By Sinan Ikinci and Peter Schwarz
9 September 2008
Given the proximity of Turkey to Georgia and its intense economic and political involvement in the region, the Turkish government’s reaction to the conflict between Georgia and Russia has been remarkably muted.
While NATO (of which Turkey is a member) has openly sided with Georgia, and the European Union (which Turkey wants to join) has strongly condemned Russian recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence, the Turkish government has made no such statement. Instead the Turkish foreign ministry has issued a short statement limited to expressing Turkish anxiety over recent events.
The growing tensions between Washington and Moscow are clearly viewed nervously within ruling circles in Ankara and present them with a dilemma.
On the one hand, Turkey is deeply involved in US and European attempts to gain access to the Caspian region and to exploit its oil and gas reserves bypassing Russian territory. The two most important pipelines in this respect—the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the projected Nabucco gas pipeline—both go through Georgian and Turkish territory. The same is true with the recently planned railway project linking Turkey with Georgia and Central Asia.