Turkey, Russia ties at standstill as balances shift in Middle East

Since Turkey and Russia have further parted ways due to their different interests in the Middle East -- stemming from problems in the region that have boiled over in places like Syria and Egypt -- the relations between the two important economic partners are now in a state of inertia, analysts say.

"The contacts are for sure continuing on the economic field, but no political consultation can be made because of the highly ambiguous regional portrait nowadays," Murat Bilhan, former diplomat and the vice chairman of the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), said in remarks to Today's Zaman. "Turkey should carefully follow the interests of Russia in the region and should seek for ways to cooperate, as soon as possible," he added.

The fighting in Syria, which has almost entered its third year, has had a major effect in creating differentiated interests between Turkey and Russia. Turkey is a staunch supporter of strengthening the armed opposition militarily in Syria and also of creating a no-fly zone there in order to change the balances between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the opposition.

The US and Russia had proposed a peace conference in Geneva on the Syrian issue in May, where they had been hoping to come up with a political solution. But the conference has since been repeatedly postponed and is now being contemplated for September. The failure to gather for a peace conference has, to a great extent, stemmed from the military advantage that the Assad regime has taken on the battlefield. The regime, supported by Iranian-linked Hezbollah militants since May, has caused the armed opposition to lose serious ground.

Thus, with the advantage that Assad's forces have taken militarily, a scenario of a transition period without him grows more and more remote, making it much more difficult for the opposition to want to sit at the same table with the Syrian regime.

There have also been moves made from the Western community, including the US and the EU, implying that they would like to increase military aid to the opposition in a plan to influence the progress of the civil war. The US has given several signals that it would provide military aid to the opposition. Meanwhile, the message coming from Russia is that it would provide game-changer S-300 air-defense missile systems to the Syrian regime -- a message that has attracted great attention. This is in direct conflict with the heavyweight's long-term priority of finding a political solution in Syria.

"Such a mixed message was Russia's way of implying that, in order to ensure an ongoing military advantage of Assad, it would not stay silent on any military support to the armed opposition," Hasan Selim Ozertem, an analyst on Eurasia and energy security at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), said in comments to Today's Zaman.

Meanwhile, the recent military coup in Egypt that ousted President Mohammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government has been a positive development for Russia, in contrast to Turkey's position on the military intervention. Morsi's government in Egypt was behind the opposition struggle in Syria, and for the opposition to lose a serious ally in Egypt has surely played into the hands of Russia. The recent military coup, which seems to have erased political gains from the Arab Spring period, is an opportunity for Russia to reconstruct its relations with Egypt. Russia had never looked positively upon the developments that evolved into the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

"Especially after the Libyan military intervention by the UN Security Council, Russia gave the utmost importance to self-determination. And, being a country which also has a top-down government style, Russia has begun to develop concerns that there could be a similar uprising at home in the case of an insurgency," stated Ozertem.

In May, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that there would be a planned visit from Turkey to Russia, but a date was never specified and the trip has to be made. This shows that the conditions for a negotiation between the two partners have not yet maturated enough to yield a high-level visit.

Ozertem claims that Turkey and Russia have managed to "compartmentalize" their relations and are advancing rather well on the economic field, though. "They paid an enormous effort to make sure their economic relations were not affected by regional developments, and they continue to do so," he noted.

Russia is a key energy supplier for Turkey; trade is flourishing between the two countries, and a Russian corporation is set to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

The trade volume between the two countries, which totaled $32 billion in 2012, is expected to grow to $100 billion in the coming years. But regional developments could eventually start influencing the countries' economic relations.

An issue of contention between Russia and Turkey may be related to a potential Russian assistance to Greek Cyprus in its financial crisis. Analysts say that Russia might consider a financial aid plan for Greek Cyprus in exchange for economic and military gains.

One scenario is that Russian gas giant Gazprom is planning to bail out Nicosia in return for a share in the island's Aphrodite gas field -- believed to hold 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Ankara, however, has long warned the Greek Cypriot government against unilateral moves to extract natural gas and oil reserves off Cyprus, saying that the Turkish Cypriots, who run their own state in the north of the island, also have a say on these reserves. Turkish officials have even suggested that if the Greek Cypriot administration insists on grabbing these reserves for itself, then Turkey will intervene militarily.

There is also talk of Russia moving its naval base in Syria to Cyprus in exchange for a bailout. Turkey has also stated its opposition to such scenario, saying this is against international law.

