Caspian States Boost Security, Economy With Trilateral Partnerships

Caspian States Boost Security, Economy With Trilateral Partnerships
Oil derricks on the Caspian Sea beyond the Bibi Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 3, 2006 (AP photo by Mikhail Metzel).

Russia’s assertive approach to reclaiming a sphere of interest in the post-Soviet space has highlighted the security dilemmas facing Eurasian countries that find themselves outside of any regional military alliance. Although recent attention has focused on Georgia and Ukraine, the Caspian littoral countries have for several years considered themselves vulnerable to renewed Russian assertiveness and have complained about declining U.S. and European engagement in their region.

In response to these challenges, as well as in pursuit of new opportunities for regional energy cooperation, Azerbaijan has partnered with Turkey and, at various times, Georgia, Iran and Turkmenistan in recent years to pursue targeted trilateral economic, energy and security collaboration.

The trilateral formats, most often seen in meetings between foreign ministers, supplement bilateral and other multilateral mechanisms and help the participants advance their national security, economic development and geopolitical independence. These “Caspian triangles” also enable the participating states to compartmentalize diplomatic tensions and manage antagonistic relationships by aligning with different combinations of partners in pursuit of mutually beneficial goals.

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