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Georgian view of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement2009-10-12 18:36
Georgia is considering possible consequences of restoration of Turkish-Armenian diplomatic ties. Bilateral protocols signed in Zurich gave Georgian experts new hopes of EU accession. The documents also anticipate the opening of Turkish-Armenian border which inevitably means economic losses for Georgia and degradation of its role in South Caucasus.
The Zurich protocols signed by Armenia and Turkey on Saturday urged reconsideration of Georgia's role in South Caucasus.
For the time being Tbilisi derives economic benefit from mutual dislike between the countries preserving friendly relations with both of them. Trade between neighborly Turkey and Armenia is carried out through Georgia with transit of Armenian goods costing 1.5 times more than for Azerbaijani goods. A railway line from Azerbaijan to Turkey is being constructed in Georgia bypassing Armenia.
As soon as the Turkish-Armenian border is opened Tbilisi will lose some economic advantages. Moreover, the country will be of no interest to the USA, Mamuka Areshidze, a Georgian expert on Caucasus issues believes.
"The thaw between Turkey and Armenia is a US project where Georgia is supposed to be replaced by Armenia", - he stated.
According to Areshidze after the August war Georgia is considered an instable country. The USA turned their attention to Armenia planning to take it out of Russia's control.
The Tagliavini mission's report stating that Mikheil Saakashvili was the first to attack South Ossetia - albeit rising to provocations - will help Washington turn its back on Georgia, International Relations and Security Network (ISN), Switzerland, believes. The conclusions of the researchers, as it is remarked in the article will "be an additional reason to leave Georgia alone with a more modest (and more appropriate) role in the US foreign policy bringing it down from the pedestal it used to stand on".
From the political point of view after signature of Armenian-Turkish protocols Turkey's influence in Caucasus will increase since it already has support of interested persons from Washington. On the one hand Ankara and Tbilisi are neither foes, nor competitors.
On the other hand Turkey has a peculiar experience of territorial conflicts in North Cyprus and it's unlikely to facilitate return of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Sakartvelo. It's hard to tell what the Caucasian Platform or Caucasian Confederation Turkey proposes will bring. Maybe this arrangement will pull the country apart and will help Ajaria that is not under Georgian control yet to break away.
Besides Turkey is a Muslim country, and the reinforcement of Islamic factor in the region will hardly be good news for orthodox Georgia.
As for positive aftereffects of Ankara-Yerevan reconciliation Paata Zakareishvili, a Georgian politologist, believes it will increase Georgia's chances for EU accession.
"Deciding to resume relations with Armenia Turkey promoted Georgia into this organization. If Turkey stays out, chances of our country are minimal", - Zakareishvili stated confident that upon Turkey's accession into the European Union Georgia will join the organization too.
Zakareishvili hopes the restoration of Turkish-Armenian ties will change the situation in the region for the better and the "tension will decrease considerably".