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Turkey: no more hand-feeding Georgia?2012-02-01 20:07
Georgian-Turkish relations that Mikheil Saakashvili identified as ideal two weeks ago, are likely to get worse. Ankara has decided to toughen the visa regime: from now on foreigners possessing temporary visas will be able to return to Turkey three months after expiry. Tbilisi officially resents.
"The law on visa regime adopted by Turkey does not comply with terms of the Georgian-Turkish agreement on visa regime between these countries", - David Dzhalagania, deputy foreign minister of Georgia stated. - The Georgian side is dialoguing with the Turkish side and we are trying to bring the document in compliance with the visa regime currently existing between the countries".
What made Tbilisi so nervous? The point is that every year the number of Georgians willing to work in Turkey is growing. Firstly, this provides constant financial flows to the Caucasian republic, and secondly, it distracts the Georgian government from headache to solve the unemployment issue and create new employments.
Ankara's arguments are these: the number of non-registered workers has reached 42% with the number of illegally working foreigners exceeding one million persons. It used to be possible to obtain a new visa to Turkey after leaving the country for just one day. Now foreigners who got a three-month visa will have to leave Turkey and obtain a new one in three months' time.
The Georgian authorities are also puzzled why president Mikheil Saakashvili keeps repeating that Georgia's relations with Turkey are ideal. Last May a new checkpoint on the Georgian-Turkish border in Sarpi was inaugurated pompously. At the ceremony Saakashvili called Turkish PM Rejep Tajip Erdogan "Georgia's best friend" and spoke a lot about joint projects. In mid January the Georgian leader stated about the "model" dialogue between two countries. Yet, Turkish PM disappointed Mikheil Nikolaevich. By the way, the press rumors that Saakashvili had asked Erdogan not to apply the law to citizens of Georgia, but the latter refused.
A number of politologists consider Ankara's rigid stand as a possible crisis of the Georgian-Turkish cooperation. But it seems such pessimistic forecasts are not justified. On today's map of South Caucasus Turkey and Georgia mean too much for each other to quarrel over such trifles as entry rules for migrant workers.