ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey will hold military exercises this week with Georgia–a former Soviet republic seen by Ankara as one of its chief allies in the volatile Caucasus region–the Turkish Army said on Wednesday.
"The scenario of the maneuvers is based on preventing illegal border crossings from one country to another," the Land Forces Command said in a statement. It gave no details.
Tensions rose between Turkey and Georgia’s Transcaucasian neighbor Armenia this week over a tentative step by the US Congress to recognize accusations that Ottoman Turks conducted "genocide" against Armenia’s in 1915.
A vote by a House International Relations subcommittee–pressed by ethnic Armenia’s in the United States–was welcomed in Yerevan on Tuesday as "a serious step toward determining the truth."
Turkey–which denies genocide took place–could adopt measures against Armenia if the US Congress votes approval to the non-binding resolution calling on President Bill Clinton to "characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenia’s as genocide."
Georgia–like Armenia–has thousands of Russian troops on its territory.
But while Armenia looks to Moscow for support–Georgia is uneasy about the troop presence and sees Turkey as a close ally in its economic difficulties and its efforts to stave off any spill-over of Russia’s Chechen conflict onto its soil.
President Eduard Shevardnadze has escaped several assassination attempts. The fate of the country–and its retention as an ally–deeply concerns the Turkish government and General Staff.