By Richard Weitz (vol. 5, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
Despite vigorous efforts by Russian and Turkish policy makers, differences over Syria threaten to disrupt what has been a harmonious relationship. Leaders in Ankara are calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate departure, while Moscow continues to support his regime if not al-Assad personally. Turkey’s leading role in organizing the anti-Assad resistance, Syria’s cross-border shelling of Turkish territory and Ankara’s recent decision to force a Syrian plane from Russia to land in Turkey threaten to worsen ties. However, Russia is nonetheless unlikely to take any drastic, punitive measures against Turkey because of the two countries’ still strong overlapping interests in other areas.
By Stephen Blank (vol. 4, no. 22 of the Turkey Analyst)
Wherever one looks, Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy is fading. Although Turco-Russian relations have not received the publicity of Turkey’s quarrels with Israel, those relations represent the latest example of this policy’s difficulties. The clash of Turkish-Russian interests are part of a larger theme. They underline that the core idea of Turkish foreign policy during the last years, the notion that Turkey can truly manage to have no problems with all of its neighbors and serenely navigate along the complex shoals of Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus and gain leverage throughout these zones, has proven to be unustainable.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 8 of the Turkey Analyst)
Moscow’s decision to “suspend” its compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty since December 2007 now remains one of the few visible sources of tension in the otherwise significantly improved relationship between Turkey and Russia. Yet, like other NATO countries, Turkey has sought not to bury the CFE but to praise and revive it. Turkish officials are calling for further negotiations and mutual concessions in order to restore the treaty framework. Perhaps the most immediate concern behind Turkish unease at the potential demise of the CFE regime is that it could worsen tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 6 of the Turkey Analyst)
The nuclear disaster in Japan has further complicated the complex energy relationship between Turkey and Russia. Frictions persist over Turkey’s reluctance to support Russia’s South Stream pipeline project and become ever more dependent on Russian energy sources. Turkey has already become one of the largest Russian gas importers; natural gas accounts for the highest share of the Turkish-Russian trade turnover. Turkey’s dependence on Russian energy is a cause of concern among officials in Ankara. Diversification of energy partners would leave Turkey less likely to be manipulated by the Kremlin, which occasionally uses its energy exports as a political weapon. Turkey’s energy policy exemplifies its paradoxical relationship with Russia: while Moscow and Ankara engage in an intense partnership, including in the energy sphere, they simultaneously fiercely compete with one another – again, in the same energy sphere.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 3, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
From 11-12 May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Ankara and met with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and other senior Turkish officials. The trip coincided with the signing of 17 agreements between the two countries, with the ones dealing with energy potentially having the most importance for their relationship. If these deals are fully implemented, Turkey would become even more dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, perhaps for decades to come. Turkish officials have resisted some of Moscow’s demands, but Ankara’s ability to pursue polices strongly opposed by Moscow on important Eurasian issues remains questionable.
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.