Domestic matters : regime turnovers and foreign policy change in post-colour revolutionary Georgia and Kyrgyzstan

  • Shairbek Juraev

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


The thesis examines the relationship between ruling regime turnovers and foreign policy in two small post-Soviet states, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. It particularly seeks to establish how had the changes of ruling regimes in these countries influenced the degree of extremity in their foreign policies. The thesis employs an analytical framework of "3-i: ideas, interests and institutions" to assess a multivariate nature of domestic sources of foreign policy. The study covers two consecutive regime turnovers in each country, including the “colour revolutions” in the early 2000s and subsequent power transitions in the early 2010s.

The thesis argues that ruling regime turnovers influence foreign policy through enabling changes in foreign policy ideas of new ruling elites, affecting the dynamics of political competition and ruling regime security, and shaping the organization of decision-making institutions. In particular, the rise of risk-taking foreign policy in both countries was associated with a combination of a) proactive foreign policy beliefs of new leaders, b) greater political insecurity of the ruling regime, and c) concentration of foreign policy powers in the hands of decision units. The absence of one or more of the above conditions, in turn, produced relatively moderate foreign policy. The findings demonstrate that foreign policy outcomes reflect a concurrent and constitutive interplay of ideas, interests and institutions, reminding of the importance of a multidimensional approach to the subject.

The thesis’s contribution to regional foreign policy analysis literature is three-fold. First, this study demonstrates the value of assigning explanatory value to the concepts of ruling regime turnovers and foreign policy extremity. These concepts help examine foreign policy as a process with its dynamics and patterns in contrast to a “snapshot” view of foreign policy as an ad hoc event to be explained. Second, the thesis takes a multi-causal analytical framework to study foreign policy, moving beyond conventional single-cause approaches. Finally, and more broadly, the thesis demonstrates that small post-Soviet states, such as Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, can be studied as “normal” polities within existing FPA approaches. Foreign policies of these states, in other words, do not have to be reduced to the function of their size, type of political regime or idiosyncrasies of leaders.
Date of Award28 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRick Fawn (Supervisor)


  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Georgia
  • Foreign policy

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  • 2nd June 2025

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