Experts comments CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Zaur Mammadov: "Georgia is a corridor in strengthening ties between Azerbaijan, the EU and Turkey"

Photo: 1newz.az

CIACR-South Caucasus presents an interview with political scientist Zaur Mamedov, a teacher of the Academy of State Administration under the President of Azerbaijan.

Zaur Mammadov

12 June in Gabala held a trilateral meeting between the Minister of Defense of the Azerbaijan Republic Zakir Hasanov, Minister of National Defense of the Turkish Republic Hulusi Akar and Georgian Defense Minister Levan Isoria. How was the meeting? What was actually called up in this meeting?

Now the geopolitical struggle of world hegemons passes from Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, further to the South Caucasus.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey are not just countries that are located in the Black Sea-Caspian region and have common borders with each other. If we analyze in detail, then we will see that Baku, Tbilisi and Ankara are strategic partners in all senses. Countries are linked by common geopolitical interests in the region. Our national interests coincide and oblige us to be together. It can not be different. All three countries are at the center of the world's attention as the transport and energy corridor passes through their territories, while the three countries have rather close inter-state relations and their cooperation is extremely important for the development of the entire Caucasus region.

At the meeting, defense ministers reaffirmed the commitment of all three countries to the sovereignty and territorial integrity. Recently, some forces in Georgia want to "tear off" the country from Azerbaijan, inventing a series of provocative stories. It is unlikely that anything will come out of them. Georgia has long chosen its way. This is European integration and membership in NATO. Therefore, other geostrategic axes may not be relevant for Tbilisi.

In 2018, Turkey and Azerbaijan conducted 7 exercises. This year 13 exercises are foreseen. Georgia is invited. What is it connected with?

Azerbaijan is expanding cooperation with Turkey in the military, military-technical, military-educational sphere with the aim of strengthening the country's military power, and this is the main factor in ensuring stability in the region. Azerbaijan and Turkey repeatedly conducted joint military exercises. Recently, they are held several times a year. One of the last ones, as you know, became the teachings in Nakhchivan. The countries are practically taking steps towards the formation of joint unions, united battalions.

The three countries have common geostrategic interests. This includes the military direction. Military-political relations between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey should be at such a level that no one could threaten the countries of the South Caucasus in its future geopolitical ambitions. Georgia is a corridor in strengthening ties between Azerbaijan and the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Therefore, relations in the military sphere are mutually beneficial to all three states.

It is no coincidence that on the bilateral and tripartite meetings of the army leadership of the three countries, there always is a similarity of views on geopolitical issues. Turkey has always stated that it will continue to support Azerbaijan and Georgia in matters of territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of existing conflicts ... This is an important thesis in favor of Turkey, why Georgia chooses Turkey as its political and military partner.

Georgia objectively regards Armenia's military partnership with Russia as a threat to the region. In this regard, for Tbilisi, Turkey and NATO are becoming natural allies. Activation of Turkey in the South Caucasus region is an objective process. Georgia's participation in military exercises with Turkey and Azerbaijan is relevant to this situation.

Cooperation between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia in the military sphere can become a separate instrument of pressure for Baku (military and not only) for Armenia.

What is the prospect of developing trilateral military relations in the context of regional security?

At the meeting of defense ministers of the three countries, the military-political situation in the region was discussed. This is a very important aspect of all the meetings of the official representatives of these countries. It is necessary to continue to support the strategic projects implemented in the Caucus-Caspian region, as well as peace and stability. In the 2016 year at the meeting in the same Gabala, the defense ministers of the three countries agreed to jointly secure the oil and gas pipelines.

The presence of Ankara in the region is a clear signal to other countries for which the Caucasus is an important geostrategic direction in foreign policy. If there was another situation, then on the part of some states, we would see a clear pressure and interference in the internal affairs of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It is enough to recall the actions of Iran against Azerbaijan at the beginning of 2000-ies.

In such an international environment, the choice of a geopolitical ally for the states of the South Caucasus is important. We are talking about the formation of a "horizontal" geopolitical axis along the lines of Turkey - Georgia - Azerbaijan. There are also no regional military partners of Georgia and Azerbaijan. In the case of Georgia it is the USA. In the case of Azerbaijan - Pakistan and Israel.

Here, one can not underestimate some adjustments to Turkey's foreign policy. Today, for Turkey in the South Caucasus region, it is important to search for common interests with Russia, to refuse fronting with Moscow, to seek new ties with Iran. Obviously, Ankara really managed to change geopolitical maps in the Middle East and the neighboring regions, and Ankara is no longer applying the previous approach.

For Turkey, the South Caucasus is definitely a priority. It is important for Ankara to prevent chaos coming from Armenia in the region.

In your opinion, what kind of reaction can Russia follow from the tripartite military exercises of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan in the region, or do you think that it is in line with it?

Russia will closely monitor the situation regarding the nature of the emerging military alliance. The attitude towards him from the part of the official Moscow, in my opinion, has not finally formed. In any case, Moscow's position in the Caspian-Caucasian region is one of the key. I think that Ankara will take into account the interests of Moscow, in turn, and Moscow, within a certain framework, will take an observer's position. Turkey is not a threat to Russia in the South Caucasus region. Such a threat could, in certain cases, be the United States. Therefore, Turkey is better for Russia than NATO or the United States. We see that with Ankara, Moscow finds a common language in the present realities.

In your opinion, how much is it possible that the military exercises of Russia, Iran and Armenia in the South Caucasus region are likely to be conducted?

I do not think it is possible. Iran is an important partner of Armenia. But, in military terms, Iran's participation in military exercises with Armenia would mean Tehran's loss of image in the Islamic world. Moreover, today, when there is a very tense relationship between Iran and the United States, Tehran would not go for that step.

Interviewed Seymour Mammadov, Azerbaijan, specially for CIACR-South Caucasus