Georgia in Geopolitical Dilemma: New Regional Security “3+3 Format and Contradiction with National Interests
By Professor Vakhtang Maisaia, the Polish Association of Political Science.
The Caucasus region as it is known by general geopolitical acronym remains still blatant and noise from exactly the geopolitical standpoint. Generally known that the Caucasus is the name of a mountain range and geographical region that includes the southwest of European Russia, as well as the territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. This region encompasses a 440,000 square kilometre space between the Black and Caspian Seas and has a population of approximately 30.6 million people. As a result, the Caucasus faces its own distinct geopolitical realities that could become even more important given talks of a new Cold War. Due to the transformations taken place in the region, including submission several regional security modalities, like: 3+3+3, 3+2+2, 3+1, etc., the double approach foreign policy patternality obliviated the region. As it is known, according to Russian geopolitics school approach, well-received by the Foreign Affair Ministry of Russia, the region geopolitical identification prescribed as “Transcauasus” (or “Zakavkazie”) and the term was exploited and underpinned in the “National Security Concept of the Russian Federation” adopted in 2015. As for the Western approach (the USA and the EU) the region geopolitical identification means “The Caucasus-Caspian Region” (the term was composed and delivered to political lexicon by the Caucasus Committee in 2006) or even “Central Caucasus” meaning that the “East-West” geopolitical axes is prevail with inclusion of the Caspian Basin abundant energy reserves where the Caucasus region is an indispensable “energy corridor” and geopolitically attached to the Caspian Basin. Hence, due to ongoing “New Cold War” run between the USA and Russia where the EU is a strategic partner to the USA (for the special case with exclusion of Turkey which is gambling that different game pursuing only its own national interests), the geopolitical battle and incacuration of term provision has became very important. Therefore, the regional iniatives provided recently by the regional hegemons – Russia and Turkey and even promoted its further development that was hold in Ankara working official meeting between Turkish and Russian diplomats with its prolongation in Moscow on 9-10 December 2021, ideally demonstrated that the pro-Russian “Transcaucasus” regional identification is being modelled by the two capitals. As it was mentioned, the first session of the “3+3” regional consulting platform was held in Moscow today, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports. Paricipating in the meeting were the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Russia, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, as well as the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran. The “Moscow” meeting was aimed to discuss prospects for the development of multilateral regional cooperation and creation of favorable to the parties atmosphere of geopolitical and geoeconomic matters. It seems possible that some concrete project outlines also were discussed, for instance, promotion of so-called “Zangezour Trade Corridor” attained geoeconomic goals and missions of Turkey and Azerbaijan and nietly supported by Russia and Armenia. Moreover, at the “Moscow” meeting an agreement was reached to focus on the practical issues that are of interest to all participants. These include confidence-building measures, cooperation in the trade, economic, transport, cultural and humanitarian spheres, and response to common challenges and threats. In addition, the parties also reconsidered of installation of special institutional provision to further promote the “3+3” platform and create an organization for the regional security fora. Georgia has skipped the meeting despite of being invited to the meeting. As for Georgia, the representatives of the five countries expressed interest for Georgia to join the platform, noting that the door remains open. However, it is less probable that Georgia would take part in the format as its foreign policy orientation prescribed in the article 78 of the Constitution of country adopted in 2020 is making impossible of such participation (the Article implies irreversible foreign policy goals achievement in membership in NATO and EU structures). Moreover, Georgia earlier proposed its own regional security format “3” (with participation of all three local actors: Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia) and that is precisely fitted in aegis of the Western identification of the region as “Central Caucasus”. It is very clear that the Georgian approach to the regional security format absolutely unfitted to the other actors and evenmore contradicts their interests. It seems so that key regional hegemons: Russia, Turkey and Iran are eager to block any entrance to the region of other global and regional hegemonies, like USA, the EU and maybe in some extent even China. The modality of the regional security is indeed oriented toward East and by its geostrategic provision has so-called “orientalist” provision and with aiming of create new kind of geopolitical axes: “MENA-Transcaucasia-Central Asia” with partially incursion as well as South Asia as India and Pakistan are also seeking to pursue their interests to the “geopolitical triangle”. Namely, Pakistan has joined the tripatrial military alliance: Azerbaijan-Turkey which was formed in November 2020 due to the Karabakh war consequences and Pakistan has also been participating in the project: “One Belt, One Road” launched by China and promoted the “oriental Silk Road” perspectives toward the Caucasus region. The same rest for the other geopolitical project: “Lazurit Project” (namely with realization of the project was linked realization of Anaklia sea port building in nature) that also geoconomically pinches Pakistan and India to the region. As for both countries, Pakistan and India despite of their rivalry, seperately, they are looking forward to realizing fully the other newly endorsed geoeconomic project: Pakistan-Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia-EU thus boosting most interesting geopolitical axes: “South-North”. Quite recently as it is known has been arranged a deal between Iran and Azerbaijan on building of 4 ride bridge with 100 length on river Astarachai as it fastens cargo delivery sevelar times and reaches of turnover in both directions up to 80 million tonnes annually that more increased EU-Iran trade turnover that is now at rate of $5 billion (the same rate for EU-Pakistan is $11 billion and for EU-India is about $62 billion). The project is to be a continuation of so-called “Zanzegour Corridor” and promote dialogue among the regional actors. It is clear also that the “3+3” exactly reoriented toward Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution and attained common geostrategic provisions sponsored by Turkey and Russia. Hence, the regional security format “3+3” is joint Turkish-Russo project and has also correlations with adjustment of the common geopolitical interests in the Middle East in aegis of Syrian crisis. Therefore, linkage between Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that of the Syrian conflict is evident due to the Turkish-Russian cooperation perspectives. Therefore it is interesting too that despite of neglecting the initiative from Georgia, the format meeting organizers intentionally remained title as “3+3” and is meant that Georgia is being geopolitically blackmailed and the regional hegemons would be promoting the idea and lobbying with the Georgian government that is on its way has slight clashes with the Western strategic partners on case of internal politics (for example, USA and the EU sharply criticized Georgia on performing unilitarely the court system reform that is more increased “hybrid regime” provisions in Georgia). Nevertheless Georgia initially is not ready to join the format and there are several reasons to take into consideration:
- The format is unbalanced from the Georgian foreign policy perspectives thus ignoring completely the Georgian allies interests, namely as of the USA;
- Georgia is lost its status-quo in meddling as mediator to conclude a deal in Nagorno-Karabkah conflict;
- Georgia’s geoeconomic privileges due to its current geopolitical status-quo could be diminished and Georgia could be traced into the “periphery” at the regional level;
- Georgia can not seat with Russia unless the national territories are under occupation and Georgia has broken off political and diplomatic relations with Russia.
It seems that these are main factors not mentioned others why Georgia avoided and canceled the invitation to join the format.
Picture-map: “South-North” Geoeconomic corridor and its provision