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Tbilisi to quarrel with Ankara over Buket?2009-09-04 22:34
Georgia's scandalous detention of Turkish Buket in the neutral waters and 24 years' imprisonment for her captain might affect Tbilisi-Ankara relations. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already reported on violation of international law by Georgia and intention to put diplomatic pressure on Georgia. Moscow shares Ankara's position: it was stated in the Russian Foreign Ministry that the arrests of ships in the Black Sea are a violation of the sea convention aw well as a step toward military and political tensions in the region.
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reacted to the Buket tanker detention specifying its categorical disapproval of the court ruling against the tanker's captain maintaining that the tanker had been seized in neutral waters, Segonya.ru reports. As known, the court of Poti condemned Mekhmet Oztyurk to 24 years' imprisonment for "gross violation of customs regulations and the rules of entry to the occupied territory". The country's FM Akhmet Davitoglu is going to raise the acute issue at the meeting with the Georgian authorities during his extraordinary visit to Tbilisi in the nearest future.
Earlier the Turkish forwarding company expressed its opinion with CEO Khussein San emphasizing that the company had already filed a cassation appeal to the Georgian court demanding to return the Buket ship to its owner together with the cargo and cancel the severe sentence for the captain, VZGLYAD reports. Georgian authorities must consider this appeal and reply within a month.
Curiously enough, over the past 15 years the Georgian side has confiscated nearly 100 Turkish ships, 23 of them - this year only. Tbilisi doesn't seem to be willing to return the vessels to the owners: the ships are subject either to dismantling or sale by auction while Ankara incurs huge losses. In light of Georgian experiments with Turkey's patience the world info space is full of rumors that Ankara-Tbilisi relations might cool off.
Now it's unlikely Turkey will send its ships for Georgia's moral support in case of possible aggravation of Russian-Georgian relations like it was a year ago. And given that Turkey is considered "the mistress of channels" it can stop the ships of other countries Georgia relies on from entering the Black Sea. Moreover, there is an opinion Turkey might recognize Abkhazia's independence in order to secure its ships in neutral waters at the approaches to Sukhum. Though such an outlook is quite improbable, this point of view has the right to exist.