasya’nın Sorunlu Bölgesi: Güney Osetya”, Orta Asya ve Kafkasya Araştırmaları, 2, 3 (2007): 83-84.

Overland, “The Integration of…”, 52-53.

Giorgi Menabde, “Is Russia Resuming…”, 42719&no_cache=1#.ViFfQLVUBgU.

“Armenia Joins Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union”, The Moscow Times, January 2, 2015, http://www.the, Accessed October 18, 2015.

Giorgi Menabde, “Georgia and Armenia Try to Maintain Friendship Across Geopolitical Barriers”, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 11, 225 (December 17, 2014), Btt_news%5D=43212&cHash=6fa05adae027a8d6809001fc8a7dab23#.ViK3crVUBgV, Accessed October 17, 2015.

Giorgi Kalatozishvili, “’Passport Difficulties’ of Javakheti Armenians Turn Into Political Problem”, Vestnik Kafkaza, February 11, 2015,, Accessed October 17, 2015.

Luke Coffey, “Russia’s Next Acquisition”, opinion/2015/01/russia-cauca sus-georgia-armeni-2015114111654383153.html. Eka Janashia, “Moscow Distributes Passports in Georgia”, The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, May 7, 2014,, Accessed October 18, 2015.

“Constitution of the Republic of Georgia”, European Commission for Democracy Through Law, May 27, 2004,, Accessed October 18, 2015.

George Hewitt, A Reassessment of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian Conflicts. (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 289.

Giorgi Kalatozishvili, “’Passport Difficulties’ of Javakheti Armenians…”, politics/66147.html. Zurab Chilingarashvili, “The population of the Javakheti Region Has Had Some Problems since the Visa Regulations Were Imposed”. FactCheck, March 9, 2005, tion-of-the-javakheti-region-has-had-problems-since-the-visa-regulations-were-imposed/, Accessed September 19, 2015.