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Turkish marsh for eastern neighbors2010-11-02 14:20
On October 30, Turkish Security Council adopted a document called The Red Book, thus having started the reload of relationship with eastern partners. This time, the list of states constituting potential danger for the country included Israel abandoned by closest neighbors, such as Syria, Bulgaria, Armenia and Georgia. Thus, Ankara made it clear that its new eastern policy is utterly peaceful.
Georgian Foreign Ministry considers the country's presence in the list of neighbors constituting a danger for Turkey to be a "technical mistake". "We do not know on which grounds Turkey enlisted us as a country posing any threat. However, this could be attributed to technical reasons, such as, for instance, visa-free communication between the countries. As a rule, in some cases Turkey was used as a corridor to get to third countries from Georgia", - Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze told Georgian journalists.
Turkey is definitely a guide for Georgia's foreign policy but ultimately, Tbilisi found itself at the same level as Armenia, the most problematic Turkish neighbor.
However, Ankara has also got some "sins" remembered in Sakartvelo: it is Turkey's neutral position during the August 2008 war and excessive distance in respect of Abkhazia. Turkish authorities have got no special policy in respect of South Ossetia: the Turks' interests follow their ships' course. Thus, excluding Georgia from the list of potential threats is a perfect way for Ankara to satisfy the eastern neighbors' ambition.
Turkey has long been pursuing a flexible and careful policy in the Caucasus. It supports Georgia's "territorial integrity" and refuses to receive the Abkhaz leader, at the same time leaving open the sea way to Sukhum and setting up direct contacts with the Abkhaz authorities.
Ankara's policy is much affected by lobbyism of the Caucasian expatriate communities. At this point, both the active North-Caucasian and the numerous Georgian communities are equally strong, and Ankara has learned to keep the perfect balance between their antipodal positions.
Georgian lobbyists insist upon the isolation of Abkhazia and the participation of Turkey in the pro-Georgian democracies club. The North-Caucasian communities demand activating connections with Abkhazia and enhancing Turkish influence upon the Russian North Caucasus.
So far, Ankara has been able to avoid any sharp corners, which becomes more and more difficult. Twenty years ago, it was indecent to publicly mention one's non-Turkish origin, while today the communities believe they've got the right to define the country's policy in respect of the regions being their historical motherland. "We are the citizens of Turkey but we come from the Caucasus. In its Caucasian policy, Turkey must base upon our interests: otherwise, our state will work against its own people", - that's how the official authorities' requirements to Caucasian policy were formulated by the youth organizations of the Abkhaz expatriate community in 2009 when Turkish MFA strongly asked to cancel the Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh's official visit to the country.