By Micha’el Tanchum
April 22, 2019
Turkey's taking delivery of the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system in July 2019 is a momentous strategic step. It reflects the realignment of Ankara's interests away from Washington and toward Moscow. Washington's planned punitive measures could precipitate Turkey’s exit from the NATO alliance. Unless concessions are forthcoming from the U.S. to induce Turkey to reciprocate by finding a face-saving way out of installing the S-400 system, a strategic divorce may not be averted.
By Micha’el Tanchum
January 24, 2019
The December 19, 2018 announcement of the withdrawal of American forces from northeastern Syria was heralded as Washington's concession to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, giving him a green light for the eradication of the PKK-affiliated Kurdish forces of the People's Protection Units (YPG). However, Turkey's planned intervention to create a 'safe zone' in northern Syria east of the Euphrates river has been complicated by the recent reconciliation of key Arab nations with the regime of Bashar al-Assad to oppose Turkish ambitions. The Arab alignment with Russia's opposition to Turkey's intervention weakened Erdoğan's bargaining position in his January 23, 2019 meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and may force Turkey to accept alternative arrangements for the safe zone based on the 1998 Adana Protocol between Ankara and Damascus.
By Micha’el Tanchum
December 20, 2018
On November 19, 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a joint ceremony in Istanbul to mark the completion of the offshore segment of Turkstream, the undersea pipeline that will transport Russian natural gas to Turkey via the Black Sea. Turkstream's now inevitable realization forms a stunning reversal of Turkish energy policy. For more than half a decade, Turkey had focused on reducing its dependency on Russian gas, primarily through the construction of a new pipeline across the length of Turkey to bring gas from Azerbaijan. With Turkey tethered more than ever to Russian gas imports, Moscow appears triumphant. However, Turkey's 'Back to the Future' energy policy belies Ankara's larger strategic gambit to bolster Turkey's international position by becoming a major energy hub.
By Aykan Erdemir and John Lechner
November 29, 2018
Turkey and Russia’s political and cultural connections to the autonomous region of Gagauzia afford both countries leverage over Moldova. The Orthodox Christian Turkish inhabitants of Gagauzia, known for their favorable sentiments toward Ankara and Moscow, could come to play a key role in Putin and Erdoğan’s converging plans to undermine the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which they both see as an extension of Western interests, and hence, a threat. This strategy is likely to make the Gagauz pawns in both leaders’ greater regional ambitions for territorial and spiritual domination.
By John C. K. Daly
July 5, 2018
For years Turkey, which imports 90 percent of its energy needs, has considered any and all options to lessen its import costs, including nuclear. The country’s energy requirements have persistently pitted the government against the country’s environmentalist lobby, one of the strongest in the Middle East. Despite such concerns, Turkey’s nuclear lobby has scored a decisive victory, as the ground has been broken for the nation’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast.
Akkuyu will consist of four 1,200 megawatt (MW) VVER reactors producing a total of 4,800 MW. The Akkuyu NPP, being constructed by the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, is projected to meet 10 percent of Turkey's future energy requirements. The first unit of the plant is scheduled to come online in 2023, with the NPP’s overall cost projected to be $20 billion.
KEY ISSUE: On April 3 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential complex in Ankara, where they attended via teleconference the Akkuyu NPP groundbreaking ceremony, an event described by Erdoğan as a “historic moment.” Putin remarked, "It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this large-scale, innovative project. In essence, today we are not only witnessing the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant, but we are also creating the basis of Turkey's nuclear industry as a whole.” Despite such optimism about bringing the facility’s first reactor online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, as highlighted by both Putin and Erdoğan in their ceremonial speeches, it remains to be seen whether such an ambitious agenda will be fully implemented in the future.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.