Conflict Conundrums

For the United States, mediating territorial crises must involve geopolitical juggling.

Issue: Spring 2006

Europe's unresolved disputes--Kosovo's bid for independence, the breakaway regions of Georgia, the long-festering Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Greek-Turkish divide in Cyprus--present the United States and other global and regional powers with a policy dilemma: how to balance a people's call for autonomy with a desire to maintain the territorial integrity of existing states and preserve regional stability. None of these cases exists in a vacuum. A U.S. decision to support autonomy in one area, such as Kosovo, could embolden demands for independence by other groups. In turn, the manner in which Europe's frozen conflicts are resolved could have a broader impact, setting precedents that might be cited for Taiwan, West Papua or southern Sudan, for example.

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