Situating the Caucasus

by Nathan Hamm on 1/5/2007 · 4 comments

A Fistful of Euros has an interesting post by Doug Muir about whether or not the states of the Caucasus are part of Europe. There are numerous ways of dividing geographical Europe and Asia, but looking at where that line runs through the Caucasus is sure to leave most people a tad off-kilter. This map shows that both Azerbaijan and Georgia are partially within Europe, but that Armenia is entirely outside. Most would surely consider Armenia more European than Azerbaijan, right? Perhaps the lines based on geography make little sense because Europe and Asia are in fact one continent shared by different cultural groups (as is apparently taught some places).

Where to draw the line between Asia and Europe is an interesting question, and one of great policy importance to the European Union. Should geography matter that much? Do Armenia and Georgia qualify as European because they are Christian nations? Will Kazakhstan, which quite clearly aspires to be considered European in just about every way save culture, someday have as strong (or stronger…) a claim to EU membership than Turkey?

Be sure to check out the comments to afoe post.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Eric Marshall January 6, 2007 at 10:01 am

what a stupid map..
Azerbaijan is Europe?????
Then I am Queen Elizabeth!

Nathan January 6, 2007 at 11:06 am

Almost anyway way you slice it, part of Azerbaijan is within Europe. Even when the line is done further north it has a larger percentage of its territory in Europe than Turkey. (Same goes for Kazakhstan.)

Katy January 6, 2007 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for the share. Interesting.

I consider Georgia pretty Euro. Armenia a lil bit and Azerbaijan a little less.

Honestly, I am so sick of discussing such categorization…

Brian Ulrich January 7, 2007 at 6:03 am

Historically, Armenia has been thoroughly tied to the Middle East. Its history has had a lot more to do with Iran and Mesopotamia than Russia, and it was definitely part of the Islamic cultural milieu during the Middle Ages rather than Christendom. That said, they seem to have taken the Turkish path in trying to become more European, as seen in the contents of Yerevan’s art gallery and the Yerevan Opera House. I suspect a lot of this also has to do with the Diaspora and what they choose to support financially.

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