Joining the club: explaining alliance preferences in the South Caucasus

Namig Abbasov, David Siroky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Foreign policy alliance formation among small states in the aggregate has been extensively examined in the literature, but mass opinion and preferences on alliance formation in these states remains understudied. To address this gap, this article examines individual alliance preferences in two small states in the South Caucasus region: Georgia and Armenia. While most Armenians seem to support Armenian membership in CSTO and most Georgians appear to believe that Georgia should pursue NATO membership, some Armenians and Georgians prefer equal relations with both security alliances. The paper suggests that threat perception influences alliance formation preferences at the individual level and advances three testable pre-registered propositions. First, individuals who perceive Azerbaijan or Turkey as the primary threat to their state tend to support alignment with the Russian-led CSTO. Second, individuals who view the main threat to their state coming from Russia are predisposed to support NATO membership. Finally, individuals who believe that tensions between Russia and the West are detrimental to their country are more inclined to support equal relations with both NATO and CSTO. In general, the evidence is consistent with these conjectures. We conclude with important qualifications and key implications for the study of mass opinion on alliance formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-267
Number of pages16
JournalCaucasus Survey
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018


  • Alliances
  • CSTO
  • NATO
  • South Caucasus
  • public opinion
  • threat perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Joining the club: explaining alliance preferences in the South Caucasus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this