Tornike Sharashenidze: Turkey’s interests in the South Caucasus do not always coincide with those of the United States
The situation in the region has indeed radically changed, the balance of forces has radically changed, Turkey entered the region and the Russian Federation could not oppose anything to this. Objectively, today it is Georgia that is the only ally of the United States in the region. Let’s put it bluntly, the Caucasus is not a zone of vital US interests, but this does not mean at all that our region is not important for the United States. Geographically, and geopolitically, the Caucasus is one of the key points of both the post-Soviet space and the Greater Middle East, and Georgia is the gateway to the Caucasus. Incidentally, this is best understood by Russia, which at one time began the conquest of the Caucasus from Georgia. I think that Washington is well aware of this too.
Of course, it is very unfortunate that Pompeo represents the outgoing administration today, but at the same time, it is necessary to take into account the fact that, unlike Trump, Pompeo is part of the US political system. And if we achieve something, it is not a fact that we will achieve it, it will hardly work out so easily, but we would very much like to achieve it. So if we achieve something in these negotiations, for example, an increase in military assistance to Georgia, this will be continued by the next administration.
As for the base, the United States is a superpower, but even its resources are not endless, and a very serious motivation is needed in order to make a decision to open a military base. After the war in Karabakh and the new alignment of forces in the region, in which the United States is practically not present, such motivation is possible. But if Washington considers that such a decision will be associated with serious costs, not only financial, but also political, this will be their decision, which we are unlikely to be able to change. Let’s see, we, those who signed the appeal to the Secretary of State, did everything in our power, the decision is still made in Washington.
The Karabakh war has shown that the main player in the region continues to be the Russian Federation, which has three military bases here, two, unfortunately, in our occupied territories. And now Turkey has also entered the region. And let’s be frank, Turkey’s interests in the South Caucasus do not always coincide with those of the United States, and Turkey’s strengthening in the region does not automatically mean NATO’s strengthening. Sometimes their interests may not coincide, and the South Caucasus is just this case.
As for the domestic political agenda, the position of the United States. The Americans expect a compromise from us, as evidenced by the negotiations taking place at the residence of the US Ambassador. Let’s hope that someday there will come a time when representatives of our political establishment will be able to negotiate with each other without intermediaries. but today we see that this is impossible. Everyone understands that if a compromise is not reached, both the authorities and the opposition will face hard times. And, unfortunately, our American and European partners understand this more than our politicians. I think Pompeo will call on both the authorities and the opposition to do just that, but the share of the authorities’ responsibility in this case, of course, is immeasurably greater.
Tornike Sharashenidze, GSAC