Turkey, Georgia Pledge Mutual Support

Turkish and Georgian Presidents hailed bilateral ties as “close friendship” after talks in Tbilisi on March 14. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer arrived in Tbilisi for a two-day official visit on March 14. President Sezer first visited Georgia in November, 2001. After talks with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili the two Presidents made statements for the press without Q&A with journalists. President Sezer also met with Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze on March 14. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli on March 15.Economic TiesOn the sideline of the visit Turkey and Georgia signed an agreement a joint exploitation of Batumi airport in Adjara Autonomous Republic.The agreement signed on March 14 by Turkish Foreign Trade Undersecretary Tuncer Kayalar and Georgian Economy Minister Irakli Chogovadze envisages turning Batumi airport into a part of Turkey’s network of internal flights. A consortium of Turkish companies TAV and Urban has pledged last September to invest USD 15 million in reconstruction of the Batumi airport. The consortium also is reconstructing the Tbilisi International Airport.President Saakashvili said that this agreement is a good example of economic cooperation between the two countries. He said that in summer a new runway will be opened in Batumi airport.Saakashvili also said that currently “talks are underway between the two sides on free trade between Georgia and Turkey.”Currently a trade volume between the two countries totals about USD 500 million. Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen said during the Georgian Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey in early February, that Ankara hopes to increase bilateral trade up to USD 2 billion in next few years.President Sezer said that during the talks the two Presidents agreed to further boost bilateral ties through new economic projects.“We think that our economic cooperation will become more diversified through new projects in the fields of transport, energy, investment, trade, tourism and fishing. It is obvious that finalization of legislative base for economic cooperation will further foster development of our cooperation,” the Turkish President said.“Efforts are underway in order to supplement current important projects for the region – Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [oil pipeline] and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum [gas pipeline] with Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway connection project,” he stated.He invited the Georgian President to participate in a ceremony of loading first tanker in port of Ceyhan with Azeri oil transported through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline this summer.Saakashvili noted importance of minimizing visa rules between the two countries. Georgia and Turkey enforced non-visa treatment for three-month long visits starting from February 10, 2006.He stressed that this happened shortly before the announcement by Russia that it halts issuing of visas for the Georgian citizens.“This was a historic coincidence, when neighboring country ceased issuing of visas and Turkey has lifted visa requirements for our citizens. This means more trade, more tourism and more close economic ties,” President Saakashvili said.Saakashvili also thanked Turkey for providing electricity during, as he put it, “energy sabotage” against Georgia in January, when twin blasts on gas pipelines in Russia stopped gas supply to Georgia.“We are now starting construction of a new high-voltage power line with Turkey which will enable us to export and import extra electricity,” Saakashvili said.“I am sure we will be able to integrate our economies which will foster mutual development,” he added.Political SupportThe Turkish President stated that Ankara will support Georgia’s aspiration into Euro-Atlantic structures, while President Saakashvili pledged that Georgia will be “a firm and consistent supporter” of Turkey’s EU membership.President Mikheil Saakashvili said that Turkey is “a great state” which is “a friend” of Georgia.“I have said for several times that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s activities which were directed towards Turkey’s unification and strengthening is a perfect example for me. I think that what he did for Turkey, the same we have to do for Georgia. Georgia should become a modern, united, developed and successful state and in many issues we follow example of our neighboring friend – Turkey,” Saakashvili said.“We are also grateful for Turkey’s support in Georgia’s NATO aspiration. Integration into NATO is a vital issue for our political development. And we are firm and consistent supporters of Turkey’s EU membership. I think this is a correct, but to a certain extent delayed process, which should be accomplished in a shortest period of time,” he added.The Georgian President said that Turkey and Georgia are “also cooperating very closely in respect of stability, peace and development in the Black Sea region.”President Sezer said that Turkey hails Georgia’s steps undertaken towards integration into NATO.“Turkey supports Georgia’s orientation towards Euro-Atlantic integration and in particular Georgia’s aspiration for NATO integration,” the Turkish President said.Later Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told reporters that Turkey support is of vital importance for Georgia, “as Turkey has very important voice in NATO.”The Turkish President has also reiterated Ankara’s support to the Georgia’s territorial integrity.“We want South Ossetian and Abkhazian problems to be solved in frames of Georgia’s territorial integrity through peaceful and constrictive means. We would like all these problems to be solved in a shortest period of time… We also would like creation of an atmosphere of broad cooperation in the South Caucasus. In this regard we support the Georgian government’s peace plan over South Ossetia,” Ahmet Necdet Sezer stated.In the statement the Turkish President also noted importance of repatriation of Meskhetians, who were deported from Georgia in 1944.“We are watching with interests in recent year a positive work of the Georgian government in respect of repatriation of Muslim Meskhetians. Turkey is ready to contribute to this process of repatriation,” he said.He also pledged that Turkey, “within its capabilities,” will further continue its support to Georgia’s “political and economic stability and development.”

Source Details : https://civil.ge/archives/110114