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President Erdogan Calls for Cooperation to Achieve Lasting Peace in South Caucasus

By Mushvig Mehdiyev November 1, 2021


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses in a press conference in G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, October 31, 2021 / Courtesy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they have been constantly working to foster cooperation between six countries in order to bring lasting peace to the South Caucasus region.

President Erdogan’s remarks came during a press conference at the G20 Summit in Italy’s capital Rome on October 31.

The format for the six-party cooperation, which is also interpreted as 3+3 or Turkey, Russia, Iran + Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, could contribute to the overall regional stability and the mutual relationships between the countries, Erdogan said.

“Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, and Georgia – let’s all six take a joint step and establish peace in the region,” Erdogan made an appeal as part of his speech, as reported by Anadolu Agency.

“Mr. Ilham Aliyev [President of Azerbaijan] has already made a proposal to Armenia regarding peace in the region. There is some negative sentiment on the part of Georgia, but if all these countries demonstrate a positive approach, then this platform will be created, and the region will turn into a peace basin," he noted.

President Erdogan said Turkey could more clearly and openly define its relations with Armenia under the proposed six-country cooperation format. He is also convinced that improving Georgia-Russia relations would facilitate the creation of such a peace platform.

Proposal of new format for regional cooperation came after Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a 44-day war in the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region. Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha, from nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10 by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani authorities are convinced that the war put an end to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and paved the way for new ideas that might help establish lasting peace in South Caucasus and contribute to the regional cooperation.

The idea of the 3+3 collaboration format was revealed by President Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev during the Turkish president’s first post-war visit to Azerbaijan on December 10, 2020. Erdogan has then said the new format calls for joint action on establishing durable peace in the South Caucasus region, as well as specific tasks for each country, including in infrastructure, politics, diplomacy, trade, transportation and many other fields.

Russia has already expressed its support for the new format of cooperation. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it would address the issues of regional security, unblocking economic and transport ties, which would benefit all parties. According to him, Iran also has positive thoughts about the initiative.

Armenia has been remaining silent on its position about the six-party platform for regional cooperation.

Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, Armen Grigorian said the “unclear format” of the proposed cooperation has led Yerevan to consider the platform’s potential and success. However, according to him, the Armenian authorities have been discussing the issue and conveyed some approaches to their partners, which should not be interpreted as Yerevan’s clear position.

Meanwhile, Georgia's Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said it would be “very difficult” for Georgia to join any format that includes Russia – a country that Georgian authorities blame for the illegal occupation of the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“Of course, when we do not see any processes in the direction of de-occupation, it is very difficult to participate in such a format and talk about some kind of infrastructure projects,” the Georgian minister said.