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Azerbaijan-Russia-Turkey format to enhance regional stability
By Kamila Aliyeva Despite the complexity of regional dynamics in South Caucasus, multilateral formats, improving political and economic ties between the countries, provide serious support to regional development. A new trilateral format between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia, which is under creation, will serve as a ground for increasing trust between the neighboring countries. On the sidelines of the Russian Press Council Conference being held in Alanya on April 23-26, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the cooperation within the trilateral Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia format can strengthen the stability in the South Caucasus region.
Cavusoglu noted that Turkey has high-level relations with Azerbaijan and good relationship with Russia. He also expressed confidence that the trilateral Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia format will be a positive example of cooperation between the three countries.
The cooperation of Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey, on the one hand, will support the development of tripartite economic ties. On the other hand, it will bring them closer from the political point of view, which, in turn, will have a positive impact the establishment of peace, security and stability in the region.
Currently, there are several trilateral formats in the region such as Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Turkey-Iran and Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan.
The best example of the effectiveness of such cooperation is the tripartite format with Georgia. The benefits brought by the large-scale projects of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the first bypassing Russia oil pipeline in the post-Soviet territory after the Cold War, and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline to the three countries are obvious. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is expected to further strengthen the neighborly and fraternal relations among the three countries and enable the countries to supply domestically produced goods to the world markets. After implementing these projects, Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan trilateral relations has gained a strategic character and also become vital for many Western partners. With Turkey's diversification of the ways leading to Central Asia, Azerbaijan will become the main point in this direction. This will positively affect the development of transport infrastructure by ships on the Caspian Sea and rail transportation in the region.
It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan and Turkey are the key countries in all the mentioned interstate structures. It might be explained by the fact that Azerbaijan–Turkey relations have always been strong mostly described as "one nation with two states". Azerbaijan’s geopolitical and strategic location also allowed and paved the way for Turkey to reach beyond the Caspian Sea and expand its relations with the countries in the region in various spheres, including energy, commerce, and transportation.
Notwithstanding the fact that Turkey and Russia earlier have sided with different parties between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Ankara and Baku both could have found ways to overcome their territorial limitations (Turkey borders Azerbaijan only through its exclave - Nakhchivan), and at the same time to advance the relations with Moscow within the new multilateral format.
The sides expect not only economic, but also political results from trilateral formats of cooperation.
The creation of trilateral format between Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey might also impact the settlement of Karabakh conflict. Many analysts and experts suggest that the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey may reach high enough to affect Armenia as well. Against the background of a favorable political atmosphere, the significant progress can be made in Karabakh dispute.
The three-way cooperation format Ankara-Baku-Moscow could accelerate the peace process, on the condition that Russia will force the aggressor Armenia to take a constructive position. In this case, not only Azerbaijan but also Turkey may join the Eurasian Economic Union, according to experts.
The idea of creating the tripartite format of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia was initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the framework of his St. Petersburg meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in August 2016.
For more than two decades Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a state of war following Yerevan’s aggression, ethnic cleansing policy and illegal territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenia keeps under control over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions in a brutal war in the early 1990s.
Despite a fragile ceasefire agreement signed in 1994, Armenia keeps violating armistice with Azerbaijan.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Armenia due to the dispute over the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan regards as genocide.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva