GEORGIA AND TURKISH-AZERBAIJANI MILITARY AND POLITICAL ALLIANCE
Doctoral Candidate at the Institute of Oriental Studies of NAS of Armenia
South Caucasus still remains one of the most important targets in the foreign policy of Turkey. This is stipulated in the electoral programme (Seçim Beyannamesi) of the Justice and Development Party issued on June 12, 2011 on the eve of the parliamentary elections, in which South Caucasus is announced the third in importance among the neighboring regions1, and promotion of the further development of the relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia is presented as one of the priority courses of the foreign policy of JDP2.
It should be mentioned that if according to the Turkish-Azerbaijani military political agreement signed in 2010 the relations with Azerbaijan reached their peak the relations between Turkey and Georgia have not been formalized yet. Nevertheless in a result of consecutive Turkish-Azerbaijani policy Georgia is gradually being involved in their military and political alliance.
Georgia is of great strategic importance for Turkey as a transition country. Territory of Georgia serves as a kind of corridor to Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries, especially under the closed Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan borders.
In this aspect the Armenian populated Samtskhe-Javakhq region of Georgia where Turkey carries out the policy directed to changing of the demographic situation by contributing to the “repatriation” of Meskhetian Turks (Ahıska Türkleri) deported in 1944 is of great importance. It is remarkable that back in 1999 when Georgia became the member of the CE it undertook such a responsibility and today it plans to re-populate Meskhetian Turks all over its territory but Turkey insists on the necessity of their re-population in Samtskhe-Javakhq. The prospect of mass re-population of Meskhetian Turks in Javakhq especially in case if they constitute the majority of population will bring to the creation of an integral Turkic corridor. As a result the administrative regions of Samtskhe-Javakhq and Qvemo-Qartli (Azerbaijani populated border territory adjoining Azerbaijan) will connect Turkey and Azerbaijan by a parallel line3 at the same time crossing the perpendicular line connecting Armenia in the northern direction. At the same time it is particularly Samtskhe-Javakhq region that has been chosen for the initiation of two energy projects of geo-strategic importance – Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline. Today Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being built at this territory; the completion of the construction had been planned by the end of 2012. By the way due to that project Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic will set a direct land connection with Azerbaijan, thus making the strategic partnership of Turkey and Azerbaijan even easier.
Georgia is of strategic importance for Azerbaijan too, thus being a link between its strategic ally – Turkey, and West. In the relations of Azerbaijan and Georgia mutual interest, based on the principle of recognition of the territorial integrity of each other plays a key role. De-jure recognition of independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a result of “Five days war” in 2008 and loss of control over the Armenian territories unites Georgia and Azerbaijan around one and the same issue. Georgia and Azerbaijan are also de-jure connected by the GUAM political block as an alternative to the CIS membership4.
Baku carries out a distinct policy of strengthening and expanding of its leverages of influence using the fact of alternative cooperation in definite spheres of economy, particularly, energy.
The strengthening of the leverages is also contributed by the Azerbaijani community in Georgia which is considered to the first among the national minorities in Georgia and in particular Azerbaijani populated region of Qvemo-Qartli (Borcalu), the Azerbaijani community of which is also supported by Turkey. It should be mentioned that the Azerbaijanis considered this region (which is bordering in the east with Azerbaijan, in the south – with Armenia, in the west – with Javakhq and in the north with the capital city of Georgia) “motherland of the hero Turks” and call it a “disputable territory between Azerbaijan and Georgia” which “in the Soviet period was unfairly given to Georgia”5. In this aspect the expression “Borcali is the shortest way from Azerbaijan to Turkey”, which from time to time can be seen on the web-site of the Azerbaijani community of Borcali is remarkable6.
According to the studies carried out in 2008 by the the Department of Statistics of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, by the volume of money turnover of small enterprises Qvemo-Qartli is the second after Tbilisi; the share of the region is 13% of the money turnover of the small enterprises of the whole country7. It should be mentioned that support of the private (i.e. Azerbaijani) enterprises in Qvemo-Qartli is implemented through a number of Azerbaijani NGOs financed by Baku.
Thus, due to the consecutive Turkish-Azerbaijani policy Georgia is gradually being involved in their military and political alliance which is preconditioned by the high-level cooperation almost in all the spheres. Thus, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which is of great strategic significance in the energy sphere connects the Caspian Sea with the Mediterranean Sea8 and cooperation on the issue of Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline unites these three countries. In 2010 the highest leadership of Georgia and Azerbaijan took a decision of a creation of a common energy system of two countries9. At the same time Turkish EMCT Pazarlama Inşaat Taahüt Ticareti (ЕМСТ) company together with the Ministry of Energy of Georgia signed an agreement within the framework of which building of Gubazouli Hydro-Electric Power Plant was initiated10. On June 29, 2012 the Ministers of Energy of Turkey and Azerbaijan signed the agreement on building a new Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) which would cost $7-8 billion and which would surpassingly export Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe through the Georgian-Turkish border by connecting it with Nabucco; nevertheless some problems connected with the realization of Nabucco programme still question the implementation of Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline.
It is obvious that the programmes are directed to the neutralization of the Russian energy monopoly in the South Caucasus which in its turn will bring to the lowering of not only economic but also political dependence of the regional states on the Russian Federation11.
