“Georgian-Turkish Relations Do Not Mean Turning Back on Russia”
“Georgian-Turkish relations develop with increasing intensity,” said Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer after meeting Georgian president on November 9th. Shevardnadze shares this attitude. “Deepening of relations of the two countries is a dynamic process which keeps developing” – says Georgian president.
This opinion of the two presidents is shown in their joint declaration, signed after the meeting.
Two days long official visit of the Turkish president, which started on November 8th, coincided with difficult internal political situation in Georgia. Even though the visit has been planned certain time ago, Turkish president said that he visited Georgia to render support to President Shevardnadze in difficult times.
Number of important economic projects connects Georgia with Turkey. Besides this, Turkey is a biggest trade partner for Georgia. Planned and already implementing economic projects were the main topics of conversation between the two presidents. It should be mentioned that these projects have regional meaning and they are not limited to the participation of the two countries only.
Special attention has been pad to launching of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project, which would be known as Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project after Kazakhstan’s joining to the project.
Out of the future projects, main attention has been paid to the Shahdeniz gas pipeline project, which would transport Azerbaijan natural gas to Turkey through Georgian territory. Project contract, concluded between the three participating countries has been ratified by Turkish and Azeri parliaments. “Georgian Parliament does not have time for Shahdeniz yet, though the gas is not less important then election of the new chairman for Georgia. Hope that the Parliament will ratify the contract as soon as possible” – stated Shevardnadze on November 9th, before the winner of chairman elections was known (the chairman was elected on at down, November 10).
Both presidents stressed necessity of speeding up construction of Akhalkalaki – Kars railway, which will also be connected with Tbilisi.
Along with the mentioned projects, some other initiatives were discussed as well. Turkish president proposed Shevardnadze conclusion of three-party (Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan) agreement on joint combating against terrorism. Georgian President has agreed to the proposal of Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
Shevardnadze invited the Turkish side to participate in peacekeeping operation in Abkhazian conflict zone. “This issue will be on the agenda only if the UN Security Council decides to internationalize CIS peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia,” said Shevardnadze. Turkish President welcomed this initiative.
Turkey remains on its position in regard with Abkhazian conflict. President Sezer stated that the Turkish side supports peaceful resolution of the conflict, while maintaining territorial integrity of Georgia.
Turkey urges Russia to fulfill its duties under the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Agreement as soon as possible and liquidate its military bases in Georgia.
At the briefing after the meeting with Turkish president, Shevardnadze once again confirmed that relations between Turkey and Georgia are not against any other third country and should not cause any fears. “Georgia’s relations with Turkey, or with the west do not mean turning back on Russia. We desire friendship with Russia. We always did, we always do and we always will” – said Shevardnadze.
Ahmet Necdet Sezer invited his Georgian counterpart to pay an official visit to Turkey. Date of the visit is not known yet.