Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 20 October 2021 - NEWSDAY GEORGIA

CHANGSHA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The first Global Economic Development and Security Forum (GEDS) of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) is held from Oct. 18 to 20 in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province.

The three-day event has attracted more than 2,600 attendees across the world, according to the organizers.

Attendees hold in-depth discussions on topics such as the risks, shortcomings, and uncertainties facing globalization, and offer solutions for sustainable development of Asia and the world.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

 

Published in CHINA

The 6th annual meeting of the Foreign Relations Committees of the Georgian, Turkish, and Azerbaijani Parliaments was held as part of the official visit of the Georgian parliamentary delegation to Turkey. This is reported by the administration of the Parliament of Georgia.

At the meeting, Nikoloz Samkharadze, the Head of Delegation, addressed the members of the delegations and discussed the ongoing processes in the region, security problems, and the role of the three countries in the process of resolving existing difficulties.

In this regard, he focused on the situation in Georgia's occupied territories, Russia's destructive actions, the security of the Black Sea, and the significance of Georgia's NATO membership as the sole means to promote regional security and stability.

Trade, energy and infrastructure projects, culture, defense, security, the environment, and people-to-people relations were among the topics discussed at the sitting.

The necessity of inter-legislative collaboration and the possibilities for strengthening parliamentary ties were emphasized.

The parties also addressed the creation of new mechanisms and formats in this context.

The parties reaffirmed their unequivocal support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and pledged to take additional actions to enhance peace, stability, and security in the Black Sea and South Caucasus regions.

"We had a crucial discussion today with our strategic partners, the Turkish and Azerbaijani delegations, where we discussed all of the problems and processes that are taking place in our region. In this context, parliamentary cooperation is important because it allows us to routinely share ideas at the legislative level and figure out concrete measures to contribute to the advancement of our nations and the well-being of our people”, - Nikoloz Samkharadze stated.

Published in Politics

By Zaal Anjaparidze

While foreign policy identities so significantly diverge in the South Caucasus (SC), there is one key common denominator that ties the regional counties together – the interconnectedness of security risks. Those risks together with the opportunities have become more visible and tangible after the latest 44-day war in Karabakh, which entailed new geopolitical realities in the region. What is worth noting part of the risks and opportunities for SC countries largely emanate from the immediate neighborhood.  On the other hand, the interconnected and interdependent nature of security in the SC goes beyond its neighborhood, because each country - Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan has its own complex and multilayered geopolitical identity. 

In this context, the initiative of a six-nation cooperation platform comprising Turkey, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2020, shortly after the end of the war over the disputed Karabakh created a window of opportunity for permanent peace, stability, and cooperation in the region. At the same time, the initiative has stumbled over the existing contradictions between some of the named member-states. The exemplary case was the statement by Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani that albeit Tbilisi finds it “very hard” to join the “3+3 platform,” the country should still seek ways to engage in the prospective infrastructure projects in the region. His statement was promptly disavowed by the other Georgian officials. They underlined that Georgia will not join “3+3 format” because of the presence of Russia with whom Georgia disrupted diplomatic relations after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and occupation of Georgia’s secessionist regions by Russia after recognition of their state independence. Georgian Foreign Ministry claimed that the engagement of Georgia in the major geopolitical projects should not be undertaken at the expense of national interests and concessions to the occupier country (Russia).

While Russia-leaning groups in Georgia support “3+3” platform arguing that Georgia must pursue pragmatic and realistic politics reckoning with its neighborhood and geopolitical environment, pro-western forces vehemently oppose it. They consider the engagement of Georgia, the sole ally of the West, in the “3+3” platform where the EU and USA are absent will definitely result in damaged relations with the western partners. Besides, opponents of “3+3” platform argue that Georgia and Armenia will be in this alliance rather as “junior partners” than equitable members as compared to more powerful Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan.

It’s worth noting that recently Russia has decided to revitalize “3+3 format.” Most likely Moscow did so either to pursue its own interests and gain more dominance in the region, or play along with Turkey in order to prevent attempts of the West to reclaim the ground in the region that it has lost after the second war in Karabakh.

