Tbilisi, Georgia, June 5
By Nana Kirtzkhalia - Trend:
Brussels - Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, Azerbaijani Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov and Turkish National Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz met to discuss their countries' defense cooperation.
In the meeting the top-ranking officials agreed on holding joint exercises to protect strategic energy and transport infrastructure in the region, the Georgian defense ministry told Trend. Ensuring the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which carries 1m barrels per day, is a top priority for all three nations.
The officials emphasized that intensifying the trilateral cooperation will ensure security of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
"This was the first trilateral meeting held between Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan," Alasania said after the meeting. "and is an important step in implementing the military cooperation initiative we launched last year".
The Azerbaijani-Georgian-Turkish defense partnership is economically critical for the region and global companies. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is a major source of revenue for the countries it passes through, as well as major corporations like BP. Furthermore, the pipeline helps guarantee energy security for the West, by providing an alternative to Russian and Middle Eastern oil.