China to invest in development of Iranian ports
China to invest in development of Iranian ports
French Bouygues carries out construction of two new facilities in Turkmenistan
French Bouygues carries out construction of two new facilities in Turkmenistan
Opening of Zangazur corridor to expand Azerbaijan's transit potential, says expert
Opening of Zangazur corridor to expand Azerbaijan's transit potential, says expert
Loading Bars
Latest
More than 805,000 COVID-19 infections detected worldwide over past 24 hours
5.1-magnitude quake hits 20 km S of Mandraki, Greece
Israel reports 142 new COVID-19 cases, 836,882 in total
Yemen's Houthi rebels say launch drone attack on Saudi air base
India's sports minister tests positive for COVID-19
Weekly review of highlights in Azerbaijan's transport sector
EU to hand over 30 vehicles to Georgia Border Police
Turkish scientist works on drug that can ‘kill COVID-19 in 2 days’
Uzbekistan may start production of its own vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of the year
Russia's Eastwind, Turkmenistan's Turkmensvyaz to sign contract
UK records another 2,206 coronavirus cases, 35 deaths
Iranian official offers upbeat assessment of progress in nuclear talks
Volume of goods transported by Azerbaijan’s vehicles in 2021 disclosed
Indonesia reports 5,041 new COVID-19 cases, 132 new deaths
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 3 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Geostat reveals volume of Russian exports to Georgia
Solar panel station put into operation in Iran’s Razavi Khorasan Province
New auction to be held for Azerbaijani Finance Ministry's mid-term bonds
Georgia increases import of vehicles from Turkey
Kyrgyzstan imposes restrictive measures at airports
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds in Iran
Foreigners to pass simplified visa procedures for 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Serbian FM to visit Tehran today
Azerbaijan discloses number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,148 more COVID-19 cases, 2,287 recoveries
Armenia falsified Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan - rep of religious community
Iran to send trade attaché to Azerbaijan
Weekly review of major events in Azerbaijan's oil & gas sector
Azerbaijan shares footage from Jabrayil's Dash Veysalli village (VIDEO)
Armenia strived to create history for itself in Azerbaijan's lands - Head of Albanian-Udi community
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 17
Volume of loaded and unloaded cargo in Iran’s Charak port climbs
Azerbaijani oil prices on rise
VICE News report on Armenia's attack on Azerbaijani Barda nominated for award
Weekly review of main events in ICT sector of Azerbaijan
Earnings from fuel savings in Iran paid to investors
Uzbekistan's CCI, Portuguese Industrial Association establish co-op
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Rosatom, Uzbekistan working on contract for building nuclear power plant
Turkmenistan to create electronic exchange database
IMF calls on Georgia to reduce capital expenditures in case of lockdown
Russia reports a new high of 9,321 coronavirus cases since March 20
Azerbaijan's Albanian-Udi Christian community members visit ancient temple in Tugh - Trend TV (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should force Armenia to follow terms of trilateral statement - Azerbaijan's Parliament
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Azerbaijan, Turkic Council discuss creation of joint digital tools
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
EU rep should follow int'l law before meeting with separatist in Karabakh - expert
Potential areas of Turkmenistan’s interaction within Visegrad Group+Central Asia framework identified
Georgia reports 1,219 new coronavirus cases for April 17
Georgia holds auction for privatization of state property
Azerbaijani MP talks about spring session of IPA CIS held in Russia's St. Petersburg
Georgia continues to conduct research on Namakhvani HPP
Iran unveils details exports from Maragheh County
Kazakhstan reveals total number of TEU containers shipped along Aktau-Baku feeder line
There have always been good grape varieties in Pirshaghi – white and black Shani - President Aliyev
Participants of Azercell Student Bursary and Internship Programs share their success stories
Iran boosts aluminum ingots production
Azerbaijani police find mortar shells, detonators left by Armenia in Gubadly (VIDEO)
Iran declares amount of loans issued to SMEs
Kazakhstan's revenues from road cargo transportation down
Concept of ensuring security of Afghan section of TAPI signed
Members of Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan visit liberated Khojavand (PHOTO)
Australia to continue review of COVID vaccinations - health minister
Italian media outlets highlight speech of Azerbaijani president at int'l conference in Baku
Kazakhstan decreases import of Ukraine-made goods y-o-y
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to buy compressors
Azerbaijan sets up structure to work on urban planning in liberated lands
Kazakhstan's oil & gas company opens tender to develop consolidated time standards
Meeting of EU special rep with so-called "FM of Karabakh" promotes separatism, says Azerbaijani expert
Iranian currency rates for April 17
Iran to increase vaccinations as fourth wave of COVID-19 rises
Iran reaches target uranium enrichment
Oil demand to keep on rising in May, June 2021
Work on provision of electricity to Azerbaijan's liberated Sugovushan nearing completion
Bulgaria sees Georgia as valuable partner
Significant number of Georgian citizens register for employment program in Israel
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 caseload up by 2,822
Ukraine receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine under COVAX initiative
IMF corrects estimate on Iran's foreign exchange bank reserves
Azerbaijan attracting foreign investments for renewable energy projects
Uzbekistan to open an embassy in Sweden
Global COVID-19 infection rate approaching highest: WHO
Portugal resumes flights to Brazil, Britain
Turkey reports over 63,000 daily COVID-19 cases
EU eyes to provide grants to Georgian non-profit organizations
Israel reports 41 new COVID-19 cases, 836,740 in total
Biden signs order keeping Trump-era refugee cap at 15,000
EU-UK trade plunges after Brexit: Eurostat
UK records another 2,596 coronavirus cases, 34 deaths
UN Security Council approves ceasefire monitors for Libya
North Macedonia vaccinates some 35,000 citizens
Raul Castro resigning from Cuba’s Communist Party
Azerbaijani IT company working on creating new network, server infrastructures
Georgian Economy Ministry to form expert council on Namakhvani HPP
Relations between Russia, Azerbaijan attain degree of strategic alliance - Federation Council Chair of Russian Federal Assembly
Turkish engineers develop fiber that kills coronavirus in minutes
Uzbekistan’s gold and foreign exchange reserves drop to $32.6 billion
Iran’s petrochemical output to reach $40b: Oil Minister
Relations within CIS IA to make comprehensive partnership ties more profound among member states - Chair of Azerbaijani Parliament (PHOTO)
All news