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A window to Turkey overlooking Caucasus02.06.2011 | 22:36
Georgia's hard work on facilitating the visa regime with Turkey has finally yielded some results. Now the citizens of both countries may freely cross the border by presenting their regular passport. This happy news was voiced to the people by Mikhail Saakashvili at the customs office in Sarpi where he opened a new checkpoint together with the Turkish PM Recep Erdogan. Will Tbilisi's ambitious hopes that it is putting on its relationship with Ankara come true? This question was answered by Director General of the National Strategy Council Valery Khomyakov.
Successful friendship with Turkey and a new circle of relationship development has been announced at the opening of a renewed customs checkpoint in Sarpi that required a lot of expenses from the parties - 16,5 million dollars. It seems to be not a usual checkpoint but a golden one. No wonder Tbilisi will try to get as much benefit as possible for the Caucasian republic from its cooperation with Ankara.
"Drivers won't have to get out of their cars; they will be let in upon presenting their passport, as it is done in Switzerland and many other countries. This is an example of relationship that should exist between two civilized European states. Earlier, there was no boundary there; it was a wall between NATO and the USSR. When I was growing up, it was a place where no one was let. We were told that dangerous people lived on the other side, though we thought we might be deceived. When the border was opened, we found our brothers and very interesting people", - Mikhail Nikolozovitch was saying happily. The Georgian leader's knowledge of history has always been poor. How else can one explain his reference to the North-Atlantic Alliance as the USSR's opponent if Turkey entered the bloc only in 1952 and Georgia affiliated with the Soviet Union in 1922 as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR?
Tbilisi is evidently looking on Ankara as an essential strategic partner; besides, it is very grateful to Ankara because Turkey was the first country to recognize the Caucasian republic's independence after the collapse of the USSR. However, the situation is not as cloudless as Sakartvelo tries to present it and the facilitation of the visa regime won't make these states brothers - there are several objective reasons for that, so one should not flatter oneself so far.
Firstly, Georgia has got no close national or cultural bonds with Turkey, unlike Azerbaijan, which fact, of course, limits Ankara in extending contacts with Tbilisi. They have signed over twenty documents, including a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Neighbourly Relations, agreements on cooperation in the military field on border issues. Nevertheless, despite the status of the main trade partner, Turkish businessmen's activity is a portfolio activity that implies getting quick revenue. That is why, in case of any serious change of the domestic situation, for instance, if the power is taken up by some forces that would be more loyal to the Kremlin, Turkish businessmen will immediately run away from Georgia.
So far, only the Turkish republic agreed to facilitate the visa regime with Georgia, though the latter tried to get similar concessions from Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the course of Mikhail Saakashvili's last visit to Yerevan this February, Armenian leader Serge Sargsyan refused to consider his proposal. It looks like Mishiko's dreams of the United Caucasus will remain a utopia, so long as the official Ankara, which is interested in its own leadership in the South Caucasus, will hardly let Tbilisi in its boat.
"I simply do not believe in these projects. The very cancellation of a visa regime may be welcomed; someday, there will be no borders in the world at all. But as for the united Caucasus, that's utopia. Saakashvili should not have read so many fantastic novels. It is basically impossible to unite the Caucasus. The Bolshevists tried to do it but failed. And now dreaming that some "great" Georgia will become the most advanced state in the Caucasus... well, I don't think Saakashvili believes it himself but it's a good slogan for him to maintain at least the popularity he has. The Caucasus will of course be united one day, I mean, there will be no conflicts and wars between the countries of the region. But neither Russia, nor America will let anyone dominate and dictate conditions. The Caucasus is a vast space for political games, that's why Mikhail Saakashvili has set an unachievable purpose. Only a totally illiterate person may believe him; normal people, of whom there is a great number in Georgia, realize that's utopia. And the Georgian leader should better come down to earth", - GeorgiaTimes was told by Director General of the National Strategy Council Valery Khomyakov.