Is the Caucasus even part of Europe?
See, I was just writing a post about the various conflicts, frozen and otherwise, that criss-cross this region. And I had to pick a category. And I found my arrow hovering over “not Europe”. But…
Here’s what wikipedia says:
The south-east boundary with Asia is not universally defined. Most commonly the Ural or, alternatively, the Emba River serve as possible boundaries. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea, the crest of the Caucasus Mountains or, alternatively, the Kura River in the Caucasus, and on to the Black Sea… However, numerous geographers consider Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s southern border with Iran… as the boundary between Asia and Europe because of political and cultural reasons…
Due to sociopolitical and cultural differences, there are various descriptions of Europe’s boundary; in some sources, some territories are not included in Europe, while other sources include them. For instance, geographers from Russia and other post-Soviet states generally include the Urals in Europe while including Caucasia in Asia.
There’s a more detailed discussion here. Short version: there are various definitions, and all of them leave a lot of people uncomfortable. There’s general agreement that the northern Caucasus is part of Europe — geographically, anyway — but the southern half of the big isthmus, well, hum.
The discussion gets a little fraught because if the countries of the South Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, are geographically part of Europe, then they might have a claim to be EU candidates some day. Which at least two of them would really, really like.
Let’s put that aside for the moment. Is Georgia part of Europe? Armenia? They’re in Eurovision, of course, but so are Cyprus and Israel. And they’re in UEFA, but so are Turkey and Kazakhstan.
I have some thoughts on this, but I’d like to hear some other opinions first.