“The Platform of Six” - A New Model of Cooperation for the South Caucasus

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
The study of Turkey's foreign policy orientation reveals that the South Caucasus is one of the most important foreign policy priorities for Turkey. This interest has been considered by many reasons. Turkey has been trying intensively to be more represented in the countries of the South Caucasus region for years and has offered a number of interesting models of cooperation to the countries of this region. The incumbent President of the country - Recep T. Erdogan had the initiatives of "Caucasus Security Platform" and "Football Diplomacy". Both were initiated in 2008. The third / new model of cooperation was announced by him at the end of 2020, in particular, on December 10, during his official visit to Baku, and it is known as "The Platform of Six". The new model envisages the development of cooperation between the six countries of the South Caucasus region - Turkey, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. The president of Turkey did not talk about the details of the platform and the opportunities for cooperation, which means that as one of the previous platforms, this one is only the proposal and no details have been processed. The implementation of this platform, if it happens, will completely change the geopolitical landscape in the South Caucasus region: if cooperation on this format is successful, we will have a reality when Georgia's foreign policy choice towards the EU faces a big challenge, if not rejected at all. For Russia, the realization of this platform will be equal to success, but if we look at the volume of economic sanctions on Russia, this victory will cost him dearly. This will be the success that Russia needs to "maintain its image." Azerbaijan is fully prepared to cooperate in any format initiated by Turkey. The European way is not a priority for Azerbaijan to exchange Turkish support for defending this foreign policy choice. Iran's involvement in this platform is one of the most interesting issues, because if we recall the processes of preparation of previous platforms (and not only platforms), we will see that Turkey always avoids introducing Iran in regional cooperation formats, but at the same time the volume of bilateral cooperation has increased significantly in recent years. Iran is not active in joining such formats either, although its interest in the South Caucasus region is quite actual. As for the issue of Armenia, despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to restore diplomatic relations with it, the failure to normalize these relations remains a foreign policy challenge for Turkey. The disruption of diplomatic relations with Armenia in its time was a mistake of Turkish diplomacy, and as time goes on, this issue becomes so complex that at first glance there are not even opportunities to resolve it. We think that this platform will not be realized, despite the fact that political actors such as Russia and Turkey are interested in this cooperation. Among the obstacles, we must first mention the resistance of the countries of the region: Iran and Armenia are opposed to cooperation in this format. Georgia has not yet expressed an explicitly negative or positive position. We also think that the new U.S. administration, under the leadership of President J. Biden, will not allow Russia and Turkey to strengthen their power in the region. Moreover, due to inconsistent policies, Turkey has complicated relations with the United States and US support towards Turkey is not unconditional.
South Caucasus, Security, "Six Format"