Officials in Georgia and Azerbaijan are beginning to discuss NATO’s actions in Kosovo as a model for the resolution of ethnic conflicts in the south Caucasus, a way to strike a balance between the principles of the territorial integrity of nations and the self-determination of peoples. The elements of the model include Western military and political leadership (and willingness to put troops on the ground), resistance to “ethnic cleansing” and mass deportation, and the involvement of Russia in a cooperative but subordinate role.

Azerbaijan disputes with Armenia control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with an almost wholly Armenian population. Georgia struggles with Russian-backed separatists in Abkhazia, a Georgian region bordering the Russian Federation. Both countries have sought NATO support, and Azerbaijan has invited NATO, led by Turkey, to establish a forward base on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan has authorized the dispatch of a platoon to Kosovo as part of the Turkish contingent of NATO peacekeeping forces.