Turkey’s Emergence Could Force New Thinking in Georgia

Turkey’s Emergence Could Force New Thinking in Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Turkey's ongoing foreign-policy reorientation will not only reshape the contours of the surrounding region, but could also force the West and those hopeful of joining its orbit to consider how to position themselves in the resulting geopolitical landscape. Georgia, in particular, will be especially affected by Ankara's emergence as a regional center of influence.

In addition to proximity, Georgia shares longstanding historical ties and burgeoning trade with Turkey. Georgia's precarious geopolitical relationship with Russia is also a significant factor driving Tbilisi's calculations. Turkey's rising tide has been a safe bet for Georgia so far, but future Turkish strategic choices may force Tbilisi to choose sides before it is ready to.

There is much to like about Turkey's growing clout. Long NATO's regional bulwark against the Soviet Union, Turkey is today a regional hub for commerce, diplomacy, culture and energy. But Turkey's emergence has been accompanied by an effort to rebalance its historical preferences in the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia. This "Eastern" turn is hardly a one-dimensional affair, and has seen Ankara shift its priorities from Israel to its Arab neighbors, begin an engagement process with Armenia, and search for answers to its longstanding Kurdish question.

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