Ankara, Moscow and Tehran launch a strategic partnership
Turkish and Russian leaders are now busy reviving the relations between the two countries. At a recent meeting in St. Petersburg, Erdogan restated one of his goals from the past: “Trade and economic relations between Turkey and Russia should total $100 billion.
This obviously means that two ambitious projects will be implemented – “The Turkish Stream (an underwater gas pipeline along the bottom of the Black Sea from Anapa into Turkey) and construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey.
Turkey and Russia have vast common interests, which makes the restoration of trade and economic ties, tourism and charter flights natural.
But there is a more substantial reason for the improvement of bilateral relations, i.e. both Russia’s and Turkey’s worsening relations with the US and European nations.
For Russia, the reason for this is the situation in Ukraine. Turkey, in turn, is disappointed by the US refusing to deport Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara considers to be a terrorist, and accuses him of the recent attempted coup. In addition, Turkey expected the West to be more staunch in its criticism of the coup. Finally, Turkish efforts to join the EU have been unsuccessful for 53 years, which is also a substantial factor.
These are the reasons that are pushing Turkey and Russia into a strategic partnership. Turkey is unlikely to leave NATO, but it is likely to change its status, becoming a country which cooperates closely with Russia.
On the whole, Ankara has shown dissatisfaction with its role in NATO. First, the rest of NATO members are reluctant to share modern military technologies with Turkey, making cooperation in the military industry impossible.
That is why Turkey must seek military cooperation with countries outside of NATO, Russia being its first choice.
In a meeting with Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9, Erdogan said:
“The aim of the terrorist organization led by Gulen was to tarnish Turkish-Russian relations. The belief that the West was behind the attempted coup is widespread in Turkey, and what Erdogan meant to say is that the West is the one standing in the way of the Russian-Turkish cooperation.
Syria, nevertheless, is the problem which hinders the two countries from establishing closer ties.
Moscow has been providing support to Bashsr Asad. Turkey believes that peace cannot be achieved in Syria as long as Asad is the president.
At the same time, as it had in the past, Ankara is trying to avoid probelms in Syria with Moscow. That is why Erdogan in the course of the last few months has been reluctant to accuse Russia of intervention in Syria and supporting Asad.
On the contrary, the day before his visit to St. Petersburg, in an interview with the angency ITAR-TASS, Erdogan named Russia as one of the major actors in Syria, even though he recently inquired, “What is Russia doing in Syria?
Erdogan is changing his rhetoric. Broader cooperation between Turkish and Russian diplomats regarding Syria and joint commissions are expected in the near future.
The primary goal of these commissions will be the neutralization of the terrorist organization, ISIS, in Syria. There are no disagreements on the issue between Ankara and the Kremlin.
At the meeting with Putin, Erdogan made another noteworthy proposal: “A Turkey-Russia-Azerbaijan format should be created.
In regional cooperation Turkey prefers a three-sided format. The ones that already exist are:
Erdogan believes that Iran may also join the new regional alliance. This means that Ankara will seek out better relations with Teheran, too.
Erdogan may possibly visit Teheran in the nearest future, but it is not probable that he will visit the US or the leading EU countries.
All of this means its closest neighbors are becoming a priority for Ankara.