Turkey uses establishment of relations with Georgia to strengthen its position in region: experts

Turkey uses establishment of relations with Georgia to strengthen its position in region: experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 15 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva/

Strengthening the relations between Turkey and Georgia is driven by Ankara's desire to change foreign policy and to take a more active stance in the Caucasus region, experts believe.

"Georgia and Turkey historically have close relations so it is no surprise that Turkey is working to build up even closer links as part of its new assertive foreign policy strategy in its neighbourhood," believes Amanda Akcakoca, European Expert on South Caucasus.

Last week, in an interview with the Georgian First TV Channel, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davudoglu said the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey will visit Abkhazia in the near future.

"Turkey considers the peoples of the Caucasus as the residents of one house, living under one roof, and therefore, we want the Georgians and Abkhazians have lived in the same house in terms of mutual respect. The forthcoming visit of the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister serves this purpose," Interfax quoted Dovudoglu as saying.

On Sept. 11, Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili during awarding the Turkish Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Georgia Ertan Tezgor the Order of Honor, said that "Turkey is Georgia's key ally in the region", GeorgiaTimes reported.

The President stressed that Georgia and Turkey have close political partnership, and free trade regime, as well as the turnover has increased several times in recent years.

Experts believe the apparent rapprochement between Turkey and Georgia in recent times has been dictated by Ankara's desire to take a more active stance in the region.

In the Caucasus Turkey is seeking to use the benefit of any vacuum, every opportunity, and the recent intensification of relations between Turkey and Georgia is caused by the fact that after the hostilities in August 2008, Washington has begun to pay attention to Tbilisi, Azerbaijani Political Scientist, Tofiq Abbasov believes.

"The very military campaign and its consequences showed that the White House administration makes a pause before beginning to implement a new policy with respect to Georgia, Azerbaijani Expert at the Leader-TV Analytical Group, Abbasov told Trend . "This is in some sense useful for Ankara which, besides a mediator function, has also its own interests in the Caucasus."

The analyst believes the uncertainty which President Saakashvili has faced in the relations with the United States as the main strategic partner, has created some of the niches that Ankara is trying to fill in. However, these niches cannot radically affect the regional geopolitical alignment, said Abbasov.

Ever since Turkey launched its stability initiative for the region following last years Georgia-Russia war, Ankara has been endeavouring to find a bigger role for itself in the region as well as contribute to efforts to increase stability, Expert of the European Policy Centre (Belgium), Akcakoca wrote to Trend in an email.

Russia and Turkey in mid-September 2008 launched a plan to create a "Caucasus Security & Stability Platform", whose establishment was caused by the desire of Turkey and Russia to rapidly resolve the territorial conflicts in the Caucasus between Armenia and Turkey and between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Turkey begins to strengthen its role and strengthen its position in the South Caucasus, ARMENIA Today quoted Georgian Political Analyst, Paata Zakareishvili as saying.

He said by using the opportunity of the Russian lull in the South Caucasus, Turkey has actively taken up the role of regional power.

"Progress in the Turkish-Armenian relations primarily has been dictated by the Turkish interests," Turkish Political Scientist, former member of the Turkish Parliament, Mehmet Bekaroglu said to Trend over a telephone from Istanbul.

Turkey, he believes, wants to change its previous policy. Previously, Ankara pursued the pro-NATO policy, the trend has recently changed, said Bekaroglu.

"The new government of Turkey believes that such a narrow focus of the policy that Ankara pursued before was not effective, now Turkey has a much more flexible policy in relation to other countries," said Bekaroglu.

Such cooperation, according to observers, is useful equally for Ankara and Tbilisi.

It should be borne in mind that Turkey and Georgia border, and currently all transit projects in Turkey pass through Georgia, and, as Georgia is unstable, Turkey is trying to stabilize the situation in the region to secure its energy projects, said Bekaroglu.

The Azerbaijani export Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline - the South Caucasus gas pipeline that delivers gas from the Shah Deniz field to the Erzurum distribution point passes through Georgia and Turkey. At present, the Baku -Tbilisi-Kars railway is under construction.

Given Georgia's current frosty relationship with the big neighbour to the North it is also clear that it is in Georgia's interests too to develop a more strategic and stronger relationship with other big neighbours ," Akcakoca believes.

"Moreover, it is important for Georgia to cooperate with Turkey, regarding the two nations are already collaborating in economic, security, and energy issues," she said.

V.Zhavoronkova and R.Hafizoglu contributed to this article.

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