‘Moral power’ as objectification of the ‘civilian’/‘normative’ ‘EUlogy’: the European Union as a conflict-dealer in the South Caucasus

  • Syuzanna Vasilyan

DOI: 10.1057/jird.2013.10

Cite this article as:
Vasilyan, S. J Int Relat Dev (2014) 17: 397. doi:10.1057/jird.2013.10


This article develops a new conceptual framework of ‘moral power’ by arguing that the ‘civilian’/‘normative’ power Europe paradigms are insufficient for understanding the essence of the conflict resolution policy of the European Union (EU) in the South Caucasus. Analysing the conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the study reveals that until the August 2008 war, the EU was an incoherent actor in terms of the interplay among its institutions and member-states. The EU's policy has been devoid of a long-term peace-focused strategy, making it inconsequential; as a result, the EU has merely dealt with, rather than managed, the conflicts. Its rhetoric has been inconsistent with practice. Often the EU has subordinated its values to material and power-related interests. Moreover, the EU has hardly been normatively stable in its approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Bypassing inclusiveness until the launch of the Geneva talks pertaining to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts, the EU has not enjoyed much legitimacy by the de facto states. Whereas the EU has largely failed to resolve the South Caucasian conflicts, it has achieved partial success by putting a halt to the 2008 hostilities between Russia and Georgia. Overall, having faltered as a ‘civilian’/‘normative’ power it still has to fare as a ‘moral power’.


‘civilian’/‘normative’conflictEuropean UnionmoralpowerSouth Caucasus

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Syuzanna Vasilyan
    • 1
  1. 1.Political Science and International Affairs, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, American University of ArmeniaYerevanArmenia