In a number of months ago Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of “the stab in the back”. And on the 9th of August this year Turkey’s President Erdogan will appear in St. Petersburg in the status of an “honored guest”. I don’t think that everyone in Russia this news will cause universal delight. And this was not celebratory reaction, in my opinion, there is a very good reason.
Humanly I was very jarred the speed with which Moscow and Ankara have restored their international relations. I’m not ready to forget and forgive Turkey shot down a Russian plane and brutally killed the Russian pilot. I do not believe in the sincerity of Erdogan and his apology. I have no doubt: the reconciliation with Russia is for Ankara forced move and tactical maneuver. Conditions change, and Erdogan will pay us a “stab in the back”.
However, big politics is a field totally alien to the sentiment. To those who think differently, politics is not the place. Russia is not obliged to “love” of Erdogan. But Russia is obliged once again to deal with him and try to extract the maximum amount of benefits from that situation in which now turned out to be the Turkish leader and his country.
In the political relation the position of the leader of Turkey in recent months may have been better. A failed coup attempt gave Erdogan an excuse for the wave of repression and accelerated the transformation of Turkey into a fully fledged totalitarian state. In the Turkish economy the situation is also appeared for Erdogan is not catastrophic. According to the official data of Turkish statistical Institute, on the background of massive Russian economic sanctions in the first quarter of 2016, the economy grew by 4.8% compared to the same period last year. But this figure — “average temperature on hospital”. In certain sectors of the Turkish economy the damage from the quarrel with Russia has been very significant.
But in terms of international relations “achievements” of Erdogan in recent months, can be described as “deadlock”, “isolation” and “isolation”. All this taken together means that in Saint Petersburg the President Erdogan will arrive naturally, not as a suppliant. But “maps” the Turkish guest at the talks with Putin will be obviously weaker than the “host”.
How can Russia not to be trapped during the regular session of political poker with such treacherous and changeable player like Erdogan? It seems to me that the key to our success is the gradual concrete steps towards partner. Erdogan has completed a formal precondition for the normalization of relations between the two countries made a formal apology for the deaths of Russian military aircraft last year. Now the President of Turkey, in full accordance with the norms and traditions of the Oriental Bazaar expects a response of “baksheesh” from “Russian friends”. Not sure what Putin is telling him: “Not so fast, Mr. President!” But it certainly should be implied. The apology is certainly good. But the concrete steps of Russia towards Turkey should be conditional on concrete steps of Turkey towards Russia — in that order.
The list of topics in which Ankara should demonstrate to Moscow its friendly attitude, huge. This, for example, the project of the gas pipeline “Turkish stream” Turkey’s refusal to support entrenched in Kiev, the Crimean separatist organizations. But the main subject of the talks between Putin and Erdogan, of course, will still be the same theme that led to the actual breakup in the past year: Syria.
I am sure that over the past months, the views of Erdogan on this issue has changed significantly. In a country whose President is the Assad regime, did the Russian s-400 anti — aircraft system able to control the sky, not only Syria, but also pieces of the air space of neighboring countries, including Turkey. Erdogan can not into account.
Even the President of Turkey, there is every reason to believe: his former course based on flirting with the forbidden in Russia by the Islamic state, is counterproductive. The bloody attacks which ISIL staged in Turkey, are very weighty argument in favour of ending the friendship with this group. I hope that now the situation will change.
But is it possible the achievement of full Turkish-Russian agreement on Syria? Obstacles are very serious. And the first among them is the notorious Kurdish issue. Kurdish is one of the forces that are very actively fighting against ISIS inside Syria. Naturally, in this struggle, on the backdrop of a massive weakening of the influence of the Central government, the Kurds in Syria were able to achieve a very serious internal autonomy. For Erdogan this situation is completely unacceptable.
The appearance around the perimeter of the Turkish border, Kurdish autonomy, and the more quasi perceived in Ankara as a threat to the integrity and unity of the country. The Turkish armed forces behave with the Kurdish forces of full-fledged hostilities inside Turkey itself. To the Syrian Kurds, Erdogan is also configured not sympathetic. Their support from Washington was one of the main reasons for the sharp cooling of relations between Turkey and the United States. From the point of view of Moscow, the Kurds are also primarily allies in the fight against ISIS. So I just don’t see how it will look is dedicated to the Kurds part of the talks between Putin and Erdogan.
I do know one thing: Moscow is very good to consider its position on Turkey. Rendezvous in Saint-Petersburg will take place amid an unprecedented deterioration of relations between Turkey and NATO. From Russia it would be foolish in this deterioration not to use it. But this does not mean that we should take a position of uncritical support for Erdogan in his dispute with the West. Nobody knows how long will the conflict between Ankara and NATO. At the end of last year a rapid pacification between Moscow and Turkey, too, seemed unthinkable. There is no guarantee that Erdogan has already exhausted its stock of unthinkable foreign policy maneuvers.
In addition, one of the major causes of conflict between Erdogan and the West — the transformation of Turkey into a totalitarian state. Russia, naturally, should not attempt to play her unusual role as a “defender of Turkish democracy”. But the role of defender and promoter of the efforts of Erdogan to dismantle the Turkish political institutions — is also not the role that we need. If Erdogan to impose the death penalty for “political criminals” or otherwise go too far in the punishment of “enemies of the Turkish people, Russia should not hesitate to Express their clear disapproval.
In short, waiting for rendezvous St. Petersburg, Putin and Erdogan. The meeting of the two presidents can be anything but boring and stuffy.
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