Turkey is running for leading role in Caucasian affairs

A top-level meeting between the presidents of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan is to take place in the Turkish city of Trabson today. It seems that these three countries are ready for a strategic partnership on the regional level.

The idea is not new; it was earlier set forth in 1999 by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who offered to conclude an agreement for security in the Caucasian region. The following bilateral negotiations between Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi resulted in the signing of contracts on military cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan and between Turkey and Georgia.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze visited Turkey in 2001, and the countries signed three agreements on cooperation between Ankara and Tbilisi in the fields of politics, defense, and security. Furthermore, the presidents signed a joint statement about their readiness to conclude a security and defense treaty in the Caucasian region.

Therefore, the Turkish government believed that the regulation of the conflict in Abkhazia and Nagorny Karabakh would also be possible if the territories of those two Caucasian republics would be integral. It stands to reason that Ankara’s position is like honey for Tbilisi and Baku; Turkey continues to stress the “peculiar character” of the relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan. Of course, this position is echoed in the hearts of politicians of Georgia and Azerbaijan, taking into consideration the fact that relations between Georgia and Russia are far from being ideal, and the same is the case with Azerbaijan and Iran. Furthermore, there are common grounds in the field of economic cooperation, such as the implementation of a well-known projection: the construction of Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, which is supposed to go via Georgia’s territory. The perspectives of this project will certainly be discussed at the meeting of presidents in Trabson.

There is another actual subject for the talks - anti-terrorist struggle. This aspect will be paid major attention to. Ankara’s representatives repeatedly state that the development of events in the region, especially after the acts of terrorism on September 11, proved that the anti-terrorist cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia must be brought to a new level. This is basically because of the possible presense of Al-Qaida members on Georgia’s territory. It could be also added here that Georgia calls the government of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia “terrorists.” Therefore, the field for cooperation is really wide.

The Turkish government has far-reaching goals, as Ankara dreams about strengthening its activity in the Caucasian region. Turkey is running for the role of the regional superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and this is its biggest dream. The government of Azerbaijan relies much more on Turkey than on Russia. The situation with Georgia is absolutely different, and it seems that it is very hard to forget Turkey’s atrocities in Georgia. However, the peculiarities of the Georgian policy provides the opportunity for alliance with anyone except Russia.

The results of the summit in Trabson will surely exert a lot of influence on the political situation in the Caucasian region. Will this alliance be viable? The answer to this question is most likely positive, taking into account the current situation. Turkey will have the trump card until there are stable relations between Russia and Georgia and until the status of the Caspian Sea is settled. It is hard to say if Ankara will be able to make use of its advantage. So far, Turkey is increasing its political influence in the Caucasus, which does not cause all its neighboring countries to rejoice. What will Russia, Iran, and Armenia have to say about Ankara’s leading role in the Caucasian affairs?

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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