Introduction Georgia is one of the keenest ‘new’ neighbours of the European Union (EU). It has long stated its interest in joining the EU and has, compared to other partners in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), made significant progress in undertaking political and economic reforms. Georgia itself is, however, involved in two frozen conflicts on its own territory. Ever since Georgia gained independence in 1998, the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have become contested territory between Georgia as a former republic of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation. The continued presence of armed Russian military personnel in the regions – once the industrial heartland of the South Caucasus – has impacted significantly on the political and economic stability of Georgia and therefore hampered the reform process. For the EU, the region has become more and more interesting in recent years following successive energy ‘crises’ between Russia and Ukraine in 2007 and 2009, and the recognition among Western European governments of the urgency to diversify their energy supplies. Despite Georgia’s strategic importance as a transit country for gas from Central Asia, the Union has hitherto lacked a coherent policy towards Georgia and was very reluctant to become involved in the settlement of the frozen conflicts.1 In 2005, however, the EU’s heads of state and government decided to include Georgia, alongside Azerbaijan and Armenia, into its new European Neighbourhood Policy in recognition of the need to build a stronger partnership with the South Caucasus. The provisions of the ENP
originally aimed at political and economic reform in the EU’s neighbourhood. Following the inclusion of the South Caucasus into the policy, however, new security provisions were added to the ENP, including crisis management and conflict resolution.