By Ayya Lmahamad
The first meeting of the "3 + 3" cooperation platform, dedicated to the issues of ensuring peace and stability in the South Caucasus, was held in Moscow on December 10.
The platform, on the initiatives of the Azerbaijani and Turkish Presidents, is considered as the most promising format for discussing regional issues and making final decisions.
The meeting was held under the co-chairmanship of Deputy Foreign Ministers of Russia Andrey Rudenko, Azerbaijan Khalaf Khalafov, Armenian Vahe Gevoryan, Turkish Sedat Onal, as well as the Iranian Foreign Ministry's Director-General of the Eurasia Department Alireza Haghlighian.
Representatives of Georgia, who were also invited, refused from participating in the meeting. During the meeting, representatives of participating countries expressed interest in Georgia’s joining the work of the platform, for which the "door" remains open.
The parties discussed the prospects for the development of multifaceted regional cooperation and agreed to direct the work of the platform towards the practical issues of interest to all its participants. Among these measures are to increase confidence, interaction in the trade, economic, transport, cultural, and humanitarian fields and to counter common challenges and threats. The further steps and work plans were discussed taking into account the possible involvement of the corresponding ministries and structures.
Platform to address common issues, initiatives, projects
Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov commented on the meeting in the "3 + 3" format in Moscow. He noted that discussions at the level of deputy ministers will be held on a rotating basis at least twice a year.
"The meetings and discussions will be held within the framework of the coordination and leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of the Ministries of Economy and Transport, as well as other sectoral structures if the need arises," he said.
Khalafov noted that depending on the development of the consultation mechanism, meetings and discussions at a higher level may be organized.
"The mechanism will operate on a consensus basis. The meetings can discuss common regional issues, initiatives and projects of mutual interest to the parties. The next meeting will be coordinated through diplomatic channels", he added.
Promising future of cooperation platform
Azerbaijani political analyst Ilyas Huseynov has told local media that the 3+3 cooperation format has a promising future. He recalled that the first comments in this issue were made at the Victory Parade, adding that the initiative was made by Turkish President.
"Along with the regional countries, this format is also considered amid the interests of Turkey, Iran and Russia. Georgia refused to participate in it although during the negotiations between Erdogan and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Garibashvili's positive attitude to this issue was stressed," he said.
Huseynov stated that then Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani announced the refusal to participate in any regional platform together with Russia. He added that a cooperation platform is an interesting approach for outside observers.
"At the moment, the process of diversification of cargo transportation is underway in the Eurasian region. This project is considered as the continuation of the "One Belt - One Road" concept. The issues with Iran have already been resolved," he said.
The analyst added that the importance of the 3+3 platform is growing in the context of the signed agreement among Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan on the transportation of the Turkmen gas through Iran to Azerbaijan.
Issues of regional stability, development to be raised
Azerbaijani political analyst Elkhan Shahinoglu has told local media that during the implementation of this platform in the region, the issues of stability, development, participation in joint projects will be raised.
"Armenia must recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Turkey as it still has territorial claims against both countries. Turkey raises the issue of cooperation and partnership. However, is it possible to participate in joint projects if Armenia does not abandon its territorial claims?" he said.
Noting that for the full activity of the platform, Armenia should take certain steps, the analyst stressed the importance of the Zangazur corridor for regional development. He added that the work on opening the corridor is proceeding slowly.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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