In a move that is seen as a major foreign policy step, Georgia on Friday (24 September), announced the launch of the "Peaceful Neighbourhood Initiative" to promote stability in the South Caucasus Region. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, speaking from the rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly announced the initiative, saying it "will facilitate dialogue and confidence-building, and lead to the implementation of practical solutions to regional issues of common interest with our US and EU partners."
In his speech, after dealing with a number of issues related to Georgia's development over the last three decades, and reaffirming Georgia's aspirations for full EU and NATO membership, Garibashvili referred to the situation in the Black Sea and South Caucasus region. He said:
From a geopolitical perspective, the Black Sea region is growing ever more important. The Black Sea is on the front lines of a dynamic regional chess match. It is a microcosm of conflict management; and I would say, if we can maintain peace and stability here, we can do so elsewhere.
Therefore, our goal is to ensure peace and stability in the entire region. In the South Caucasus, I propose what I am calling the Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative to promote stability in our region.
This format will facilitate dialogue and confidence-building, and lead to the implementation of practical solutions to regional issues of common interest with our US and EU partners.
Georgia stands ready to host an international gathering in Tbilisi to discuss the prospects of our Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative, involving our South Caucasian neighbors, our brothers, and international partners.
Let us begin with small steps to build trust, then we can move toward resolving other regional and global issues together.
A sustainable peace and a common strategic outlook for the South Caucasus will benefit the wider Black Sea region and enhance broader European and global security.
commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that the Georgian initiative, although for the moment short on detail, is very timely. The 44 day Karabakh War last autumn, and the subsequent trilateral declaration between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, have created new conditions in the region where up to now regional co-operation had been hard to come by. There is in the region a sense that a window of opportunity now exists to try to bring to a solution some of the many outstanding issues that have caused tensions and conflicts since the collapse of the Soviet Union. There are already a number of ideas floating around about possible formations for taking forward the process for regional peace, including a Turkish one which proposes a 3+3 format. The Georgian initiative appears to be very different, but leaves many questions yet unanswered. But the very fact that Georgia has committed to such a process is a positive development.
photo: Georgian prime minister Irakli Garibashvili addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on 24 September 2021 (picture courtesy of the press service of the Government of Georgia)