Chanturia, speaking May 12 in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, said 60 percent of the BTC pipeline on Georgian territory has been completed three weeks ahead of schedule. The rest of the work on the 248-kilometer Georgian sector is scheduled to be finished by November, the Azerbaijani news agency Turan reported.
The head of the Georgian International Oil Corp., Giorgi Chanturia, announced that construction on Georgia's sector of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline is proceeding ahead of schedule. Work will soon commence in the environmentally sensitive sector around the Borjomi mineral water springs, Chanturia added.
Turkish authorities announced May 3 that 16 suspected members of an Islamic radical group have been taken into custody for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack to coincide with the upcoming NATO summit in Istanbul.
Turkish and Azerbaijani officials have defused a simmering bilateral dispute concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, jointly endorsing a "gradual approach" on a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The announcement came amid new international efforts to jump-start the peace process.
As Iraq's security situation continues to erode, the US-led occupation force appears in urgent need of reinforcements. Turkey at one point in late 2003 was ready to contribute troops to bolster the thinly stretched Iraqi stabilization force. However, Turkish officials now say the deployment of troops in Iraq is "out of the question."
"TARC is announcing that its work as a commission is ending," they said in a statement obtained by RFE/RL. "TARC's term was to be one year, but the course of events required a longer period to accomplish our goals.... We feel that advances in civil society contacts are now permanent and will only grow in time.
Turkish-Armenian relations have been marked by animosity for much of the past century, with tension continuing to revolve around the mass slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish soldiers during World War I.
One country keenly watching developments in Georgia's renegade region of Ajaria is Turkey, which has strong political and economic ties to both Tbilisi and Batumi. The fear in Ankara is that tension between Tbilisi and Batumi poses a potential threat to key economic interests, including a vital pipeline.
The US-led campaign against terrorism drove the Taliban from power in Kabul in late 2001. Since then, however, fighters loyal to the Islamic militant movement have regrouped. Operating out of bases in tribal areas of Pakistan, along the Afghan frontier, Taliban fighters have been busy in recent months re-establishing their influence in southern Afghan provinces.
Following a US visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has been hailed for repairing a frayed bilateral relationship, Washington and Ankara appear set to establish a "softer strategic relationship." The soft partnership will focus on maintaining existing military-strategic links, while deepening political and economic cooperation.