조지아·아르메이아·아제르바이잔 등 남코카서스 3국의 국가 생존전략

caucasus

[아시아엔=카투나 차피차제 트빌리시조지아공대 조교수] 조지아의 일상을 관찰하면 코카서스 국가들의 현실을 파악할 수 있다. 조지아 국민이 가장 중요하게 여기는 ‘국가현안’은 55%가 꼽은 실업문제다. 빈곤은 15%로 다음을 차지했다.

아르메니아 역시 비슷한 양상이다. 42%가 실업을 가장 큰 문제로 꼽았으며 17%가 빈곤을 들었다. 아제르바이잔은 가장 최근 수치가 2013년 코카서스지역 인덱스인데 여기서 아제르바이잔은 국민 38%가 영토분쟁을 꼽았다. 다음으로 실업(25%), 빈곤(8%)이 뒤를 이었다. 이같은 설문 결과는 실업, 빈곤, 영토분쟁, 러시아와의 관계, 과도한 의료비, 저임금, 물가인상 등의 9가지 항목에 따른 것이다.

실업은 2008년부터 조지아와 아르메니아에서 가장 중요한 문제로 꼽혔으나 아제르바이잔은 지하자원과 상대적으로 활발한 경제 덕택에 문제가 덜 대두되었다. 2010년 이후 실업은 아제르바이잔에서도 큰 문제로 평가받기 시작했고 조지아에서는 빈곤 역시 갈수록 중요하게 부각되고 있다.

이에 따라 남코카서스 사회는 실업과 빈곤문제를 해결하는데 총력을 기울이게 되었다. 진행 중인 통화평가 절하와 높은 물가는 실업률 및 빈곤과 함께 이들 국가의 존폐를 가름할 정도에 이른 것이다. 이런 상황 속에서 서방과 러시아 사이의 외교적 선택은 뒷전이 될 수밖에 없는 것이다.

이 지역의 경우 GDP 등 경제지표상 성장과 부의 재분배 등 실체적인 문제해결이 시급한 것으로 드러났다. 남코카서스 국가들의 엘리트와 기득권층은 사회가 요구하는 사회경제적 안정뿐 아니라 역내 실업률과 빈곤을 퇴치할 투자를 진행하고 위기에 놓인 산업과 의료·교육 등에서 경제사회적 약자를 보호하기 위해 정부가 개입해야 한다.

또한 오늘날 유럽과 미국에서 벌어지고 있는 난민, 실업, 우익 대두, 국수주의, 외국인혐오 등은 예측불가능하게 변화하는 현대사회에서 코카서스 국가 등 개발도상국이 서방만 바라보며 리더십과 경제지원을 기대할 수 없다는 사실을 보여주고 있다.

크게 보면 오늘날 코카서스 지역은 서방에게 버려졌다고 볼 수 있다. 이는 러시아의 추가 개입 가능성을 높이고 있다. 이러한 지역 경쟁구도를 역내 정치인들이 이용하려들 수도 있으나 가장 중요한 것은 역내 3개국이 경제사회적 발달에 힘쓰는 것이다. 일부 산업 특히 농업에 보호무역 장벽을 설치하자는 의견도 나오고 있다. 하지만 모든 쟁점의 결론은 국민의 목소리에 귀를 기울여야 한다는 데 모아지고 있다.

다음은 영어 원문.

The South Caucasus: Real Needs in the Permanently Changeable Environment

Khatuna Chapichadze(Ph.D, Political Science?Associate Professor, Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi)

Practically daily observation of the life quality precisely in Georgia, however also as well as in the other two South Caucasian countries justifies the real picture shown in the latest in numbers; according to the latest, Caucasus Barometer 2015 regional data set (Armenia and Georgia) says, the “most important issue facing the country” in Georgia is “unemployment”(55%), while the second place is gains ? “poverty”(15%).

In Armenia we have almost the same proportion of the answers to the same question; 42% of the surveyed identified “unemployment” as the number one “most important issue facing the country” and 17% – “poverty” inon the second place. According to the latest relevant data for Azerbaijan(from 2013), i.e. of the Caucasus Barometer 2013 Azerbaijan provides slightly different proportion of the answers to the question; interesting is that for the Azerbaijanian society think “unsolved territorial conflicts”(38%) stands as the most problematic issue hypothetically bothering its members, while? “unemployment” gains the following position with the 25% of the votes, and “poverty” is on the third place in this list(8%). It’s noteworthy to mention that the survey question had nine possible responses or “values”: unemployment, poverty, unsolved territorial conflicts, problematic relation tensions with Russia, unaffordablility of healthcare, low pensions, rising prices / inflation, other, and DK/RA(‘Don’t know’ and ‘Refusal’) no answers.

In the case of Georgia, specifically “unemployment” mainly leads the identical survey list from the time period since 2008 to 2015. Almost similar is the statistics of Armenian statistics show the same from 2008 to 2013, while Azerbaijanis, whose situation is different from is two neighbors due to its energy resources and comparatively thriving economy as can be assumed significantly due to its energetic resources and high salaries at least in comparison with the other two regional republics, seems majorly mostly concerned with the “unsolved territorial conflicts.” that is the stable trend during the whole six years from 2008 to 2013.

