Caucasus leaders congratulate Donald Trump on US election victory

By bne IntelliNews November 10, 2016

The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have congratulated Donald Trump on his victory in the US presidential elections on November 8, local media outlets have reported.

While it is unlikely that the three small states would be significantly affected by a change in Washington's policy under Trump, their leaders have nevertheless sought to preempt any detrimental shifts in policy by seeking to get into the president-elect's good graces early on.

Georgia, a country that Trump visited in 2012 for a real estate project, expressed its desire that relations would continue to thrive under the new administration. Georgia and the US have close diplomatic, commercial and military ties, although Tbilisi is not as much of a priority for Washington anymore as it was a decade ago, because its relations with Russia have stabilised. However, if a Trump administration will incense the Kremlin to flex its muscles in the region, as some pundits fear will happen, Tbilisi may feel the undesirable effects of a stronger Russia. Georgia and Russia have been at odds for over two decades over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which are Russian satellite regions. In 2008, the Kremlin invaded Georgia, purportedly to defend the regions against Tbilisi's aggression.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents both congratulated Trump in writing on November 9. In his letter, Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev made sure to include a mention of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and expressed his hope that a Trump administration would help settle the decade-long war.

However, the US is likely to play a diminished role in the conflict - and the region - under Trump, Richard Giragosian of the Yerevan-based think tank Regional Studies Centre told Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty's Armenian service. In doing so, Washington will likely allow the Kremlin to adopt an even more significant role in the region that it already has, which Giragosian finds “dangerous for the region, but also concerning Nagorno-Karabakh”.

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