Geopolitical shift in South Caucasus: waning Russian influence
Russia replaced by Turkey and Azerbaijan
Russia’s influence in the South Caucasus is shifting in favor of Turkey and Azerbaijan, while Georgia remains in the “backyard”, political scientist Paata Zakareishvili believes. The government of Georgia is pursuing not even a pro-Russian policy, but one emanating directly from Russia, Zakareishvili said on Pirveli TV.
He says that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Georgia after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Azerbaijan. Aliyev himself wrote on his Twitter that from now on issues in the Caucasus will be resolved by agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan, Zakareishvili notes.
“I said long before the Karabakh war that Georgia needs to start direct contacts with Turkey, we should become its direct partner. There was an unsettled conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan [and we could have shown more initiative as a neutral side], but we turned out to be so incapacitated that now Azerbaijan, a party to the conflict, invites us to the Armenian-Azerbaijani-Georgian alliance,” the political scientist says.
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In his view, there is a higher “class” of alliance in Turkey-Azerbaijan, and there is a lower class in the form of Georgia-Armenia, although Georgia had every reason to be in the leading position:
“Today it is clear that Armenia and Azerbaijan are pushing Russia out of the South Caucasus. They talk more with Armenia, because Armenia sees Turkey’s geopolitical role in the Caucasus more than we do. And we are quiet, we stay in the backyard. Azerbaijan settled relations with Armenia at the Prague meeting without even talking to Garibashvili. Then Erdogan came to Azerbaijan, opened an airport, agreed on something and gave some instructions, and Aliyev came to Georgia with them. Oil is very good, but Georgia becomes just a corridor and has neither political nor geopolitical weight.”
As Zakareishvili notes, Russia’s main goal today is to prevent Turkey from becoming stronger.
“Only two countries on earth benefit from the war in Ukraine – Turkey and China. When Erdogan talks about this war, he always means: “I am the main thing.” Assuming that Turkey solved the problem with the supply of wheat and Africans did not starve to death, Turkey helped Ukraine return the heroes of Azovstal. We have this country nearby, but we do not make use of it, we keep quiet,” Zakareishvili says.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Tbilisi on October 24. He was received by Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili. Aliyev’s visit to Tbilisi was unexpected even for journalists.
As said at a briefing with the two leaders, the main topic was cooperation in the energy sector. Azerbaijan plans to increase energy exports to Europe, which implies an increase in the volume of oil and gas through pipelines passing through Georgia.
According to Aliyev, the loading of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will be increased for the export of natural gas, and the Baku-Tbilisi terminal, temporarily suspended at present, will be put into operation.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that Azerbaijan is Georgia’s most important strategic partner.