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Georgia and Turkey to cooperate against terrorism

The foreign ministers of Georgia and Turkey said they would work jointly against terrorism together with Azerbaijan

by HASAN ALTINISIK, copyright 2001, Turkish Daily News

The terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11 have spurred a new kind of cooperation between world leaders.

Turkey and Georgia have said that they will discuss the joining of forces to fight terrorism during the meeting of their foreign ministers in Istanbul.

Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem said Azerbaijan would join them in their battle against terrorism.

Menagarishvili and Cem met for one-and-a-half hours at Istanbul’s Ciragan Palace, after which they held a press conference, providing information on a number of issues, from the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project to terrorism and regional security.

Security cooperation between Turkey, Georgia and the US

Menagarishvili and Cem said their talks went very well. Cem said: “We decided to promote the cooperation, the economic and partially political consultation mechanisms between the United States, Georgia and Turkey in the context of the realities of the post-Sept. 11 period. We have decided to add to these relations the security dimension. We will conduct some bilateral work in this context and share our findings with the United States.”

Cem said Turkey and Georgia were countries with similar ideas and mutual interests in almost all fields, and they continued to improve their ties. He stressed that a serious struggle against terrorism had started worldwide and said: “In our day when a serious international battle against terrorism has been launched, we reflect on the joint efforts of Georgia and Turkey to save the region from the scourge of terrorism by defeating terrorism in this region as well as everywhere else in the world.”

He said Georgia and Turkey would bring a new dimension to security relations between their countries and Azerbaijan. “There are developments that indicate the need to strengthen this cooperation. There is need to promote this cooperation through the natural gas that will come from Shah Deniz and establish a security framework not only for this project but more broadly as well. As the need for the joint struggle against terror is being understood by everyone today, we would like to turn the security ties between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to part of a more wide-ranging cooperation.”

As to the possible security risks for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project or others if the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan had repercussions in the Caucasus, Cem said: “We have no concerns about security, be it with regard to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project or other issues. I speak on behalf of the countries in the region. Turkey can provide for this security. There is no special worry. These projects will certainly succeed.”

Cem said about whether Turkey was acting as a mediator between Georgia and Russia: “Of course our role is not that of mediator. Turkey is at this point a factor for the stability of the southern Caucasus, with its very good relations with Georgia and the developing ties with Russia. Of course we are making a positive contribution from this perspective.”

Menagarishvili said Turkey had an important position in the international struggle against terrorism, and noted “Georgia’s willingness to contribute to this joint struggle.” He said that the Abkhazian separatists in his country were provoked by forces that were emboldened by the Sept. 11 attacks.

13 October 2001, Copyright © Turkish Daily News

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