Two historic meetings in Istanbul: new chapter in regional cooperation

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Baku, 7 November 2018 –

Experts point out serious impact of global processes on the regional scale. In this context, geo-political assessment of what is happening in the South Caucasus has gained topicality. The US`s and Russia`s becoming more and more active on the one hand, and re-imposition of anti-Iranian sanctions on the other, raises new questions. Anti-Iranian sanctions will probably have impact on regional countries. Experts already point to first signs of changes in the financial sector. Against this background, the holding of Turkey-Azerbaijan-Iran and Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia meetings at historic Dolmabahce Palace is of great importance. Experts consider the Istanbul meetings to be a new chapter in regional cooperation. This article will look at this issue from several perspectives.

Trilateral cooperation format: Azerbaijani President`s successful initiative

The Armenian foreign policy remains unchanged. The outpost country`s leaders are committed to their predecessors` non-constructive stance. Nikol Pashinyan`s provocative visits to Azerbaijan`s occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh added uncertainty to the situation. On the contrary, the Azerbaijani leadership is pursuing a firm and resolute foreign policy. As a result, the Armenian media and experts admit that Baku has, in fact, isolated Yerevan.

Latest geopolitical and diplomatic developments in the region confirm this thesis. Even senior US and Russian officials do not voice any opinion that would please Armenia. On the contrary, they say that the conflict can be solved only based on Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity. More and more Russian experts admit that Moscow does not defend Yerevan.

As regards Washington`s position, visits to the region by John Bolton and other officials once again confirmed that the West considers Azerbaijan`s demands completely right and openly admits the necessity of Yerevan`s obeying these demands. It should be taken into account that the West had not been speaking so openly and confidently previously. The US national security adviser truly shocked everyone in Yerevan: he made a hint that Washington may supply arms to Azerbaijan too. This means that the US does not want to continue an anti-Azerbaijani policy. For Washington, a reliable, sovereign and fair partner is more suitable.

Two very important events took place in Istanbul against this background. One of them was a trilateral meeting of the Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian foreign ministers, and the other was a meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. There are a lot of points that connect these two meetings.

Firstly, both meetings were held in a trilateral format. It is a well-known fact that this format was initiated by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Experts say this cooperation format can be considered an innovation in the history of diplomacy for its uniqueness and flexibility. Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran, Azerbaijan-Iran-Russia, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Pakistan cooperation formats are yielding fruits.

And we should not forget about a quadrilateral format of cooperation. The President of Azerbaijan has played a key role in establishing this format too. The creation of cooperation mechanisms in Azerbaijan-Georgia-Iran-Turkey formats paves the way for the development and elevation of regional cooperation to a qualitatively new level.

Secondly, those meetings were held in Turkey. The initiatives that bring regional states (except for Armenia which was isolated because of its aggression and occupation) are already yielding fruits. And the President of Azerbaijan has played an exceptional role in making these initiatives a reality.

Thirdly, regional cooperation, in particular security were high on the agenda at both meetings. The meetings focused on the protection of territorial integrity of states, security, development of different forms of cooperation, and in particular the ensuring of Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity.

An isolated quasi-state: another blow to Armenia

Fourthly, all the sides agreed to maintain cooperation in order to address regional problems. In an interview with IRNA news agency, Iran`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif said Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran will actively develop their relations in order to ensure regional peace and stability.

Experts wonder why these processes have suddenly speeded up and why Armenia, which enjoys close relations with Iran, has not been involved in this process. This is the most thought-provoking point in this issue because Iran had always given Yerevan its helping hand throughout history. But now there is no action from Iranian officials except for formal statements. And there will never be. Because, first of all, Iran made a historic mistake by helping the Armenians. Helping liars, oppressors is a big sin in Islam. In addition, the Armenians have historically been betrayers. If they betrayed the Azerbaijanis who gave them bread, they can betray anyone in the world.

Finally, Armenia is not independent as a state, it receives instructions from external powers. If previously official Yerevan had been receiving instructions from Russia only, it now gets directions from America too. The United States claims that if Washington is the major driving force and sponsor of color revolution, Yerevan should get closer to it. And Washington`s number one enemy now is Tehran.

This shows that Armenia has no other way than being isolated. This also means that no regional state wants to deliberately throw Armenia into isolation. The point is that Yerevan has taken such a geopolitical stance that cooperating with it is risky and ineffective. Against this background, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and Georgia enjoy growing cooperation opportunities.

First of all, it should be noted that Azerbaijan and Turkey have not made any changes to their regional policies after John Bolton`s visit. Their stance remains to maintain mutually fruitful cooperation and security. This takes extra significance against a background of the re-imposition of the sanctions against Iran. Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are interested in maintaining stability and peace in the region. The principle of ensuring territorial integrity was set forth in the declaration that the three countries signed following the trilateral meeting in Istanbul.

In the declaration, the ministers ''…underlined the importance of achieving a lasting peaceful settlement of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and conflict in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia on the basis of universally recognized principles and norms of international law, particularly, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of states, as well as in accordance with relevant resolutions, declarations and decisions of the UN, the OSCE and the CoE; underscored the necessity of safe and dignified return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to the places of their origin''. (see: Istanbul Declaration of the 7th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Turkey/, 29 October, 2018).

So another historic events took place in Istanbul. Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia came together in order to ensure sustainable stability and cooperation in the South Caucasus. They signed a document that envisages cooperation in a range of areas. There are two significant points here. The first is that only regional countries are involved in the process. The second is that Armenia, the outpost for superpowers in the South Caucasus, is isolated. Both points are of vital geopolitical importance. The first manifests itself in regional countries` perseverance to address their problems by themselves, while the second lies in the fact that Armenia, which pursues a policy of aggression, is not supported. Both points can be considered a triumph of Baku`s foreign policy.

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