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    Turkey becomes key partner for Europe in Caucasus: report

    Anatolia News Agency
    02.07.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    BRUSSELS - Turkey is becoming an important partner for the European Union in South Caucasus, says a report, urging more cooperation between Brussels and Ankara. The European Union’s regional policies will be successful if it works together with Turkey and supports Turkish government’s policies in the fragile region, a Polish institute says in the report

    A Polish institute recommended on Wednesday that the European Union cooperate with Turkey in the South Caucasus, underlining the strategic importance of the region for the EU and Turkey.

    In a report titled "South Caucasus: The Case for Joint Commitment of Turkey and the EU," the Polish Institute of International Affairs, or PISM, said the EU's regional policies would be successful if it worked together with Turkey and supported Ankara’s policies in the region. Despite many constraints, Turkey was attempting to play a more active role in the South Caucasus, the report said.

    "Hence, it has become an important partner for the EU, whose interest in the region has been growing over time. Turkey and the EU can work together toward reaching the shared goal of creating an area of security in the South Caucasus, an outcome instrumental to the development of economic projects [with a special emphasis on energy issues]," it added.

    Key for stability, economy

    The PISM said the stability of the region was also crucial for the security of Turkey and that the South Caucasus region was important for the Turkish economy because it serves as the transport route and supply corridor for energy resources from the Caspian basin. "The South Caucasus is significant for the EU for similar reasons," the report noted.

    In its report, the institute also said the region played a crucial role in the EU’s energy security because it contributed to the diversification not only of energy resources, but also of delivery routes. The institute said both Turkey and the EU shared similar goals of stability and security in the South Caucasus.

    "These goals include the peaceful settlement of the frozen regional conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Upper Karabakh; the establishment of good governance in those states whose state-building processes are still ongoing so as to assure that the region will not become a threat in the areas of international organized crime, terrorism or drug trafficking," the report said.

    The report said Turkey and the EU could achieve their common goals in the South Caucasus if the EU took action to strengthen Turkish assets and mitigate the country's weakness. "This could establish an implicit division of labor between the two entities," the report added. The PISM said Turkey could concentrate on the improvement of regional security, consolidating its role as the region's energy hub and a model of political and economic development.

    The report also said the South Caucasus states should be aware of their weakened international position following the Georgian-Russian conflict and the willingness of the new Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, to implement a new foreign policy based on the concept of "zero problems with neighbors" and his readiness to use soft measures in order to stabilize the neighboring regions. Also, the report said the prospect for engagement in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process appeared slightly more promising, and some sort of resolution of the Karabakh dispute would pave the way for normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

    The PISM recommended that the EU countries differentiate between Armenia and the Armenian diaspora, and said the EU should take a more critical stance toward the Armenian diaspora, whose actions were harmful to Armenian interests. On the Nabucco natural gas pipeline project, which will transport gas from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, the report added, "If Turkey and other consumer countries in the EU jointly negotiated with the producer states from the Caspian region, the Turkish partner could be helpful." It also said the EU should avoid creating the impression that Turkey no longer had any prospect of membership.

    PISMis a foreign policy think-tank based in Warsaw. It provides research in international relations for policymakers, academics and the Polish public. In 2009, the PISM was listed among the top 50 non-U.S. think tanks in the world.
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