On May 1st, 2022, the Facebook page of “Sezoni TV” aired an excerpt from the interview with Nikoloz Mzhavanadze, the chairman of the Union of Human Rights Defenders. Mzhavanadze claimed that Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Moscow on his first visit during the 2008 war and asked Putin for permission to seize Adjara. The post states that Turkey has been waiting for its chance to conquer Georgia for centuries.
Similar information was disseminated by the English-language Armenian outlet of news.am and Russian-language outlets (regnum.ru, topwar.ru, ladno.ru) back in 2010. According to their narrative, if Russia carried out military operations 100 kilometres from the Turkish border, Turkey would defend the territory of the neighbouring country with its own army. According to the outlets, this information was confirmed by a document published by WikiLeaks. In addition, regnum.ru wrote that this information was confirmed by the then Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, in a March 2009 interview with the News Agency Pirveli (current pia.ge).
Nikoloz Mzhavanadze’s statement creates the impression that Erdogan was planning to invade and conquer Adjara in 2008, and during his visit to Moscow, he even agreed on the terms of the conquest with Vladimir Putin. The claim is false. Evidence of the claim cannot be found on the WikiLeaks website or any other open source. As for Merabishvili’s interview, after checking the archive of pia.ge, Myth Detector found that the agency did not publish such an interview in March 2009.
The information disseminated by Mzhavanadze, as if Erdogan was planning to invade Adjara in 2008, cannot be confirmed by any evidence. Also, the information spread by several Russian publications in 2010 that WikiLeaks documents confirmed that Erdogan threatened Putin to enter Adjara can also not be found in open sources.
The allegation that Vano Merabishvili confirmed Erdogan’s readiness to enter Adjara and assist Georgia in an interview with News Agency Pirveli on March 3rd, 2009, is disinformation. “Myth Detector” contacted the former founder of pia.ge, Ani Mirotadze, who headed the agency until 2011. After checking the archives of the agency in March 2009, she confirmed in a telephone conversation that the alleged interview recorded by the agency with Vano Merabishvili cannot be found in the archives.
In the list of documents on the WikiLeaks website related to the August 2008 war, there is no document that can confirm that Erdogan, who arrived in Moscow, had expressed readiness to send Turkish troops to the Adjara region. The website contains a number of documents related to Erdogan’s visit to Russia and Turkey’s position in general during the 2008 war, but focuses on two issues: 1. Erdogan support for Georgia’s territorial integrity; 2. His initiative to create a “Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.”
Information on these two issues was reported by the media as well. Erdogan, the then Prime Minister of Turkey, arrived in Russia on August 13th, 2008 and met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. After his visit to Moscow, on August 14th, Erdogan visited Tbilisi and met with Mikheil Saakashvili. He expressed support for the sovereignty of Georgia and the maintenance of the territorial integrity recognized by the resolutions of the UN Security Council. Erdogan also noted that Turkey would help Georgia with its humanitarian aid to rebuild its damaged territories, especially the city of Gori.
During this period, Erdogan came up with the initiative to create a ‘peace and stability platform’ in the Caucasus region. In response to Erdogan’s initiative, then-Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili stated that Georgia would not join the format until Russia withdrew its troops. The initiative also failed to gain approval from the US, due to the fact that the format did not include European partners. Added to this was the fact that on August 26th, 2008, Russia recognized the independence of occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On December 17, 2010, eurasiareview.com published an article by Michael Cecire, a Caucasus analyst and current policy adviser to U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The article concerned WikiLeaks documents published by a number of Armenian and Russian-language publications. According to a WikiLeaks document, during an official visit to Moscow during the 2008 war, a Turkish delegation told Medvedev that if Russia conducted military operations within 100 kilometers of Turkish territory, Turkey, as a NATO member, would have the right to include its own units in military operations. To protect the territory of the neighbouring country.
Cecire wrote that he could not trace the source of this information because the websites were pointing to each other as a source, and eventually, the trace was lost, and the document with this content could not be found on the WikiLeaks website. This information was published on December 7th, 2010, in the English-language Armenian edition of News.Am, citing the Russian-language Vlasti.Net as a source, while Vlasti.Net cited VVNews.Info. For its part, VVNews.Info cited Apsny.Ge as a source, which disseminated information without a source. Cecire’s article contains links to the materials from these outlets, although only the article by News.Am is available at this time.
In addition, the article prepared by Regnum.Ru, which is copied from Zavtra.com.ru, states that the then Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, confirmed the readiness for the Turkish Armed Forces to enter the territory of Georgia in 2008. The alleged quote is from an interview with Merabishvili recorded by the News Agency Pirveli (now pia.ge) in March 2009, although Cecire writes that he could not follow up on this interview either. News Agency Pirveli operated under the domain pirweli.com.ge until pia.ge, now this website is no longer active, the former founder of pia.ge also confirmed that such an interview could not be found in the 2009 archives.
Cecire notes that although he could not find any evidence to substantiate the information, it is possible that the document did indeed exist. According to him, these articles may indicate that the Russian-language media systematically, unknowingly or consciously propagate the idea that conflict between Russia and Turkey is inevitable, as well as that certain circles in the Russian government consider Turkey to be an unconditional enemy of Russia.
Notably, the border between Georgia and Turkey is demarcated, since in 1992, an agreement on friendship, cooperation and good neighbourly relations was signed between the two countries, thus recognizing the previously agreed borders and stating that they will abide by any previous agreement signed between them since the 1921 Treaty of Kars.
About the source
Nikoloz Mzhavanadze is the head of the Union of Human Rights Defenders. The union was registered in the public register on August 2nd, 2012. Since April 28th, 2022, Mzhavanadze hosts the TV program “Summary of the Day with Nikoloz Mzhavanadze” on “Sezoni TV.” Previously, he was a host of the program “Week with Nikoloz Mzhavanadze” at Alt-Info. He also worked at “TV Obieqtivi.” He is also the General Director of the news agency “Taonews.”
As for Sezoni TV, its 100% owner is former boxer Giorgi Kandelaki, a member of the “Goreli” community, who has repeatedly appealed to the Gori City Council to restore the Stalin monument in Gori. Giorgi Kandelaki is also a member of the movement “Together for a Strong Georgia”. The organization has an open Soviet sentiments and supports Joseph Stalin.
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