While the international community believes that long-standing conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia are under control, these disputes are far more fragile than they look, warned Thomas de Waal at a panel discussion hosted by Eurasia Foundation. De Waal joined Fiona Hill of Brookings Institution and the Washington Post’s David Ignatius in an examination of the strategic importance of the Caucasus and Central Asia in the major international challenges currently faced by the United States. “These conflicts aren’t frozen. I prefer the term simmering conflicts, or smoldering conflicts,” de Waal said. “There’s a lot going on under the surface here.”

De Waal and Hill agreed that the international community can play a real role in helping resolve these conflicts. “Let the negotiators and the diplomats talk to civil society, talk to the small constituency of peace and try to cultivate it…bypassing the authorities, if the authorities are not willing,” de Waal said.