Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have agreed to cooperate in creating military forces and defense systems in line with NATO standards and in the training of military and civilian personnel, according to a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed and approved by the three parties.
According to the MoU, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor, the three countries will also cooperate in implementation of joint military exercises and participation in such activities. The fields of cooperation, listed in Article 4, suggest ambitious collaboration schemes among the three ranging from cooperation in the defense industry, technology, research, procurement, logistics and cyber security to military mapping and electronic warfare.
The agreement, officially titled “Memorandum of Understanding among the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Government of Georgia and the Government of the Republic of Turkey concerning cooperation in defence sphere,” was put into effect in Turkey on June 12, 2019 with its publication in the Official Gazette. The agreement was originally signed on March 31, 2018 in Turkey’s northeastern province Giresun by the ministers of defense from all three countries.
The MoU also established mechanisms to implement these cooperation schemes. According to Article 5 of the agreement, direct contact points among the relevant units, staffs and agencies will be set up to fulfill the goals set by all three governments. The exchange of military personnel, joint training and joint exercises as well as the sharing of knowledge and expertise is envisaged. Meetings at the defense ministerial level for discussion and consultation will be held to oversee the application of the agreement. For the Georgians, in addition to the defense ministry, the interior ministry was also listed as a competent authority in executing the agreement.
The Article 7 states that the three countries will establish a joint working group to prepare annual plans of the cooperation, to determine ways and means of cooperation and to decide on meetings, financing and other relevant matters in fulfilling the terms of the MoU.
Information exchanged under the agreement will be classified and will not be transmitted to any third party. In the event of a dispute, only consultation mechanisms are available to settle differences, ruling out any national, international or third party arbitration mechanisms.
The agreement is valid for a five-year term with automatic renewal for one year unless prior written notification is made for withdrawal.
The MoU was sent to parliament for ratification by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on October 25, 2018. It was approved by the Foreign Relations Commission on November 15, 2018 and by the General Assembly on May 30, 2019. The approval procedures for both Azerbaijan and Georgia had previously been completed.
Turkey has two trilateral ministerial mechanisms in the region — one with Azerbaijan and Georgia and the other with Iran and Azerbaijan. Ankara wants to merge the two into a quartet and led a drive to establish such a mechanism last year after meetings among the foreign ministers of all four countries. The meeting of foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia was held on October 29, 2018, and a meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran was held on October 30, 2018, a day later.
The full text of the agreement is posted below: