The Jamestown Foundation recently led an eight-member board delegation to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Led by Ambassador Matthew Bryza, a Jamestown board member and former deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, the delegation included Jamestown board members, Jamestown experts and private businessmen. From May 6 to May 16, the group traveled across the region, meeting with senior current and former government officials. The focus of the trip was to learn more about the current state of U.S. relations with each of the countries and their domestic political contexts, as well as to gain a fuller picture of the security challenges facing each country and the region as a whole.
The delegation had the honor of meeting with current and former U.S., Turkish, Azerbaijani and Georgian officials and politicians, as well as business leaders, academics and opinion makers. While in Turkey, the delegation’s meetings included U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Philip Kosnett and U.S. Consul General Jennifer Davis, as well as Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Deputy Under Secretary of the Turkish Ministry of National Defense Yunus Emre Karaosmanoğlu. Among their meetings in Azerbaijan, the delegation had the opportunity to dialogue with U.S. Chargé d’Affaires William Gill, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev, SOCAR’s Vice-President Elshad Nassirov and Shahmar Movsumov, executive director of the State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijan Republic. In Georgia, the delegation also had the honor of meeting with several high-ranking officials, including U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikheil Janelidze, Georgian Minister of Defense Levan Izoria and Colonel Nikoloz Janjgava, Georgia’s first deputy chief of the general staff.
Over the course of trip, Jamestown engaged with officials on a variety of issues that underscore why this region and U.S. bilateral relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are of high importance to U.S. national security interests. Among the issues highlighted were a number of energy and transport infrastructure projects that not only have the potential to increase the region’s strategic importance, but also have the potential to support the future development of each of the countries that are a party to them. Likewise, through these meetings, members of the Jamestown delegation deepened their understanding of the unique challenges facing each country. These topics included Turkey’s operations in Syria and the Turkish position on the role of the Kurds in northern Syria; Azerbaijan’s engagement with neighboring Armenia and Iran, as well as the official demarcation of the Caspian Sea; and Georgia’s NATO aspirations and the current state of Georgia’s occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as the lessons that the Russia-Georgia War of 2008 can provide in understanding Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The Jamestown Foundation is dedicated to providing insight and perspectives from indigenous voices to policymakers in Washington, D.C. In pursuit of this goal, this trip provided the opportunity for Jamestown board members and experts to engage directly with senior officials and policy influencers in countries covered extensively in Jamestown’s publications. Over the course of the trip, the delegation further expanded its understanding of the role that Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia play in underwriting regional security. The insight gained will directly support future Jamestown analysis of events in each of these countries, which is a key part of the Foundation’s efforts to support U.S. policymakers by providing them with a deeper understanding of events that are of importance to U.S. national security interests in the region.
The Jamestown Foundation would like to express its deepest gratitude to all of those who took the time to meet with the delegation and hosted them during their trip to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.