TURKEY AND SECURITY IN THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS: THE CAUCASUS STABILITY AND COOPERATION PLATFORM
Maya Manchkhashvili, Assistant Fellow at the Institute of Political Studies, Ilia Chavchavadze State University (Tbilisi, Georgia)
The August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia tipped the balance of forces in the Southern Caucasus and made it harder to set up a regional security system.
The new challenges (occupation of Georgia’s two regions and recognition of their independence) were set off by certain positive shifts (the “football diplomacy” between Turkey and Armenia and the Zurich Protocols) which, however, did not carry enough weight to accelerate the peacekeeping process.
The Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform Turkey laid on the table in the wake of the August war obviously had no future, although it clarified the problems to a certain extent and inspired the quest for new and more adequate decisions.
The Road toward the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform
Since the 1990s, Turkey, one of the key political actors in the Southern Caucasus, has offered a regional security model twice.
On 16 January, 2000, President Süleyman Demirel invited the regional countries to join the Caucasus Stability Pact, which envisaged Washington’s active involvement; the project, however, was never realized.
Back in 1999, then President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze offered a similar project at the Istanbul OSCE Summit and was supported by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Robert Kocharian specified the idea in the 3 + 3 + 2 formula: three South Caucasian republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia); three neighbors (Russia, Turkey, and Iran) and two extraregional powers (the European Union and the United States). None of the leaders, however, were inspired enough by this relatively feasible idea to develop it further.
In 2000, the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels came forward with its own Stability Pact for the Caucasus. This largely useful document threatened, albeit indirectly, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
This means that the quest for a regional security model acceptable to both the regional and external actors failed.
The 2008 August war added urgency to the regional security issue and made the search for a way out even more complicated; Turkey alone braved the challenge while the war was still going on by putting forward the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.
On 11 August, 2008, Prime Minister of Turkey Recept Tayyip Erdoğan came to Moscow to discuss the project with President Medvedev; he then went to Baku and Tbilisi to hold consultations, during which proposals were made to form an alliance.
Under the second version of the same document, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey were expected to………………