We have recent witnessed a number of official visits and high level meetings of Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He met Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Ankara. The Turkish premier paid official visits to Syria, Greece, Iran where he reached an agreement on Iranian uranium enrichment in Turkey. Then Erdogan visited Azerbaijan from where he is going to leave for Georgia, Spain and Russia. What has caused this intensification and which positive moments does it carry for Ankara?
The things around Turkey have several directions. This is a result of very complex political relations involving Turkey that are the implications of the process of definition of the final state of the world powers. If we look back to several years ago, we would recall that Turkey has in fact been a close country for a long time. It was as if under NATO’s close surveillance, fulfilling some functions and not daring to take excessive steps. In the past 10-20 years Ankara has been actively laying its course on the post-Soviet area, while we should do justice to Turkey since initially Turkey's intervention was viewed as a step from Americans. They were as if paving a way for Americans, this could have taken place, but on the whole, it was greeted cautiously by Russia, especially at that stage Turkey made a serious mistake, stuck in the story with the aggressive separatism that started evolving in the North Caucasus.
And despite this complicacy, Ankara has managed to bring its relations with Moscow to a new level, in which the economic component of cooperation grew dramatically-now they are planning the growth by 100 bn. In addition, Turkey managed to play up Russia in a complex situation of 2009, because it delayed the US mass media representatives who arrived only after the fights ended and in fact Abkhazia and South Ossetia received Russia’s shelter and separated from Georgia.
In addition, Turkey is a NATO member and it has long-lasting and complex ties with the United States. Thus, Turkey has advanced in the Iraqi direction, it has managed to restore relations with the Kurdish formation in Iraq. It has consolidated there. It managed to transfer always suspicious Iranian-Turkish relations into serious political interaction which we are currently observing. In addition, before that it has coordinated its positions on Cyprus and now we see Turkey establishing a positive dialogue with Greece. On the one hand, this is connected with the fact that in conditions of the global crisis when US does not have time to do everything, Turkey gets a certain degree of independence as a regional power and can play a greater role than it could earlier do.
On the other hand, the overall internal political situation in Turkey makes it take these steps. The situation there is related to the worsening relations of traditionalists, let’s call them kamalists, backed by the generality and Erdogan’s Party of Islam Demoracy.
I think in the dispute with Armenia that attempted to put some claims against Ankara Turkey has managed to defend its positions while Yerevan gained nothing. On this background, Turkey has developed serious ties with Russia which is a strategic partner of Armenia. Ankara is developing a good dialogue with Europe and these two factors make its state very serious, stable and attractive. The first factor is connected with the consolidation of the new political power, that is Islam democracy, and it makes believe that on the whole Turkey demonstrates an alternative development way to everything, including to Europe, as it manages to unite the incompatible things, western democratic values with Islam morality. Unless it copes with it and considering the fact that anti-Americanism is growing in Turkey, as well as throughout Middle East, Russia’s position aimed at closing with Turkey becomes promising.
And the very fact of the reconciliation of the two southern and northern poles of Eurasia makes Russia’s states promising as it shows that at the time the Islam world is turning its back to the United States viewing its conduct as a civilian attack, Moscow demonstrates the rapprochement to the Islamic world. It needs this very much, because on the other hand it can neutralize radical Islam inside it and strengthen its position in Middle East, making Russia attractive for Azerbaijan, which has the well known claims to it.
It is very important to note that Azerbaijan has been quite close to Russia for 20 years and Turkey has not had direct contacts with the Kremlin, while now Ankara has become so close to Moscow that they have many contact points and Azerbaijan has distanced from its traditional neighbor.
Therefore, I think the activeness demonstrated by Erdogan is connected with the political potential accumulated in the past 20 years and it is now time to take practice steps to develop the accumulated potential.
The Russian-Ukrainian ties are improving on par in the region. In this respect, can we speak of appearance of a new strong regional tandem of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey?
I think this is not the matter. The matter is the further reconciliation and integration of Turkey into what was traditionally called the Soviet Union and what I call the Eurasian space. This tendency will grow and be of great importance for self-development of the post-Soviet space considering the internal Turkic factor in Russia and Turkic surrounding, I mean the Caucasus, Central Asia and a part of the Black Sea South.