Objectives, Messages of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia Exercises

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An international affairs expert stated: Trade and investment, along with security and military cooperation, have been the main focus of Turkey’s activities in the South Caucasus, and Ankara is trying to form strategic cooperation with those countries in the absence of Russia.

In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Seyed Ali Qaem Maghami pointed to the strengthening of defense, security, and intelligence cooperation between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey in the South Caucasus by holding the Eternity-2023 joint exercise at the Center for War Games of the National Defense University and stated: The exercise was conducted to protect significant economic projects of strategic and regional importance, as well as examining and upgrading the command position with the support of computer networks, in a hall and operational manner.

Saying that the three countries have common tripartite agreements and pursue extensive regional cooperation, he added: Turkey and Georgia have signed the agreement of the Supreme Council of Strategic Cooperation, and in 2019, they carried out the Caucasian Eagle joint military exercise and in the following years, they continued the exercise. Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have joined together in many regional organizations.

The expert on international affairs, emphasizing that Georgia has a very sensitive strategic position, said: The northern part of the East-West Corridor passes through Baku-Tbilisi-Turkey and the Trans-Caspian Corridor (Central Corridor) to the countries of Central Asia, and from there, it is connected to China and East Asian countries. Therefore, Georgia is also very important for Russia. Due to the passage of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) from Georgia, that country is also very important to the West. Azerbaijan and Georgia play a significant role in ensuring Europe’s energy security, to such an extent that Azerbaijan alone has exported about 24.5 billion cubic meters of gas to global markets since the beginning of 2023. They seek to improve and strengthen such security.

Stating that Georgia has an extraordinary transit sensitivity, he pointed to the efforts to develop the middle belt and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line as the main route of this middle transit corridor. He added Georgia’s joint exercise with Azerbaijan and Turkey aimed to strengthen Georgia’s position in the current situation. In fact, this exercise was a warning to countries that may try to endanger that region’s location and transit facilities or infrastructure projects. In addition, the three countries and even Armenia are members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, which has given great importance to Georgia in transit.

He continued: Another objective of this exercise was to announce and emphasize to Georgia that despite the recent developments in Azerbaijan, Georgia’s strategic position will not be weakened, and there will be no change.

The international affairs analyst pointed to the relations between Baku, Tbilisi, and Ankara with Moscow. Regarding the message that Russia received from the exercise, he said Turkey was also actively expanding its footprint in another part of the former Soviet Republic. On the other hand, Turkey and Georgia confirmed the operation that the Republic of Azerbaijan carried out in Karabakh and are aligned with it. The oil and gas lines that those countries follow in that region are considered an alternative for Russia regarding geo-strategy and geopolitics.

He said that the Russian media are very sensitive about military movements and the increasing presence of Turkey in the Caucasus and Central Asia; however, they express doubts about the ability to challenge Russia’s interests. He added: In recent months, we have witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan and Turkish military companies. Also, with the support of Ilham Aliyev, Turkey has expanded the influence of the Israeli regime in the South Caucasus, including the Republic of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The state of relations and cooperation in that strategic region is complicated in the current situation.

Referring to the consequences of sanctions against Russia and the establishment of communication lines in Central Asia and the Caucasus by Turkey and Azerbaijan, in which Russia has no role to play, he stated: Trade and investment, along with security and military cooperation, have been the main focus of Turkey’s activities in the South Caucasus and Turkey is trying to form strategic cooperation with those countries in the absence of Russia.

The analyst of international affairs said: Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, the Central Asian Corridor, which connects China to Turkey and Europe through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, has been an important part of the cooperation program between Turkey and Central Asia; because this route allows the landlocked countries of the region to advance their energy export routes from a route other than Russia which is under embargo.

Ghaem Maghami continued by saying that military, defense, and technical cooperation shows the highest level of cooperation between the countries, and continued: It seems that in the current situation, Turkey is trying to strengthen the collective military and defense power in the region by using non-Russian approaches and capabilities, which cannot be ignored in the long term, with the cooperation of some countries in the region.

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