Turkey Georgia to take measures for Baku Ceyhan security

ANKARA (Turkish Daily News)–Turkey and Georgia have agreed to establish measures to provide security for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline–which has been a concern for the host countries. Both sides have agreed to develop a communications network along the pipeline that will enable authorities to intervene rapidly in the event of technical problems and keep the oil flowing through the pipeline. Sources say the communications system would be similar to the one used for the Kerkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline.

The decision was made during a meeting in Trabzon on Tuesday between Minister of Foreign Affairs Ismail Cem and his Georgian counterpart–Irakli Menagarashvili. The two ministers discussed a wide range of topics pertaining to both regional and bilateral issues.

Another major topic the ministers discussed was the Tbilisi-Kars railway project. A 60-70-kilometer-long railway must be constructed for this project–which will connect Turkey to the Central Asian republics and Azerbaijan. Stressing that an amount of $1,200 billion is needed for the project to be completed–sources say it is possible that the Chinese government will be asked to join the project as the Tbilisi-Kars railway will also connect China to the Western world. Sources say China considers the project to be very important.

Turkey and Georgia have also agreed to institutionalize the political consultations. Both sides have agreed to participate in two political consultations per year in order to strengthen the bilateral cooperation.

The Georgian side has asked Turkey to support the dismantling of Russian bases in Georgia–of which there are currently four. Although Russia had previously agreed to dismantle two of the bases–Russian President Vladimir Putin has been asking to convert two of the Russian bases into bases for peacekeeping forces.

Two ministers have also touched on the issue of a Caucasus stability pact which former President Suleyman Demirel proposed in January during his visit to Georgia. Foreign diplomats have criticized Turkey for not moving ahead with the initiative since its announcement. Cem and Menagarashvili talked about the pact and agreed that the problems of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh should first be resolved before a lasting stability pact in the region can be established.

Turkey has attached great importance to the stability in Georgia and forged a close cooperation with Tbilisi during former President Demirel’s tenure in office.

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