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Will Turkey take up Georgian plan?

15.02.2010  |  09:11

5338.jpegAnkara is playing its own game in Caucasus. Georgia, Russia and Abkhazia are only left to wonder which partner Turkey will select to match its interests at the most. Recently Tbilisi suggested that Turks take part in Georgia's new strategy on reintegration of breakaway territories. Will Turkey agree to that with its representatives attending Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh's inauguration? GeorgiaTimes asked Russian and Georgian experts about it.


Late in 2009 Georgian-Turkish cooperation was darkened by rumors on Abkhaz leader Sergey Bagapsh's trip to Turkey that initially had been planned as an unofficial visit though meetings with authorities were also on the agenda.

Tbilisi grew seriously concerned about the matter. The Turkish ambassador was invited to Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for explanations.

Nonetheless, there has been one official meeting between representatives of Turkey and leaders of independent Abkhazia. In autumn Sukhum greeted Yunal Chevikoz, a high-ranking Turkish diplomat. His visit aroused rumors on Turkey's possible recognition of Abkhazia.

Now it seems Ankara-Tbilisi relations are getting back to the previous state. Turkey renewed assurances of respect for its neighbor's territorial integrity. Georgia promised to sort out the situation of five Turkish ships detained by the Coastal Guard.

Besides, yesterday on a visit to Turkey David Bakradze, speaker of Georgian parliament suggested that his colleagues get involved in implementation of "Georgian strategy toward occupied territories".

As reports, the new plan of reintegration envisages the start of dialogue with "mohajirs", Abkhaz diaspora residing in Turkey. These are Muslims that fled Abkhazia to the Ottoman Empire in 19th century. The diaspora "is ill-disposed toward Georgia and there is a lot of work to be done", Temur Yakobashvili, state minister for reintegration explained discussing the strategy.

Today representatives of Turkey's Abkhazians are attending inauguration of Sergey Bagapsh who takes his second oath of loyalty to independent Abkhazia.

What position will official Ankara adopt? Will it help Tbilisi make peace with Abkhazians and Ossetians?

Georgian experts note that Turkey has become more unpredictable now. "Turkey is pursuing a new policy, different from what it was before", - Alexander Rondeli, president of Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies stated in his interview with GeorgiaTimes. - It acknowledges our territorial integrity building its own strategic plans at the same time. Formerly it was following US track, now it is setting up friendly ties with Russia and is getting closer with Iran. Turkey is becoming a regional empire".

Does that mean that Ankara can recognize Abkhazia in exchange for Russia's promise to recognize North Cyprus? Rondeli doesn't think so: Turkey won't do that in order to preserve influence in the region.

Back to the epresentatives of the Abkhaz diaspora at Bagapsh's inauguration: Rondeli calls these people "a reckless part of the Turkish society" and "extreme radicals". They have influence on their country's government as proved by all actions in support of Abkhazia, Rondeli thinks.

Giya Nodia, director of Caucasus Institute for Peace and Democracy emphasized in a comment that Turkey's participation as a third party - good both for Georgia and Abkhazia - is very important to Georgia.

"Turkey and the concept of stability platform in Caucasus it proposed is the best suited country", - Nodia remarks. Now that Ankara's foreign policy is growing more active in the region probability that Turkey will accept Tbilisi's proposal is high.

Nodia is not resentful over the presence of Turkish Abkhazians at the ceremony in Sukhum. "It would be strange if they hadn't come given old-established ties with mohajirs". According to him Turkey won't recognize Abkhazia in light of its ambitions as a regional empire.

Alexander Rusetsky, director of South Caucasus institute for regional security believes Turkey's involvement in Georgian strategy important to Turkey. In an interview with GeorgiaTimes he highlighted that if Georgia's southern neighbor gives adequate evaluation of the menace the situation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia bears, it will take part in Georgia's state program.

According to him Turkey's strategic interests in Caucasus "actually don't coincide with the interests of Russia". As an example Rusetsky mentioned Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan pipeline exploded on August 5 2008, a few days before the start of the war in South Ossetia. Kurdish separatists claimed responsibility for the explosion though the Georgian expert is sure it was "Moscow's order".

Speaking about Abkhaz diaspora's support for Bagapsh and his government that Georgia now terms as "controlling authorities" in compliance with a new strategy, the expert shows no resentment. "\the irritating thing is that the authorities are illegitimate. They were elected with most part of population evicted from the republics. Thus they don't reflect interests of the whole society", - Rusetsky noted.


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