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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by yaxomoxay, Aug 10, 2016.
How do you read the news that Russia and Turkey are now best buddies?
You mean like this?
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a clear-the-air summit in St Petersburg on Tuesday, the first time the pair have met since they fell out over the Russian fighter jet downed by the Turkish air force last November. After more than three hours of talks, the two leaders promised to return their economic relations to “pre-crisis” levels and attempt to put the bad blood of the past nine months behind them.
The visit was also Erdoğan’s first trip abroad since the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month, and in his opening remarks he thanked Putin for his support. “Your call straight after the coup was very pleasing for me and our leadership and our people,” said the Turkish president, who referred to Putin as “my dear friend”.
“It is our principled position,” Putin said, in regard to the coup attempt. “We are always categorically opposed to any attempts at anti-constitutional activity. I want to express the hope that under your leadership the Turkish people will deal with this, and justice and legality will prevail.”
Western leaders have criticised Turkey for the crackdown in the aftermath of the coup, and for suggestions by Erdoğan that the death penalty could be reintroduced. Erdoğan has been strongly critical of the EU and US response to the coup attempt, and there is a sense that Putin may have seen an opportunity to provide a supportive shoulder for the Turkish leader, despite the rancour of the past months.
How I read this is that it's complicated, but roughly goes like this:
Erdogan has stated his willingness to reinstate the death penalty if the Turkish parliament approves it. Erdogan knows such a move will result in instant dismissal of Turkey's application to join the EU (and he has been reminded of that already in remote case did not realize it).
Erdogan is doubtless trying to get some leverage on his wish for easier visas for 79 million Turks to travel within the EU. The EU is saying not unless you reform your counter terror laws. Here is brief excerpt from FT piece on that:
For the EU to ease visa requirements for 79m Turkish citizens — one of a series of incentives promised in return for Turkey’s help with the refugee crisis — Turkey needs to amend its sweeping terror legislation in line with EU law and guidance from the Council of Europe.
Mr Celik said that Turkey was open to discussions about counterterror law with European partners and could commit to reforms in the longer term. He warned, however, that it was “impossible” in the short term after the government was almost overthrown by alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric who Turkey has branded a terrorist.
(Article is behind FT's paywall)
Bottom line here perhaps Erdogan figures EU will like to rethink all this strictness in ilght of Russia and Turkey seeming suddenly to be willing to kiss and make up (for whatever other reasons they may have for this bit of theatre).
That would assume that Putin is willing to be used as leverage. I think that this somewhat alliance/agreement is a destabilization of the whole area. Turkey is not going in the EU and Erdogan knows it.
One can sometimes be used as leverage despite what one wishes. What does Putin want? Patching up Turkish-Russian quarrel is to his economic advantage. Turkey offering that at the same time as trying still to get its visa thing sorted with the EU is an interesting maneuver. Either way Turkey may score something nice from it.
It could be destabliziing if Turkey votes back in the death penalty, confirms no EU membership instead of just letting it sit there as unresolved, and could mean problems w/ US alliance and bases in Turkey. Erdogan might want to rethink any ongoing emphasis on what a great buddy Russia is turning out to be these days. Settling a quarrel is one thing; a return to status quo ante the jet downing incident is not particularly destablizing, even in this changed terrain (post-coup attempt in Turkey). But behaving as though US is no longer a friend (over issues including refusal to deport Gulen) might not really be in Turkey's longer term interests. Russia is a state with serious internal problems that Putin now lets spill out into distractive moves towards reconsolidating the old Soviet Union. LOL having expatriate oligarchs lend money to Trump tells you something about prospects for investment in the old country...
Right now Turkey is in a peculiar but relatively stable position internationally. Maybe better keep the focus on getting its domestic ducks in a row. Personally I think that big unity rallly they just had should have included invitation to the Kurdish party; after all was just a rally, not a meeting to assign chairs in universities or powerful slots in ministries upended during the purge. Even some of the other parties' spokesmen were making comments along that line. After all the HDP party represents six million people in the Parliament. They were not implicated in the coup even if Erdogan detests them. Smoothing feathers without gilding them is an art he could make use of now and then.