PRAGUE (RFE/RL)–U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has struck an upbeat tone regarding the South Caucasus region, saying that Turkey’s recent rapprochement with longtime foe Armenia and other developments in the volatile region are “fraught with more opportunity than danger.”
In a wide-ranging interview with RFE/RL on Friday, Biden pointed to the recently signed Turkish-Armenian agreements and progress toward a settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh as causes for optimism.
“What’s happening, from my perspective, is that people in the [South Caucasus] region are beginning to understand that their self-interest lies in greater cooperation now. Not out of love and affection, but out of necessity and opportunity,” he said.
“This is going to be a very difficult period,” continued the vice president. “It is fraught with danger, but I would argue it’s fraught with more opportunity than danger. And I see more positive things happening than negative things happening.”
“I think everyone’s seized with the consequence of not making progress in that region of the world. Therefore, because so many are focused on it, I’m more hopeful than I am pessimistic,” he said.
Speaking to RFE/RL in Prague at the conclusion of a three-day visit to Eastern European capitals, Biden insisted that Russia could contribute to regional stability and integration despite consolidating its dominance over Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“I look at Russia with eyes wide open, as a realist,” he explained. “And my expectation is that Russia will decide over the next decade that its interest lies in more integration rather than what some in Russia seem to be thinking may be a different course. So we just have to keep the dialogue going.”