In the sphere of trade today Turkey is the priority partner of Georgia, thus taking the place once occupied by Russia. In 2002-2010 the volume of commodity turnover between these two states grew considerably, thus reaching $1 billion instead of previous $24012. Besides by its investments in Georgia Turkey is the second after the U.S. The Turkish investments include building (including the airport terminals), glass manufacturing, telecommunications, and establishment of different small and medium business enterprises in Georgia. Currently the biggest investments were made into the realization of Kars-Tbilisi railway and Rize-Poti optical fiber cable projects13. Besides, Turkey plans to build near Tbilisi a number of elite suburban areas14.
After 2010 Tbilisi promoted and initiated the project of the Georgia-Azerbaijan confederation taking into consideration the appropriate character of the bilateral relations – from economy to the foreign policy15.
These are those main preconditions which allow the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of three countries at the annual protocol meetings to formalize Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia relations in the form of new agreements. In particular, on June 8, 2012 in Trabzon the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed a declaration (TRABZON DECLARATION) which taking as a ground respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes, inviolability of internationally recognized borders and sovereign equality of states and refraining from the threat or use of force against territorial integrity and political independence of states, secures the following provisions16:
- Continue to support each other’s candidacies in international organizations;
- Note the importance of the earliest resolution of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the conflict over Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively and emphasize the right to safe and dignified return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin17;
- Promote further development of their relations in every field, especially in the field of trade, energy, transport, finance and banking, environment by means of joint projects and cooperation plans and if needed through trilateral cooperation mechanisms;
- Express their support for the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) and work towards restoration of the Great Silk Road and the full-scale functioning of the Euro-Asian Transport Corridor as well as other integrated trilateral transport projects consisting of highways and railways in order to create trilateral economic integration and contribute to socio-economic development; underline the importance of completion in due times of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project;
- Acknowledge the construction of the new Baku International Sea Trade Port which will become an important gate on the East-West Transport corridor after the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Project.
It should be mentioned that the joint expert group initiated the elaboration of the programme for 2013-2015 and works in order to submit them for signing of the three ministers18. The second meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of this three coutnries took place in the second half of 2012 in Georgia and the third meeting will be held in the first half of 2013 in Azerbaijan19.
The Trabzon declaration is the first official public document signed by Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia which is equal by its content to the military-strategic document.
In consequence of the parliamentary elections held on October 1, 2012 in Georgia “Georgian Dream” block leaded by the representative of the international oligarchy billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili celebrated the victory. He assumed the office of a prime-minister which has become a priority post after the recent constitutional changes. Such a course of events revealed a number of issues connected with further political position of Georgia. It is referred to the prospects of improving relations between Georgia and Russia and reconsidering of the relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. It should be mentioned that the policy carried out by Bidzina Ivanishvili and his government yet provides no grounds for seeing any essential changes in the issue of Georgia’s involvement in Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance.
Thus on December 26, 2012 B.Ivanishvili stated within the framework of his official visit to Baku: “I decided to first visit Azerbaijan because historically we have friendly relations. Our goal is to deepen these relations, to take them to the level when in the international instances our common positions are always taken into consideration. We will do our best in order to strengthen our relations”20.
The range of the question of the Georgian-Azerbaijani cooperation in different spheres is remarkable – active construction of highways from Azerbaijan to Georgia, Azerbaijani project of fertilizer plant building in Georgia, intention of Georgia to increase the volume of electricity bought from Azerbaijan21, issues of broadening of the frames of “Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey “Energy Bridge” project and Azerbaijani electricity export to Greece and Bulgaria through the territories of Georgia and Turkey22, deepening of the cooperation in the military sphere23. The strategic significance and character of the aforementioned goals can easily be seen. As for the possible improvement of Russia-Georgia relations, it should be mentioned that in this aspect no considerable changes can be observed yet.
Thus, the facts prove that the new elite which assumed the office in Tbilisi on practice continues the process of deepening of Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia relations.
On this assumption the following conclusions can be drawn:
a. Turkey and Azerbaijan carry out consecutive and committed policy of creating the political and economic leverages in the relations with Georgia;
b. Today Georgia continues the way to the military and political alliance with Turkey and Azerbaijan;
c. In case if the Turkic population dominates of Samtskhe-Javakhq Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance will set a control in Samtskhe-Javakhq and Qvemo-Qartli.
Taking as a basis all aforementioned one can drive to the following conclusion: in a result of the current processes Georgia maximum in a mid-term perspective will appear in the zone of a full influence and control of Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance. There can be only one conclusion – such a course of events is a threat to the national security of Armenia.
3 Էդուարդ Աբրահամյան, «Վրաստանի ադրբեջանցիները. ակտիվ նախապատրաստություն սպասված ապստամբությա՞նը», www.armtown.com (Eduard Abrahamyan. (“Azerbaijanis in Georgia: eager preparation to the expected rebellion” (in Armenian))
11 Justyna Glogowska, Turkey and Georgia: Strategic Connections, BilGESAM, 23 March 2012.
13 Justyna Glogowska, Turkey and Georgia: Strategic Connections, BilGESAM, 23 March 2012.
15 Saakashvili: Azerbaijan and Georgia should tend to the confederative cooperation http://www.rus.ghn.ge/news-7644.html, Tbilisi confirmed its aspiration to create confederation with Baku http://www.georgiatimes.info/articles/40747.html, Vestnik Kavkaza, Georgy Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi, Wed, 11/09/2011, http://vestnikkavkaza.net/.
17 In this item not only the persons “from NK and adjusting regions are mentioned”, but also the refugees from the RA.
20 Ivanishvili’s visit to Baku: Georgia remains the ally of Azerbaijan http://azerros.ru/analytics/8963-vizit-ivanishvili-v-baku-gruziya-ostaetsya-soyuznikom-azerbaydzhana.html.