Turkey, Iran propose 3+3 format for Caucasus
Turkey and Iran have proposed a 3+3 format cooperation mechanism for the Caucasus with Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Georgia, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 29 after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif.
“We are planning a cooperation on the south Caucasus in a 3+3 format with the proposal of Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev, with the support of [Russian President Vladimir] Mr. Putin, our president and other leaders,” Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at a joint press conference with the Iranian minister.
“Peace and stability in the south Caucasus are for the benefit of everyone, and normalization in this region will again especially benefit the countries of the region. But Armenia and the people of Armenia will benefit the most.”
“Therefore, we expect Armenia to take constructive steps in this direction,” he added.
Zarif was in Turkey as part of a tour of countries in the south Caucasus aimed at building support for the creation of a regional platform that would include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey, and encourage cooperation between the countries. He also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 29.
The initiative was proposed following a cease-fire agreement in November that halted weeks of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Iranian minister, for his part, said that during his visits to Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Georgia, he had emphasized that the past should be seen as a way to the future. “We should positively use this. The ceasefire that currently exists [in Upper Karabakh] should become more permanent. It should ensure the revival of trade and economic relations,” the minister added.
Emphasizing that the ground is ready for all six countries at the moment, Zarif said, “We can carry out activities for the development of the region and for these six countries. We can cooperate in different fields in terms of highways and railways and energy. I am very optimistic about this.”
The minister expressed his will to advance this cooperation “despite the considerations of some countries,” but he did not name the state.
Zarif said that he informed Çavuşoğlu regarding his visits made to these four countries and that he would share information about today’s talks with other countries.
On the other hand, Çavuşoğlu said that he hopes the Biden administration would return to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran, recalling that Turkey has always supported the nuclear deal that was reached by the U.S., EU and Iran.
“I hope the Biden administration will return to the agreement, so the sanctions on brotherly Iran will be lifted,” he stated.
The Iranian foreign minister said the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from this comprehensive course of action and the United States has to return to this agreement and fulfil its obligations.
“The moment the United States fulfils its commitments, we will be prepared to fulfil ours,” he added.
This article originally appeared in Hurriyet Daily News on 29 Jan 2021.