Georgian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has said while Tbilisi finds it “very hard” to join the so-called 3+3 platform (involving Russia, Turkey, Iran as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), the country should still find ways to engage in prospective infrastructure projects in the region.
“Our partners and neighbors, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, strategic partners, [Turkey] and U.S., are aware that it’ll be very hard for us to participate in the format together with the occupier country [Russia]. Given the situation that we do not see any process towards de-occupation, it is very difficult to sit down in this format and discuss infrastructure projects,” the top Georgian diplomat told the Georgian Public Broadcaster on October 7.
But the Georgian Foreign Minister voiced some “food for thought” for the public, noting that Georgia, in some form or another, should engage in “major geopolitical projects and relations.”
“We must not be lagging behind processes developing in the region,” Minister Zalkaliani went on, adding that the country “should be involved in new infrastructire projects, that may [otherwise] miss Georgia, leading it lose its role and function.”
He noted however, that the engagement should not take place at the expense of national interests and concessions to the occupier country, stressing that sovereignty and territorial integrity are “red lines” for the Georgian government.
Foreign Minister Zalkaliani’s media remarks came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov resurfaced the idea of the 3+3 platform amid top Iranian diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Moscow.
FM Lavrov expressed hopes that “despite its current problems, Georgia will be able to realize its fundamental interest in creating such a mechanism for consultations and approving decisions for the accelerated development of this region, which had been held back for a long time by the ongoing conflicts.”
“Our Iranian friends are supportive of this initiative, as are Azerbaijan and Turkey. We are working on it with our Armenian colleagues,” said Lavrov.
The idea of the six-country regional cooperation platform was first voiced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2020, a month after Armenia and Azerbaijan ended six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Below see MFA’s reaction to this news item. Updated on Saturday, October 9, 16:49.