Baku, Tbilisi, Ankara: comparing officers' notes

Giorgi Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Baku, Tbilisi, Ankara: comparing officers' notes

The special meeting of the chiefs of the general staffs of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, which discussed the development of tripartite relations and exchanged views on the military-strategic situation in the region, was evidence of deepening ties in the military sphere of the three neighboring states. One of the participants of the talks in an expanded format described the event as 'comparing officers' notes'.

It seemed that there is nothing extraordinary in the very fact of such a meeting - the defense departments of the three countries have long and successfully cooperated, including in the military-technical field. But this time the talks were conducted by the chiefs of the General Staff, that is, those in position of operational command of troops on the ground. In a way, their interaction is even more important and more indicative than demonstrative handshakes between representatives of higher departments.

Translated from diplomatic language to normal speech, the Tbilisi meeting means that the issue of further development of defense cooperation has been resolved at the level of the political leadership, including the defense ministers, and now it is time to work out mechanisms for cooperation in terms of operational command.

In the days of "comparing officers' notes", Azerbaijan's Minister of Defense, Zakir Hasanov, visited Tbilisi. After meeting him, Georgia's Defense Minister Levan Izoriya said that a positive dynamic is noticeable in the development and deepening of not just bilateral cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan, but also in a trilateral format. General Hasanov, in turn, expressed hope for an even greater acceleration of military cooperation between the three states.

In May this year, the defense ministers of the three countries already met in Batumi, and in June and September the Georgian, Azerbaijani and Turkish armed forces participated in the international exercises on Georgia's territory. Experts are convinced that frequent joint maneuvers of army units, regular meetings of defense ministers and talks at the level of chiefs of the General Staff demonstrates a deep coincidence of the interests of the three states on the most important issues of security and state development. These meetings can no longer be called ceremonial, although, ceremonies mean a lot in big politics. A political scientist Tornike Sharashenidze, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, said that Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey demonstrate the convergence of deep interests, as they face similar challenges: "This is, of course, the problem of separatism," Professor Sharashenidze recalled. According to him, separatism threatens not only the territorial integrity, that is, the statehood of Azerbaijan and Georgia, but, to some extent, Turkey's one. "That is why, the three states are increasingly cooperating in the military sphere, realizing that the challenge of aggressive separatism directly affects the sphere of military security," the expert said.

Asked why the three states have not officially formalized the alliance in the defense sphere in this case, Sharashenidze said that the formation of the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia alliance was considered premature at this stage, as these countries are pursuing a cautious foreign policy. Turkey remains a member of NATO, while cooperating with Russia; Tbilisi and Baku are also engaged in a dialogue with Moscow, but Georgia still has no diplomatic relations with Russia.

Nevertheless, Sharashenidze is confident that the absence of prospects for the official formalization of the trilateral alliance does not interfere with the real cooperation between the defense departments and the leaders of the military, taking decisions on the ground in terms of operational command and military-technical cooperation.