Moscow and Ankara propose 3+3 platform for the Caucasus
Dialogue with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran. Platform so far rejected by Georgia. Tbilisi does not trust the Kremlin, still at odds over the separate territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Like the Ukrainians, the Georgians look to NATO to balance the Russian threat.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Representatives of the countries of the South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia) along with those of Turkey, Russia and Iran have met in the Russian capital to assess the terms of collaboration under the 3+3 scheme proposed by Erdogan and supported by Moscow. Only the Georgians are recalcitrant to accept this new format, due to opposition to Russia which currenly occupies the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a note stating its opposition to the proposal, which will be worked on throughout the next year. The 3+2 group had a first meeting in Moscow on December 10 in Moscow. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan received an assurance that in this dialogue there will be no discussion of problems related to the conflict with Azeris in Karabakh, which are reserved for other levels of negotiations.
Tbilisi does not trust the Russians, considering the Kremlin's failure to respect accords made in 2008 by former Russian President Medvedev under the mediation of French President Sarkozy. Moscow responds that the Georgians must take into account the changes that have taken place in recent years, inserting themselves in the dynamics underway in the Caucasus region.
Meeting with OSCE countries (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had made it clear that he wanted to review the security criteria in the region, which Moscow is willing to adjust in exchange for the Georgian renunciation to join NATO. Lavrov stated that "we have proposed to go back to the foundations of the OSCE: equal rights, consensus, dialogue and shared security. I am sure that this system can also be useful for Georgia." He added that for a long time Tbilisi has slowed down the pace of its own development, precisely because it has not respected the interests of all the states involved in the Caucasian equilibrium.
However, after having offered the carrot, Russia also waved the stick, threatening Georgia with new problems if it does not accept its proposals. In the recent Geneva talks, Moscow demanded from Tbilisi guarantees for the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, currently controlled by the Kremlin, similar to the "autonomous republics" of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine's Donbass. The Russian insistence on the autonomy of these territories is in fact linked to fears of NATO enlargement in the East, starting from the Black Sea basin.
Vladimir Putin is acting on several fronts to protect himself against the US and European plans of expansion towards the East, both in Georgia and in Ukraine. According to Valerij Čečelašvili, expert of the Center for Strategic Studies of Georgia and former ambassador in Russia, Moscow tries in every way to shore up its positions, knowing that it is not able to withstand the military and strategic challenge with the United States and its allies. "Russia - explains Čečelašvili - which has a GDP of 1,310 billion euros demands from Washington, an economy of 18,500 billion, and from the entire international community that has established a regime of sanctions against the Kremlin, to have guarantees against the enlargement of NATO." In reality, argues the Georgian expert, "this will be a choice of Georgia and Ukraine, mainly to defend themselves against Moscow's aggression that does not respect the territorial integrity of neighboring countries."
Many analysts believe that Russia is actually bluffing in order to try to stop the course of events, which could take away Moscow's control of most of the former Soviet area.