Although, since 2010 to the final so far ? 2013, “unemployment” was assessed as became the second “most important issue facing Azerbaijan”. Poverty became especially problematic for the last years continued to grow as a problem in Georgia shifting its place initially from the moving from its initial place in fourth and third to the to second one in 2015, while it kept the third stable position in the case of Armenia, and the fourth on the example of Azerbaijan since 2008 to 2013as it likewise stayed bad or got worse in the region.

Therefore, based not only on arguable from the scientific point of view sometimes statistical data, however nor ignoring them along with the outcomes of the qualitative analysis conducted by us, we are able to translate the findings of the both research methodology employed here into such top priorities revealed by the South Caucasian societies are thus largely concerned with at large as are overcoming unemployment and poverty, i.e. resolving social and economic problems first of all. Consequently, it is undoubtedly logical to assume that under the conditions when physical survival of the prevailing parts of the publics. The survival of these states is frequently under in critical danger due to the critical high levels of unemployment and poverty (the life quality in Azerbaijan as well, along with Georgia and Armenia, started to deteriorate sharply and suffer from the especially with ongoing national currency devaluations and rising inflation), and foreign relations concerns overall, and in particular, making essentially hostile radical orientation choices between the such as choosing between the West and Russia feel secondary and even luxurious. (especially in the permanently changeable environment with unstable actors and rules of game that on the other hands, can be totally explained in their own context), which at the same time has never proved to have visible encouraging consequences for the standard of living of the ordinary citizens, societies, and well-being of the states to choose at large, normally run out of the public grassroots agenda, felt as secondary and often luxurious, if not avoidable to the possible extent.

Real needs, such as increasing the GDP and economic growth and performance, as well as the fairer distribution of wealth, are more urgent. The political elites and establishments in the South Caucasus must listen to and meet their societies’ demands for social and economic stabilization, fight against unemployment and poverty by supporting local production and agriculture, intervene in the economy for the especially vulnerable, and focus on the healthcare system, education, and so on.

In order to claim public demands for solving social and economic problems and at certain degree ensuring safety for them in this regard as their foremost legitimate “real needs”, always has to be taken into account not exclusive understanding of the difference between GDP and successful economic performance/growth of a state/s, and GINI indices having no relevance in the sense of how equally or unequally the populations’ incomes are distributed.

Important is acknowledging the fact that the mainstream political elites and establishments in the South Caucasian countries keep to constantly ignore to somehow admit, prioritize and meet their societies’ demands for social and economic stabilization, fighting against unemployment and poverty through supporting by all means first of all development of the local production and agricultural activity even initially via subsidies, balanced state intervention in the economy in general, with the special consideration of the vulnerability and focus on the healthcare system, education, labor and social affairs, etc.

Furthermore, ongoing developments in Europe and the US (migration crises, rising unemployment, growing radical right-wing moods, nationalism, xenophobia, and in fact, identity crises) demonstrate that as everything is permanently dynamic and mutable changeable, and traditional societies in developing countries (such as the nations of the South Caucasus) cannot look to the West for guidance and assistance. Domestic challenges force democracies to focus on their own problems and effectively change their diplomacy tactics as well.

All in all, South Caucasian countries have been effectively abandoned by the West, and they are especially vulnerable to additional Russian intervention. Although local politicians may try use this strategic standoff to gain an upper hand, all three countries need to focus on economic and social development. Local leaders have even suggested putting in economic protectionist policies in some industries and agriculture. No matter what happens, the dynamics of the international scene are forcing South Caucasian politicians to look at real needs of the local population. including current critical society demands within even such developed Europe and the USdue to complex internal issues mentioned above, hopes for the developing countries, containing the South Caucasus as well, for extensive Western participation within the region and assistance for their further democratization or financial, economic or social aid have lesser grounds.

Challenging inner processes make the leader democratic states more focused on their own problems and thus, less active on the international arena overall, where their priorities, strategies and tactics could also alter.

Taking into consideration all the factors and arguments, South Caucasian countries can be more seen at certain point objectively abandoned especially from the Western influence to their real troubles and needs that has an already obvious potential tobe used for the extension of the Russian intervention policy in the region or Ukraine.

Distinctly in the situation more likely to be characterized with the lack of balancing opportunities, even if first of all the most pro-Western and anti-Russian Georgia attempts to use such strategy between Russia and the West, in our opinion, all the three South Caucasian countries need to focus foremost on their internal development problems. Not only the evident public demands signal pushing for prioritizing internal, i.e. social and economic development in these states through suggesting to implement for instance, even economic protection, intensive industrial or agricultural policies, etc., but also international events and as it once again can be witnessed, permanently changeable foreign environment exhibit the needs for shifting the local governments’ priorities towards actually meeting the local populations’ real needs and responding to them through appropriate initiatives and efficient policiesin a more inclusive and adequate manner.

 

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