Araz Alasgarov, special correspondent of Trend in Ankara
Ankara's first diplomatic initiative, which was later described as a stability and cooperation platform in Caucasus was for the first time announced by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately after the military actions in Georgia started.
Delivering a speech before the Turkish media in Bodrum, Erdogan characterized the war in South Ossetia as "inspiring serious concern". Premier called on the sides to come to truce and use diplomatic means. "We would like the sides to come to truce from the early start of the conflict. We supported the sides continuing talks through the diplomatic ways," Erdogan said.
Touching upon the possible ways to resolve the conflict in Georgia, Erdogan suggested establishing of 'Caucasian alliance' to stabilize the situation. The alliance may unite the South Caucasian countries, as well as European countries, the United States and the Russian Federation.
Clarifying initiative's core, Erdogan said that "we may start working to establish 'Caucasian alliance', like it had happened in Balkans. Turkey can assume this initiative. Turkey can implement this initiative through other countries' support, as well as considering issues by the UN. If we will take joint steps with the United States and EU countries, we will be able to create a favorable ground to reach a peace in the region. Undoubtedly, the Russian Federation should also be represented in such alliance".
Erdogan canceled his leave and paid an unexpected visit to Moscow after Russia and Georgia had reached the truce. In Moscow, Erdogan met with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as well as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Ali Babacan, Foreign Minister, accompanied Erdogan during his visit to Moscow. Babacan met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Besides the bilateral relations, the sides touched upon the current situation in Georgia, the Turkish Turkey newspaper reported.
Ankara suggested establishing a special mechanism to provide security and cooperation in the South Caucasus in emergency situations. Both ministers will start working in this direction.
At the end of his visit to Moscow the Turkish Premier said that Russia approved his proposal to establish platform of stability and cooperation in Caucasus. Erdogan said: "We came to understanding targeted at future - joint work within the Platform of Stability and Cooperation in Caucasus".
He said that the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation may also be involved in this work. "Our trade turnover is at a good state and Russia is our first partner and therefore we are determined to achieve more progress," the Turkish Premier said.
After his meetings in Moscow, the Turkish Premier left for Tbilisi where he met with the president Mikhail Saakashvili. The Turkish media reported that, as a matter of principle, the Georgian leader gave consent to the above-mentioned project by Ankara.
The Turkish political commentator Yasemin Congar believes that the Turkish Premier Erdogan also plans to discuss Platform of Peace and Cooperation in Caucasus during one-day visit in Baku on 20 August. He hopes to gain support of the Azerbaijani government and to begin talks with the missing link of the "Caucasian alliance" to normalize relations with Yerevan.
It is said that there are favorable international conditions with this regard. The visit of President Abdullah Gul to Armenia, who has been invited to the football match between teams of Turkey and Armenia, will be used to normalize these relation on high level. The temporary cancellation of visas for the Turkish citizens willing to watch this football match is a positive factor for Turkey.
As to the significance attached to Yerevan in the project, Erdogan said: "The Caucasus plan will not develop without Armenia". Yasemin Congar describes this statement as determination of Ankara to eliminate factor of Azerbaijan in its mutual relations with Yerevan.
The theme of the diplomatic efforts by Ankara so that both Baku and Yerevan will give consent to take part in this project is touched upon in the article entitled Armenia Should Also Take Part in the Union published recently by Yeni Shafaq paper close to the ruling party. The article says that the acceptance of Platform of Stability and Cooperation in Caucasus by Azerbaijan and Armenia will enable to contribute to the "development of economic cooperation and energy security between the states while observing stability and peace in the region".
It is also mentioned that the project will contribute to the solution of problems not only between Russia and Georgia, but also to that of Karabakh conflict.
The correspondent can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org