Georgian expert: Multilateral co-op formats to shape region’s future

Georgian expert: Multilateral co-op formats to shape region’s future

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 5

By Fikret Dolukhanov - Trend:

The trilateral format of Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey cooperation is extremely important, because through the three countries’ joints efforts, it is possible to achieve much more than each country would do separately, Georgian political scientist Gela Vasadze told Trend June 5, commenting on the results of the trilateral conference in Tbilisi.

On June 5, Tbilisi hosted an international conference titled “Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey: global and regional determinants of trilateral cooperation.”

The event was organized jointly by the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation) and the Center for Strategic Research of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The experts of the Rondeli Foundation Zurab Batiashvili, Valeri Chechelashvili, head of the foundation Yekaterina Metreveli, Georgian president’s advisor for foreign relations Tengiz Pkhaladze, head of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Farhad Mammadov, experts of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Fuad Chiragov and Javid Valiyev, expert the Center for Strategic Research of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Oktay Tanrisever and others delivered speech at the conference.

Vasadze said that all speakers agreed that the trilateral format is limited not only by existing projects, but covers the future of regional and international cooperation.

“It is not about cooperation among Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, it is not about roads and projects,” the Georgian expert quotes Pkhaladze as saying. “The trilateral format is about our future, the cooperation of the West and the East, the new opportunities in development and security.”

In turn, expert of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Javid Valiyev stressed that the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral format is successfully transformed and supplemented with new quadrilateral formats with Iran and Kazakhstan, the Georgian expert noted.

“These formats are not competitors of the Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia format, they complement each other,” Valiyev said. “They all are a part of a major China’s One Belt One Road Initiative supported by Europe and the US.”

Vasadze drew attention to the fact that Azerbaijan is developing relations with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other countries of the region very dynamically.

“Not only oil and gas can reach Europe through our countries,” the Georgian expert said. “Wheat from Kazakhstan and cotton from Uzbekistan can also be supplied to the EU.”

Moreover, if an agreement on the delimitation of the Caspian Sea is reached, even greater volumes will be added to 10 billion cubic meters of gas that are planned to be supplied through the Southern Gas Corridor, Vasadze noted.

He added that there are prospects for Russia’s joining this format through the North-South Transport Corridor, noting that Georgian experts treated this issue with some skepticism.

“Of course, I agree that the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral format is not a competitive one for Iran, moreover, it is an important element for the transport communication between Iran and Azerbaijan,” Vasadze quoted Valeri Chechelashvili, an expert of the Rondeli Foundation, as saying. “However, it is highly doubtful that Russia, which counts every barrel of oil, may like the trilateral format and join it someday.”

In turn, Zurab Batiashvili noted that Turkey supports Georgia and Azerbaijan, this is while Georgia and Azerbaijan support Turkey.

“We are interdependent, and regional projects involving our countries don’t simply connect countries and peoples, they unite civilizations and build a new world,” Batiashvili said. “Our region doesn’t need war and conflicts, we need cooperation.”

Vasadze added that in addition to simple cooperation, strategic development of economies of the three countries is needed.

“It is necessary to bring this project to a much higher level: the harmonization of economies, their openness, investments, etc.,” said the expert. “Chechelashvili mentioned the example of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries that harmonized their economies and together became members of the EU.”


Follow the author on Twitter: @FDolukhanov

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