However, it’s still unclear how and whether “3+3” format will be able to keep the mutually acceptable balance of political, military and economic interests. The attitude of Iran is exemplary in this context. If the geopolitical order in the South Caucasus before the second war in Karabakh has been relatively acceptable for Tehran, nowadays the situation is different. Iran is sending clear signals to Azerbaijan and Turkey about the unacceptability of the changed geopolitical reality in the region. Thus, Tehran is going to play a more proactive role in the formation of the new rules of the game in South Caucasus and not only politically. Iran has already has announced an agreement between Iran and Armenia for establishing a new alternative transit route for Iranian trucks bypassing the Azerbaijan-controlled 20-km section, where the trucks are required to pay tolls. The northern part of the route will go through Georgia. Like Tehran, Moscow is also not happy with the excessive strengthening of the role of Turkey and Azerbaijan in the region.

However, whatever the plans of the initiators of “3+3,” the initiative largely remains declarative, so far and there are no tangible indicators that it will be “fleshed out” in the near future.  Geopolitical contradictions between the key players of the “3+3” format – Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the persisting confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia and standalone Georgia, with its pro-western stance, make materialization of “3+3” even more uncertain

Despite various speculations, today the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia seems more realistic because the second war in Karabakh has changed a lot from the geopolitical and geo-economical points of view. Presumably, reckoning with these new realities Armenia perceives the situation in the more realistic prism. Improvement of relations with Turkey, including the opening of borders and new transport communications are the tools that could relieve long-term bilateral confrontation and contribute to peace in the region.   

Georgia lacks official military-political allies in difference from Armenia and Azerbaijan. Strengthening the influence of Russia and Turkey around Georgia with the weakening influence of the West in the region leaves Georgia in a vulnerable position. This affects Georgia’s role as a transit country and may leave it on the margins of anticipated grand regional projects.

Russia and Turkey are highly likely to do their best to lure Georgia somehow into the “3+3” platform and persuade Armenia to join the platform despite persisting tensions with Azerbaijan.

It appears that Tbilisi and Yerevan must decide whether the benefits of joining “3+3” in any form will overweigh geopolitical risks. These risks are far greater for Georgia because joining “3+3” may significantly damage its relations with the West. These relations are already strained due to the latest political developments in the country highly criticized by the West.

Fragile peace after the armistice in Karabakh supported by Russian peacekeepers and the Turkish military observers revealed a tangle of problems waiting for settlement. Currently the most notable are the continued tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia manifested in the armed clashes at times and increasing tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran. The latter considers itself unfairly outflanked during the peace talks on the resolution of the latest Armenian-Azerbaijani armed conflict.

By repeated but still less successful attempts to act as a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Georgia is highly likely aiming at finding its unique niche in the new geopolitical realities. However, subdued reactions from Baku and Yerevan indicate that none of them is in the mood to see Georgia as a key mediator given the Russian and Turkish factors.  Georgia, which perhaps has more at stake in peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia than does any other third country, has ample reason for concerns over the actions of Turkey to say nothing about Russia. Ankara’s new geopolitical assertiveness is a wild card with unpredictable implications for Tbilisi. Possible Turkish-Armenian reconciliation will enhance Armenia’s regional role and will offer the latter a better bargaining position with Georgia with the attendant consequences.

CONCLUSION

The complex geopolitical theatre of the South Caucasus exerts significant influence on the foreign policy identities of the region’s countries. Intra-regional conflicts make the region highly exposed to the influences of its larger neighbors, which play a significant role in shaping the regional security dynamics.

At the same time, membership within or orientation towards the conflicting alliances strengthens intra-regional rifts, further decreasing the chances of peaceful conflict resolution in the region. To this end, “3+3” platform can be considered as one of the possible but not an ideal tool for keeping a relative balance of powers and interests of the key regional players. But the attempt to supplant the West as a non-regional player, is fraught with risks given the strategic interests of the latter in the regions.

Despite the strong divergence in foreign policy and alliance choices of the three South Caucasus states, strategic multilateral partnerships within the region and with the region’s immediate neighbors, appear to be the best possible option to transform fragile stability into a lasting cooperation framework, which in turn is a path to sustainable peace. However, existing tensions between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia on the delimitation and demarcation of state borders, as well as ownership of historical-cultural monuments in the disputed border areas, don’t contribute to the development of full-fledged partnership.

Published in Economics

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