Was Turkey Preparing To Occupy Adjara?


24 Dec 2010

Armenian and Russian sources have seized on American embassy cables
published by WikiLeaks which claim that Turkish armed forces were
ready to occupy Adjara during the war of August 2008 in the event of
Russian troops coming 100 km from the Georgian-Turkish border.

The leaked information suggests that Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep
Erdogan and members of the Turkish parliament flew to Moscow to inform
Russia’s President Dimitri Medvedev that Turkey, as a NATO member
country would have the right to bring military units to the conflict
zone in order to protect the territory of the neighboring country.

In such a scenario, the cables claim, Turkey would have sent its
ground units into Adjara supported by air power. There is in fact a
precedent for the scenario, as in 1921 when the Red Army conquered
Georgia, Turkey’s military units moved in to occupy Adjara.

Is this all true?

The cables claim that on March 3, 2009 the Georgian Interior Minister,
Vano Merabishvili told Georgian journalists that if during the
Russian-Georgian war, the government had not been able to ensure the
country’s security, Turkey was ready to bring its armed forces in
through Adjara to protect Georgia.

According to the Kars agreement, signed by Russia after the occupation
of Georgia in 1921, Turkey has the right under international law to
bring troops into the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, but it is hard
to believe that an armed conflict could take place between NATO-member
Turkey and Russia over the territory.

There are several reasons for doubting that the sides would ever have
come to blows: First – the Turkey would not have been able to act in
the name of NATO without the consent of every NATO member state.

Second – Turkey could bring troops to Adjara but not as a NATO-member
state, it would only have been possible to use the Kars agreement to
justify a military presence in the territory, not actual conflict.

Third – Ankara would have done its best not to allow military
confrontation between the Turkish and Russian military units to occur
as such an event would cause a serious international incident.

On the morning of August 11, 2008, Russian jets bombed a Georgian
military base in Khelvachauri, Adjara as well as Sharabidzes,
Kapandichi and Makho, villages 10 km from the Georgian-Turkish border.

Russian planes flew well within the exclusion zone near the
Georgian-Turkish border but no response was seen from Ankara.

During the August war, a Russian commando unit entered Poti
and bombed several sites in the port town. One month later, a
Russian control-checkpoint was still located at the entrance to
Poti. Even though these actions took place less than 100 km from
the Georgian-Turkish border (70 km), there was no serious military
reaction from the side of the Turkish government.

These factors certainly shed doubt on the truth of the reports being
circulated in the Russian and Armenian media.

It cannot be ruled out that agencies of certain countries may be
trying to use the WikiLeaks data to spread misinformation as it is
quite difficult to check the validity of the information in the vast
hoard of data that can be found on the website.

By Irakli Aladashvili, Editor-in-chief of the military analytical
magazine “Arsenali” 23.12.2010

From: A. Papazian


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